Canvas town is mostly known for its springtime festival. While the village is quite small most of the year, it swells to a huge tent city in the spring. There are three roads that meet the main road in the center of the village, with six inns clustered around the resultant intersection and common green.
During the spring, merchants clog the roads, meeting at Canvas Town, turning the normally sleepy village into one of the largest free markets outside of the great port cities. This economic boom only lasts at most a month as merchants come and go, but the business attracts more than just merchants. Entertainers come to show of their skill and fatten their purses, as do mercenary companies looking for work, and the locals come from leagues in all directions. Few overlook this seasonal explosion of commerce and mirth. The Carnival of Forgotten Souls is no different than any other troop that rolls up onto the edge of the market green.
Like any other traveling Carnival, the Forgotten Souls have acrobats, beast wranglers, and a side show of freaks. A more recent addition comes in the form of the Bedizen’s Traveling Dungeon.
Room One: Entrance and Guardian - There needs to be a reason why your dungeon hasn’t been plundered or why your adventurers are the ones for the job.
A female mercenary is rare, a ravishing beauty as a mercenary is even rarer. Piwowar stands at the front of Bedizen’s Traveling Dungeon, her blonde locks falling over brightly polished chainmail armor. Her voice is clear and strong as she challenges men and boys passing by to test their mettle in the depths of the traveling dungeon. Most of the younger boys are starry eyed at the notion of swinging a sword and clearing out a pit of evil like the heroes from the epics. The older boys and young men often take a notion to impress the steel clad warrior-woman who calls them to glory and battle.
The front room of the sprawling canvas tent is the armory, a place full of wooden racks stocked with stout wooden shields of all sizes, some small enough for a five year old, all the way to strapping tower shields large enough to stop a ballista bolt. Other racks hold wooden swords, some no larger than daggers, others as large as true greatswords. Braziers smoulder and fill the room with a heady aroma of burning herbs and charcoal. Those patrons old enough to do so are often encouraged to down a mug of liquid courage, as it might be the last thing to cross their tongues before death.
Room Two: Puzzle or Roleplaying Challenge - A trial that cannot be solved by steel alone.
The Knight and the Knave
Two suits of enchanted armor stand sentinel at the end of a canvas corridor, their visors are up and when they speak, their voices echo hollowly through their metal bodies.
Behold, couragous travelers
_____Before you stand two warriors
One Knight, one Knave
_____One speaks only Truth
One speaks only lies
_____One question you may ask
The Knight one the left hand side is the Knave, unable to speak the truth, the one to the right is the true Knight, only able to speak truth. Logic puzzle aside, both are suits of armor that were given the ability to speak by means of a common Speaking Stone charm. Each has a stone, marked with either Knight or Knave dropped into it’s foot. One stone lies, one tells the truth and if a visor is closed said stone is muffled.
If the left-hand Knight is chosen, proceed to Room 3, if the right hand Knight is chosen, proceed to Room 4.
Room Three: Trick or Setback - Build tension through tricks and setbacks and give them a double-dose of gameplay such as more combat or another roleplaying challenge.
The Shambling Beast
The next room of the canvas dungeon is dark, only a single small brazier by the entrance flap offering a glimmer of light. The smell of rotting meat is strong, though this is really an herb added to the brazier. A beast bellows, it strides forth into the weak light of the brazier…a giant troll with savage teeth and bulging muscles. His legs and abdomen clad in steel plating, the beast growls a challenge at the would be heroes.
Bedizen, the Half-Troll - The owner and proprietor of the the traveling dungeon, Bedizen joined the traveling carnival not too long ago and worked in the freak show until his act was ready to be put together. How a half human, half troll came into being is a question of some interest in the camp, one that Bedizen waves away with a calloused hand. When facing young children, he is not hardly as scary as he could be, and it is rare that a child under the age of 9 doesn’t ‘slay’ the mighty troll. Those who are older, or have a mind to actually hurt someone with their wooden swords are quick to find that there is truth to his trollish appearance and he doesn’t take kindly to folks interested in causing pain. He will break swords and send such braggarts running in fear, much to the delight of children and the girlfriends of said braggarts.
Bedizen would not be a proper monster if he didn’t have a proper treasure to be guarding. Older boys win a kiss from Piwowar when they leave, while the children generally snatch a piece of amber bright candy for their great deed.
Room Four: Climax, Big Battle or Conflict - The final combat or conflict of the dungeon.
The Gates of Hell
After passing down a canvas corridor, the travelers are assailed by the stink of brimstone, burning in a pair of braziers sitting in front of a heavy and macabre looking gate. The braziers sit a bit higher than the others and the smell of brimstone is much less noticable closer to the ground. No need in sending the little ones running with burning eyes and sick stomachs. The gate is painted black and looks like it is slick with blood, distant moans and wails can be heard as the would be heroes push the heavy doors open and enter the largest of the divided sections of the Traveling Dungeon.
There is a great bellow as the patrons pass between the doors, really slat board painted cunningly and weighted with bricks or sandbags to make them heavy. There is a frightening figure standing in the middle of the chamber, a demon from myth and legend. Surrounding him are six braziers filled with blazing charcoal, making the fourth chamber smokey and hot. There is a vent in the ceiling, but dark colored netting and baffles prevent outside light from penetrating the darkened room. The demon shouts in the ancient language of the damned, it’s actually just some gibberish borrowed from an old book, and beckons for the patrons to try their skill.
Fighting the demon only takes heart and courage as with Bedizen, it is a man in costume. Wearing a suit of painted leather armor with a demon helm, Sal Giantson earns his modest living with the carnival. Named Giantson for standing nearly seven feet tall, he enjoys wearing the costume and getting the frightened shrieks from the children, and just as often is ‘slain’ by the valiant heroes.
Room Five: Reward, Revelation, Plot Twist - The dungeon is complete but what is it about this dungeon that made it different or memorable. What kind of mystery have they discovered, what kind of reward have they won, and what kind of information have they recovered?
Into the Light
After slaying the demon, the patrons see a new passage, one that doesn’t reek of brimstone and sweat, it is the way out. The last area of the tent is half open where the patrons return their shields and wooden swords and claim their prizes for what victories they accomplished. Younger children get pieces of hard candy and especially brave children are given their wooden swords to keep, often being knighted by Piwowar for service to the Crown and King. Older boys who play the game get to keep their swords and win a kiss on the cheek from the beautiful dungeon mistress.
Opposite from the end of Bedizen’s Traveling Dungeon is generally a stand or a cart where a merchant associated with the carnival sells mugs of lukewarm ale. After the stifling heat of the canvas tent, even lukewarm is often good enough for a parched throat.
Half Troll Seeks Experienced Troop - Bedizen has unexpectedly been called back to see his ailing mother on her deathbed. Obviously upset, the half-troll is looking for several trustworthy PCs to operate his attraction while he is away. Instead of monsters, the PCs get to be the monsters, and get whacked by five year olds with swords and by testosterone overdosing 14 year olds looking to show off. The real fun comes when they get to decide what their routine will be since none of them can really pull of being an ogre.
Missing, 4 year old and pet - A child has gone missing and no one can find where the little rapscallion has gotten off to. Unbeknownst to the operators of the Traveling Dungeon or the Carnival of Forgotten Souls, one of their number is a Cultist of Arrkrash. The protrayal of his demonic master] as a thing to be bludgeoned by children has deeply offended the cultist. To avenge the ghost of Arrkrash, the cultist has enchanted one of the braziers in the canvas dungeon to teleport hapless victims at random, depositing them far from the carnival.
It’s Carnival Time!
Bedizen’s Traveling Dungeon is much like a haunted house ride in a traveling carnival, it’s not really that scary and once a rider passes the age of 10 or 12 it just gets to be a bit silly since the wires on the skeletons are a bit obvious, as is the pressboard under the faux brick paint job. Young children can be frightened, while older boys can either go for the kiss, or to impress their teenage sweethearts with their mock courage. It’s all just a game to be played for a little while and then back to reality.
The biggest hazard associated with the Traveling Dungeon, and indeed with almost any part of the carnival is that of fire. Many of the canvas tents are illuminated with braziers of wood or charcoal and if a stray bit of fabric catches fire, it only takes seconds for the rest of the heat dried material to catch flame. Aware of this risk, the braziers are carefully watched, and the canvas is inspected daily for frays and tears and spots where it gets too hot.
Another hazard comes in the form of people who don’t play by the rules. Most of the performers who work in the tent are tougher individuals, and have on a degree of armor and padding. With wooden swords and the carnival outside, some take it upon themselves to really beat the crap out of a performer with their wooden sword. Rarely this is a problem since the performers are well trained, and Piwowar is an actual mercenary and no stranger to drawing real steel. Such individuals are escorted from the carnival and told not to return.
The Final hazard is children getting scared and lost. It is easy for a child to slip under a canvas wall and get lost into another room, or into a backstage area where the performers rest between runs. No harm has yet fallen on anyone as the performers almost as a rule like children, no matter how small and grubby they may be.