The Circus is Coming!

From: Paul Reilly (paul@venus.phyast.pitt.edu)
Date: Mon 25 Feb 1991 - 09:56:33 EET



{Did anyone else notice that the Genertela Player's Book listed "Entertainer"
as one of the two recommended occupations for Holy Country PCs? Well, here is a group of NPC Entertainers from Kethaela who may be found there or anywhere else easily reached, such as Sartar or the Western seacoast states...}

Vimini's Six Circles of Delight
  Vimini is one of the greatest entertainers of Esrolia and indeed of Kethaela. Old but still hearty, he has achieved his life's desire by appearing before the Pharoah. He did it by organizing some of the best available entertainment from each of the six Kethaelan provinces and billing this show as a patriotic tribute to the Holy Country and the Pharoah. Each of the six major acts appears with backdrops, props, and scripted dialogue supposedly representative of the native life in their province.
  There are several "minor acts" also that take place in between the major acts. After the Holy Performance, the troop became so well-known that they are regularly featured in such places as the Great Market Fair of Nochet and other Kethaelan fairs and festivals. Recently they have been going out of the Holy Country after a suggestion from the Pharoah's Foreign Relations Office that they might serve well as "goodwill ambassadors" to various nations such as Nolos and even Loskalm. Vimini suspects that one or more government agents are in his troop, using their travels as a cover, but he doesn't know who.

 The Procession:
  When entering a major town or city, and before a performance if the "stage" area can accommodate the whole circus, Vimini's artistes will stage a parade showing off most or all of their members, although some of the acts are deliberately kept secret until they perform, such as the Big Black Wagon.

   The order of the rest of the acts and the exact nature of their performances is highly dependent on the venue. Normally the performance might go on all day, with possible extensions into several days ready if appropriate.
  When all is done, after encores and whatever else, the performers usually do a rousing song and dance with some magical effects and then "vanish" into their tents or somewhere, only to return about half an hour later and begin cleaning up.

The Six Major Acts:
Gerard's Flaming Dancers
  Gerard's Dancers represent the best of the ritual fire dancers of Caladraland and brave death by dancing on hot coals and in flames. Gerard always instructs the audience not to distract the dancers by applause or heckling while they are in the flame-trance lest they break the trance and cause serious burns to the dancers.

Mikah's Aerial Acrobats
  Mikah has a well-trained family of acrobats who perform death-defying feats skillfully and aesthetically. These acrobats represent the Orlanthi of Heortland, supported as they are only by the wind. Their acts include human pyramids, jumping with various "see-saw" type assists, and tigh-rope-walking. Rather than a net they have several one-use Fly spells, as they are mostly Orlanth initiates. They are quite devout and the family patriarch Mikah is a qualified acolyte, with a little mobile shrine that he sets up to conduct Orlanth Worship services at for his family and for any initiates in the audience who accept his invitation to attend. The shrine offers Worship Orlanth. This spell is known to Micah, as are Sanctify, Mindlink*3, Heal Wound, Decrease Wind, and Shield 3.

Gretella's Gorgeous Girls
  These sixteen lovelies will "perform the sacred dances of Ernalda before your very eyes" and are housed in their own tent. Gretella is in fact a Donander priestess, but he and the girls in fact are all from Esrolia, as advertised. Each of the girls wears a representation of the Earth and Fertility Runes and as little more as local custom allows.   Gretella has several uses of Harmonize and sometimes uses this on the newer girls or for a particularly tricky maneuver.   Gretella has a portable shrine and will hold services for the girls and initiates, or separate service that include lay members. Often new male lay members join for a single Worship ceremony (for a moderate fee) in the hopes of meeting these beauties backstage, as it were.   Consider these girls to run about 20 APP and 20 DEX given their natural high characteristics and the sorcerous enhancements of Scarabus.

  The Marshwalkers
  These men on stilts represent the people of the Rightarm Islands and their comical acrobatics and mime are actually often based on subtleties of Rightarmi culture; Rightarm Islanders who see the act usually laugh twice as hard as anyone else rather than become offended. (The act typically depicts a sort of ridiculous home life with all the normal tasks thereof, such as cooking, games, and fistfights, played out entirely on stilts. For those readers unfamiliar with the Rightarm Islands, they are separated by shallow water at high tide and only by marsh at low tide and the people who live there normally live by fishing, harvesting marsh birds, etc. Some of them actually use stilts, which are mentally associated with all the Islanders by many outsiders, ridiculous though this may seem to the Islanders themselves. They see a caricature of foreigner's ignorant opinions in the antics of these clown-like entertainers.)   Sometimes these people have their own act (and always during a "crown performance") and sometimes they are used as "in-betweeners", depending on Vimini's professional judgement and how many in-betweeners are available.

Scarabus the Sorcerer
  Supposedly trained by the Brithini of Refuge, this stage magician augments his sorcerous displays with cunning artifice and prestidigitation. He represents the God Forgot Islands in the show. He presents spells, tricks, mind-reading, and phantasms which vary depending on what he has prepared and the tastes of the audience. For example, any Western audience is jaded with sorcery and will be more amazed by illusions such as levitating a lovely young assistant when the Wizards in the audience are invited to verify that this miracle is performed using _no_magic_of_any_kind.   Scarabus is often the second-to-last act, presenting his illusions after sundown when the lower ambient light level renders them more impressive.

   Scarabus has several spells of use to the entire company, such as Enhance DEX, beloved by acrobats, and Enhance APP, popular with the dancers and some of the other entertainers. With his 17 INT, he can usually keep these stats upped by four or five points on everyone who needs them.

  The Big Black Wagon
  This wagon is kept a big mystery. At some point it will be wheeled out and a strange drumming will sound from within. Then out billows the darkness, rendering the whole place spooky and cold. Strange wailing and chanting in Darktongue comes out of the wagon, then out come the trolls, clad in black and red. Some are huge, some tiny; all are well-schooled in their acts which depict various aspects of life on the Shadow Plateau. They have a sling sharp shooter, a magician who controls the darkness, some great troll and trollkin slaves.
  While these people are very popular in Kethaela due to the relative familiarity and trust Kethaelans have in trolls nowadays (and the sense of security and triumph engendered by the human Pharoah's defeat of the trollish Only Old One) they often are left behind when the circus goes to countries unfamiliar with or hostile to trolls.
  The trolls also serve some of the same functions as the elephants in a circus: they provide great strength when it is needed and consume vast quantities of food all the time.
  This is often the last act in Kethaela, taking place well after sundown when the trolls are most comfortable.

"In-Betweeners"
  These acts are usually done by one or a few people in a smaller area while everyone else cooperates to get things ready for the next major act. These acts come and go according to how popular they are and circumstance; often when travelling Vimini will pick up "local talent" to serve this function and to build up local goodwill. Three examples of in-betweeners who have been with the circus awhile are listed below.

Hypatia Felicita
  Originally bought as a slave from Sartarite traders, Hypatia has proven a valuable addition to the circus for her dancing and sable-riding skills. She also knows how to cook, clean, and sew and does this in addition to her act.
{Political reason for inclusion: to show a captured Lunar}

Xylara's Amazing Animals
  Xylara is very exotic looking herself, as she certainly has at least half Agimori blood. She is originally from Prax and was traded as a slave until she wound up in Vimini's ownership; he had divined her amazing skill with animals. In her homeland she was an Eiritha acolyte or priestess before being captured into slavery by the High Llama tribe and sold at Pimper's Block.
  Xylara has many tame animals that she uses in her act, including two zebras, a mountain cat, two black panthers, some giant beetles (!), and a violet-and- black giant butterfly or moth. All of these animals do tricks and would defend Xylara if it is within their idiom, because they love her to distraction.

  Ditali Tribal Dancers
  Actually Esrolians dressed up as Ditali, poorly but amusingly aping some of the better-known caperings of the deer-men. Actual Ditali may be very offended but Vimini is sharp enough to cut the act if these appear in his audience.

  Wandor the Wanderer.
  Wandor is supposedly a great barbarian warrior who will wrestle or swordfight with all comers (one at a time, of course.) Anyone wishing to fight him must put up a stake which varies according to the venue but is usually around one Theyalan shilling, about 80 RQ3 pennies. Return is (usually) a Theyalan pound (960 RQ3 P) if he is defeated, or two shillings if you last three minutes.   {Wandor's actual background is up to the GM to determine; he may be anything from an actual "barbarian" warrior, to a disinherited Western Knight, to an ogre exceptionally good at fighting and acting, to an outcast Vormaini ronin shipwrecked and picked up by Vimini. In any case, he will be good enough to beat twelve out of thirteen opponents who challenge him, which should include all but the greatest PC's. Remember that his challengers will be the best that any local place can offer. Since he is so specialized and does this all the time, his Sword and Grapple skills should be over 100%; how much more depends on your campaign.}
  Wandor is truly one of the great swordsmen of the day, who could be out slaying tremendous monsters or fighting at the front of armies if that was what he felt like doing. He prefers the circus life, and professes to not like hurting anyone. He will warn people who challenge him that they risk getting hurt, and if they then agree to fight, he will feel no guilt if they get hurt.   When asked if it wouldn't be more honorable to find a liege lord and join an army, he will reply, "Better that one man should fight for the entertainment of hundreds than that hundreds of men fight for the entertainment of one."



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