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Campaign: Patter Romani

Campaign: Patter Romani
The High Concept: Romani vs. Rakshasa

Mihai moved quietly along the edge of the darkened room, ambient glows from the street below provided some small measure of light. He watched as the Englishman began chanting quietly, holding a golden chalice high above his head to be bathed in the moonlight. “Jebem vam boga!” Mihai thought, “We’re too late”. He tried to wave Rosa off but she had already begun moving towards the Bastard who stood with seemingly preternatural speed, closed the gap between him and Rosa then grabbed her around the neck lifting her off the floor.

“Come out come out wherever you are, or the girl dies now.”

Mihai stepped slowly towards the center of the room holding his empty hands palms first in front of him. Pietri eased out of the shadows a few meters behind the Englishman, his hands also empty.

“Did you really think that you could stop me, gypsy. I serve Gods beyond your imagining. I’ve completed the Karvyad, drunk from Kali Puja’s Chalice and when the convergence is complete I will become the most powerful being on earth.” He cast Rosa aside like a rag doll. “There is nothing you could have done to harm me before, what hope do you have as I transform into a God!”
Mihai head bobbed slightly and his lips twisted into a half smile, “Yeah, about that,” He paused, “There are three things you don’t know.”
The Englishman’s eyes narrowed, “What, don’t I know.”
Mihai smiled and began briskly pacing, counting off on his fingers as he talked, “First – We weren’t here to stop you, we were here to make certain you performed the ritual. Two, that wasn’t Kali Puja’s Chalice that was Kali Ma’s, and Third, we don’t need to harm you, you performed the Kravyad with the wrong chalice, when the convergence is complete your ‘gods’ are going to tear you to shreds.”
Mihai paused to savor the look of horror passing across the Englishman’s face, “Oh and fourth – Her name is Rosa, you Rakshasa loving Bastard…”

Campaign in Brief:
Since the beginning there have been Rakshasa – existing in the between and the beyond – Occasionally breaking through to feed off humanity in all the horrible ways you can imagine.

Since shortly after the beginning there have been those who opposed these demons, wandering heroes seeking out the beasts and those under their influence and against seemingly insurmountable odds these outsiders, vagabonds, scoundrels, manage, by wits, courage and balls to keep the unstoppable darkness at bay.

And are there songs sung or tales told about these brave men and women?
There are not.
Are there rewards given or honors heaped upon mankind’s only line of defense?
There are not.

No these laudables live under a perpetual shroud of mistrust and dislike, the world reviles these heroes constantly forcing them to operate in secret while under an almost irrational scrutiny. They’ve even had their true name obscured by an uncaring, unknowing, distrustful populace.

Are they called by their given name, The Zincali: No
Their chosen name, The Romani: No
We call them Gypsies.

Romani
To both casual observer and learned scholar the history of the Romani seems straightforward enough – Handful of groups driven out of India around 1000 AD, scattered and wandered across Europe, generally perceived as thieves and outsiders.

This image is unfair but also largely unavoidable, as Rakshasa influence spread out of India so to were the Romani compelled to travel the world to combat it. They, by need, became travelers, and as they did not know whom they could trust, who was being manipulated by demons, they themselves became viewed as outsiders; untrustworthy, disreputable and they often were involved in conflicts with ‘respectable’ members of the community they became easy targets for authority.

For better or worse you and yours are the inheritors of this legacy.

Rakshasa
The Rakshasa aren’t here – they’re somewhere else, somewhere else far away and they’re hungry, powerful beyond imagining and hungry, hungry for human flesh. For Millennia now they have been locked away, forced to work through agents, trading power for the one thing they crave…
The power they give their agents can be vast, and just under unimaginable which unfortunately means that the Romani are perpetually outclassed in a straight fight (Consider using the Arcane Background: Trafficker from the Binding Agreements Setting for the Rakshasa’s agents on Earth).

Character Creation:

Race: All characters are Gypsy, ok Human and begin with the normal Bonus Edge.
Attributes: Are Purchased as Normal
Skills: Are purchased as Normal
Edges and Hindrances: Edges and Hindrances are purchased as normal. The Arcane Backgrounds Magic and Miracles are obvious choices for inclusion, Psionics and Weird Science if the GM wants it to be truly wild. All players begin with the Background Edge: Romani.

New Edge: Romani
Requirements: Novice

As Romani you may bank raises to use as successes during a Reveal. See below for the rules for the Reveal. (In other games this edge may be renamed to things like Con man, Grifter etc.)

New Edge: Experienced Grifter
Requirements: Veteran, Romani

The experienced Grifter is always preparing/laying the groundwork for his later success; Beginning on the 2nd session of any arc the Experienced Grifter gains 3 banked successes per game session; which accumulate.

The Reveal:
We’ve all seen it, the end of the movie, episode or arc where the jig is well and surely up, the villain of the piece has all the cards, and the heroes’ hopes have been dashed upon the pokier rocks of inadequacy. But wait, in the blink of an eye and aided by a series of rapid flashbacks the truth is revealed, our crafty protagonists have been 9 steps ahead of this vile beast all along and order is restored to an otherwise topsy turvey universe. The reveal, when done well, is one of the coolest tricks in the screenwriters bag o guns, when done poorly it just sits their limp and accusing like so much crap.

So, how do we bring a technique that’s all about fooling and then entertaining the audience into a medium where generally there is no audience and, lets face it, in all likelihood your players don’t include the likes of Henry Gondorff. (Don’t know who Henry Gondorff is? Go forth now and rent The Sting, we’ll wait)

OK, now that those three are gone… The Reveal in Patter Romani is left solely in the hands of the players. Throughout the course of the adventure players are given the opportunity to ‘bank’ successes. Any time a player rolls a raise (or any number of raises on a single roll) and the raise would be relevant to the result of the check, he can opt to take the roll as a normal success (rather than a success with 1 or more raises) and bank one additional success. At the climax of the adventure – if needed – the group can pool their banked successes and tell the ‘real’ story of what happened, expending banked successes to accomplish the tasks that occurred off screen. Banked successes can also, if necessary, be expended to cause enemy failures during the ‘real’ story or to insert minor changes into the story.

All banked successes form a single pool the group can draw from during a reveal.

Bennies can be expended in place of banked successes.

The ‘real’ story must make sense; this is not intended to represent magically changing the past any instance where the ‘real’ story contradicts what happened in play must be explained and accounted for by expending successes.

So to take the original tale from above – Our heroes Mihai, Pietri and Rosa had planned to break in and steal the chalice before the Englishman could complete the ritual arriving only to find out they were too late – in many other games the response would be to take him out before the convergence ended but the players opted to go with a simple Reveal.

The players would hash it out amongst themselves – Realizing that all they need to have done was a) Know enough to replace the chalice b) replace the chalice and c) cover their tracks so the Englishman wouldn’t know that the chalice was replaced

A’s easy, a single Knowledge roll about Magic and Rituals – 1 Success
B’s more difficult. Break into Museum to swap chalices – Climb Check (Get to roof), Stealth Check (Avoid Cameras), Lockpicking Check (Disable Alarm), Stealth Check (Avoid Guards), Lockpicking Check (Open Case), then reverse it to get out – Lock Case, Avoid Guards, Enable Alarms, Avoid Cameras, Climb Down; so 10 Successes. Plus 1 more for the Englishman to fail noticing he had the wrong chalice.
C requires more recall about the adventure – The professor needs to not realize he’s giving you information you already have (Fail Notice, 1 Success), Convincing the Baron at the Casino that you’re trying to stop him (Persuasion Check, 1 Success), etc

Which means this…

“First – We weren’t here to stop you, we were here to make certain you performed the ritual. Two, that wasn’t Kali Puja’s Chalice that was Kali Ma’s and Third, we don’t need to harm you, you performed the Kravyad with the wrong chalice, when the convergence is complete your ‘gods’ are going to tear you to shreds.”

…is a scene that requires about 15-banked successes. A three person team each banking 3-4 successes and throwing in a Bennie or two should be able to accumulate them throughout the course of an adventure.

Small Reveals
Banked successes can also be used on the fly for small reveals throughout the course of the adventure; for such things like having loaded blanks in a gun (Assuming that it hasn’t been fired effectively on screen) or having lifted a key. A small reveal requires the expenditure of a Bennie and then any successes needed to accomplish the task; generally a small reveal should be limited to 5 successes or less.

Note:
I don’t know if any of this will actually work. It seems solid on paper, like it would make the game move just a little faster as players attempt to leave options open for later reveals but I’ve seen what my players are able to do with just a little rope so I don’t know if this would work.
If anyone tries it I would very much appreciate hearing about how it went. Thanks

 

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