Going to the Big Top in Rise of Moloch: Introducing the Grotesque Company Circus

For generations, the industrial sections of London have been shrouded below a cloud of thick pollution. To keep factories churning, incredible amounts of ether, coal, lead, and other toxic substances were pumped through the furnaces. The predictable outcome was almost un-breathable air and water that would only be consumed by the most desperate person. Not surprisingly, the end result was malformed babies and degenerative illnesses in the communities that had no choice but to live beside the factories.   

Society turned its back on these lower class ‘freaks.’ They protested the factories, but the law was on the side of the industries. As the number of victims of the toxic sludge increased, so too did the protests. However, in the end, they were no match for the swarms of Bobbies who descended on the crowds and chased them from the factory gates into the slums of London.   

Left with no alternative, many of those infected turned to the unglamorous life of a sideshow freak. Their strange appearance and the built-in curiosity of the ‘normal’ folks of London ensured they could at least survive. That was until the show became political. One of the troupes, the Big Barnum Bazaar (BBB), turned their act into a trial of the political elites of the city, even ridiculing the Queen herself. This would not stand, and one night, a self-proclaimed ‘decency defense committee’ massacred every member of the BBB. From that moment on, circus members were seen as enemies of the Empire. Chased from the relative protection of their big tops, they made their way into the city sewers and found solace amongst the rats and reptiles that dwelt below the streets.   

However, they didn’t take their exile lightly. Pushed, literally, under the foot of the common people, one troupe has become a feared enemy of those on the surface. The Grotesque Company Circus has sworn revenge, and their sewer home allows them some sneaky tricks.  

In The World of SMOG: Rise of Moloch, The Grotesque Company Circus is a motley crew of showmen, performers, and freaks that have turned to a life of crime, partly for revenge and partly for survival. They will be used in some of the Chapters of Rise of Moloch by the evil Nemesis to carry out their bidding and disrupt the tasks of the Gentlemen. Each member of this twisted troupe has strengths and weaknesses that the Nemesis will have to learn if they want to use them effectively.  

Madam Edwarda leads the troupe and gives orders from high atop her perch on the shoulders of her first born (who had more in common with an octopus than a toddler). Edwarda has quite the brood, with strongmen, dwarfs, two-headed folks, and more making up her kin. She isn’t the toughest of the bunch, nor the smartest, nor does she have particularly strong health for that matter. What she is good at is bending people to her will. As a master hypnotist, she is able to control the Gentlemen around her to perform her heart’s desire. The Nemesis can choose to upgrade her tentacle-based movement or unleash the full power of her mind, allowing her to sap Ether or even life from the Gentlemen.  

What would a circus be without clowns? The Grotesque Circus has them, but not the type that make you laugh; they are the Killer Clowns. This gaggle of miniature mutants has the same petite stature as their mother, Edwarda, but they make up for their lack of size in their numbers. The Nemesis will have their choice of two different types of clowns for each Chapter. Will they go with Funny Bones, making the Clowns incredibly durable and tough to kill? Or maybe they’ll try Killing Joke, giving the Clowns super strength. Either choice is sure to give the Gentlemen a severe case of coulrophobia.  

Finding your place in a family full of freaks can be a tall order. Damon was born with abnormally long legs, and although he towered over the crowd, his angelic face never inspired terror in circus goers the way some of his siblings did. For this reason, he often scouted ahead to ensure the safety of the troupe, pretending to be nothing more than a simple stilt walker. However, under that innocent face is a mind obsessed with fire. Armed with a flame cannon, he often would set fire to the mansions of the wealthy only to return later to loot the smoldering ashes. Damon can take advantage of his incredibly long legs to get around the stage faster than anyone else. It’s a huge advantage outside, but when indoors, his legs severely hamper his agility. Damon’s long, delicate frame is a bit fragile, but he makes up for it by inflicting some serious punishment with his flame cannon. When using Damon, the Nemesis can choose to go the raw damage route, allowing him to deal more damage than any of the other circus members, or use his flame cannon as an area control tool, spreading fires across the stage and setting traps for the Gentlemen… it’s getting hot in here.  

A strongman feels like a necessity in a circus troupe, and that’s even more true if that troupe is battling to take down London’s political elite. Titus is the youngest of Edwarda’s children, and although his strength is legendary, his intelligence… is not. Thinking too hard gives Titus serious headaches that can only be relieved when he explodes on whatever unfortunate soul is nearby. Titus has the most hit points of all the members of the circus, and the Nemesis can use that to their advantage. The more damage he takes, the more abilities he unlocks, like advanced speed or additional actions. The worst mistake the Gentlemen can make is to leave Titus just barely alive. In this state, they will bear the brunt of his berserker rage!  

Whoever said two heads are better than one never met these two. The Hammersmith Sisters are the cooks for the family troupe, but that doesn’t mean they have a talent for it.���They just happen to be quite adept at wielding a mallet, whether they’re tenderizing some foul meat for dinner or clobbering an enemy of the family. These Sisters share a body, but their separate heads spend a lot of the time bickering. They’re destined to take over the troupe when Edwarda is gone. When the Hammersmith Sisters get going, there’s no stopping them. They’ll barrel into a fight, knocking down everything in the way. The Nemesis may choose to turn them into a defensive powerhouse or just focus on their natural offensive nature, giving them more attack dice and the ability to take down the Gentlemen with their massive mallet.  

Together this family of ‘freaks’ can be used quite effectively by the Nemesis. They represent a serious challenge for the Gentlemen, and if they’re not careful, the Grotesque Company Circus may drop the curtain on the Unicorn Club altogether.  

The World of SMOG: Rise of Moloch launches on Kickstarter January 17, 2017 at 3pm EST!  

Going to the Big Top in Rise of Moloch: Introducing the Grotesque Company Circus

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