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CENTURION

  • You are not merely a competent soldier; you are an absolute bad-ass.
  • Behave in and promote believable characterization through actions and raiment.
  • You understand and can apply fundamental strategic and tactical concepts.
  • You must own and wear some kind of body armor (Lorica).
  • You must attend more battles than not per annum.
It helps to attend SCA events before truly being a fighter of awesome combat ability. If your armor and costuming requirements are up to par, you may feel that you are qualified for Centurion rank. If so, try fighting some our current Centurions. If you can manage to best a few of them two out of three in single combat, you are probably qualified.

Only Centurions and Commanders of higher rank (see below) are permitted to have any brass armor, with the exception of minor fittings, such as rivets, hinges and buckles, or minor ornamentation, such as lion's heads and trim. Any former Centurions who have held the rank of Centurion since April 2, 1995 are extended this privilege also.

 

Right: Damon Arthol Douglas, Praetorian Prefect and Centurion of Rome

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For your navigational convenience, I have placed a link above in order for you to go back to the Command Structure Chart.  If your military aspirations and combat ability warrant interest in becoming a Centurion, continue reading the following selection.

UPDATED Excerpt from Commentaries X
In the Consulship of Dominus and Gurrundi
Originally Published 12/11/1996
Updated 09/25/2005

ON BECOMING A CENTURION

Currently Rome boasts a great number of Decurions. It has been commented on by several people that perhaps our rank structure is top heavy. I have referred those who mention it to the Mos Maiorum. I hope that all of you do own one. Some of have not read it very closely. Possession of one is, incidentally, mandatory. The Mos Maiorum says, "There is no such thing as top-heaviness in our rank structure. If our lowest ranking members are Centurions, we're invincible!" Thus the rank itself is not limited to the number of people in the Legions. It is an indication of your relative combat ability, your equipment, your command expertise, and your tactical skill. Itís what makes you invincible.

Thatís your definition: invincible. I have been asked a great deal as of late how to become a Centurion. As of this writing there are four Romans rated as Centurions, though their Legion Commands elevate them further. They are Baculus, Dominus,  and Tobias for those of you who have not been paying attention. Gurrundi Pontifex Maximus is also a Centurion-quality fighter, but lacks some of the requisite requirements, and I will be getting to that. Many of the Decurions have been in their current rank for quite some time, as long as a year in some cases. Naturally you want to move up. I want that too. It is in Romeís best interests that you do reach that level of combat. Letís examine the qualifications as detailed in the Mos Maiorum:

CENTURION

  • You are not merely a competent soldier; you are an absolute bad-ass.
  • Behave in and promote believable characterization through actions and raiment.
  • You understand and can apply fundamental strategic and tactical concepts.
  • You must own and wear some kind of body armor (Lorica).
  • You must attend more battles than not per annum.
  • Own equipment and participate along with Romeís Legions in all organizations where Rome participates

It helps to attend Markland and SCA events before truly being a fighter of awesome combat ability. If your armor and costuming requirements are up to par, you may feel that you are qualified for Centurion rank. If so, try fighting some our current Centurions. If you can manage to best a few of them two out of three in single combat, you are probably qualified.

Letís examine the second through fifth criteria for Centurion rank. They are for the most part the most easily recognizable traits. Being an "absolute bad-ass" is fairly subjective. That makes it a lengthy subject.

"Behave in and promote believable characterization through actions and raiment." 

That should be fairly self-explanatory, except that raiment means clothing. You know, your costume. A Roman is the easiest kind of character to portray. Basically heís a nasty but patriotic American soldier without a TV set. His objectives are simple: plunder, pillage, rape and conquer. He doesnít use expressions like "dude." As for expletives, they or their equivalents have existed since the dawn of time. A costume takes a lot more work. Your costume should be "magnificent regalia". Examples of good costuming include my own, Artholís,  and Alexanderís. Thatís how a Centurion should dress.

"You understand and can apply fundamental strategic and tactical concepts." 

This requirement is nebulous and subjective, granted. Do you know how to win a battle? Once and for all, I do not care how many strategy board games youíve managed to win. Try playing Count Baculus at chess if thatís your claim. Real combat isnít even analogous. Directing real people at other real people is quite different from sitting around a table or computer and making calculated statistical risks in the comfort of your own home. Read my treatise in the Mos Maiorum on the Concentrated Essence of Strategy and Tactics. Thatís what itís all about. To be able to understand immediately how to most effectively use your assets (your men and yourself) to achieve your military objective. It means being able to communicate this knowledge to your people, and being able to offer a legitimate explanation as to "why" when time allows. On a more tactical level, it means knowing where to be on a battlefield. How to work in tandem with your fellow Romans, how to move in behind an enemyís shield wall, how to flank your friendís opponents. And how to hem in and trap your adversaries. Most importantly, how to time these things, and how to make the absolute most of any advantage you can identify or achieve. Like I said, there is a lot to it. You donít have to be a genius, the requirement says "fundamental". People have very different command and tactical styles. Count Tobias is inherently aggressive. He was born to command that forward team at the September 1 Darkon goal-post battle. Count Baculus is instinctively defensive, and cautious about wasting manpower. Both are good tacticians, but I would choose each for different situations.

Then thereís the "own and wear" clause. Armor. If you donít have it, forget everything. Thatís the only thing keeping my consular colleague from the Centurionate. Which is not to say that only a fighter (damn LARP definition) may become a Centurion. If Gurrundi had torso armor and regularly attended Dagorhir and/or Markland (where there is no magic) events wearing it, he would be promoted to his deserved rank. Tobias and I have joked about just making him armor, and one day we probably will. I donít want any Centurion thieves walking around in leather armor. That only counts in a LARP. Metal armor, if clarification must be made. This is far and away the easiest prerequisite. Thereís no reason for a Roman not to have armor. We help you put together everything you would need for Dagorhir for next to nothing. Additional accessories are necessary for SCA/Markland, and we can help you with these or refer you to a capable armorer.

The last one is easy too: "Attend more battles than not." Pure and simple. Most of the Decurions already meet this qualification as well. For clarificationís sake, thatís annually. If Rome attends thirty-five battles this year, a Centurion had better attend at least eighteen of them if he wants to retain his rank when everything is tallied up at the end of the year. There are many reasons for this rule. One, a Centurion cannot possibly maintain his fighting skills at their highest possible level without constant exposure to combat. Secondly, every Roman should know you and be able to identify you on sight, or there is no way you or your Commander can effectively use your position. Thirdly, Romeís enemies everywhere Rome generally goes should know you and fear you, having been the victim of your skill innumerable times. Most opponents should back away and call for help every time they face you in combat.

Finally, let me espouse the virtues of perhaps the most important requirement: " . . .you are an absolute bad-ass." A Centurion should be larger than life. On a good day, a Centurion should be able to best anyone in single combat using almost any weapon style or combination. He (yes, HE. Sorry ladies!) should be able to take on any two average fighters or four people who have been fighting for less than a year. Thatís on a good day. Donít believe me? Try us out sometime. Naturally everyone has weak spots. Some of donít do as well against lefties, or against taller opponents. That doesnít matter, because there are other Romans to help them in these situations, and their own tactical knowledge and awareness of their weaknesses allows them to attack from an advantageous position. And I never want to hear, "I can beat so-and-so, and heís a Centurion." Rock, paper, scissors. Some fighting styles can always cancel out equal or more effective ones.

Learning to kill means meeting the competition. LARPs are not competition, as I said earlier. Not by itself, anyway. Our armor and teamwork make us unbeatable there, and that makes us comfortable and complacent. A Roman who is comfortable and complacent will never be a Centurion. Armor affords us little benefit anywhere else. In Dagorhir it only saves you from the first sword hit. In Markland and SCA, you only wear armor so that you donít get seriously injured. Attending all three groups gives you a real sense of variety in combat methods. Attending all three makes you focus on skill and speed rather than relying on armor. It makes you instinctively adaptable in warfare. A flail limits you in the combinations you can use and as a fighting style, it is only effective in LARPs. Dagorhir doesnít allow head-shots, and SCA doesnít allow flails. Markland does, but the heads are solid foam, and your opponent may not even know heís been hit with one, compared to the real pounding heĎs taking from other weapons. That leaves you with only LARPs. And if you only fight with Rome when we go to LARPs, you will never be a Centurion. Note that Rome no longer participates in LARP-based organizations. That's an acronym for Live Action Role Playing.)

Trust is a big factor. My trust in you to do what is best for Rome. The Centurionsí trust in you to live up to reputation we have fought hard to establish. Being a Centurion puts you at the top of the Command Structure after the Commanders. Can I trust you not to behave like some kind of tyrant because of your rank? Centurions tend to think of themselves as head coaches. If that kind of power will go to your head, you will cause problems in Rome because you are overlooking the bottom line: we are all Romans. No one is paid to be a Roman. No one works for you or has to put up with your attitude. We do everything out of love for what our unity makes us, the very best. A Commander has to know this intrinsically. Also, can I trust you to make the right decisions when the Legion Commanders are dead or busy? Your chance at command comes only in times of disaster unless you are a Legion Commander too. During that disaster what will you do? These are all considerations. Will you remember to think about defense of the fort, or will you charge in to join the Roman dead? In various situations either could be the best way to go. But can you identify which in a given situation? Everyone makes mistakes, but a Centurion is answerable for them. We are each otherís harshest critics.

Regarding a former Centurion no longer with Rome (I'll call him Rufus): Only Romans are Centurions. Have any of you noticed that almost any of our Decurions kill Rufus now with alarming ease? Thatís because just as we make Rome great, it is Rome that makes us great. Without Rome, we are nothing. Rufus is a dreadful commander. If you think otherwise, you must have missed a certain LARP's Spring Tournament. He never knows what do with his resources, and that day he lost two Legions to half their number. He may as well have killed them himself. Now you will quite properly ask, "Why then, Dominus, did you make him a Centurion?" I made him a Centurion because he was ready. Because I understand that not everyone can be strong in all of those areas. He was a poor commander, yes. But he fought like a lion, hardly ever missed a battle, fully equipped himself, and characterized well. As a Commander he had failings, but he had command because he had a Legion, and being a good focal point with a bad plan is always better than being no one with no plan. Why, you ask? Because Rufus was larger than life, because he was an absolute bad-ass. Let me reiterate that I no longer regard him as any of this. My point is that the first criteria for a Centurion rating is perhaps the most important thing. If you meet it, we might overlook other shortcomings. This is especially true of the Decurion, which is basically a catch-all rank. Some people never get beyond Decurion. Even a totally mediocre soldier can eventually make Decurion by dressing well and never missing a battle. The same could be said of a truly gifted combatant with no armor and a crappy costume. Being a Decurion means you are proven, trusted, and part of the chain of command. Most people who fight all the time will eventually reach Centurion. What holds most Decurions back is usually lack of a killer instinct.

The Centurions are elite. We are all Romans, and equal under Roman law. But a Centurion is supreme on a battlefield. He can butcher anyone at all, and does. The Centurion must be a paragon of Roman virtue. His very person represents both the reputation of Rome and the Centurionate. He is responsible for protecting, upholding and living up to these reputations.

Even our most worthy opponents can grudgingly identify a Roman of Centurion quality. Part of what makes you a Centurion is how you are perceived by our opponents. You have to measure up to that reputation if you want to be a Centurion. I donít consult anyone regarding the promotion of a Roman soldier. Centurions are the exception to this rule. To make someone a Centurion is to tell every current Centurion that, "this person is your equal in my eyes." If you canít live up to that, I wonít insult them by cheapening or degrading the Centurionate. They are the very best around, and they prove it every weekend.

Thatís why the Mos Maiorum says, "try fighting some our current Centurions. If you can manage to best a few of them two out of three in single combat, you are probably qualified." I want everyone who believes they are ready to try. It isnít even a matter of winning. Itís a matter of how well you do, how much you impress us. It wouldnít be fair to require that you win, because even at the Centurion-level skill plateau you still improve gradually. You must be a fighter of remarkably awesome capability. If you do lose the combats, you may be denied. The Centurions will meet with you privately to offer constructive criticism. Donít be offended by this (unless you beat íem all; then youíre in!). If you want to get better, and be a Centurion, then heed this advice. No promotions are ever given or withheld for political reasons. No sniveling either: "If I canít be a Centurion, I donít wanna be a Roman." Good, go away - you fail the first test. Feel free to ask any Centurion for advice. Thatís why weíre here. As I said, we want you to eventually be a Centurion. Itís an exclusive club, but one that all Romans are welcome to join.

-Allaricus Xirinius Dominus, Imperator

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