Several on-line role-plays have used the Night Circus as a setting. This page offers some details and suggestions for the setting for RP usage.

Setting details explicitly can be found at The Night Circus (Setting).

Known charactersEdit

  • Bailey Clarke, the current proprietor of the circus. Not born with magical ability, but has developed some and is likely being taught more by Celia and Marco. Currently circus-bound (see below).
  • Penelope Murray ("Poppet"), daughter of the former wildcat tamer and the first child born to the circus. Has the ability to see the future. Currently works as the fortune-teller in the circus. Circus-bound.
  • Winston Murray ("Widget"), Poppet's brother. Has the ability to see an individual's past, and memories, and possibly to create artefacts which embody them. Circus-bound.
  • Tsukiko, the circus contortionist and a powerful magician in her own right. May not be alive in the modern day, or may have become a ghost in the same way as Hector.
  • Hector Bowen, father of Celia Bowen and also known as Prospero the Enchanter, now an immortal ghost.
  • Celia Bowen and Marco Alasdair, the two lovers who magically created the circus attractions and passed them on to Bailey. Still haunting the circus as spirits and may have some magical influence, although less than they did when alive. Have helped Bailey learn the magic needed to maintain the circus.

Most other characters are dead at the end of the book, due to a passing of a century. In particular, Alexander H- stated that he did not wish to become a magical ghost and would choose to die normally.


Nature of magicEdit

There are few rules given about the nature of magic within the circus, but it appears to focus around localized effects and the creation of static items. It is unlikely that magic could be used to shoot down the sun or feed the world's starving. It is also suggested that the more people know and use magic at once, the less powerful it is for everyone; this would explain the reluctance of characters to teach magic publically.

Magic and the circusEdit

The circus requires at least one magician maintaining it in order to operate. Magic is required to:

  • Pack and unpack the circus without crew;
  • Allow the circus to be transported easily (by train or possibly, in the later century, by road).

Since it's unlikely players would want to play out the financial operations of the circus, it can be assumed that magic can be used to obtain resources at zero cost - making all money taken by the circus pure profit - and to provide for members when money is short.

The bonfireEdit

The central bonfire of the circus is a powerful magical artefact and creates several effects which persist as long as it stays lit. It cannot be unlit except by magic and is always transported lit. The bonfire must be lit by magic, but the magic necessary is not difficult to learn (Bailey managed it quickly). The person who lights the fire has some extra control over its magic, but does not necessarily need to be the leader of the circus.

The general effects of the bonfire are:

  • It maintains the overall circus environment, such as the patterned floor.
  • It allows the continued existence of the magical attractions, such as the Ice Garden and Cloud Maze.
  • It prevents any circus performance within the circus from failing. This does not mean that any random person can try to turn a triple somersault and succeed, but it does mean that the acrobats in the circus always make their jumps precisely and never fall or stumble.
  • It prevents any accidents or accidental harm, to both members and visitors, within the circus (unless caused by other magic).
  • It (probably - this isn't in the text but makes sense) means that circus members do not need sleep, and eliminates desire for petty crimes against the circus such as vandalism.

In addition, the bonfire can be used to bind certain people to the circus, making them "circus-bound". The person who lights the fire decides who is circus-bound and can change their selection at any time. If a person is circus-bound:

  • They do not age, or age so slowly as to not be noticeable;
  • They cannot bear or concieve children;
  • They cannot be harmed or die except by magic;
  • They cannot leave the circus for extended periods of time.

Marco was the first to light the fire, and he bound all the members of the circus except Poppet and Widget (many of whom were unaware of such). Bailey, when relighting the fire, bound only three people: himself, Poppet and Widget. This may have been out of compassion for the other circus members or because of his lower level of magical power at the time, meaning that since he may have bound others. When a person is unbound they age normally from the age they appear to be when unbound; they do not die straight away from their true age "catching up with them".

Plot hooksEdit


These are closer to the style of the novel.

  • With the departure of Celia, the circus now has no illusionist. Will Bailey fill this role, or will he hire someone else? Will that other person need to be another magician, or will he use a stage illusionist - or will he train a new magician himself?
  • Hector Bowen retains the ability to act. Will he send a new competitor to the circus, or start another competition elsewhere? While Alexander may be dead in the modern era, he may have passed his art on to someone else.
  • A classic plot is that of a child running away to join the circus. What happens when you're the circus? How would the members treat that child? Would they return them to his/her parents, even if the parents were evil or unpleasant, or take them in? What if the parents objected?
  • What was supposed to happen to an intruder found inside the circus? Surely they cannot really drain all their blood. Nor does it seem right that they would simply call the police. So what can an invader really expect?
  • What happened in Tsukiko's contest with Hinata? What was so hideous that Hinata killed herself to escape it?


These are not in the spirit of the novel, but might be interesting anyway.

  • Bailey was no-one special at the time he saved the circus, and had contacted the reveurs before doing so. Would the other reveurs be upset or envious, believing they could have been the one to lead the circus, given the chance he had?
  • With Bailey's rebinding of the circus, many of the performers will have been set free, but will also begin to age. Are they happy for this to happen, or will they want things back the way they were? Would they willingly give up their freedom for eternal life inside the circus?
  • How would Herr Theissen's family react to his death within the circus? The book glosses over any mention of how this was dealt with, but being a murder scene tends to be a pretty big deal.


  • In the modern day, the circus will need to pass safety inspection in the normal way, and "magic" is not an excuse. Is that really white phosphorous they are burning in the centre of a public midway?

Otherworld charactersEdit

These are the names of characters that have appeared in Night Circus roleplays across the internet. They are entirely non-canon, but who doesn't need extra character names in RP?

  • Acrobats: Saffie Landers, Amelia Latrene, Evangeline Hart, Alannah Greenwood
  • Dancers: Rosemary Royce, Arabella Diederich, Esther Johansson, Klara Johansson, Kamila Knochen-Fresserin
  • Illusionists: Constantin Royce, Darrick Royce, Roderich Royce, Delmor Landers, George Vasily, Kari Zephyr, Celia Heart, Sterling Heart, Angeli King, Leila Lovett, Damien Sinclair, Elliott Somers, Holly Conroy
  • Fire Actors: Quinn Blake
  • Musicians: Luna Grishaw
  • Contortionists: Amelia Vasily, Felicity Cowell, Maize Fair, Katerina Chambers, Maeve Sturmcall
  • Presenters/Actors: Sacha Crowensi, Aleni Venizelos, Jackson Blake, John Kane
  • Fortune-Tellers: Eva Carosene, Eloise Kent
  • Animal Trainers: Cwyndrenia Ravenwood
  • Clockworkers: Cristobel
  • Administrators/Stagehands: Ksenia Solo, Gurgi

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