I didn’t pull it out of a hat.
32 AD is not the most eventful year in roman history. It is, however, snuggly between the fall of Sejanus in 31 and the ascension of Caligula—yes, that Caligula—in 37. A Cthulhu Invictus campaign starting in 32 AD benefits from the chaos of Tiberius’ purges and the inevitable succession of a madman who thought he was a god.
And since this is Call of Cthulhu, who’s to say he wasn’t…
OK, but who’s this Sejanus guy?
Lucius Aelius Sejanus (20 BC to 31 AD) was of relatively humble birth and rose to become the most powerful man in the Roman Empire. Barred from a Senatorial career due to being born an Equestrian, Sejanus rose to prominence as the Praetorian Prefect under Tiberius. An impressive man, Sejanus became Tiberius’ closest confident and advisor. Indeed, Tiberius referred to Sejanus as ‘my partner in my toils’ over Tiberius’ own son Drusus.
As Praetorian Prefect, Sejanus was akin to a combination Imperial Bodyguard and head of the Secret Police. If that sounds sinister, it should. Sejanus used his power and influence to purge Rome of his personal enemies and may even have manipulated Tiberius to imprison or kill many of his relatives and potential heirs.
Eventually, however, Sejanus went too far. Somehow, his machinations were brought to Tiberius’ attention (along with allegations that he had poisoned Tiberius’ son). In October of 31 AD, Sejanus fell, and fell hard. His entire family was executed along with any known associates and cronies. Anyone even suspected of being an ally of Sejanus was hunted down and killed in the years that followed.
In the campaign, Sejanus would have relieved Tiberius of the burden of running the Order of the Dawn’s day-to-day activities, as he did so many other Imperial functions. Those citizens charged with looking out for cultists, arcane texts and super-natural threats to the republic would have answered directly to Sejanus. Unfortunately for them, this would also have put them a little too close to Sejanus for Tiberius’comfort.
By the start of the campaign the bulk of Order of the Dawn’s personnel have been hunted down and killed by order of the Emperor. And finding those still at large is the top priority for their successors. An experienced hunter of monsters and forbidden knowledge with a grudge against the Emperor is a very dangerous thing, after all.
The PCs are brought into the Order, and Tiberius’ personal orbit, in the wake of these developments at once aware that Sejanus’ fall has triggered their rise. Of course, the bloodied togas of their predecssors will also be a reminder of the fate of those who lose the Emperor’s favor…