Yooooo, are we doing Mighty Nein at renfaire headcanons? Hello, yes, let’s get this bandwagon rolling. I was a regular patron since I was about three, then from college through my mid-20s I was in cast at small faires and did guest performer weekends at some bigger shows. I miiiiss iiiiit! Let me live vicariously through the Nein!
Jester, age 18, wanted nothing but to be a princess. She blew her savings (plus some “loans” from her mom) on making an absolute wedding cake of a gown. She took improv classes through the faire’s training academy and the community theatre, and it all paid off with a role as a lady-in-waiting for her very first year in cast! And then she learned the truth: Being in the queen’s entourage is just running from one obligation to the next all day. Opening gate, morning joust, parade, children’s knighting ceremony, queen’s tea party, afternoon joust, closing gate, and in between it all an endless line of children who only have eyes for the queen. Rinse and repeat for eight weekends in a row. After a couple years of boredom, she retired Lady Fiona and took some time off to focus on art school. She came back after doing an MFA and opened a booth where she sells prints, pottery, and flower crowns. She is so much happier. Some weekends she vends in the fancy dress (and has never once broken any pottery while moving around her shop in a huge-ass farthingale).
Aaand the rest goes under a readmore to save your dashes:
Fjord got his start as a pickle guy. Yep. He also worked concessions, the garb rental shop, game stalls, you name it, until he developed the Captain Tusktooth character and got some buddies to start working on a pirate comedy act with him. He’s officially a stage performer and not regular cast, but he still enjoys doing street bits between shows. His favorite thing is weaving historical pirate info into the stories he tells children. He fucking hates Captain Jack Sparrow cosplayers.
Mollymauk and Kingsley started attending as playtrons in their early teens. They thought of themselves primarily as cosplayers, making a range of costumes from Doctor Who to mythical creatures to some really nice historical garb that fooled other patrons into thinking they were in the court. It didn’t occur to them that they could do this for real until one year a cast member grabbed them at closing gate and demanded their contact info for the audition email list. They played fauns and fairies in the enchanted forest area until Kingsley was recruited to Fjord’s show. Molly did the next season as a wandering fortune teller, which went so well that he saved up and made the switch to vending. He gives readings and sells the tarot deck he designed with Jester.
Caduceus works with his siblings in an apothecary-themed shop selling teas, herbs, and local honey and beeswax products. There’s no official demo schedule, but Caduceus is always glad to brew up a sample pot or explain the culinary and medicinal history of any herb on display. And yes, the Clays absolutely run a green funeral home in addition to the faire business. Caduceus can tell you all about that too, and that’s why the cheerful little shop is frequently full of goth kids who want to talk about death.
Yasha is a jouster. She often plays a villain, but the rare occasions when she gets to be the hero and win the day are her absolute favorite. A certain subset of children adore her even when she’s the bad guy, and Beau has been known to slip those kids a bouquet of wildflowers to offer Lady Storm. Yasha braids the flowers into her hair.
Beau is in the Robin Hood stage combat show. She’s played every role, including covering for Little John when the actor was out sick, but she settled in as Will Scarlet. A rennie since high school, she’s learned the tricks to all the game booths and lures patrons in by demonstrating how “easy” they are to play. When her schedule fits with the joust, she moonlights as a squire for her wife. Her own show is the only thing that can keep her out of the audience for the birds of prey demo.
Caleb has a shop selling handmade books and historical writing supplies. He runs daily demonstrations on calligraphy, quill-making, and bookbinding. He’s a newly tenured associate professor of history at his day job, and no, he does not remember what a full night’s sleep feels like. Newbies aren’t surprised at all that Beau, Yasha, Molly, and Kingsley get freaky at the afterparties, but they are a bit shocked at Caleb, who sometimes manages to drag Essek into the fun as well.
Veth is the mud lady. Kids either love her or are terrified of her. She’s good at knowing who will warm up to her with a bit of slapstick and who needs a gentler approach. Yeza mostly plays the role of supportive spouse, but he and Luc sometimes come in on the guest list and make it a mud family. The Brenattos are chemistry faculty at the same university (something in the SLAC to R2 vein) as Caleb. Veth takes great joy in spotting her undergrads and bothering them in-character. It’s rare that they recognize her under all the dirt.
Essek’s grandmother was on the very first organizing committee and worked as the artistic director for decades. His parents are the kind of nobles who take the role a bit too seriously and keep pushing for court garb rules that literally nobody else gives a shit about. Essek and Verin had full garb before they were out of diapers, and it was generally acknowledged that Essek was going to be the next king when the current royals retired. But then he abruptly took a job hawking for Caleb’s stall. Scandal! Caleb had stumbled on a drunk Essek at the closing party the previous year and got treated to an I’m-not-crying-dammit rant about how much he hated being the scion of the Thelyss faire dynasty. The job was supposed to be about giving him space to consider his priorities, but it turned out what he really wanted was to sell books and do calligraphy. He also wanted Caleb, which he worked up the nerve to admit after two seasons.
Bonus 1: Verin, meanwhile, is still in the court. He’s playing a cheeky flirt of a lord while trying to make much-needed changes to the administrative side in the off season. He understands why Essek needed to get away, but damn if the drama didn’t make things more difficult for him.
Bonus 2: Most of the M9 have other commitments that limit them to their big local faire, but Captain Tusktooth’s Nein Heroez (a.k.a. The Balleaters at 18+ pub shows) work the regional circuit. Jester and Molly share a tent to vend at a couple of the smaller gigs, and sometimes a friend or two will tag along for a chance to do faire without having to work for once.