Only a small amount of preparation will be necessary for this visit. Early Day 90, everyone will be given a circular badge by the Ringmaster, who will tell you that you'll need to wear it if you plan on travelling to the new touring location. Where you wear it isn't important as long as it's accessible.
Later on Day 90, the Nightrunners will be sent out to do a quick security check of the new location - so, they'll be discovering all of this sooner than anyone else, and it will be their jobs to report on it. There are a few security concerns, which will be outlined OOCly for them in the comments below. As well as whatever can be gleaned from this general info post.
Entrance to the new location will be done with the transition portal through the woods, out through a "forested" area filled with weirdly low polygon trees. Glamours will be in effect, though the appearances of the locals are variable enough that appearances will not have to significantly change in a lot of cases.
Mainframe is a city inside of a computer. No, not like the Matrix - as opposed to a virtual reality simulation that the denizens think is real life, it really is a civilization of programs that know what they are and live accordingly. In contrast, the local's perception of any world outside of the Net is very hazy, and "the User" (IE, the beings that actually use the computers they live in) is seen as either a god-like entity or malevolent demon, depending on who you ask. Either way, the User is most often something the inhabitants of the Net are forced to combat rather than cooperate with. Life within the Net is the only world they know, and the Ringmaster will advise that you leave it that way, or else they'll probably get all weird about it.
The Net is actually a real, physical plane of existence for those inside of it, so visitors from the carnival will be under the same threat of injury or death that they would be otherwise. The programs have very different biological features (or a lack thereof), of course, but the glamours will be able to conceal these differences as long as no one does anything really weird like bleeding all over the place. This also means that you'll be able to take objects back into the carnival as souvenir, and that they won't just poof into metaphysical data when you leave. Weird, though.
This isn't the exact Mainframe as in the show, to be clear. There is a different Guardian and different viruses at play, for those familiar. Aesthetically and culturally, however, it is very familiar - though about three times the population size. Ostensibly they are without those 90's animation budgets.
► SPRITES: Sprites are less common than binomes, but have the most physical variety. In terms of narrative, the protagonists are almost always sprites. Sprites commonly come with a roughly humanoid appearance (though their skin is always something odd, like blue, green, purple, or orange), but they can also look like a wide variety of other things, such as robots of various shapes and sizes, or animals. Every sprite (and every other person in the Net, for that matter) has an icon on them that serves as the core of their body and identity as a program. They are made of code and can be "hacked" or infected by viruses accordingly. When they are injured, they don't bleed, and instead start "glitching" or going transparent, eventually falling into a coma until their programming is repaired.
► BINOMES & NUMERALS: Binomes are the most plentiful format of program, and all of them have one of two shapes: either a pair of rectangular prisms stacked on top of each other (a one) or a single orb for a body with arms and legs attached (a zero.) The joke is that they represent binary. Despite their uniform body types, they can - and do - have clothing and hair of all kinds. Despite being narratively the "extras" of the world, they have unique personalities and are considered equals to sprites. They can be anything they want to be - even a pirate.
Numerals are more or less the same as binomes except more rare, and are literally just programs that come in the shape of the numbers 0-9. That's it. That's their whole thing. They are very rare in comparison, so much so that I couldn't even find a good screenshot of one.
► NULLS: Nulls are small, rainbow coloured slugs with no real self awareness or complex emotions beyond animalistic notions of "good" and "bad". They like to consume the energy of other programs and objects within the world, though they are weak enough that they would never be a threat to a larger program without there being a whole swarm of them. When they are in a swarm, however, they are capable of rapidly consuming whole buildings. While they can experience pain (and make a lot of shrieking noises when scared or hurting), they cannot actually be destroyed, and are pretty much immortal. This is unfortunate for multiple reasons - but mostly because nulls are actually the diminished husks of former programs of other formats, that have been nullified by game cubes.
As far as anyone knows, there is no way to return nulls to their former selves, because most of the program's data is lost when they are destroyed within the game. While a lot of research has been directed at trying to reformat nulls into other formats, there has been little to no progress. Some people keep nulls as pets, despite all of this.
► VIRUSES: Programmed to be malevolent forces within the net, viruses are much more powerful than the average program and are capable of destroying entire systems. Though they are instinctively engineered to be "evil", more or less, their exact goals will depend on their intended functions. Some viruses are driven to destroy outright, while others are driven to dominate and control the systems they infect. Some are programmed to be strictly "chaotic", meaning that they will try to disorganize or disrupt the workings of a system with no particular objective in mind. The one in this Mainframe is known to be mostly on the domineering side. Viruses's abilities will vary depending on their origins, though most of them are capable of infecting other programs through some means or another.
► GAME CUBES: Giant purple cubes that drop down from the sky every so often, landing on giant chunks of a given system and pulling every program inside of it into a "Game" that they are forced to play and win. If the user wins, all of the programs within the Game will be nullified, and the city within the cube will be destroyed. The Games within these cubes vary wildly - the only advantage programs have while trying to win against the user is their ability to "Reboot" - by tapping their icon twice, they can download information and abilities from the game world that will usually help them to square off against the user. Game sprites are also downloaded to fill in the empty spots between the abducted programs, which are more shallow programs intended to be generation anew every time the Game restarts.
When the carnival arrives, a Game will just be ending - with a devastating loss on the system's side. A second one will drop in the second half of the touring week, potentially trapping any carnival visitors caught within its area, or baiting in those that want to help the local populace.
► POWER NERFING: The Net is going to struggle with rationalizing carnival member's powers, when they enter. This means that most powers are going to be nullified on entry, unless there is a snappy computer equivalent that it can be transposed into. Healers may find themselves capable of knowing how to knit together certain kinds of messed up coding. Those with mind effecting powers may find themselves able to infect or read the coding of other programs without their permission. Those with super strength and the like will still be above average in their strength on a purely physical basis, but not as extremely as they are usually. The default assumptions for all powers is that they are nerfed, but you can ask the mods questions down below about any particular powers, and we'll tell you whether they would be nerfed or transposed into something computery. You can also make you own suggestions. The end goal is that this universe won't generally allow visitors to upset the hierarchy of power, so they should all be generally less powerful than a virus or a Guardian.
If your character is skilled at computers and computer hacking, they will be able to figure out how to do that to objects and people within the system. It will take some learning, and there are limits to what they can accomplish, but it's an element that can be touched on.
There's no overt rewards for being here, beyond your own personal satisfaction.
If your character plays in the Game when it comes (either by accident or intentionally) they may keep an uncommon or common charge related to what they turn into when they Reboot. The Game is going to be a dungeon crawler/roguelike similar to Diablo, for reference purposes, though more details will be explained in that event post. So, think demons, mummies, and other scary things you'd find in deep, dark dungeons. You can get creative with this.
Beyond that, this is a PLOTTING POST, which means you can use it to make plans! The game chat is also a great place to discuss plots, so we welcome you to pop on in if you haven't already! A mingle log will be posted this weekend.