Ancient Rome was known for its advancements in architecture, government, and art, to name a few. They also adopted or created many great games to pass the time - whether on a military campaign, or simply enjoying a fine wine amongst their fellow citizens within city walls. The game of Backgammon is attributed to the Romans, due to its close similarity to their game of Tabula, but the game of Tabula is descended from an even earlier game - Ludus Duodecim Scriptorum, or the "game of twelve markings". Completely handcrafted, this modern interpretation of the ancient game of Ludus Duodecim Scriptorum, or Duodecim Scripta, is created from quality hardwood and is magnetized to keep the board halves together during both travel and play.  A fast-paced racing game involving opponent player captures and dice rolls to dictate movement, this game will bring many hours of enjoyment to the avid traditional board gamer as well as enthusiasts of Roman history, and will stand the test of time as surely as the original game has endured over the centuries.  Each game board is created as a functional piece of art; no two boards are ever created exactly the same.


This board is MADE TO ORDER, typically requiring 2 weeks to create; the pictures are of past board(s) and are for example only. Your handcrafted board will be created at the time of order and be completely unique from any other.



  • Ludus Duodecim Scriptorum board constructed of 1/2" thick hardwood (either cherry, mahogany, or maple); with a decorative burnt edge (edge style will vary from board to board). The board measures approximately 16 x 6 inches when assembled for play.  Leather is applied to the individual board panel bottoms, to increase durability, hide the 'traveling' magnets, and further accent the game's rustic, historical nature.
  • All artwork is achieved through the use of pyrography, the art of wood-burning. Three designs are available, representing three classes of Roman society: Centurion, Citizen, and Senator. Each social class will have its own definable artwork - Centurion will feature implements of war (shields, helms, and the very recognizable gladius sword); Citizen will feature examples of architecture and art (column scrollwork, pottery decorations, and building silhouettes); and Senator will feature aspects or personas of ancient Roman government (scrolls, busts of famous individuals, ornate lecterns, etc.) Additionally, a Greco-Roman styled border encompasses the playing tracks, and the Latin words "coepto" and "ultimo" ("begin" and "finish") are burned into the appropriate areas on the track. The board is finished with a natural, non-pigmented stain, and a satin lacquer is applied to protect the artwork and wood.
  • Playing pieces are included in the form of stack-able, wooden 'checker-type' pieces and handmade wooden dice for movement, both created from maple. A drawstring bag is supplied for storage of the pieces, and a rules pamphlet is also included.



  • Ludus Duodecim Scriptorum, also known as XII Scripta, or Duodecim Scripta, was probably adopted originally from the Greeks. Its board has three rows of twelve playing spaces or points, and players each race fifteen pieces around the board, according to the throws of three dice. The game was gradually replaced by Tabula after the first century, though it was still played as late as the sixth century. The game became a prominent source for gambling, which was later outlawed in the Empire. Over 100 surviving game boards can attest the popularity of the game in ancient Rome, and boards were even found further afield, from Wales to Egypt. Boards were decorated in a variety of styles, some with squares, some with geometric patterns, and some were even decorated with phrases, the letters forming the points. During the latter part of the Roman Empire, more boards featured strictly letters and inscriptions as the gaming track, in an apparent attempt to hide the game from inspectors tasked with finding and eradicating gambling.
  • The game is played by two players on a board of three tracks of twelve spaces each. All pieces start off the board. Players decide who goes first by lot or by agreement.  A player rolls all 3 dice simultaneously. Each die shows the number of cells to move by, either for three different pieces, one from each die, or for one or two pieces in sequence.  For each number rolled the player can choose to do one of the following; enter a new piece onto the board, based on the number rolled on one die, or move a piece that is already on the board by the number of points on one die. If all of a player’s pieces are in the last six exit cells, they can move a piece off the board by moving it the exact number of spaces needed to remove it off the board. If a piece is knocked off the board by the opponent, then it must be re-entered onto an entry or starting cell, based on the number rolled on one of the dice. Pieces of the same color can be stacked on top of each other to an unlimited height; if two or more pieces are stacked on top each other, they are safe. The opponent’s pieces may not land on that cell. If the player’s piece lands onto a cell with only one opponent’s piece in it, the opponent’s piece gets knocked off the board and must be reentered back from the beginning on the opponent’s next turn, before any other piece is moved. The player who moves all fifteen of their pieces off the board first wins the game.

Ludus Duodecim Scriptorum: an ancient Roman racing game & Backgammon predecessor

Artwork Selection
Wood Type
  • Examples of available wood types and edge styles can be found by clicking the "Materials & Styles" link at the bottom of any page.

  • Game Type:  Race


    Victory Condition:  First player to exit all 15 pieces off the board


    # Players:  2


    # Playing Pcs.:  30


    Approx. Size:  16x6 inches

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