Despite being thousands of years old, there is little in way of looming traditions or expectations in the carnival’s culture. There is a high turnover rate in its employees, which tends to prevent anyone from getting too entrenched in their ways. The average employee chooses to return home after their first year’s contract, and only a select minority remain for the long term, either due to personal interest or accidental accruement of debt. While, in the past, veterans have been know to linger for multiple decades, at the moment the oldest stock have been members for only 3-4 years. A combination of factors has resulted in the gradual hemorrhaging of older members, leaving a newer generation in charge.
The Ringmaster herself is the sole constant of the carnival’s history, being at least several millennia old. She has run the carnival since its inception, and the circumstances surrounding her decision to create it have always been a mystery. She speaks little of the past unless absolutely necessary, and though she holds her secrets close to her chest, it has generally become common knowledge that she is some sort of fae creature. While she usually maintains the form of a young human with only pointed ears and strange eyes to hint at her heritage, it is certainly not the only form members will have seen her as.
An extended summary of the last three years of the carnival's activity can be found here!
There is a paradoxical theme of freedom within the carnival’s ideals, despite the often coercive methods the Ringmaster uses to recruit new workers, and the way that her transformative influences affect people regardless of consent. Those that have asked about this contradiction have likely received confusing or alien reasoning in response. The Ringmaster is very much of the opinion that she knows best.
Upon joining, however, there are only three central rules set out for new members. Despite her moral flexibility elsewhere, the Ringmaster will punish perpetrators as harshly as necessary to enforce these conditions.
1) ‘Kin,’ in the Ringmaster’s terms, refers to ones ‘family’ or ‘peers’. Most importantly, it’s referring to the other workers of the carnival. You’ll note there is no explicit rule against killing people outside of the carnival, or even carnival guests, but willingly murdering a fellow worker will very frequently be met with a death sentence in return. The use of the word kin does provide some added ambiguity to the rule, however – there seems to be the suggestion that she considers killing someone close to you, or in a position of trust, is a far greater crime than ending someone who has definitively made themselves your enemy.
2) What constitutes as ‘stealing from the carnival’ is actually fairly broad. In the most straightforward uses it covers the basics, such as not sneaking out cuts of the profits without permission, or straight up taking carnival property for yourself. However, this rule also covers a restriction against attempted escapes. Running away is considered to be ‘stealing’ yourself from the carnival – and same goes for aiding others. While the Ringmaster would almost never kill someone for doing this, penalties can include incurring additional months or years of workers debt, transformation as punishment, and other unpleasantness intended to teach you a lesson about breaking deals.
3) Which leads into the last rule. Paying off one’s debts is formative to fae culture, and since most workers are part of the carnival under formal contract, attempting to skip out on your work is considered a violation of this. Attempting to shirk your contract altogether is even more severe. This rule also extends to keeping deals with other members of the carnival – with or without magic backing, breaking major promises or failing to keep up your side of a bargain can be considered breaking carnival rules. If it can be proven, of course.
► WALKIE TALKIES: All new employees are given a walkie talkie upon joining the carnival, which serves as the only electronic means of communication used. 'Electronic' is probably being used loosely - they don't take batteries, and the fronts of them are etched with some abstract sigils that glow a faint green. However they truly function, though, they are capable of accessing the network's radio waves from anywhere, including from across dimensions. That, and they can be triggered to repeat the last few messages left on your private channel no matter how long ago they were.
Beyond that, it looks and functions like a regular walkie talkie. You can tune into a multitude of channels via one of the dials on top or by manually punching in numbers. A few channels are designated as communal - they are the ones that workers are expected to be tuned into for work purposes, to communicate relevant information or to call for assistance. Each division of the carnival has a channel meant for it, and then there is a central channel meant for everyone. Everyone can assign themselves a private channel that is meant just for them, though other random channels can be chosen for the use of private groups.
The main trouble with it as a mode of communication, is that nothing is truly private, and anyone can access any channel that they know to turn their dials to. This is why all the channels get randomized once in a while.
144.98750: This is the main carnival channel intended for all divisions to use, and can be used for just about anything. While frequently it will be work related, it's not unheard of for it to go wildly off topic for hours at a time. The rest of the official channels are as follows: