The Carnival: Wandering Domain of Wonders

Mysterious, domain hopping carnival

The Carnival is a travelling Domain of Dread that transports itself and its visitors from one domain to the next. A place of wonder, it’s marked by bright, garish banners, tents and stalls as well as entertainers whose acts defy all reason. But beneath this joyous exterior are sinister and suspicious happenings.

Information About The Carnival

DarklordNepenthe (and Isolde)
Domain CharacteristicWandering Domain of Wonders
GenreBody Horror and Dark Fantasy
HallmarksEntertainment, fey bargains, misfits, wandering exiles
PopulationVery small, but many visitors
RacesMainly fey but has a wide mix of races
Sideshows and AttractionsBig Top
Hall of Horrors
Litwick Market
Tindal the Barker
Alti the Werehare
Amelia the Vampire
Charlotte the Fire Eater
The Organ Grinder
Silessa the Snake

Characteristics of The Carnival

The Carnival doesn’t exist to entertain visitors, this is simply a means to an end for the residents of The Carnival. It exists to travel between domains collecting misfits and unique individuals along the way; all of whom are welcome to stay at The Carnival, as long as they’re willing to pitch in and help run the place.

While The Carnival appears a place of frivolity and escapism with its wonderful terrors, beneath the surface is something more sinister. Isolde, the owner of the carnival travels the domains of Ravenloft seeking vengeance for a past hurt, some of the misifts that join The Carnival do so with a sinister past, and often, sinister futures too. As with most things at The Carnival, not all is as it would seem.

Before The Carnival arrives in a domain, flyers will announce its eventual presence, dropping in nearby towns. No one knows who leaves these, it certainly isn’t anyone at The Carnival, but they appear without fail nonetheless.

Darklord: Nepenthe (and Isolde)

The Darklord of The Carnival is the holy avenger sword, Nepenthe. The sword is currently wielded by the owner of The Carnival, Isolde. Their fates for now, however, are intertwined.


Isolde is an eladrin (an ancient race of elves that remained in the feywilds). She is not the Darklord, but is the current wielder of the Darklord. She was a holy warrior that served the Seldarine in defence of the lands of the feywild slaying dragons, demons and all sorts of other threats with her adventuring companions. These adventures caught the eye of one of the archfey, Zyblina, who wanted to use Isolde for her own purposes.

In order to do this, Zyblina enlisted the help of a powerful fiend known only as “the Caller”, to kill Isolde’s companions. Isolde was left grieving and vulnerable. It was at this time that Zyblina came to Isolde, offering help. She granted her the leadership over a fey carnival which served as a gateway to Zyblina’s realm and granted Isolde comfort in her grief with a distraction and a purpose.

For a time, Isolde and Zyblina’s friendship blossomed, but it eventually waned and became distant and Isolde felt frozen in time with little changing in her life and she longed to leave the carnival and enact vengeance on the Caller. Zyblina wouldn’t accept this and would secretly cast wish spells on Isolde, causing her to forget her desire to leave.

Eventually, Isolde crossed paths with another travelling carnival from the Shadowfell. She made an agreement with the owners of the carnival (a pair of Shadar-Kai) to swap carnivals so she could pursue the Caller and they could enjoy running the more thrilling and exciting carnival from the feywilds. To gain Zyblina’s acceptance of the deal, they also agreed that if they ever crossed paths again, then they would swap their carnivals back again.

While accepting of the arrangement, Zyblina wasn’t happy to see Isolde leave and cast a spell on her causing her to forget Zyblina and her feywild domain. She also sends malevolent fey spirits to create problems in Isolde’s new carnival, though Isolde does not know who’s behind the mischief.


Nepenthe is a holy avenger sword with its own conciousness. It can’t speak but can communicate telepathically to its wielder (currently Isolde). It was originally crafted to hand out justice to the guilty, but Nepenthe cares not, and is unable to discern who is guilty, it only cares to dish out “justice” wherever it might find an excuse to do so.

Nepenthe had been wielded by a half-ogre that retired and came to work at the carnival as a sword swallower. The half-ogre eventually died making the sword property of the Carnival; for this reason, the sword was handed to the previous shadar-kai owners who later handed it over to Isolde explaining it would help her protect the Carnival.

Nepenthe now fuels Isolde’s thirst for vengeance, encouraging her to hand out strict punishment to all those that commit infractions against her whether it be stealing from the Carnival or to kill the Caller for killing her companions. Nepenthe will even use the voices of Isolde’s fallen companions when it communicates telepathically to her to stoke the flames of vengeance within her. This is why the Carnival will always transport to a place where Isolde thinks the Caller might be. While Isolde can be reasoned with, Nepenthe will not change from its bloodthirsty ways.

Locations in The Carnival

Big Top

At the centre of the Carnival is the Big Top; a huge, colourful tent in which the main shows are hosted with shows running from sunrise to midnight. It will cost you extra though to get in.

Hall of Horrors

The Hall of Horrors is a large tent with a labyrinthine set of terrifying looking oddities from stuffed creatures to peculiar specimens in jars, the tent is home to some genuinely horrific looking things. Professor Pacali runs this show. Before he joined the Carnival, Pacali was a researcher at the Brautslava Institute in Darkon. While there, he was cursed causing his worst impulses to grow from his body into distorted creatures. Usually he captures these creatures and places them in jars calling them “Professor Pacali’s Pickled Punks” but occasionally, one of them escapes and causes trouble in the carnival.

Litwick Market

The carnival is followed by an entourage of fey creatures that pose as merchants. They form a set of stalls known as Litwick Market where they sell mysterious items such as love potions and mist medallions in exchange for unusual prices like the person’s dreams or their ability to speak. The longer the Carnival lingers in one place, the more fey creatures arrive. The problem is that these fey creatures usually hold some grudge or other against the Carnival and eventually, will cause some kind of problem or mischief if allowed to linger too long.


The Carnival is filled with sideshows where customers can pay a small amount of coin to be entertained by one of the many side acts the Carnival has on offer:

Tindal the BarkerA barker is a mage and Tindal is the Carnival’s mage. He will tour the grounds with customers before his big reveal; that he has no soul, and as such, casts no reflection.
Alti the WerehareAlti is a quick-tongued rapper and dancer and turns into a rabbit when the full moon is in the night sky.
Amelia the VampireAmelia is an actress aided by a pair of large bat wings that allow her to fly. Using make-up, her wings and a large amount of theatrics, she performs as a vampire.
Charlotte the Fire EaterA juggling daredevil, Charlotte’s main act is fire eating. She claims that her blood is flammable and that she’s burned the hair off of 18 hecklers.
The Organ Grindernever speaking, this sombre clown plays an ornate, barrel organ that his animals dance to. Customers can pay to guess the nature of his unusual, dancing animals.
Silessa the SnakeClaiming she was born a snake and transformed into an elf, Silessa dances majestically with a group of snakes.

Published by DM Ben

Ben is an experienced dungeon master and player who's been immersed in the D&D universe since he was a teenager over 20 years ago. When he's not writing for Dungeon Mister, Ben loves creating fiendish puzzles and devious dungeons for his players. He's an especially big fan of the Ravenloft and Dragonlance settings.

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