I’ve decided to try something a little different this time. I thought it might be fun to try a collaborative effort with my fellow bloggers! Essentially what I will do is give a bit of information about something, in this instance The Greenwheel Carnival, and then ask you to come up with some fun encounters, settings, NPCs, stories, or any other thing you can think of that would involve the carnival. I will then add these to the post as they come in! Sound like fun? I really hope you come up with something! Serious or comedic, light or heavy, bring it on! If this works out well, then I might make it a regular thing, perhaps once a month or so. But first, the Carnival…
The Greenwheel Carnival: A Collaboration Prompt
The carnival comes to town perhaps once every few years. It has a wide range, traveling from poor country village to rich barony, settling for a few nights, and then as quick as a evening has packed up and continued on. Though none in the town really speak of the carnival when it’s not around, when it comes an atmosphere of excitement electrifies the hold. The few nights it settles on the grassy downs outside the walls are rarely boring, and the strange sights, sounds, and thrills it brings are a welcome respite from a simple agrarian existence.
The motleyed band of strangers that run the carnival are mysterious, a mix of races and cultures that many in the small holdfast had never come across before. They are welcoming, however, and bring with them wonders from far across the world, and beyond if some of the carnies are to be believed.
The carnival rolls in like a fog at dusk, unexpectedly as they do not keep a schedule, and the town is soon drawn into an excitement that is quite out of place. The most stoic farmer counts his coppers, or gathers food for trade, hoping to catch sight of some miracle or sorcery. For those few nights, the hold is a different world, one where the unexpected should be expected, and caution is seemingly thrown to the wind.
Who leads this carnival of mystery and magic? A short, squinty eyed man, dressed in brightly colored merchants clothes and wearing a purple feathered cap. He has a large moustache, dyed green, that extends down to his stomach. He speaks quickly, and his words wash over whom he speaks to like a slow ocean wave. His name is simply Almande.
It is called the Greenwheel Carnival because the carriages are all painted in rich greens, including the wheels, and a few of the tents and pinions are generally of that color, though many other bright colors can be found among the grounds. Anything that you can imagine, or at least that a peasant or local lord could imagine, can be around a tent corner in the carnival. What wonders will you find?
People, Places, and Things Within the Carnival
This is where you come in, dear reader. I’ll start with one thing (an encounter, an NPC, a location, etc.) as an example, and then I shall rely on you to come up with other things strange and wondrous that someone might come across at the Greenwheel Carnival. Feel free to go wild!
Till and Mill’s Wondrous Illusions
At the carnival there is a small unassuming stage, the curtains a deep purple color and embroidered with stars and moons. The stage remains empty until twilight, when suddenly a purplish billowing smoke heralds the start of a show quite unlike what many who come to the carnival have seen.
Two gnomish twin brothers, Till and Mill, perform great feats of illusion while telling tales of ancient days. The illusions follow the narrative of their stories, and the crowd will see great and monstrous creatures, heroes and villains, and hovering windows showing great cities, castles, and temples of the past. Great sorcerers will seem to do battle on stage, and even the Gods themselves will seem to come down on glowing nimbuses to bestow gifts on the ancient heroes. Then, at the stroke of midnight, the lights disappear, the curtains close. Till and Mill never show themselves, until twilight comes again.
It is possible that they may ask for a member of the audience to participate in the story, and a simple farmhand or milkmaid will find themselves outfitted in the raiments of kings and heroes, and made to do battle with giant serpents or dragons. Perhaps one of the PCs is called on stage, and if she performs well enough, Till and Mill may reward her?
Ivorysmile’s Mobile Apothecary and Medicine Emporium
Ivorysmile’s wagon is large and heavy, taking four unhappy looking oxen to pull it from place to place. The green paint scheme on the wagon is enhanced by various plants growing in window boxes and climbing up the sides of the wagon which is painted with stylized herbs and plants, the real and unreal intertwining.
When open for business, there is a canvas awning set up and straw mats placed on the ground. Tables of gathered herbs, bottles and jars full of plants, seeds and odd powers and are stacked up and small boxes contain the more exotic materials back with Ivorysmile has a set of scales, mixing bowls, pill makers and more, all ready to “cure any ill and treat any ailment” as he puts it. Any common medicine or cure, along with a variety of common nostrums for those who will not take his advice, is available along with some more exotic remedies which he keeps close at hand and away from sticky fingers.
Aurson Ivorysmile is tall and thin with heavily-lidded dark eyes. His fingers are long and dexterous and most have rings on them. His skin is pale and -in some lights- has a slight green cast. He wears simple robes with pockets everywhere and often covers his bald head with a tightly wrapped turban. Ivorysmile happily plays up his foreign and exotic appearance, making obscure comments on occult subject to confer an air of otherness about himself.
Ivorysmile is an amazingly competent apothecary and alchemist, his current focus is tailoring cures and potions to various species. As part of this he is willing to offer potions to people at highly competitive rates if they promise to report back to him on the effectiveness of the various mixes and tweaks. He is always interested in acquiring potion, alchemical items and -most of all- research and formula of such, for those he will offer a fair price in coin but a very good value of trade.
Ivorysmile is distantly related to snakemen or dragons or both, even he may not know, but he is able to speak with snakes and reptiles and is near immune to their venom. He has access to a variety of occult and secret alchemical techniques that he has gained in his travels and researches, all of his notes and journals is kept in his personal cypher. Among the things that Ivorysmile keeps in his wagon is a wide variety of poisonous snakes, that are all very friendly to him. But uninvited guests are likely to have a rude surprise.
(via the highly creative Bia Helvetti of Child of the Island)
Madame Merspurious runs the carnival candy stall – a candy stall with a difference. This is a hat-tip to the excellent ‘fumbles and crits’ of which I am huge fan. I’ve provided some ideas here but Madame Merspurious is constantly updating her hoard of confectionary delights.
This is how it works: The players are not privy to the effects of each type of sweet until they draw one from the bag and either eat it themselves or give it to another PC or NPC to eat. When making a purchase from the stall, players are told the name of the sweets available and their prices. A d20 roll determines how many sweets in the bag. It would be a nice touch to actually have bags of real sweets to give out (can’t have tts without snacks, right? Just keep those sticky fingers away from the game pieces! Yikes!)
Each time a sweet is eaten the character experiences the effect based on a d20roll (as per fnc) (some sweets have only one effect so no roll required) and a d10 roll determines how many rounds the effect lasts.
Levi-cakes: These cakes cause the eater to rise immediately off the ground to a maximum height of 12ft. Some cakes are a little old and the magic has worn off. roll: 1-9: It works! Roll d10 as above. 10-20 uh-oh! You rise six feet and crash to earth with a nasty bump. Roll damage.
Claggum: This stuff sticks absolutely ANYTHING to ANYTHING! (Works like sovereign glue – be careful!)
Sneakle Taffy: The consumer can chose one rogue skill equal to their level to use for d10 rounds.
Fumblebugs: roll 1-6: glumbugs: The consumer suffers a major attack of depression and all their actions are inhibited as a result. roll 7 – 11: numbugs: The consumer is paralyzed as if turned to jelly. roll 12 – 20: dumbugs: The subject becomes incredibly dumb and can’t use any intelligence based skills.
Demon Drops: Sucking one of these will cause a demon to rise from the abyss. It may do your bidding…then again, it may not. roll 1-9: It obeys you. roll 10 – 20: It attacks you.
Honeybone: The favourite treat of all carnivorous beasts – soothes even the most savage. Ever wanted a pet Owl Bear? You may not have a choice…
Clotsicles: Vampires go nuts for this stuff. If your faced with a vamp, this could just distract them for long enough – or even make them your new best friend.
Gummy Owlbears: Just what it says on the packet. Delightful fruit flavoured jellies shaped like sweet little owlbears. No magical effects.
Ice-dream-cones: Dream inducing ice-cream. Will those dreams be blissful, restorative, proffectic, or psyche-wrecking nightmares? roll 1-9: Sweet dreams act to heal minor wounds. roll 10 – 20: Nightmares cause 1d6 psychic damage.
Toffee snapples: Usually safe, sometimes they bite back! roll 1 – 17: A tasty treat. roll 18 – 20: Ouch! 1d4 damage.
Hopefully that’s a bit of fun that you can build on
Blessings on your game, ‘may all your hits be crits…and no fumbles!’ Bia
Nardo Davinchi has set up a stall offering to draw carnival-goers’ portraits. He’ll ask about their profession, and any adventurers will be caricatured fighting a monster — if the character suggests something he’ll draw that, otherwise he’ll choose a random monster (roll on whatever random table you feel is appropriate — wilderness encounter tables based on the nearby terrain, or a dungeon stocking table, where the dungeon level is equal to the character’s level, etc.).
While the resulting caricature is reasonably accurate, it packs a bit of a surprise. Within d20 days the illustrated monster will come to life and escape the drawing. It will focus its attacks on the character depicted in the drawing, if he/she is nearby; otherwise it will behave as usual for its kind. Nardo is vaguely aware that his inks are enchanted but for some reason the drawings never to come to life while in his possession so the samples in his stall are inert.
Adventure seed: Nardo has wandered off, been pressed onto a ship’s crew, or otherwise turns up missing, and a day or two later the monsters in the drawings in his stall begin to come to life, perhaps a few at a time each night while no-one is watching. Will the party figure out the source of the monster plague before his drawings of dragons and pit fiends animate? Or maybe he has left behind a sketchbook filled with doodles of scores of mischievous goblins who will turn the carnival into a Goblin Market…
Now it is your turn! As I said before, go wild! And don’t worry, I promise not to rip off your ideas later. Well, beyond the privacy of my game table, anyway.