Ancient rome
City Life
  • Crime: Petty crime is prevalent, especially in lower class districts. Robbery, assault, and pickpocketing are facts of life. Break-and-entry threatens any home not secured by walls, barred windows or armed guards carrying very pointy swords and powerful patronage. Crime varies considerably throughout the districts; outright murder occurs with little attention in the Subura, whereas the Quirinal rarely sees open violence and suppresses it immediately. Cainites make it their business to pick marks carefully with an eye to their surroundings if they want to see the dawn.The Roman legal code has a variety of punishments for crimes, including nearly barbaric options such as branding, torture, enslavement, and crucifixion.
  • Fires: Rome is a city foremost built of wood and open flame. All residents, especially Cainites, dread building fires. Fires happen with depressing regularity and often disastrous consequences. Squatters in ramshackle buildings, untended lamps, and cookstoves are the most common culprits. The city's official fire brigades are often much less effective at combatting fires than the citizenry forming bucket lines and building barricades. Class distinctions evaporate when smoke rises into the air and everyone is expected to contribute to civic defense, or else face the enraged mob afterwards.
  • Law Enforcement: No office police exists in Rome and the squalid jail is not built for long-term incarceration. However, the legal system is highly developed. Personal security options primarily revolve around hiring guards, and for the exalted few, highly trained bodyguards on par with elite army soldiers. Businesses employ armed thugs to deter crime. State investigators are usually private citizens or bureaucrats, whereas martial investigators have military training.
Social Classes

Roman society can be broadly categorized into citizens -- the patrician (high-born) and plebeian (commoners), foreigners, and slaves. Like Britain today, Romans are highly class-conscious, though the possibility of social mobility through marriage, wealth, and inheritance weakened the traditional plebeian and patrician divide. The gulf between the upper and lower classes was immense, and social class determines economic and political opportunities.

  • Citizens: They pay taxes to the empire, fall subject to its laws, and receive legal protection. Men may wear togas, and serve in public office or as military officers. Roman women are not emancipated, except as widows and Vestal virgins.
    • Patricians: The senators and the equestrians compose the upper classes. Senators are a political class dominated by the nobles (nobiles), families whose ancestors included at least one consul, and new men, the first man in a family elected to the senate. Senatorial families hold property worth at least 1,000,000 sesterces. The equestrians are an economic class dominated by wealthy individuals and families with property worth 400,000 sesterces, and allowed participation in trade and public contracts.
  • Foreigners: The "Peregrini" are freeborn men and women from Roman or foreign territories.
  • Slaves: Roman law treats slaves (servi) as chattel and property of their owners. They hold no independent rights. Slaves may buy their freedom or manumitted by their masters; they become freedpeople (libertini), and owe certain duties to their former masters. Libertini may not hold public office and cannot become citizens, unless formally manumitted by their citizen masters.

The patronage system underpins the Roman class system. In this system, a patron provides benefits to their clients in return for services, favours, and social support. Patricians give protection, legal representation, and physical resources to plebeian and freedpeople clients. Acquiring clients consumes the upper classes as an invaluable political tool and a show of power. Senators use their social armies to build support for their policies, while aspiring military officers seek influential clients to support their ambition.

  • System: The Influence and Allies backgrounds model the patronage system. Allies represent a personal patron or client you may call upon for assistance. Influence fields indicate where your social support lies and how you may leverage patronage for your benefit.

The Kindred elevate patronage to byzantine levels of complexity. An intricate network of obligations binds a citizen to her clan, tribunal, coterie, and sire. Neonates become clients to Elder patrons almost by default. Favours done for other vampires come with strings attached, and a wise Cainite becomes selective about those she accepts or refuses. Conflicting requests cause unpleasant dilemmas in the vicious social world of the Eternal Senate. However, patronage provides a fluid means of social advancement beyond wealth and property. Patrons rising into new positions recruit among their faithful followers for plum positions or choice opportunities. Many a tribune was plucked from obscurity for services well done, though failure in the limelight can damn a Cainite's name for decades or centuries.


The duality of religion in Roman society cannot be overstated. Ever pragmatic, for Romans intensity of faith matters less than correct observation of rituals. Gods held a contractual relationship with the household, and the paterfamilias (head of the family) oversaw domestic prayers as part of his daily routine. Yet, the world abounds with spirits, gods, and omens. Superstitious beliefs govern all aspects of daily life, and bad omens halt even imperial business and legions marching to war.

Romans are largely a pluralistic religious society, except the monotheistic Jewish diaspora. Observance of religious rites is a public duty and most citizens participate enthusiastically in a variety of faiths throughout their lives.

  • State Religion: The Roman state religion guards the well-being of the Empire with the Emperor acting as paterfamilias over the "family" of Roman citizens. The pontifex maximus, aided by four religious colleges, performs the holy rites and sacrifices required by the gods. Vestal Virgins tend the sacred hearth fire of Vesta in their temple, a symbol of state prosperity. The state cult pays homage to the deified Caesars, notably Julius, Augustus, and Tiberius, and beseeches the imperial gods to bestow peace upon Rome and success in war. Cult ceremonies blend political, military, and religious significance into a dangerous milieu. All citizens are expected to participate in key festivals and honour the Caesars.
  • Cult Veneration: The myriad of temples in Rome attest to changing tides of popularity among certain faiths. Cults range from tiny, obscure faiths practiced by a handful of peasants to a sprawling laity drawn to the majestic Capitoline complexes to give sacrifice and pray. Olympian gods enjoy traditional support from much of the populace. Cainites co-opt and undermine many smaller cults to their own ends, though this practice earns dismay and disapproval from Camillus. The threat of exposure discourages active cults of personality among the Cainites, although the Tribunal of Augurs is prone to assimilating into a temple or ruling it outright for their own ends.
  • Foreign Faiths: Romans tolerate a diversity of faith in the Empire with few exceptions. Foreign religions abound inside city walls, brought with the empire's expansion. In this age, officials repress druidism and Phoenician cults, and frown upon the worship of Isis, though the latter remains highly popular. The Peregrini and Augur tribunals cooperate to suppress potential Baali and Setite rivals through official edicts and ruthless hunts.
  • Mystery Cults: A mystery cult is a religious cult in which participation is reserved to initiates. Outsiders usually know little of the particulars of initiation or practices. Mithras, a Persian sun deity, has a large martial following among the legions and military. They are immensely popular among Cainites due to the selective entry and code of secrecy towards the uninitiated. Clan Lasombra monitors and organizes mystery religions across Rome as part of their purview.
  • Festivals: Holy days and religious festivals dot the calendar. Religious celebrations are commonplace, and all social classes mix at ceremonies and ritualized pageants to honour the gods. Games in the arenas draw enormous crowds, serving for purposes of entertainment and veneration. Mortal and Cainite politicians use games to demonstrate their wealth or distract the mob from unpopular votes. Roman Cainites hunt freely in the packed streets or intimidate rivals by a show of soft force. The Tribunals of Augurs have steady business casting divinations and performing blessings of their own, though these empty rituals frequently fleece the unsuspecting. Above and beyond Roman holidays, the Senate and clans have a whole panoply of rituals. Some, such as the celebration of the Senate's founding, are solemn affairs open to all citizens. Other esoteric rites are steeped in mystery that even participants know little of what to expect.