7 Carnival Rumors

Carnivals have always exuded a faint fetor of menace. Itinerant strangers come to town, some of them dressed as clowns, and try to trick you or exploit the basest depths of your curiosity. They exist to break down boundaries, give you permission to indulge, and then move on, leaving you, the seemingly innocent townsfolk, to reckon with what you got up to under the garish light of the midway.

When you set a scene in a Fear Itself, Trail of Cthulhu, or Esoterrorists scenario at a sideshow or circus, the players know to expect creepiness.

You know what the real story is. But what are the rumors the investigators encounter before parting the wrong curtain and finally beholding that terrible truth?

Here are 7 rumors for townsfolk and carnies to spout at the PCs before the real horror surfaces.

  1. “They did a test on the corn dogs and found that 1% of the contents were human flesh.”
  2. “Last year when the carnival came by Mamie Jones just up and vanished. The sheriffs caught up with them down in Dixville but they said they’d never laid eyes on her.”
  3. “Before the authorities clamped down on the freak show, they had an alligator man who was a little too real, if you know what I mean.”
  4. “Some of the most prominent people in our town worship the devil. And their high priest and priestess are the owners of this carnival, who travel from place to place renewing the vows of apparently ordinary folk to Satan himself.”
  5. “They stopped using their old Ferris wheel. Ten years one of the cars came loose and a girl fell to her death. That old ride was haunted. People who rode by themselves would sometimes look over and see her, weeping gluey tears from her faceless head. I don’t suppose a ghost could transfer from an old Ferris wheel to a new one, could it?”
  6. “Last year one of the roustabouts lost an eye in a bar fight. Guys from the local mill started it. I wouldn’t be surprised if some bloody revenge broke out later tonight.”
  7. “A friend of my cousin’s went into that hall of mirrors back in the 90s. He stepped outside and he coulda sworn he was in the 1890s! He turned around and ran back in and says he can’t even look at a mirror nowadays.”

And as always, if the players care more about a tall tale than they do about the main plot line, why maybe it’s not so untrue after all…

3 Responses to “7 Carnival Rumors”

  1. ruemere says:

    I would heartily recommend that carnies spread these rumors intentionally, to add thrill for for visiting townies. Nothing like a good story to sell the services.

    8. “Don’t look back while while leaving haunted palace, or you can see something unwholesome looming behind you.”
    9. “You’re supposed to scream when you’re riding this particular attraction. If you’re not screaming, you are risking an accident.”
    10. (to kids) “When the carnival closes, the owners lets loose mean dogs to protect carnival from thieves…”
    11. “It’s bad luck to partake in fun and not to pay after.”


  2. SunlessNick says:

    12. The strongman is a troll who (if he’s hungry) will eat the last kid left in the carnival at closing time.

    13. One of the mirrors in the Hall of Mirrors will catch your soul. Alternatively: a witch put a curse on it so it would do that, but sophisticated folks like you know better than to believe that.

  3. Bryan Gustafson says:

    Here’s 2 more inspired by my circus trip tonight.
    12. Yeah the kid crashed the party at the circus and then ran away. It was part of the “running gag” get it??!! But something weird happened during last week’s show. He ran out the left exit of the tent and ended up 15 years in the past…or wait was it the future, I can’t seem to remember… (Inspired by a comedic chase with one of the boys at the circus)
    13. The Pole climbers are really giving it their all today, they actually seemed cold after climbing up the fake South Pole sign! But why is is their now a North Pole sign next to it and why are the customers mentioning Wendigo? (Inspired by South Pole Climbers. The Act started with Penguins too!)

Leave a Reply