This page contains suggestions on how to play Acean legionaries tactically.


The contubernium, or “tent group”, is comprised of six soldiers. Its standard formation is the “brick,” so named for its shape. Initiating this formation is called “making the brick.” (Legionaries facing insurmountable odds sometimes call this formation the “coffin.”)

The brick presents a broader silhouette against the approach than it does to its flanks. The idea of the formation is to engage a force while preventing its own encirclement. The brick has several variations depending on circumstances and the contubernium’s composition of classes. For example, a group of six melee fighters will find no need to provide protection to a back line making any variant shapes moot.

The standard brick is arrayed thus, with the enemy on this diagram approaching from above:

{1} {2} {3}
{4} {5} {6}

Each position is named after a piece of the legionary’s kit.

1 = Lorica (Front Left)
2 = Galea (Front Center)
3 = Scutum (Front Right)
4 = Hasta (Back Left)
5 = Pilum (Back Center)
6 = Spatha (Back Right)

In the classic Acean formation there are four “roles.” The front flanks mirror one another in purpose, as do the rear flanks. But the front and back of the center column have their own duties. A lot of story is tied into these four roles, but some of the roles have a practical application under the game rules.

Lorica (1) and Scutum (3): The “armor” and “shield” positions hold the front flanks of the brick. These positions are most likely to be flanked by enemies so they call for strongly defensive legionaries to hold them. They are traditionally held by melee classes able to slow the advance of foes that would slide around the formation into flanking positions.

Galea (2): The “helmet” must be a defensible character because it is on the front line, but it is not as vulnerable as the forward flanks because it cannot itself be flanked. Traditionally filled by a cleric for defensive and morale purposes. Frequently, the quintanus (or quintana) of the contubernium holds this position. It is also ideal for a paladin or any other class with short-range healing or that provides advantages to adjacent allies.

Hasta (4) and Spatha (6): The “spear” and “sword” are the least defined positions. Their roles generally include supporting the front line and preventing the Pilum (back center) from being attacked. These positions are good for classes that use reach weapons or ranged weapons.

Pilum (5): The “javelin” is usually manned by the character that is the most vulnerable or important. Arcane magic users prefer this spot. Commonly the whole back line is comprised of more vulnerable classes—those with fewer hit points or those who rely on ranged attacks—but the Pilum is the most protected.

It will be up to the players to supply their own functionality and tradition to each of these roles. This is particularly true because the array of character classes and capabilities in a contubernium will be widely varied based on player choice. The above descriptions simply provide a baseline that was taught during legionary training. To be truly successful, a contubernium must add its own layer of experience and military theory suited to the particular abilities and preferences of its own individual members.


Staying in formation provides significant advantages during combat. Though there are times when formations can be detrimental (a tempting target for a dragon’s area-affecting breath weapon), the brick is usually the contubernium’s best fighting tool.

Staying in formation and moving with the formation can be tricky. This campaign uses the Side Initiative optional rule; a single initiative roll represents each side and each side acts together before anyone on the other side. When it is the players’ turns, each player can use some (or all) of her movement for the round to form around the quintanus or quintana.

Players can also discuss (even in detail) their strategies for movement and position. After all, the characters have drilled the use of their formations thousands of times in thousands of scenarios during training. Player planning, even during a combat, reflects the characters’ well-trained coordination.


The Autumn Republic Randy Randy