Introduction to Nethergate
The whole race ... is madly fond of war, high-spirited and quick to battle ... and on whatever pretext you stir them up, you will have them ready to face danger, even if they have nothing on their side but their own strength and courage. - Strabo
Though nowadays people think of them as the Celts, back in ancient days nobody would have thought to label them all with one name. They were a very diverse scattering of tribal peoples: the Gauls in France, the Celtiberians in Spain, the Galatians to the east, and the many small tribes of Britannia. They were proud and warlike people, bearing iron weapons and bad attitudes. In 390 BC, they even sacked a small, backwater city in central Italy. Unfortunately for them, they didn't raze it to the ground. The people of that city, called Rome, had long memories. When they exploded forth and created one of the greatest Empires history has ever known, the Celtic tribes fell, one after another, victims of superior Roman training, tactics, and discipline.
The Subjugation of Britain
Forget not, Roman, that it is your special genius to rule the people; to impose the ways of peace, to spare the defeated, and to crush those proud men who will not submit. - Virgil, Aeneid
Julius Caesar had great success fighting the Celts, taking all of Gaul and then mercilessly putting down a series of rebellions. In 55 BC, he turned his attention to Britannia, the island we now call Britain. He took a large expedition there, marched around the isle for a while, defeated several native armies, and left. It was a peculiar campaign, resulting in little more than a few trade routes and a lot of hard feelings. Though Britannia traded a fair amount with the Romans in years to come, sending raw materials like tin and lead and getting the Romans' wine and crafts in return, it would be many years before Roman troops returned in force. This invasion would be led by Claudius, a weak emperor eager to display his might by expanding the Empire. The Roman invasion came in 43 AD. The Romans were highly outnumbered. As usual. And they won a series of decisive victories. As usual. The Britons were brave, but fractious. They simply couldn't organize themselves well enough to fend off the Roman soldiers. One tribe after another fell to the invading armies, and during the next 15 years, the southern half of Britannia was absorbed by the Empire.
Obedience and Revolt
Had my lineage and rank been accompanied by only moderate success, I should have come to this city as a friend rather than a prisoner, and you would not have disdained to ally yourself peacefully with one so nobly born, the ruler of so many nations. As it is, humiliation is my lot, glory yours. I had horses, men, arms, wealth. Are you surprised I am sorry to lose them? If you want to rule the world, does it follow that everyone else welcomes enslavement? - Caratacus, British rebel, prisoner of Rome
The people of Britannia did not meekly accept Roman rule. The rebel Caratacus, for example, led a bloody guerrilla campaign against the Roman invaders for many years, before Queen Cartimandua of the Brigantes tribe betrayed him and turned him in. Harsh Roman treatment of the Iceni people led their queen, Boudicca, to lead a rebellion in 60 AD. Tens of thousands of Roman citizens were killed in a series of bloody battles. As Nethergate begins, this revolt is still raging, and, although the final result is uncertain, the Empire has never had difficulty putting down a rebellion before. The northern half of Britannia is still free, as is Ireland to the west, but the people there are still waiting for the axe to fall. It seems inevitabile that Emperor Nero, or some other greedy ruler to come, will decide that it is time for the Empire to expand once again. In the conquered land of Britannia, the grip of Rome seems to grow stronger with every passing year. The memory of freedom is fading, slowly being replaced by a sad acceptance of servitude. Except for isolated pockets of defiance, the Romans are firmly in charge. Yet, in a magical and isolated valley in the lands of the Brigantes tribe, there is a threat to the Empire. There are strange forces there, forces enjoying their last few days of potency before disappearing from the world forever. Two small groups, one Roman, one Celt, will soon fight to change the destiny of a people, and of an Empire. So whose side are you on? Will you fight for freedom? Or order? The choice is yours, and the battle is about to begin