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Roman made a very small cameo in the "Yellow" Trailer before being properly introduced in "Ruby Rose". There, he orchestrated the robbery of Dust supplies from the store From Dust Till Dawn, but was ultimately foiled by Ruby Rose and briefly imprisoned by Atlas forces after a Vale Grimm invasion.
Roman had slanted, dark-green eyes and bright, long, orange hair, with long bangs covering his right eye. Black eyeliner traced his visible left eye.
He wore a red-lined white suit with long black pants and black shoes. His accessories included a small gray scarf, black gloves with buckled sleeves, and a black bowler hat with a small feather tucked into its red band.
Roman was often seen smoking cigars, and he kept a small zippo-style lighter on hand at all times.
Roman's personality was a mixture between that of a formal gentleman and a ruthless criminal. He emitted charm and spoke calmly even in the middle of an armed robbery. Roman emitted hostility when upset or frustrated, as seen in "No Brakes" when he ordered the White Fang to help him shoot Ruby as she escaped, bent his weapon and slammed a subordinate backward.
He also demonstrated a ruthless streak, evidently willing to use lethal force on Ruby when she foiled his scheme, even going so far as to laugh after successfully shooting her down in "Black and White". In "Heroes and Monsters", he even chastised Ruby for her being blind to the cruelty of the real world while trying to beat her with his cane. Judging by his elaborate outfit and accessories, Roman also had expensive tastes, a common stereotype of Mafia Dons and other organized crime kingpins.
Despite working with the White Fang, he had no respect for them and discriminated against Faunus in general. On several occasions, he talked to or about them in a derogatory fashion, referring to them as "mutts" or "animals". It is unclear if this is representative of hostility towards the Faunus in general or him acting out his frustrations towards having to work with the group. It was also clear that he held some level of irritation towards Cinder Fall and her faction, as he was both kept under pressure to steal large amounts of Dust and be kept in the dark about Cinder's plans. He also often took to mocking, taunting and insulting his enemies. This quality persisted even when he was in very difficult situations, such as when he was imprisoned and interrogated by James Ironwood.
In "Heroes and Monsters", he revealed that he worked with Cinder's faction under the belief that nobody can stop them, and he could not afford to lose, considering himself a gambling man who knew what bets not to take. Despite his self-serving personality, it is shown that Roman genuinely cared for his right-hand woman Neo to the point that he was both saddened and angered when she was blown away from the airship during their fight against Ruby. In his final moments, Roman revealed his perception that he ended up the way he was because it was the only way he could survive the harshness of the world.
In the manga adaptation, which alters several things from the canon source, Roman's personality has been changed. In this version, he is portrayed as an unhinged sadist who looks forward to the slaughter the Breach will involve. After Ruby is captured he has her tied to a chair with the intention of letting the White Fang torture her to death showing that he is incredibly cruel and merciless to his enemies. His relationship with Neo has also been changed as shown when after saving his life, Roman coldly tells her to "mind her place" and even threatens to kill her if she "interferes" again.
Powers and AbilitiesEdit
Roman operated as a formidable fighter despite never having discovered his Semblance. Roman fought using his signature cane-cannon, Melodic Cudgel. In "Black and White", Roman was shown to be adept in using his cane as a melee weapon. He was very capable in reflexes and parrying, able to hold his own against both Blake and Sun Wukong as swift opponents, deflecting nearly all of their ranged and close quarter attacks.
He had the skills to use Melodic Cudgel offensively, such as using it to hook Blake towards him to deliver a punch or staggering her by whipping her knees. In fact, Roman came close to overpowering Blake, knocking her to the ground and temporarily disarming her.
He also had exceptional accuracy, able to shoot Ruby from a considerable distance along with snatching her by the hood with the grappling hook. Roman was also able to counter all of Ruby's attacks with ease during their fight atop the airship, even when she was using her enhanced speed.
However, Roman was liable to underestimating his opponents and had trouble adapting to surprise attacks. In "No Brakes", Roman found himself unable to counter Blake's use of Dust-augmented Semblance clones and was promptly defeated.
In RWBY: The Official Manga, Roman is shown to be more formidable than as demonstrated in the series, being able to temporarily fight off the entirety of Team RWBY, and later physically strong enough to kick Ruby up several feet into the air with ease.
In "Ruby Rose", Roman was a skilled pilot, as he was able to keep a Bullhead relatively stable even though it was being bombarded with multiple attacks.
In "Painting the Town...", he was also able to operate an Atlesian Paladin-290, effortlessly guiding it through traffic, moving it fast enough to catch up to a fleeing Blake and Sun. He utilized the Paladin's weapons and sensory systems to good effect, yet despite that was unable to defeat Team RWBY.
In "PvP" he was able to pilot an Atlesian Airship all by himself and used it to take down two other Atlesian Airships with ease.
Roman appeared to be a sort of criminal mastermind. By "Best Day Ever", he had reportedly obtained most of the Dust in Vale, showing that his empire was formidable. This image was furthered by "Players and Pieces", for he was seen planning for the Fall of Beacon. He was also good at planning escapes should his schemes fail, escaping on a Bullhead after his failed Dust heists in "Ruby Rose", "Black and White" and after his Paladin is destroyed in "Painting the Town...".
In "Best Day Ever", Roman's pickpocketing skills are shown, lifting a piece of paper from Emerald Sustrai without her knowing despite being in close proximity to her.
- Roman alludes to Romeo Candlewick from the story of Pinocchio. For more information on this allusion, as well as other choices the creators made for this character, see Roman Torchwick/Behind the Scenes.
- Roman's name and weapon could relate to the famous Roman candle firework, which ejects multiple pyrotechnic stars and is illegal in some countries. Also, Roman's weapon fires a blast that resembles a firework.
- Roman's fighting style seems to be inspired by the martial art of Bartitsu, where practitioners are taught to use a cane as a weapon in addition to various hand-to-hand techniques.
- Roman's emblem is a Jack-O'-Lantern, otherwise known as a Will-O'-The-Wisp or Will-O'-The-Torch, the origin of which was a spirit cursed to roam the world with only a torch/lantern.
- In "Ruby Rose", it is revealed that Roman's criminal identification number within the Vale Police Department is 274761453. This little known Easter Egg is a nod to his name, as the numbers refer to dates relevant to the Roman Empire (Formation of the Roman Empire in 27 BCE, Fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 CE and Fall of the Byzantine/Eastern Roman Empire in 1453 CE).
- Roman miming slitting his throat at Emerald and Mercury Black behind Cinder's back in "Best Day Ever" was not scripted. It was a character moment added in by Shane Newville.