In this game we play as members of a bizarre and arcane travelling Carnival in the Dustbowl of America’s 30s Depression. Around Texas and Oklahoma were devastating drought and violent dust storms. Dust chases the Carnival across the bleak and dry landscape as we stop at each town we come to, trying to make enough to keep moving, keep ourselves alive. This world is harsh, dry, supernatural, abstract and mystical.
We play freaks and weirdos and those who have been shunned by society for various unique reasons. Each Playbook archetype is a born entertainer, feels accepted by only the Carnival, or can't make a living any other way. A major theme will be the judgement and exploitation by society on those forced into its periphery. Those forced, and those who choose that life.
Each town is a corrupted, twisted example of civilisation. Maybe we belong on the outside, not as pariahs but because the inside is so much worse. I want to enforce a reliance between Carnies and a distrust of the outside. Breaking that mould is possible, but only under compelling circumstances.
The world is filled with dust and rust.
The game revolves around a cycle of movement. The rusted wagons and trucks roll out. The convoy rumbles through the dust and arrives outside a new town. They set up and go into town. Promote their show, get back to Carnival. Run the show, get out of town.
Or they’re chased out.
Each town has particular challenges or other aspects that the PCs will choose to interact with or not. The real colour is in players’ descriptions of the carnival they set up, customizing it for each town.
As Carnies we are uniquely, perhaps preternaturally, equipped to entertain, to amaze, to astound. But in this time we have to find our place, withstand whatever the locals in the towns throw at us, survive first.
The Carnival will be Powered By The Apocalypse.