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What if You had to Reboot the Midnight Circus?

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  • What if You had to Reboot the Midnight Circus?

    As the title says, you are tasked with rebooting or remaking the old cWoD crossover, the Midnight Circus, for modern editions (Revised or 20th). You're free to change things however you like so long as you stick to the general concept of the Midnight Circus, with one caveat: This is no longer just a crossover between the cWoD Big Five (VtM, MtAs, WtA, CtD, and WtO) but now must also include the rest (HtR, MtR, and DtF). How would you change things?

  • #2
    The ... thing, known among the supernatural and the twilight folk who've heard of it as The Dark Carnival (but also at times as the Midnight Circus, the Black Cabaret, the Theatre of Shadows, and other names), is a mystery. It appears in a town or area, seemingly out of nowhere, sets up for a time, and moves on. It is known to have existed since the Dark Ages, if not earlier. Sometimes the Carnival takes lives, other times souls, always futures. In their place, it leaves - often unwanted - wisdom or other gifts. The attractions vary from time and place, but tend to include a lot of the classics, such as fortune tellers, illusionists, freak shows, and carnival rides. Sometimes more ... exotic entertainment it offered, with things that beggar the imagination or even break the mind.
    The "face" of the Carnival is The Showman. He is basically a cross between Alice Cooper's Showman character in the Neil Gaiman/Michael Zulli graphic novel The Last Temptation and Johnathan Pryce's portrayal of Mr. Dark in the 1983 adaption of Something Wicked This Way Comes, while also drawing some influences from Peter Fonda's portray of Mephistopheles in the first Ghost Rider film and Wes Bentley's portrayal of Edward Mordrake in AHS: Freak Show. Exactly what he (or sometimes she) is is a mystery, as are the powers the The Showman and the Carnival answer to. This is so that the Carnival can be adapted as needed to whatever game you're playing. If its plain Vampire, then it may just be an ancient vampire at the heart of things. Or something more nebulous. If Demon, then maybe it's an Earthbound, or some sort of broken angel. And so on.
    The various acts follow a similar pattern. If this were a sourcebook, they'd be presented in a way similar to Chronicles of Darkness's Night Terror books. This is the section about fortune tellers, including multiple possible members of the Carnival, their possible powers, backstories, and motivations. And the same for the freak show, the clowns, the wax museum, the stunt show, the strong man, the carnival games, etc. The idea is to have maximum customization, and the idea that the Carnival never has to be the same place twice.

    Primary Influences:
    • Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes, and its 1983 movie adaption.
    • Dean Koontz's Twilight Eyes.
    • Erin Morgenstern's Night Circus.
    • Charles G. Finley's The Circus of Dr. Lao, and its 1964 movie adaption as The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao.
    • Neil Gaiman & Michael Zulli's The Last Temptation and The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch.
    • American Horror Story: Freak Show.
    • The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920).
    • The Land of Toys/Pleasure Island segment of Pinocchio.
    • Harry Anderson's Games You Can't Lose: A Guide for Suckers.
    • Knightriders (1981).
    • Waxwork (1988).
    • The "Dig That Cat ... He's Real Gone" episode of Tales From The Crypt.
    • The "Wax Magic" episode of Friday the 13th: The Series.

    What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly. That is the first law of nature.
    Voltaire, "Tolerance" (1764)


    • #3
      Scale it down a lot. Make it stranger and more dangerous.