Chiva and the Traveling Travesty Troupe

As I mentioned previously I said I’d post the occasional scribble about the current homebrew campaign I’m playing my kenku bard in, particularly her background. I don’t usually write huge backgrounds for my characters – some games just don’t need one (Encounters, Lair Assault, WWGD) but for my friend’s homebrew I wanted to give him some hooks or NPCs to use if he ever desired to. My friend DMs a great event and character driven campaign, so I didn’t want to disappoint him with a flat or uninteresting background. At the same time, before the campaign began (when I wrote this) I didn’t know what the current state of things would be in his homebrew world. I had to word some parts of my background vaguely to avoid causing unintentional discrepancies.  It was fun, challenging, and inspiring to write this out. Chiva as a character really formed in my mind when I finished it.

The Traveling Travesty Troupe is one of the larger and more popular entertainment groups in Vornos. An organization consisting of 15-25  wagons depending on the season, the TTT prides itself on its variety and quality of entertainments. Started fifteen years ago by Lord Lucas Travesty, the human noble had moderate wealth but his parents had left the noble name of Travesty in poor standing with the other nobles due to their abrasive attitudes. Their deaths left the entirety of their estates in Lucas’ hands. Lucas was an adventurous young man who cared nothing about politics and he sold all but one large country estate and took half the money from the sales and started his own traveling circus.

Lord Lucas no longer travels with the troupe, instead remains at the Travesty estate keeping it cared for and well stocked for the troupe’s return during the off-season where he also manages the money earned by the troupe and reviews the year’s performance with his illegitimate daughter, Reveca Travesty, who now leads the troupe on the road.

Chiva honestly enjoyed her life in the troupe, the troupe members initially treated her like one of the other clever animals, but as it became obvious Chiva was very intelligent, she was given more respect and privileges. The family sense typical to any group of nomadic performers made her feel at home and Chiva never resented her role in the troupe.  Her cage was a mockery, for customer displays only; she normally stayed in one of the wagons with the other performers.

Chiva was actually part of the more theatrical section of the troupe that put on dramatizations. She had small roles in many performances, but usually her mimicry was more useful. Some nights she never even went on stage, but stayed behind the curtains making sound effects for the other performers. Because she was intelligent and usual looking, she also often went into the towns as part of the front groups sent to spread word and raise interest in the troupe’s arrival. This let Chiva see more of the towns they went to and she slightly familiar with more than a dozen major cities across Vornos, although not deeply so as she has rarely spent more than a week in any location except Travesty Manor.

Chiva has never known her egg was stolen and sold, the only time she ever asked about her own kind she was told they were only animals and that Chiva was different because she was smart and could talk and therefore she belonged among people and not animals. She was also told she belonged “to” the troupe, but her understanding of that was that the troupe was her flock; she belonged to them the same way a child belonged to his ma and pa. Chiva is slightly naive in this and still believes the troupe is sort of her “family” that she can happily return to at any time. Individuals that don’t know her history may hear her talk about her family and assume she’s referring to other kenku.

On her last season abroad, the troupe was not doing well due to the state of things in Vornos. As the overall attitude in the troupe was turning sour, and travel was occasionally dangerous, the decision was made to keep the troupe safe by taking them away from conflict – so the rest of the season was canceled the troupe headed back to Travesty Manor. To keep the troupe busy, Lucas and Reveca decided the troupe could go through all their equipment and wagons to repair and improve them, practice and improve their acts as well as improvise and rehearse new acts. A few individuals would be sent out to stock up supplies, others would go to purchase new animals for pulling the wagons, and a few others would travel to further and more exotic locations to acquire a new unique creature or two for displaying in the menagerie.

Chiva actually left the troupe before they got back to Travesty Manor. With the announcement of an early end to the season, many people were leaving the troupe to go visit family or do their own thing – most agreeing to return to the Manor in a few month’s time. Some left forever, which was not unusual, the troupe was never a fixed number of people, but rather a core of long-timers with others joining and leaving in a semi-constant flow.

Chiva’s personal intent was not to sneak away, she observed and well-wished many others going out to take a break from the troupe’s lifestyle and decided that she too wanted to take a break and be on her own for a while. In the chaos of those leaving and the turnaround to the home base, Chiva slipped away practically unnoticed. She advised a few friends she was going (which they may have misunderstood in hindsight), and left early one morning as the troupe’s wagons were pulling away from the field they had camped in, striking out for the small town a short distance away.

I also included a short synopsis of some NPCs for my DM to utilize, if he ever wanted to:

 Lord Lucas Travesty
Chiva has only met this human male once, he seemed nice and energetic but she really knows almost nothing about him. In his late thirties, he manages the troupe from the enormous Travesty Manor estate. The estate is a several dozen acres of land, most of it forested but a large section of  it is devoted to barns, fenced pastures, and level clearings for the troupe’s animals and wagons. The manor house is an impressive building with dozens of rooms and an enormous banquet hall.

Lady Reveca Travesty
Chiva has only spoken to Reveca a few times, and makes an effort to stay out of the Lady’s notice. Chiva is intimidated by Reveca and the no-nonsense way she runs the troupe and keeps the chaotic lifestyle of the nomadic troupe from getting out of hand. She has never been on the bad side of Reveca, but she has witnessed people that have gotten her ire and it wasn’t pretty.

Tersa
An elderly halfling that Chiva had the closest relationship to, Tersa took Chiva into her wagon when Chiva was old enough to start helping out around the camp. Tersa taught Chiva the ins and outs of the troupe’s lifestyle. She was also the one to realize the talent of Chiva’s mimicry and with her matronly influence got the kenku moved from creature performances (where Chiva was faring poorly) to the theatrical acts.

Ruhn
The half-elven male seems young and has a surprisingly cheeky attitude, but he’s actually one of the older members of the troupe and the beast keeper. His knowledge and talents keep all the animals well cared for and mostly content. Ruhn incubated Chiva’s egg and cared for the kenku hatchling during the early days of her life.

Scribbles, Birds, & Dwarven Wizards

“Hours of work and energy, gone! It would take me days to craft those scrolls again…”

Beltia poked through the disused arcanist’s shop, grumbling under her breath. It was easy for the others – she complained to the cobwebs. A sword is a sword is a shiny sharp chunk of metal, one was as likely as good as the next. Likewise for the armor they so needfully relied on, for all the hardships of war the men had not taken long at all to re-equip themselves with gear either gladly given or else scrounged up from armories and store rooms.

The dwarven wizard poked through the desk and nooks of what had obviously been the proprietor’s private stores. She had already raided the shop’s main inventory, what was left it it, and found nothing worth her time. If the shopkeeper had kept any quality items, they had long since been requisitioned by the Resistance. Beltia had only found one potion in a sturdy glass vial that had fallen behind a book, overlooked by whomever had ransacked the shelves, and a handful of useful components.

“O-ho, what’s this!?” Beltia’s fingers traced a line of elaborate inlaid wood along the left side of a chest of drawers. Concentrating on the deowomer she quickly determined its purpose. It took her only a moment to invoked the spell’s trigger. Light flared from her fingertips and skimmed along the seams of the chest, sparkling off the whorls and loops of the decorative woodwork. The flat side seemed to sink in on itself slightly, the lines of inlaid wood uncoiled and aligned themselves in a more geometric fashion until the chest of drawers impossibly presented a whole new side of drawers existing in the same narrow frame. Bemused, Beltia slid open the drawers one by one and exhumed their contents.

I’ve been organizing my files as I prepare for my new campaign. I came across this tidbit when reviewing old notes from a campaign I played in that was DM’ed by a friend. It was a great campaign with an epic plot.

It’s a habit of mine to write short scenes like this one – a sort of snapshot of my character’s life. This little scribble was never actually roleplayed in the game. Our characters had been given free rein to scavange or request supplies from our allies supplies after one session. As the only arcanist in the group, I was amused at the thought that my companions would all easily acquire new stabby things and armor from the rebels’ supplies. I imagined my character having to scrounge around like a looter to find anything decent for herself to use. Thus, this short scenario was written in my game notes while the DM was busy roleplaying things with the other players.

Recently he’s started a new game, set in the same campaign, a few years into the future. I’m playing a new character: Chiva, a kenku bard. We’re three sessions into the campaign and we’re investigating corrupt leaders and assassinations. I’ve written a few things for that game – starting with Chiva’s background – and I’ll try to post them here to share as they come up.