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[Domain] Light From a Dead Star: Rome

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  • [Domain] Light From a Dead Star: Rome

    Since none of the Second Edition books, whose setting have been spoilered, include an Italian city (still hoping for Changeling), I wanted to try writing one. I know Rome has sort of been described in Fall of the Camarilla (I only "borrowed" a plot point from the book, aaand a character), but since I live there, where else could I begin? If you find a grammatical error, please let me know!
    Light from a Dead Star

    Rome, Italy

    The once Eternal City of Rome is rotting. By looking at its bright past, it forgot how to have a future. Rome, the heart of the Empire, now is the literal, and metaphorical, periphery of Europe. One political crisis after another, one scandal after another, and now the City is just another problem, to be visited, and then forgotten.
    Its people are a degenerate, brutish lot, rude and spiteful. They hate the powerful, they hate the weak, they hate the different. Xenophobia and homophobia are the norm.
    Its ruins are crumbling, ravaged by hungry popes, darkened by the fumes of the ever present traffic. Rome has but one treasure, and it’s throwing it in the trash, which, to be fair, can be easily found on the ground.
    The once Eternal City of Rome is shining. By forgetting its dark past, it learnt how to live the present. Rome, the heart of the Camarilla, now is just a city not unlike any other, and finally proud of it. No more chants reclaiming a return to the old ways of the Julii, no more total control by the Church. We are free.
    Its Kindred are an accepting, welcoming bunch, kind and tolerant. You can find everyone in the seats of power; age is just a number after all. You were alive once, now it’s time to celebrate!
    Its ruins are forgotten in the Depths, relics of a darkened age. The demented stories of the Roman era were twisted beyond repair, a necessary defense against the ancients who would (or will?) control us. Don’t you believe me?
    Rome was built on lies once. It can happen again.

    The Secret History

    Nobody can fathom the depths of Roman history. You can look at them, but you wouldn’t comprehend fully.
    There was a Camarilla once. For as much as the living want to glorify Ancient Rome, the Roman Kindred know that that glory, and the Camarilla that came with it, were a lie. One of many. The ancient dead that still sporadically arise in the Depths like to talk of unlives of splendor, of the greatness of the Julii. The fact that in Rome, where the Julii supposedly lived, no one ever saw a Julius come back from torpor is kind of suspect. The Invictus’ official party line is that they all died when some band of barbarian Kindred sacked Rome. They are more of a warning than a Clan. They are a failure.
    Ancient Rome is history for the ancients, and fairly boring for everyone else. The elders prefer to talk about the greatness of the Church, at least in public. Rome has been one of the few cities where the Lancea et Sanctum ruled openly, and for more than a millennium. The first few centuries after the Fall of the Camarilla were the hardest. The Lancea had to organize as a political entity, a leading political entity. It had to purge heresies, non-believers, traitors. Entire bloodlines were swept away. The Vampire Diaspora did the rest.

    At the height of the Camarilla, more than 1000 Kindred resided in Rome. During the Dark Ages no more than 50 Kindred graced the City with their presence. Active Kindred, at least. The population has always been in flux: Kindred dies, or runs away, Kindred comes. And sure, they came: every invasion bought foreign vampires, eager to be a part of Eternity, only to be sorely disappointed. Most of these strangers were of the Faith, but weren’t part of the Lancea proper. They were seamlessly integrated in the Invictus, which at the time styled itself as a Camarilla reformed, under the patronage of the Church.
    Usually, the Second Estate rules behind the First. Rome has always been a special case. Before the 19th Century, when the words of the pope could sway nations and destroy rulers, the Lancea ruled supreme. The Conspiracy of Silence was a useful tool, but had limited power. The Lancea had sorcery, numbers, artifacts, ancient knowledge passed through the ages. It survived the Goths, the Lanzichenecchi, but something changed under Napoleon. The Kindred that came with him were organized, not a bunch of pilgrims. And they had the worst weapon of all: pamphlets. E.D Chart would have laughed his ass off if he knew what he brought to the City. Oh, the flames that soared those years. Those first Chartians were staunchly devoted to the French Revolution, zealots against the crimes of the Bloody Church of Rome. Their chaos won the hearts of many, but also finally granted the Invictus a real enemy to band against. They were held at bay, persecuted, but the Firebrands stood in place, waiting for the right time. They are still waiting.
    Worse still, Flavia Francesca, a Parisian follower of the Mother of Monsters, bore the news of a possible alliance between the pagans of all Europe. Under her guide the few pagans who still held the torch of the old ways found a renewed purpose. The day pope Pio VII was deposed, Tascio I, the vampire Bishop of Rome, met Final Death. Nobody knows who actually did the deed, but owls were seen all over the city that night.

    The Invictus grew stronger while the Lancea was struck where it thought nobody could. So accustomed to ruling alone, the Bloody Church’s power waned for more than fifty years, with Bishops coming and going in droves. The final blow came in 1870. The Italians captured Rome, and the Papacy was no more. Bishop Tascio II abdicated and went into torpor. The Seven of the Invictus elected the Prince and, in a move that surprised everybody, made peace with the Cult and the Movement. The Lancea dug out Tascio II, prosecuted him and dumped his still torpid body in the Tiber. The name itself became a synonym for failure. “This is a new Lancea,” Bishop Rodrigo said at the time, “a Church that can stand harsher times”. And so it did.

    Among the Covenants, only the Lancea wasn’t changed by the 20th century. The Carthians fractured before the First War, under the Fascists, during the Years of Lead, and are only just now going beyond mortal ideologies. The Circle grew complacent, safe under the treaty of 1870. But the Invictus was hit the most. It had to endure the worst Masquerade breach of the modern world: in 1982, the Kine finally found the Necropolis. They didn’t get to the deepest levels, but they found the Camarilla, and the Conspiracy of Silence used all its resource to diverge public attention from “the newest greatest tourist attraction of the Roman era”. Italy winning the Football World Cup probably helped. To save face, Prince Orazio left the throne and went into torpor, leaving his place to his childe Graziella, who was no more than a neonate at the time. Nobody bet a lira on her, but she endured. The Lancea et Sanctum is again in the lead, but the Invictus is enduring under her “Principessa”.

    The Clans

    Most Daeva find Rome kind of stale. Yes, there is fun to be had if you look for it, but it’s same old, same old. What’s different about the City is the multitude of tourists that flock to its center, as red cells to a heart, so the Serpents made up a game slash contest: the World Map. If you find a Kine of a certain nationality, and you drink from them, you plant a little flag on a map. Simple as that. The game is really popular in the Circle and the Invictus, the Masquerade be damned. They are just tourists; they aren’t going to make a fuss about it. Also, it helps Daeva surviving their addiction. The Lancea initially frowned upon this practice, but gave up on regulating it fairly early in its creation. Actually, the Daeva with the most flags is a laywoman from the Bloody Church, with 57.

    The Gangrel of the City take great pride in their traditions. The one on the Embrace is the most important: the Embrace goes to the mortal least likely to survive the curse. Stereotypically, Gangrel are brutal savages, even before undeath. In Rome, they are brutally sophisticated. Just look at the Princess. They tend to come from academia, or from the arts. If they don’t fuck up their first years, they become the most vicious players around, filling the space that is usually the pertinence of the other Clans. This confuses foreign Kindred a lot, amusing the Roman Gangrel to no end. They feel so proud of their childer!

    Unlife as a Mekhet in Rome is an unlife of distrust. Their Requiems are better than most. Less than half of the Lancea is made of Shadows, and the Bishop itself is one of them. The Mekhet have been beasts of privilege for centuries. It doesn’t matter if you were an atheist and now part of the Ordo, the other vampires will think you’re spying on them for the Church. The Mekhet make the most of it: if the others think they’re spies, then why not be one? The difference being, you herd secrets for yourself. If they catch you, what are they gonna do, report you to the Lancea?

    The City belongs to the Haunts. Well, half of it. The resources the Invictus spent on saving the Necropolis came mostly from the Nosferatu, so they got “that useless piece of junk” in return. It was theirs to begin with, they already lived there, but making it official was a huge win, both within and without the Covenant. They have first dibs on anything found in the depths, be it an ancient to be schooled or a secret to be hidden, and the Covenant can wash its metaphorical hands of any problems related to its past. In secret, many Kindred now spoke of the Clan as the new Conspiracy of Silence…

    The Ventrue are pissed off. Yes, they live in splendor, yes, they have the best domains, but no one in their clan has a real position of power. They have the means, but as the smallest clan in Rome, they lack the manpower, or someone with the right type of charisma, to get to the top of one of the Covenants. “Lords of what?” is a ridicule often found floating in the Cacophony. It’s just a ruse, of course. Three of the Seven of the Invictus are Ventrue, and theirs is the majority on the Council. If only they could get along.

    The Covenants

    The Lancea et Sanctum and the Invictus are in an open love/hate relationship since 1870. They are formally allied, but always trying to topple the other using the other three groups as pawns.

    Rome is probably the Domain where the Lancea ruled interrupted the longest, barring the last two centuries. While the Princedom belongs to the Invictus, practically Rome is under the Diocese’s sway. The Sanctified of the Bloody Church are pessimist, however. Faith in Christ (and thus Longinus) in Rome is wavering, and it’s becoming harder converting new Embraces. They are getting desperate, abusing power in ways unheard before. They collect tithes of blood every month, and the tax doubles if the Kindred doesn’t attend at least a Midnight Mass a week. But the Church is fair. It doesn’t matter who you are, if you are one of its allies, you will be fine, for now. Just, don’t cross the Vatican’s border. That’s off limits to everyone, Sanctified included, on pain of death.

    The Invictus are the most numerous Covenant and one that doesn’t stay down even in the worst of times. The Lancea is static, the Invictus perpetuates. It made Rome a good place to unlive, especially if you were shunned in life. The Old Man takes the rascals, gives them power and gets gratitude and loyalty in return. Its rulership is divided between the Seven, one for every Roman Hill. Actually, only five are of the Invictus: one of the Seven is always a Sanctified and the other belongs to one of the other covenants, to show that the Invictus is magnanimous and can work with its allies. They are usually overturned in every vote. The Princess is considered the Eight, and can veto every decision of the Seven. She never does.

    The Circle of the Crone formed under Flavia Francesca, and, for all that matters, is Flavia Francesca and her personal cult of the Crone as a Janus-aspected Cybele. For as much as the Hierophant likes to be challenged in her views, she is the only one with enough power to matter, so everyone gets under her banner. This means that the Circle has been, nominally, at war with the Lancea for the last 200 years. Other than a battle of rituals in the fifties, the two manifest their hatred mostly with words and the occasional death.

    The Carthians have been in a silent Civil War since… ever. Monarchy or Republic? War or no War? Supporting the Regime or going against it? Again, Monarchy or Republic? While on the outside the Firebrands seemed united, if a Kindred were to look closely she’d see that all Carthian coteries were far-left or far-right only. That changed after 1992. When both mortal extremist parties fell, so did vampires’ certainties. The Carthians of Rome grew. Why worry what our society is going to become if they are still in charge? In finding a true ideology beyond left and right, the new Firebrands are getting dangerous and the fastest growing Covenant in these times of recession.

    The Ordo Dracul is a creeping menace. They appeared in the City shortly before the other two covenants and quietly regulated their complete neutrality in every matter in exchange for some of their strange places of power. They have been slowly expanding their domains in territories where mortals never go. Despite their spies, the Lancea doesn’t know what to do with them. It’s not that they are heathens, it’s all those artifacts they keep digging out. What are they doing with them?

    Notable Kindred

    “La Principessa Gangrel”, Graziella Taranti, knows she’s just a puppet for the Seven. They picked her, a grocery vendor who never left Rome, to be the future political face of vampire society. Her only “fault” was to be a seven-generation Roman. They groomed her, taught her. In their intentions, she would have been perfect after twenty years of study, but the Necropolis Crisis of ’82 forced their hands. She became Prince after two years of undeath. Graziella may be young, she was only twenty at the time of the Embrace, but not stupid. She knows she can be deposed anytime. She is enjoying her Requiem, doing what the Seven desire from her, all the while amassing enough power to survive a coup.

    Rodrigo, the Sick Bishop, was a lowly Spanish soldier when he arrived alive in Rome in the 17th century, and a lowly Shadow zealot when Embraced. The future Bishop did not want power. He was into torpor when the Carthians attacked, and out of the city in 1870. He became Bishop because nobody was there to take up the mantle. God wanted him too, as his punishment for his state, Rodrigo often says. The Sick Bishop, for his more than deathly pallor, is a man of secrets. He knows who kills every Kindred who sets foot on Vatican’s soil, why owls cry blood every year the night of Tascio I’s death, why all the Shadows of the Domain are plagued by dream messages from the Plague Angel…

    The Baron is not a noble, thank you very much. A true Ventrue doesn’t care for titles. He lords over students, researchers and professors. His domain is the university La Sapienza and every building related to it. He dresses the part of an almost-fifty professor, the one that loves giving fatherly advice to students, even personal lessons if they want! Nobody knows how he started amassing all his contacts in academia, but there he is, one of the Seven, and the youngest of the Invictus. Alas, the one with the most dangerous ideas. With the Council of the Seven working as well as it does, what’s the use of a Prince in this age?

    Tiziana Belli doesn’t give a shit for politics, or religion, or ideals. She’s a part of the Circle because it’s cool. Magic is cool. Female nudity is cool. Flavia is awesome. You don’t need to believe to be part of the Covenant, and that’s great. She shows up when she’s called by her “colleagues”, but the Haunt spends most of her time trying to give everyone she meets a good time, Kindred and Kine alike, at her bar “La Vagina Dentata”. Well, she tries. Her stare is a bit intense. Yes, with all the blood around the bar is a disaster waiting to happen, but Invictus’ goons are keeping an eye open. It’s a good place to relax, after all, they don’t want to see it closed.

    The star of more than one left-leaning community center, Federica De Lizza is the mortal-friendly face of the Revolution. The Serpent was there when the first school movements happened, and never left the scene even in undeath. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, she’s getting more and more anti-Kine: all they can do is spread misery and corrupt ideologies. The Firebrands put up with her because she finds the best recruits, but as Federica gains traction between the youngest Carthians the higher ups are thinking of finding a quieter replacement.

    Notable Locations

    “Everything God touches is forbidden”. The Kindred of Rome are seriously reprimanded if they walk in a church, but if they ever get in Vatican City, they are as good as dead. They are sentenced to Final Death only half of the time, however. Usually, they turn to ash before they can return to Rome proper. Many rumors circulate about the hand behind the acts. Some elders speak of owls, but many more of human hunters with powers no one has seen before.

    Most of the Necropolis is off limits for one reason or another. The deepest levels aren’t safe, you could be victim of a cave in, or of a freshly risen ancient. Or worse. There are some places that are fair game, however, especially if you are a Haunt. The Catacombs are one of such places, the deeper the better, oddly. Some of them haven’t been looked upon by mortal eyes since the Fall of Rome. Everyone knows the Seven appoint yearly meetings under the Coliseum. The Camarilla is a famous tourist trap (only if you are Kindred, of course). If a human were to find themselves in the Necropolis, the chances of returning to the surface are pretty slim.

    Rome is full of parks, seamlessly integrated with the ruins and the new buildings. The Caffarella is not one of them. It’s wild, unexplored, filled with abandoned houses and other mysterious places. Rumors of ghosts and black masses abound in the population. Some of them are true, some of them are fabricated. The Caffarella belongs to the Ordo, and it has been since its arrival in Rome. It’s also the home of a community of werewolves. The atmosphere is tense but there haven’t been any fights, till now.

    Piazza di Campo de’ Fiori is a fresh Carthian experiment for the All Night Society. This territory is one of the homes of the Movida Romana, and always chock full of drunken youngsters (Italians and foreigners alike) who party under the stern stare of the statue of Giordano Bruno. Also, it’s the only domain of Rome that belongs to nobody and everybody at the same time. Every week there is a raffle: the two winners get feeding rights for the whole week. It’s no mystery why the place has become a lot more dangerous in the last ten years.

    Last edited by SNESferatu; 05-21-2015, 06:49 PM.

    Italian nuisance. English is my second language, so be patient!

    My homebrew:
    [VtR 2e] Light From a Dead Star: Rome
    [WtF 2e] The Past Is Another Country: Rome

  • #2
    Well, it looks great, let me tell you. I may use it if I ever retake my old Fall of the Camarilla players and bring them from torpor in this modern Rome.

    EDIT: Oh, look at that, a thousand post!

    I'm So Meta Even This Acronym


    • #3
      Oh boy, thank you! I'm thinking of expanding the "project" whenever WtF and MtA are coming out, making a sort of crossover city as Tokyo will be.
      I know a lot less about Werewolf and I don't know how much it can work in a city setting, but we'll see.
      EDIT: Also, trying to follow the wordcount of the Domains in B&S was a lot harder than I thought (I think I slipped a bit, as a matter of fact). This made me like B&S even more.
      Last edited by SNESferatu; 10-04-2014, 11:13 AM.

      Italian nuisance. English is my second language, so be patient!

      My homebrew:
      [VtR 2e] Light From a Dead Star: Rome
      [WtF 2e] The Past Is Another Country: Rome


      • #4
        I already use modern Rome for some of my games, but since I never went there I feel a lack of dept all the time. Curiously never did a game in ancient Rome, so the two entire official books about the city are less of use than this article will be, so thanks a lot!

        By the way, my games already use some crossover and presume all the major creatures of WoD having at least a passing presence on the city, and I did some work on creating material and a Theme for the setting (never could create a characteristic Mood, you did it!)

        As an overall theme, I thought of a supernatural Rome strongly based on xenophobia and nationalism, where the place you are born (or Embraced) is the most important thing about you, and your lineage is the second, with the possibility of adoption as a twist on this. This theme crossed over each dark society, with a "patrician" werewolf seeing a roman Kindred more as an equal than a foreigner Uratha.

        What do you think about it? I went as far as to create entire new "Tribes", and other stuff. Probably very schewed in the point of view of a roman citizen, or an italian to begin with. But as I said, my group uses Rome a lot, and I want to improve and contribute to the development of the setting.

        She/her pronouns


        • #5
          This is awesome! I've been wanting to run a generational Rome game for a while, I'd love to use this for modern nights!

          Going by Willow now, or Wil for short. She/Her/Hers.


          • #6
            Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
            As an overall theme, I thought of a supernatural Rome strongly based on xenophobia and nationalism, where the place you are born (or Embraced) is the most important thing about you, and your lineage is the second, with the possibility of adoption as a twist on this. This theme crossed over each dark society, with a "patrician" werewolf seeing a roman Kindred more as an equal than a foreigner Uratha.

            What do you think about it? I went as far as to create entire new "Tribes", and other stuff. Probably very schewed in the point of view of a roman citizen, or an italian to begin with. But as I said, my group uses Rome a lot, and I want to improve and contribute to the development of the setting.
            Well, Italy is in a strange... let's call it position. Mostly, we are a bunch of nationalists only when watching a football game. Yes, there's the hardcore Fascist here and there. Capital F! Fascism is unconstitutional, but this doesn't deter some people (and the law is fairly lenient on this...). Xenophobia, thanks to some political parties and to the crisis, is really going up, but it's always been there. "We" tend to switch which nationality we hate every few years (if you really want to know, right now is Romanians).
            Also, blood is way more important than the place you were born. You get your citizenship because one of your parents is Italian (the law is aptly named Ius sanguinis, use it as you will). You can obtain it in other ways, but it's really hard. It's something I skimmed on on this write-up, but if you want to play the nationalism more, well, that's a really good idea. I wanted a Kindred Rome that is, on the surface, marginally better than the World-of-Darkness human one.

            I know really little about W:tF, I only have the new edition, so it's going to be hard to write something productive for Rome. I can try, if you want a glimpse from my perspective!

            (Also, I already have ideas about Mage. I mean, The Hegemony's symbol is literally a Fascio Littorio. Come 'on, I got the work cut up for me)

            EDIT: And thanks for likin' it! I really appreciate it!

            Italian nuisance. English is my second language, so be patient!

            My homebrew:
            [VtR 2e] Light From a Dead Star: Rome
            [WtF 2e] The Past Is Another Country: Rome


            • #7
              Originally posted by SNESferatu View Post
              I know really little about W:tF, I only have the new edition, so it's going to be hard to write something productive for Rome. I can try, if you want a glimpse from my perspective!
              It might be worthwhile to wait a bit on this one. The Dark Eras Combanion, I believe, is going to have an Ancient Rome chapter for Forsaken (Forsaken by Rome), so knowing where the Uratha fit into Rome's history may help inform your thoughts on where they fit into modern Rome's society and culture. Just a thought.

              Going by Willow now, or Wil for short. She/Her/Hers.


              • #8
                Well, the average brazillian also isn't nationalist outside a football game, either, so I can understand this part. I didn't expected the common mortal roman to be, either, but wanted to play it up in the supernatural side. Anyway, I can go back to my notes and redefine priorities between those two.

                One of my ideas, partially for a desire to invoke some ancient history feeling on my table, was to make the supernatural cultures specially anachronics. I will mostly use your work on vampires now, but my first draft included a Senatum in place of a princedom, similar to the Primogen of Masquerade. The twist was the precision of lineage, in wich each member of the Senatum was the representative of one of the currently most prestigious bloodlines (not necessarily in game terms), with numbers and clans varying with time and convenience. But I liked very much the idea of a council of the seven hills. The other major thing was that I really played down the role of the covenants, with the idea of lineage really being the true thing among the Damned.

                Forsaken was my major work, because I threw the whole Father Wolf and Tribes thing. I decided to start on the obvious (at least from a foreigner point of view), and make the roman Uratha pay a lot more attention to the myth of Romulus and Remus. While Requiem for Rome puts Remus as the founder of it's vampiric society, the modern Uratha believes in being descendants of Romulus and he being an ancient Uratha or even a powerful spirit to begin with. The truth is uninportant. Those Urathas have their own "tribes" based on ideology and place among the roman society, and a Forum in the Shadow where they can talk and make decisions in a common neutral ground.

                Currently I have 5 "tribes" done and 2 more in the making process. I had to stop working on them to read the Second Edition and update them. There are legionnaires who pay more heed to honorable work than to be actual soldiers, self-procclaimed philosopher-kings that try to create their own vision of Pax Romana (whatever they mean with that), two religion-based factions similar to the vampiric ones, but with the pagan worshippers being traditionalists of ancient roman ways, and a bunch of schollars that tries to use the system for their own learning. A friend of mine suggested also some revisionists in the likeness of the official Iron Masters and some explorers bent to deliver "roman civilization" to Uratha around the world.

                To put an initial conflict for roman Uratha, the lineage was used as requisite to affiliation on those groups. An outsider or his descendants is bound to belong to the common Forsaken tribes or to become one of the Pures, if not a Ghost-Wolf.

                She/her pronouns


                • #9
                  Love it. A great work. Congratulations.

                  You have inspired me to write my Barcelona version according second edition cities style.

                  LAND OF THE DAMNED: SPAIN (Spanish): Land of the Damned: Spain, Kingdoms of Blood: Spain; Cities of the Damned: Barcelona, Valencia, Carthian Constitution (1812), Three Arrows Pact:

                  OTHERS (Spanish): Demon: The Redemption, Bloodlines: The Forgotten


                  • #10
                    Wonderful work! Truly it represents the Roman spirit, at least from my limited knowledge of the Eternal City. Loved to read about the Roman Gangrel and and the Necropolis. I don't think I'll ever use Rome as a setting for my chronicles, but your rendition is part of my general WoD background from now on, in case I need to send my PCs on a trip to Rome.

                    Thank you!