The Crypt Carnival started life as a business venture by Chandler Bartleby Crypt, former adventurer and world traveler. Originally going by the name of the "Bartleby Circus", they were a circus of acrobats and gymnasts that performed theatrical shows and stories as part of their act.
Work was steady but not plentiful as the competition was fierce. However, a big break came their way in 2004 while in Vibora Bay. The circus was approached by Oswald Cobblepot - aka "The Penguin" - for a private performance. The show was a hit success, however, the entire situation was a setup by the Penguin to cover a crime. The circus was held accountable but that was later cleared by authorities. Yet, the damage was done.
Unable to find reliable work because of the near brush with crime, most of the performers left to take other jobs. In the end, it was Chandler and twelve of his most loyal performers. After a long discussion, the group decided that perhaps crime did pay? After all, the Penguin got away with his robbery, why couldn't they?
And such the Crypt Carnival - or the Carnival of Phantoms was born.
The Carnival has established ranks within itself. This is to allow members to specialize in specific skills outside of gymnastics or mental illusions which they all are expected to learn. Their leader is the Ringmaster, Chandler Crypt. He acts as strategist and instructor, teaching and training members of the circus a corrupted method of Cloud Minds he adapted from the monastery of Kesang Jinpa. The following ranks fill the rest of the Crypt Carnival:Aerialist
The high-flying aerialists are the "aerial support" of a crew. Most adept in the air, they make great use of grapple lines, whips, and gliding cloaks to move fast and effectively when needed. They have been known to function as observers, snipers, and hit and run specialists. If at all possible, most aerialists will fight while in the air while swinging in ambush from a grapple line or to dive bomb a target using a glider cloak.Acrobat
Acrobats are the nimble, and dangerous, close combat fighters. That is if fighting is necessary. They likewise act as the field leader or strategist for a crew on a contract. Like all carnival members, they are trained to some degree in creating illusions. However, while the others use their illusions to misdirect, Acrobats use such abilities in combat as a weapon.Juggler
Jugglers are the gadgeteers and technicians of the circus. From them come the wild array of magician's gimmicks and gear that aid carnival members in a job. The gadgets jugglers make or invent are always to augment a performer's natural ability or their skill in Clouding Minds, not replace it. When on a contract to steal information, it's a Juggler who is sent in to break through a network's security and recover the data, while the rest of the team provides cover.Attendant
Attendants are usually, but not always, the new recruits. However, they aren't just cannon fodder. The circus is choosy when it accepts a recruit and takes pains to vet applicants. Being the newest to the circus, they undergo the same hard training as all other members. However, on a contract, they serve as lookouts, drivers and support for the rest of the crew committing the heist. This is to allow the attendants to observe and learn from the more skilled members of the team.
In some cases, it isn't unheard of for the Attendant to be the "bland face in the crowd". Some Attendants that are hired by the carnival are already accomplished grifters who are looking to further their skills and have steady work.
Motivations and Goals
The Carnival of Phantoms' motives are simple. They have dedicated themselves to using their unique skills in gymnastics, hypnosis, and some stage magician techniques to acquire as much wealth as possible. In this way, they are in high demand as "thieves for hire" and have proven to be quite good at their job.
It isn't that the carnival members are wanting a life of idle wealth. The technology for gadgets and inventions are expensive. The underlying urge that drives them - aside from money - is respect. Something they intend to carve out for themselves in the criminal underworld, one way or the other.
The Carnival operates in small crews of four to six. This allows crews to go 'off shift' for a time to rest, recover, train and in general lay low after a job. While on a job, all carnival members are required to wear a full-face Venetian Carnival mask. This hides the identities of the crews and in addition, each mask contains a built-in jammer that can foul security or other facial recognition systems.
Crews are always a mix of the ranks or jobs mentioned before. At times, depending on the contract, a crew might require more than one type of carnie. However, on an average theft, the usual Crypt Carnival crew consists of an Aerialist, an Acrobat, a Juggler, and an Attendant.
On the job, a Carnival crew implements magician's gadgets, mental illusions, and their own prowess at acrobatics. They rarely will confront an enemy head-on unless they have no choice. Instead, they let their illusions be their "front rank cannon fodder", which allows the crew to complete the job or attack from hidden angles and surprise their opponents.