Letters from the Flaming Crab: Monster Circus (PFRPG) PDF

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Letters from the Flaming Crab is a monthly series of Pathfinder-compatible supplements. Each Letter focuses on exploring a different topic to give gamemasters and players new, exciting options that can be dropped into any campaign.

Within this Letter, we take a trip to Argent & Midnight’s Circus Esoterica and Extravaganza of the Strange, known by most as the Monster Circus!

For those of you brave or foolish enough to step within the carnival, you will find...

  • A Menagerie with monsters such as Flintbeak the cockatrice and Rusty the rust removal monster and more!
  • A House of Oddities filled with frightening idols, preserved remains of humanoids and beasts, and other weird relics!
  • And of course the stars of the Big Top! You'll meet Mister Smiley, the goblin ringmaster! A hydra choir! Twin choker acrobats! The fortune-telling Living Tapestry! Kursha the Tamer! And Guk the Troll!

    As you might have imagined, being a circus run by monsters, there is some drama within its tents! We have provided a couple scenarios for GMs to run for players interested in helping Smiley run things smoothly! (We won't spoil anything here!)

    Finally, for GMs interested in spicing up dialogue with the NPCs found within, we've included a Glossary of Circus Terms!

    See ya lot lice on the gaff!

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    4.00/5 (based on 2 ratings)

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    A lot of interesting ideas, but...

    3/5

    Argh, lost my review...

    To summarize what I'd written, this PDF has a lot of interesting ideas. It's a cool location with a lot of character.

    It also has a couple of mysteries your PC's shouldn't try to 'solve', at least not until much later, and that bugs me. I hate mysteries you're not supposed to solve.

    If that doesn't bug you, then this is a good little location. But if you have a player who can't stop prying even when it's not a good idea... well, you may have some trouble.


    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    5/5

    This installment of Flaming Crab Games delightfully gonzo series clocks in at 19 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 15 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

    As always in the series, we begin with an eponymous letter from our favorite planes- and dimension-hopping vessel, the UCS Flaming Crab, continuing the charming and well-written meta-narrative that leads us to the topic at hand, which would be Argent & Midnight’s Circus Esoterica and Extravaganza of the Strange. This time, however, Gale and Jilius, the writers of this letter and latest members of the crew, actually also provide a second letter – and we get full stats for the friendly harpy sorceress and her harpy unchained rogue (pack rat) half-sister – as well as an absolutely STUNNING full-color, full-page artwork for the two: Kudos to artists Allen Morris and André Karwath!

    Now, this circus, colloquially called Monster Circus, does have, obviously, a menagerie – here, we can find Humongous the owlbear, deathmaw the nasty-tempered manticore, flintbeak the cockatrice and also Crusty and Rusty, the rust monster…and the rust-removal monster! Yep, you heard me! One of the various mini-modules/encounters presented in conjunction with the circus deals with this unique and amazing little critter. I know that many an adventuring group will want one of these as a pet…

    The astute reader may have noticed that some of these monsters mentioned above are intelligent…well, yeah, but with a ringmaster like the fully-statted Mr. Smiley, a goblin celebrity lich, there is a good reason why e.g. deathmaw doesn’t maul audiences. And his right-hand man Mr. Nick, a doppelganger expert can help cover up…issues as well. Cool, btw.: Mr. Smiley subsists on a unique diet, if you will: His phylactery sustains the lich in a rather devious manner. How? Well, I’m not going to spoil that!

    Among the sights, there would also be Hugo Howl, the werewolf conductor, who guides his 12-headed singing hydra (stats provided) in a unique variation of throat-singing. One of the encounters proposed deals with this constellation: Hugo was fancied by a newcomer to the circus family, a vampire, and tried to resist her advance with garlic. Alas, that made him very enticing for his hydra, who ate him. The vampire was promptly disposed of, but now, no one can coax the hydra to sing! In order to help the circus, the PCs can investigate Hugo’s wagon and solve a nice, rather easy puzzle (or brute-force it, if that’s how you roll). Cool sidequest!

    Beyond these folks, there is the living tapestry, whose prophecies can provide help for future encounters; Guk the troll and the bugbear Kursha, herself the tamer, make for interesting beings to meet…and finally, there are the Flying lashley twins – choker acrobats! These two unfortunately have some larcenous tendencies that may need to be reined in, as depicted in another sidetrek presented.

    Nice, btw.: The pdf does come with a brief glossary of circus terms.

    Conclusion:

    Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glaring issues beyond e.g. the level of the rust-removal monster being once called rust monster. Cosmetic stuff. Layout adheres to Flaming Crab Games’ two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports some amazing pieces of full-color and b/w-artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

    Jeff Lee and Alex Shanks-Abel deliver an impressive set-piece to insert into your campaign. The circus and its colorful, weird inhabitants and their stats make for a fun and diverse backdrop to adventure in. The pre-made encounters and playful tone help differentiate the pdf from similar offerings, making it a really fun, evocative backdrop to include in your game. Writing-quality-wise, this is absolutely top-notch and brims with creativity. On the downside, I really would have loved to get a map of the circus and/or the respective wagons – while the lack of a map doesn’t really hurt the pdf, it also represents my one minor complaint against an otherwise truly excellent, fun little offering. Hence my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars, just short of my seal of approval.

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Now available!

    And the first ten folks to leave a comment below get a free copy of Monster Circus!

    If you receive a free copy of this PDF, we would greatly appreciate feedback in return (review, comment below, email, or PM)!


    Flaming Crab Games wrote:

    Now available!

    And the first ten folks to leave a comment below get a free copy of Monster Circus!

    If you receive a free copy of this PDF, we would greatly appreciate feedback in return (review, comment below, email, or PM)!

    So does that mean I get a FREE copy? Because I really NEED a free copy! :-)


    Now, whoa... that looks like something cool to drop into an adventure!!! Swap you a pdf for a review?

    Dark Archive

    That seems really cool!


    Yes, please. This would be interesting to use in my Occult campaign.


    I would love a copy. I am very fond of the previous Letters.


    This one sounds interesting.


    Well this could be fun. I have something like this I run in the management wastes.

    Dark Archive

    My group would love this! We're running some homebrew and just got to a hamlet. This could add some much needed entertainment.

    Silver Crusade

    Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

    Ooo, a Hydra Choir?

    Wouldn't mind looking that over :3


    Hmm... by my count...

    Hydra choir sounds hilarious and terrifying simultaneously. Also I'm GMing for a party that consists of the heads of a hydra, so... might give me some ideas. :D

    Silver Crusade

    Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
    Almonihah wrote:

    Hmm... by my count...

    Hydra choir sounds hilarious and terrifying simultaneously. Also I'm GMing for a party that consists of the heads of a hydra, so... might give me some ideas. :D

    ... who controls the body?


    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    They vote :D

    Silver Crusade

    Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

    THAT'S AWESOME!


    LMPjr007 wrote:
    So does that mean I get a FREE copy? Because I really NEED a free copy! :-)

    Yup! That's exactly what that means!

    Zesdead wrote:
    Now, whoa... that looks like something cool to drop into an adventure!!! Swap you a pdf for a review?

    That sounds like a fair trade to me!

    Nohwear wrote:
    Yes, please. This would be interesting to use in my Occult campaign.

    Oooh! I think the Living Tapestry would fit right in!

    Dolarre wrote:
    I would love a copy. I am very fond of the previous Letters.

    We're glad you've been enjoying the series!

    gritz2m wrote:
    My group would love this! We're running some homebrew and just got to a hamlet. This could add some much needed entertainment.

    Definitely, Argent & Midnight’s Circus Esoterica and Extravaganza of the Strange only passes through small towns!

    Almonihah wrote:

    Hmm... by my count...

    Hydra choir sounds hilarious and terrifying simultaneously. Also I'm GMing for a party that consists of the heads of a hydra, so... might give me some ideas. :D

    Yep, you're number 10!

    Six heads of mayhem, indeed!


    Flaming Crab Games wrote:

    Yep, you're number 10!

    Six heads of mayhem, indeed!

    Excellent! I see you even clicked the link! :D


    This is a great concept for a book.

    Silver Crusade

    Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

    Oh, I got a copy, yay!

    Will check it out as soon as I can download it. Most likely in the morning when I get to work >_<


    Oh, that's right, I started reading this and didn't finish it. XD I need to read the other half and write a review...


    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    I finished reading this morning, and... I'm torn. On the one hand, it's a great base idea, and the characters and little adventures and such in the document all have potential. On the other hand... I was left at the end thinking, "That's it?" I guess to some degree it's a good thing that I wanted more, but on the other hand... well, I felt like there were a lot of gaps I'd have to fill in were I to actually run the circus as a location a party visited. I don't know if that's intentional because of the short format of the series or its setting-agnostic nature or what, but the whole thing just feels a bit too skeletal detail-wise.

    Of course, I recognize this is colored by my preferences, and some people may love the freedom to fill in the gaps themselves. It just felt too thin to me. I'll try to be more explicit on the details when I write a full review. Whenever I have time for that.


    Almonihah wrote:

    I finished reading this morning, and... I'm torn. On the one hand, it's a great base idea, and the characters and little adventures and such in the document all have potential. On the other hand... I was left at the end thinking, "That's it?" I guess to some degree it's a good thing that I wanted more, but on the other hand... well, I felt like there were a lot of gaps I'd have to fill in were I to actually run the circus as a location a party visited. I don't know if that's intentional because of the short format of the series or its setting-agnostic nature or what, but the whole thing just feels a bit too skeletal detail-wise.

    Of course, I recognize this is colored by my preferences, and some people may love the freedom to fill in the gaps themselves. It just felt too thin to me. I'll try to be more explicit on the details when I write a full review. Whenever I have time for that.

    Thanks for the feedback!


    Apologies for not having written that review yet. I keep planning on it, but... I want to re-read the pdf first, and I haven't set aside the time to do so.


    2 people marked this as a favorite.

    Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.


    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    If you're looking for a little inspiration to write that review of your free pdf, here's some of the music I had playing in the background while writing this piece. Perhaps it will help.

    Creepy Circus Music, Part I

    Creepy Circus Music, Part II

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