[RPG] How to make players appreciate roleplaying fluff and their surroundings


I've made a Roman Empire campaign that consists of a lot of writing I did myself. I love roman history and put tons of details into it, including assigning domains and portfolios to roman gods (the more important ones, not the stupid domestic ones). I've figured out ways to keep the players on their toes even though most of them can quote the book from memory, which was quite a feat.

My new problem is that no one is taking my bad-ass theme seriously, and aren't bothering to learn about their environment. I pretty much expected this from one of the party members because he's very casual. But my good players and party leaders that actively engage the party in role-playing to some degree just aren't diving into the content. They wouldn't even notice it was roman if it wasn't for the -ius they jammed on the ends of otherwise normal names.

I'm doing flavorful description when I can, without going more than two sentences for the most part. Longer than a few sentences and it gets a little long winded. The players are having a blast from the looks of it. We're now 4 sessions into the new campaign, so I don't know if I'm expecting too much too soon. I was hoping that the players would notice and indulge in little things (food, sayings, etc) from the overall culture, and that the cleric would explore the pantheon a bit more. It's a pretty cool pantheon.

Long Text Wall Made Short: How can I get my players to engage in the authentic roman atmosphere I've created?

Best Answer

How can I get my players to engage in the authentic roman atmosphere I've created?

This reminds me of a well known author who said (paraphrased) that if they spend weeks researching it, there'll be a whole chapter on it!

So, slow it down and give them little bits to digest. Let's go with food as an example: a friendly NPC invites the PCs for a dinner party where NPC plans on impressing the local governor. Sadly, a day before the dinner the provisions get stolen/burned/whatever. So, the NPC asks the PCs for help: find me food and chefs to cook/prepare it! By the end of this short adventure, the PCs will know more about Roman food than you expected. Of course, this leads to the temple of X where some priests find that the NPC has "offended the gods" and took to humbling said NPC. This leads in to exploring religious dogma and theology as a follow up.

In addition, you can set up some mysteries that require in-world knowledge to solve. For example, knowing that a legion always travels 20 miles a day is vital in planning where the PCs need to flee from the Barbarian horde wanting to skin them alive. Another example, the guy offering to help the PCs might not take too kindly to be laughed at because he carries a wooden sword. Just make sure that your players know about those facts or can find them.

So in a nut shell: Make it small and relevant to the PCs. The players should then run wild with it.

In addition, I would look at your surroundings: music, lighting, snacks, and so on. What can you do to make this more Roman? You do have olives as snacks, right?