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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Last-Minute GM: Random Entertainers and Performers

The local market, whether it’s weekly or daily, will have more than just goods for sale. There’s also entertainment! Traveling performers come to markets to scrape up a few coins from the locals and can be a lead-in to other events: rumors, thievery, false accusations of thievery, or other drama.

You’ll need two kind of dice, d10 and d8, to use the following table. Roll one of each for a village, two for a small town, three for a larger town, and four of each for a city. Really large cities will probably have more than one market area, so you would roll again each time a new market is visited.

d10 Act Type d8 Modifier
1 acrobat 1 aerial
2 actor 2 balance
3 beast 3 aquatic
4 dancer 4 escape
5 freak 5 fire
6 jester 6 blade
7 juggler 7 strong
8 mime 8 trick
9 musician
10 other

There are a couple ways to handle this roll:
  • The Straight Roll: Just roll one d10 and one d8 at a time, one to four times, and read the results. For this method, it might be better to use a d12 instead of a d8 and treat results of 9+ as “no modifier”.
  • All in a Line: Roll all the dice at once and read across, left to right. Apply the modifier roll to any act that follows it. Any d10 that does not follow a d8 is an unmodified basic performer.
  • Drop Dice: Roll all the dice on a sheet of paper somehow divided into four quarters. Each quarter represents one possible entertainer. If a quarter doesn’t have a d10 in it, there’s one fewer entertainer at the market this time. If two d10s land in the same quarter, it’s a hybrid act: the singing acrobat, the woman who dances on beasts, and so on. If there’s no d8 in a quarter, it’s a standard version of the act, otherwise all modifiers apply to that act.
For the All in a Line and Drop Dice methods, if two d8s both apply to the same act and you roll doubles (dice values match,) the act is a magic version of that modifier. If you roll triples for the same act, it’s an extreme magic version.

Most of the act types should be self-explanatory, but “Beast” refers to any animal act. “Freak” refers to any human or humanoid exhibited for the way they look or behave, including geek and blockhead acts, and “Other” refers to any display of skill that doesn’t fit one of the other types, such as a sharpshooter. The modifiers are also pretty easy to figure out, but here are some notes:
  • Aerial involves swinging, jumping, or diving from high places. The magic version is actual flight.
  • Balance is a performance on a tightrope or unstable object like a unicycle or rolling barrel. The magic version is balancing on something impossible, like the point of a random sword or the top of a rope that rises in the air by itself.
  • Aquatic is a performance while swimming in or submerged under water. Magic versions involve obvious water-breathing, although not necessarily via a spell (an aquatic freak would be a fishman, for example.)
  • Escape is for escape artists, of course, although if the act type is not “Other”, the artist does something else before or after or perhaps even while escaping.
  • Fire means performing while on fire, or with flaming objects.
  • Blade involves swords or knives. “Blade” + “Other” could be a knife thrower or a sword swallower. “Blade” + “Freak” is someone who cuts or stabs themselves for the amusement of the audience.
  • Strong means the performer is strong. “Strong” + “Other” is your basic circus strongman, bending and lifting things. Combine “Strong” with other acts to get some very unusual acts, like someone lifting three other people on their shoulders and then dancing.
  • Trick is magic tricks, pretending to make things vanish and appear, and so on. The magic version is… well, actual magic or illusion.
Edit to Add: Obviously, there's no longer a way to delay publication if you post to Blogger using StackEdit. Guess I have to start manually copying and pasting if I want to do that again...

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