Campaign Idea: When The Circus Came to Town

  • 6 Replies
Campaign Idea: When The Circus Came to Town
« on: November 18, 2013, 04:09:07 PM »
My MC and I were throwing ideas for a campaign. Something with semi premade character sheets. We offer positions within the Circus with a bare skeleton of a theme on it (playbook and act) and the players fill the rest (name, look, history).

Ideas we've spun so far.

Regular Playbooks:

Savvyhead: Using Reality’s Fraying Edge (Crystal Ball or Tarot Deck), Oftener Right, and Things Speak we have a fortune teller.
Brainer: Using Casual Brain Receptivity and In-Brain Puppet Strings we have a mentalist and hypnotist "Alexander Id, the man who knows"
Operator: His signature weapon and act is fire breathing. Although it's not enough to be a full time act so he has gigs on the side to afford what he wants.
Skinner: A lot of flexibility in this one, and I don't mean just as a contortionist. With the Pet option one could be the Snake Charmer or Lion Tamer.
Battle Babe: The melee custom weapon could be throwing knives. Dangerous and Sexy can keep people still for some William Tell.
Driver: Could ride Evel Knievel on a motorcycle as well as lead the Circus' caravan when they hit the road.

LE Playbooks:

Hoarder: Runs the Freakshow cough cough "Museum of Marvels". Human, animal, and fantastic plants alike are part of his menagerie. The hoard would be conscious and truly hungry. What wonders are behind those doors? Will you join the collection? The potential for drama here makes me giddy.
Marmot: Beloved circus mascot and the hoarders child in all but blood.
Grotesque: Fan made but this kind of scenario might be the one where they really do fit in.
Faceless: The stong man made up in clown paint. Terrifying. Fear his sledgehammer and squeaky over sized shoes.
Maestro D': The Ring Master of this traveling show. Where people go for the spectacle, the illusions, the thrills, and maybe even good old fashioned fun for the family. The establishment always has new venues, players can be integrated into the crew and tighten relationships. The de facto leader and face to this mob under the big top and functions like the Hardholder would in most campigns.

This is all we have at the moment and I'd love some input or ideas from you guys. "Every crowd has a silver lining" and all that.

Re: Campaign Idea: When The Circus Came to Town
« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2013, 12:30:21 AM »
I was going to make a long post wherein I deconstruct how Apocalypse World intersects with the ideas of a motley crew of circus performers and how to harness their reinforcement of each other for optimal roleplaying.

But here's a shorter version: Gimmie 8D

I've wanted to do more con play using Love Letters etc - this would actually be a pretty good idea. Or you could easily tweak it for different systems and settings (I played in a World of Darkness game where being members of a traveling circus kept the PCs out from (most) mortal scrutiny).

Re: Campaign Idea: When The Circus Came to Town
« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2013, 03:36:57 PM »
YarrumI thought your name was familiar. You've mentioned doing convention sessions of Apoc. If you end up using this idea, please let me know how it plays out. Nothing fleshes out fun ideas like a real run, yeah?

Re: Campaign Idea: When The Circus Came to Town
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2013, 09:26:42 PM »
I sure will!



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Re: Campaign Idea: When The Circus Came to Town
« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2013, 06:42:25 PM »
I once played a Maestro D' who was the head of a traveling circus. Most of the other players weren't from my ship (it was a firefly-esque setting), but it made for some fun npc creation and scene setting. We had a small ferris wheel that fit inside the ship. When someone died, a funeral would be held by it; each member of the crew took a small item belonging to the person (because the setting was to desolate to afford giving things up), rode once around the wheel, and moved on. It was awesome. Oh, and when the faceless joined the crew he totally fit in ; )

I do like the idea of an all-circus cast. Thanks for the post!
Welcome to Jwokalypse World

Re: Campaign Idea: When The Circus Came to Town
« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2014, 09:53:57 PM »
Pardon the necropost, but I'm running with this idea all the way to KublaCon. I wanted to post the "circus rules" here, as it were.  I'll probably end up asking the PCs what their characters do, and have them roleplay the whole 'circus thing', but I wanted to get some ideas down so I would be ready. These aren't necessarily what I'll bring or use, they're just ideas.

For all PCs: when you do your circus thing!, choose one other PC, then describe your act in detail (pulling a rad stunt for the Daredevil, making an introduction for the Ringmaster, etc). Even if the actual in-character action only lasts a few seconds, please oh please chew the scenery. Then, your chosen PC and the MC simultaneously vote thumbs-up or thumbs-down (depending on whether they think your audience will like your act). Both thumbs up - you're high on good vibes from the crowd, take +1 forward! One up, one down - you're a little distracted today, give +1 Hx (or -1) to the PC who voted for you. Both down - it's a tough crowd, take -2 on your roll, but mark experience for pushing through.

Angel/Showdoc - when you make your character, also choose one of the following:
  • Miralce Worker - when you successfully heal an NPC, choose one - they are generous (they pay +1 barter, somehow), they are grateful (+1 going forward if they help you with something), or everyone is fucking impressed (give +1 Hx to a PC).
  • Snake Oiler - you make and sell a patent medicine. Choose a stat - when anybody takes a dose, they get +1 to that stat for the remainder of the scene, and they are is now addicted - when they get another dose, they mark experience, and it's acting under fire when they refuse or avoid another dose.

Driver/Daredevil - when you make your character, take the following move in addition to your others:
  • Any crash you can walk away from - take -2 on all harm rolls when you are behind the wheel.

Savvyhead/Soothsayer - when you make your character, instead of a workshop, choose from the following: a meditation room, a bit of another soothsayer (mummy/skull/brain in jar), a pet, a lovely assistant (Page, Silver, Voice, etc), a focus (crystal ball/tarot deck/ouija board), a collection of mystic books, alien artifacts, mind-expanding drugs, a few musical instruments, a haunted pre-apocalypse object. Also, take the following move in addition to your others:
  • Karma ran over my Dogma- you can intervene on behalf of a soul in need, at the expense of future misfortune. After a PC makes a roll, you may declare that you are pulling the strings of fate (or somesuch), and if they agree, they re-roll. Regardless of the outcome, the MC takes 1 hold. Any time after that scene, the MC may spend 1 hold to give a -2 penalty to a roll made by the PC you helped.

Maestro D'/Ringmaster - when you make your character, your establishment is a circus of course!
  • You may also choose attractions from the following: fake violence, brutal violence, dramatic performance, acrobatics, prestidigitation, erotic performances, spiritualism, hope (real or false). For example, if your bread and butter is a big gladiator pit, where the locals can bet on the outcome and munch odd meat while they watch, your main attraction is brutal violence, followed by easy food and games.
  • Instead of regulars and connected NPCs, you are defining members of your crew.

... that's all for now. I'm thinking of others. Again, these may or may not be used - I do have a tendency to over-complicate things with my shiny MC ideas, so at worst, this is me purging, at best, it may help me better understand what may work or not with this kind of setting.[/list]

Re: Campaign Idea: When The Circus Came to Town
« Reply #6 on: May 04, 2014, 03:17:58 PM »
Just one more for now. I'm having a bit of trouble thinking up what might be 're-skinned' any further... also, I'm thinking of excluding at least a few playbooks - e.g. Hardholder (the Maestro D' works better), Hocus (as before, with the Hoarder), the Chopper (might rival the circus too much or compete with the Driver).

Hoarder/Curator - your 'hoard' is the 'Museum of Marvels' (some might call it a freakshow, depending on their sensibilities). You may choose from the following for what sorts of exhibits you display - vicious beasts, clever trained animals, beautifully tragic (or tragically beautiful) people, artifacts and relics (pre- and post-apocalypse), strange talents (contortionist, amputee acrobat), brutal 'talents' (human pincushion, unbreakable bones, etc), mutant plants, dangerous items. If you make a move with your hoard, any living thing you 'borrow' acts with loyalty to you and the hoard, but is not fanatical. You belong to the Museum as much as it belongs to you.