Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Dr. Theophilus' Traveling Show. A Classic/OSR Murder Circus

I had an urge a while back to build a circus. A shady circus. A murder circus.
This is that attempt.

I think I've left it generic enough to be included without trouble into a variety of genres; fantasy, horror, western, 1920's, etc.

Dr. Theophilus' Traveling Show
The Traveling Show pulls up near a town or village. The head of the circus/ringmaster Dr. Theophilus and the strongman Brunaldi enters town to find the local authority. They will ask permission to camp and put on their shows, sweetening the deal for the local authority by offering bribes and a possible cut of profits.

Once the proper amount is negotiated (or enforced with charm magics) the bright yet shabby tents go up, banners fly, animals are groomed, food stands are fired up, the freaks and performers are prepared, and fliers are handed out by clowns and acrobats. Tickets are available at the booth and the show begins!

While this is happening agents of the Circus will enter the town and find prime locations to rob. They will quietly do so.  If seen committing a crime they will ruthlessly kill any witnesess. If anyone in authority challenges the Circus after this, or demands more bribe money,  they will be killed with impunity and the Circus will travel on, gating to another place far, far away thanks to the dimensional device in Dr. Theophilus' wagon. Sometimes the performers and freaks give into their dark nature, desires, and frustrations and atendees will turn up missing, mutilated, or dead in the wake of the Traveling Show.

Dr. Alphonsus Theophilus, 48, LE
Conman, magician, and all around shady character. Theophilus is a traveler from another dimension lost in reality. Stranded in his current universe he is obsessed with gathering wealth and magics to find his way back to his home dimension. He heads the Traveling Show and uses its potential for profit, information gathering, and robbery to finance and aid in his dream. He will sacrifice anyone or anything not useful to his quest. He retains the broken dimensional gate device which brought him to this realm. It still functions to open a temporary gate from location to location in this reality, with restrictions. He retains strict control over the behavior of his 'employees' but has to occasionally let their darker natures out or risk rebellion and loss of valuable attractions. He has also grown concerned with the presence of the frighteningly unnatural Boppo the King Clown but has so far kept his composure and avoided confrontations.
Magic User- 5
Hp 15
Ac 7/12 (+2 Ring of Protection)
Save Mu 5/11
Int 16, Wis 15, Cha 15
Spells: Dr. Theophilus favors the following spells.
1st: Charm Person, Detect Magic, Protection from Evil,  Read Languages,  Read Magic, Sleep
2nd: ESP, Invisibility, Locate Object, Phantasmal Force
3rd: Hold Person, Lightening Bolt
Potions: Extra healing, Gaseus form
Ring of protection +2
Wand of Detecting Magic, 20', 11 charges
Pistol (1d8), whip (1d2, 10' reach)
Ringmaster hat, clothing

The Gate Device
This collection of whirring gears, smoked mirrors, and cracked crystals fits in a 4'x4' cube. It can be used to open a gate from its current location to a point up to 555 miles distant. The device will allow anyone with spell-casting abilities (spells) scry a safe location and open the gate. It will stay open for one full turn and is large enough to drive a loaded circus wagon through. It can be used once every 24 hours.

Brunaldi the Stongman, 36, NE
Brunaldi is large, bald, mustachioed, and tattooed. He spends his time performing feats of strength and boxing challengers after hours. He is the second in command of Dr Theophilus. Brunaldi is always looking for a way to make himself more valuable to his master and will betray other members of the Circus to put himself in a better position with Theophilus. He is watching Magda the knife-thrower carefully as she has become squeamish with killings.
Hd 5
Hp 34
Ac 8/12 (leather)
Save F5/10
Str 18, Con 18
Unarmed: +2 extra bonus to hit, 1d3 + 3 damage, two attacks per round
Axe (1d8+3 dmg)
knife (1d4+3 dmg)
Thick leather vest, bracers, wide belt

Sabre-Fist, 30's, LE
Sabre-Fist falls into the category of both performer and freak. The son of a famous mercenary he lost his hands in an accident as a child. His father strapped blades on his stumps instead of prosthetic hands and continued to train him. Sabre grew up to be a lethal mercenary and assassin with his trademark blades, now implanted into his arms. His ego allows him enjoys the lifestyle of the Circus; performing tricks for the crowds and defeating challengers to show his skill, but his true passion in life is the perfection of his fighting skills. Women, drink, money, none holds his interest.  He has entertained the idea of fighting Boppo the King Clown; he's seen what the sinister clown can do with his maul, but to his shame is afraid of the King of Clowns. He loathes this cowardice and loathes to take orders from those he considers his lessers and  is vying for Brunaldi's position as second in command and this can cause friction between the two. He is attended by a young mute named Minerva (Hd 1) who attends to his personal cares due to his lack of hands.
Hd 5
Hp 37
Ac  3/16
Save F5/10
Str 16, Dex 18, Int 13
Dual weapon attack (no penalty) or parry with one for a +2 Ac bonus.
Implanted forearm blades (1d6+2), +1 bonus to Initiative: the implanted blades give him a quickness advantage.
Chainmail armor, clothing, boots, leather hood and mask

Magda Cordalena the Mistress of the Knives, 31, N
Magda is of Gypsy (Vistani, etc) blood and is an exotic beauty with black hair and eyes. She is a skilled knife thrower and performer and has found a place for her skills performing. She stays with the Circus for a cut of the profits but she is bothered by killings and disappearances caused by the others. She remains out of fear of Dr. Theophilus' magics and of Brunaldi's watching eyes. She is terrified of Boppo the King Clown and avoids him and his clowns when possible, often hissing at his clown's to get out of her way. If the Circus is destroyed she will run far and fast from the remains.
Hd 3
Hp 18
Ac 4/15 (leather armor)
Save Th3/12
Dex 18, Int 13, Cha 16
+2 extra bonus to hit with throwing bladed weapons.
Can attack four times per round with throwing bladed weapons (no penalty).
Pick Pockets/Sleight of Hand (70%)
Knives (1d4), darts/razor cards/razor blades (1d2)
Leather armor, clothing, boots

Aluwiscious Doyle the "Magnificent Flame Tongue", 27, NE
A mean, skinny, burn-scarred man dressed in bright yellow and red tones with hair dyed a shocking red. Doyle is a pyromaniac and will burn anything around him that he can get away with. His favorite tactic of attack is to approach a victim from behind and spit a stream of fire on him. Evil little bastard. He is held on a tight leash by Dr. Theophilus and Brunaldi but will be turned loose for maximum carnage when required.
Hd 4
Hp 18
Ac 7/12
Save F4/11
Dex 16, Wis 13
Firebreather: Ranged attack, stream of fire 15' long, 2d6 damage first round/ continues to burn for 1d6 in the 2nd round, Save for half damage. One an attack roll of one: 1 or 2 on a 1d6 chance to light self on fire for damage.
Burning brands (1d4 fire damage)
Fiery bottles: Ranged, 30' range, 15' splash area, 2d6 first round/1d6 2nd round, Save for half damage
Gaudy clothing

Jessup, the Archer, 38, LE
Jessup is a skilled bowman, a natural hunter, and showman. His past is a mystery to the rest of the circus. Jessup is an assumed name. He is wanted far away for the murder of his brother and sister-in-law in a fit of passionate jealousy and rage. His number one priority is his safety and separation from his former identity. If either is challenged he will attempt to kill the threatening person on the spot and preferably hide the body in the woods. He is paid well by Dr. Theophilus and doesn't mind using his skills to murder for his master. He holds himself above looting, rape, and other practices he considers barbaric. If a particularly lucky or skilled opponent gives him a good fight or chase he may let them escape as long as they do not know his secrets.
Hd 4
Hp 30
Ac 6/14 (leather)
Save F4/11
Str 16, Dex, 17, Int 15, Wis 16, Cha 15
+2 extra bonus to hit with bow attacks
One extra bow attack per round
Ranged sneak attack, +4 hit/x2 damage if victim unaware
Move Silently/ Hide in Shadows (65% outdoors, 33% in non-natural settings)
Track and Survival (60%)
Bow and arrows.
Dagger (1d4+2)
Black leather armor, black clothing, boots, belts

The Amazing Vardowski, 45
Vardowski is a Psychic (see Mentalist HERE) of some skill and little self control. Dr. Theophilus keeps him as Vardowski's ESP abilities are of great value in finding marks for robbery and other secrets of value. He drinks heavily to calm his nerves and help prevent him from unleashing his powers when angered or frustrated. When this happens he often unleashes his Frightening Aura ability to force others to leave him alone. He does not have the will nor motivation to escape from Dr. Theophilus' influence. His nerves are fragile and he lives in constant fear of himself and the others. If given the opportunity to escape he will simply return to his wagon and get drunk. If he runs into Boppo the Clown he loses all composure, screaming and foaming at the mouth til he can escape to his wagon, bar the doors, and pacify himself with drink and drugs if he has any. He will never discuss Boppo if asked.
Hd 4
Hp 13
Ac 9/10
Save Mu4/12(Two bonus vs Magic and Mental)
Dex 17, Int 15, Wis 16, Cha 15
Frightening Aura (2 per day, 30', Saving throw -1 penalty or leave his presence for four minutes)
Charm Person, Silence 15' (1 per day)
ESP ( 3 per day)
Lots of whiskey or other strong drink
A few doses of depressant drugs
Shabby suit, tarot cards, fake crystal ball

The Forever Man, 40's, CN
The Star of the Freak show. He was found by the Traveling Show on a blood-soaked battlefield, curled up naked and bathed in blood. His mind was gone. Jessup the Archer fired an arrow into his chest to put him out of his misery. When the Archer retrieved his arrow the Forever Man came back to life. He was immediately chained in a wagon. He is utilized as a geek, eating live chickens and rodents, much to the horror of the Circus attendees. At the after hours show, in a closed and guarded tent, patrons can pay a large amount of coin to torture and even kill him for their amusement. He never stays dead long. A filthy skinny hairless man dressed in rags and chained by the neck. If freed he will attack the nearest person (even the one who freed him) and attempt to strangle that person to death. He will then eat their corpse if allowed.
Hd 2
Hp 8
Ac  9/10
Save F2/14
Int 3, Wis 3, Chs 3
Regenerate: 3 hit points per round, even after death, all damage.
Strangle: if the Forever Man attacks and scores a hit he automatically strangles his victim for 1d6 damage per round unless the victim makes a Strength check with a four penalty to break free.

"The Merman"
Otto, 47, Deep One Hybrid, LE
Otto is a gangly tall mess with a pot belly, protruding eyes, fishy lips and skin, and lanky hair. His hands and feet are webbed. He is content to spend most of his time in his tank and talk shit to passerby's. He will occasionally sneak out at night, unable to stop the call of his lineage, to forcibly pass on his genes to some poor victim. When the Circus does devolve to chaos and murder he will happily join in to vent his evil nature.
Hd 3
Hp 18
Ac 7/12
Save F3/12
Str 17, Con 13, Chs 5
Darkvision 30'
Small claws (1d4+2)
Swim 150'/50'
Dirty fish tank, shabby clothes for his out of tank expeditions

Boppo the King Clown, ?, CE
Boppo is the head clown and a mystery to the others. Dr. Theophilus and the others truly cannot remember when he joined the Circus. They merely have a shadow of a feeling that he joined on at some point and something is dreadfully wrong. He is a silent, sinister force in the Traveling show, always in the background and directing the clowns until he makes his presence known on the mid-way or in the ring with tricks and pratfalls, appearing as a jolly if large clown. When his true nature is revealed, smile dropped and dead flat eyes staring, he becomes terrifying parody of himself to those who behold him.  The other performers avoid him when possible and theorize he is a Boogey-man and Theophilus remains silent on the issue. Boppo does as he is asked, accepts no pay, and has thus far not interfered with Theophilus' business.
Hd 6
Hp 40
Ac 5/14
Save Th6/10 (Two bonus vs Poisons)
Str 16, Dex 15, Int 17, Wis 15, Cha 14
Backstab, +4 hit/x3 damage
Hide in Shadows, Move Silently, Pick Pockets/Sleight of Hand (75%)
Maniacal Fury (2 melee attacks per round)
Maniacal Rage (all melee and unarmed damage is one dice higher damage)
Panic (When Boppo drops his smile and shows his true nature those who see his face must make a Saving Throw or all attacks against Boppo are at a -2 to hit. Many will flee for their lives. This is in effect until the victims elude Boppo or honestly believe they have given him the slip.)
Tough (2 point AC and Save vs Poison bonuses)
Items (with Boppo's Maniacal Rage ability):
Clown clothes, makeup, trick items
Garrote (1d4+2)
Knife, Hammer, etc.  (1d6+2)
Two-handed maul (1d10+2)

Boppo's Clowns, N
Minions of Boppo the Clown they appear as ordinary clowns in makeup. They perform normal clown duties: entering town to pass out fliers, entertain at the mid-way, etc. They appear perfectly normal until called by Boppo to serve his bidding. Smiles fade, eyes glaze into a sinister stare, and they become cult-like in their docility towards the King Clown. They will obey orders from Dr. Theophilus (thus far) but if other performers give then orders they will look to Boppo for permission.
Hd 1
Hp 7
Ac 8/11
Save F1/14
Backstab, +4 hit/x2 damage
Hide in Shadows, Move Silently, Pick Pockets/Sleight of Hand (60%)
Clown clothes, makeup, joke and trick items
Knife, hammer, etc.  (1d4)

The Incredible Grimwaldos, N
A small family of circus acrobats and thieves loyal to Dr. Theophilus. Members of the troupe sneak out during performances to rob prime locations or lead the way for others in the Show. If things turn bloody they will hide until the carnage passes. They have no stomach for blood but will defend themselves if attacked.
Hd 2
Hp 10
Ac 6/13
Save Th2/14
Backstab, +4 hit/x2 damage
Hide in Shadows, Move Silently, Open Lock, Pick Pockets/Sleight of Hand (55%)
Climb Walls/Acrobatics (95%)
Performance clothes, lock picks, climb gear, rope, etc
Knife, club, etc.  (1d4)

A number of young roustabouts travel with the circus to aid in manual labor or act as assistants in shows. Dr. Theophilus will target troubled youths, runaways, etc with his personal charms and sometimes magic to fill the labor ranks. They mostly keep their mouths shut as they like the pay, food, shelter, and travel. Occasionally one will cause too much trouble or ask too many questions and disappear. They are written off by the others as breaking the Circus code of silence. They are usually 1 Hit Dice NPC's although some may have special abilities such as limited Thief skills, etc.

Feats of Skill
Tricks (Mundane, Magic, or Mental)
Animals ( a few thin monkeys, apes, a tiger, and many snakes and reptiles)
Elixirs and Poultices

After Hours
Bawdy Show (acrobats and performer assistants)
Boxing with Brunaldi
Sword fighting with Sabre Fist
Torture the Forever Man

No comments:

Post a Comment