Magic flames cast a reddish glow over the interior of this tent, revealing a low table covered in a black velvet cloth. Glints of light seem to flash from a crystal ball on the table as a hunched figure peers into its depths. As the crone speaks, her voice crackles like dry weeds. “At last you have arrived!” Cackling laughter bursts like mad lightning from her withered lips.
-Madam Eva, Curse of Strahd
The Vistani are an odd society within the young race of humans, but any historian would find them no less interesting than even the oldest of dwarves or elves.
Vistani have no true home, and no place where they are truly welcome for years on end. Rather, they are wandering folk who only stay in one place for a few days at a time, setting up a temporary encampment. They never truly fit in anywhere, and thus never outstay their welcome in any one place. However, any time they do visit somewhere, they are very welcoming to others -throwing parties, hosting dog fights, and other joyful activities. They are usually very high of spirit.
Reputation for Thievery
The Vistani, being a wandering people, also have a reputation for petty thievery -and worse. Many people keep a hand on their coin-purses when Vistani arrive, and store their most valuable items in strongboxes until they leave. A Vistani’s tricks can from from pick-pocketing to conning to kidnapping – sometimes, when a group of Vistani left, a missing child goes with them, to be raised as one of their own.
Thus, Vistani face a healthy dose of rudeness and bias, if something is stolen, a Vistani probably stole it. If a child is rowdy, a wife slothful, or a cow dry, it is usually blamed on the Vistani if they are around.
Curseweavers and Card Readers
The Vistani also weave curses, ranging from mild annoyances to debilitating hexes rivaling a hag’s might. Many fear a group of Vistani, and thus allow a Vistani encampment to stay near their village for a while. It also makes those same people afraid to press an accusation of thievery against a Vistani, despite the likelihood that the Vistani was at fault. However, a lone Vistani, cut off from the encampment, could easily be accused and imprisoned, with the commoners confident in their numbers.
The oldest and wisest Vistani similarly have premonistic magic that allows them to briefly glimpse into the future. This can be done by reading bones, entrails, or using a special deck of cards called a tarokka deck. These cards, each having an image on one of their sides, signal different events that may take part in the future.
Vistani generally have slightly darker skin than white, along dark hair and eyes. They also share these following characteristics:
Ability Score Increase. Your Charisma score increases by 1, and another ability score of your choice increases by 2, or your Charisma score increases by 2, and another ability score of your choice increases by 1.
Age. Vistani reach adulthood in their late teens and live less than a century.
Alignment. Given their free roaming and perchant for thievery, Vistani tend towards chaos and either neutrality or evil.
Size. Vistani vary as widely in height and width as as other humans, from barely 5 feet to well over 6 feet tall. Regardless of your position in that range, your size is Medium.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
Language. You can speak, read, and write Common and one extra language of your choice. Vistani typically learn the languages of other peoples they deal with, including obscure dialects. They are fond of sprinkling their speech with words borrowed from other tongues: Orc curses, Elvish musical expressions, Dwarvish military phrases, and so on.
Evil Eye. You know the friends cantrip. Once you reach 3rd level, you can cast the animal friendship spell once per day at it’s lowest level. When you reach 5th level, you can also cast the hold person spell once per day at it’s lowest level.
Charisma is your spellcasting ability for these spells.
Family Knowledge. You have advantage on any Intelligence (History) check involving Barovia and it’s past.
Vistani Blood. You can pass through the mists of Barovia without suffering any ill effects, but cannot take anyone non-Vistani with you.
Variant: Vistani Curses
Some Vistani can innately curse others. Your Dungeon Master might allow these variant trait, which replaces the Vistani’s Evil Eye trait:
Vistani Curses. You know the presdigitation cantrip. Once you reach 3rd level, you can cast the hex spell once per day. When you reach 5th level, you can also cast the bestow curse spell once per day but when the bestow curse spell ends you take 10 (3d6) psychic damage. Charisma is you spellcasting ability for these spells.
Servants of Strahd
Long ago, a group of Vistani took in a badly injured young man, nursing him back to health. The man was Strahd von Zarovich, who waged a successful and bloody crusade against his family’s enemies and eventually settled in a land he named Barovia, after he late father King Barov.
After that, the land descended into darkness, with walls of mist trapping the scared Barovians inside. But the Vistani were allowed to come and go as they pleased, and even establish a more permanent home at Tser Pool. In exchange, many of them spy for Strahd, and they would all be known as Strahd’s servants but for one shining example: Ezmerelda d’Avenir, a veteran monster hunter, is a lost Vistana who decided not to rejoin them, to instead help the people of Barovia against their dark master.