Pathfinder Adventure Path #151: The Show Must Go On (Extinction Curse 1 of 6)

3.70/5 (based on 3 ratings)
Pathfinder Adventure Path #151: The Show Must Go On (Extinction Curse 1 of 6)

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The Extinction Curse Adventure Path begins! The Circus of Wayward Wonders has just arrived in the remote town of Abberton, and the player characters are the stars of the show! When the ringmaster turns up dead, the fate of the traveling circus and its entertainers hangs in the balance, and the heroes must scramble to put on a successful show and find the killer—all at the same time! Investigations only lead to more questions, and the heroes find themselves center stage in a dangerous, prehistoric plot that threatens not just Abberton, but every inhabitant of the Starstone Isles!

"The Show Must Go On" is a Pathfinder Second Edition adventure for four 1st-level characters. This adventure begins the Extinction Curse Adventure Path, a six-part, monthly campaign in which the heroes lead a traveling circus as they unravel a plot to eradicate all life from the Starstone Isles at the heart of the Inner Sea. The adventure also includes advice on how to run a traveling circus, new circus-themed rules, and a menagerie of monsters both wondrous and wicked.

Each monthly full-color softcover Pathfinder Adventure Path volume contains an in-depth adventure scenario, stats for several new monsters, and support articles meant to give Game Masters additional material to expand their campaign. Pathfinder Adventure Path volumes use the Open Game License and work with both the Pathfinder RPG and the world’s oldest fantasy RPG.

ISBN: 978-1-64078-201-3

Download the Circus Show Sheet!

Note: The Life in the Circus article in this volume references a feat from the Extinction Curse Player's Guide. That feat isn't in the player's guide, but can be found here.

Note: This product is part of the Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscription.

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A fun and flavorful start to a circus-themed AP

5/5

The Good:
-A nice tie into various circus-related themes.
-An interesting mystery/intrigue set-up to the module.
-It does a nice job of sowing crumbs about what the AP's endgame will be from the start, making sure the players will get plenty of foreshadowing.
-Some fun, and appropriately grotesque encounters (I'm looking at you, Vermlek Demons!).
-Several climactic encounters that look challenging, but not excruciatingly-difficult; a better balance than in most of the other early-level material Paizo's put out.
-Some really amazing beastiary creatures. The Bone Croupier, the Mechanical Carny, and of course the Vermlek Demons; all just great additions, dripping with flavor.

The Bad:
-It would have been nice to have some descriptions of the other members of the Circus of Wayward Wonders, especially since this kind of flavor is the kind of thing the Paizo writing team excels at.
-A few features of the Circus rules seem a little funny (e.g., the cost of high tier advertising, the lack of incentive for using different skill checks), but any wrinkles here seem easy enough to tweak with a house rule or two.

The Pretty:
-The maps are beautiful. The map of the Hermitage of the Blessed Lightning in particular is a pleasure to look at.
-The art in general is really good. Both the stylistic touches of the page layout, and the pieces of art themselves, are really nice.


Welcome to the circus! Hope you enjoyed it, now it's time to leave until book 2.

2/5

I had high hopes for this book but it doesn't quite come through in the end. The opening is jarring-- you're thrust into the adventure in media res and immediately must manage a circus of performers you've never interacted with before. Before you're allowed to even share a split-second with an NPC you're immediately urged to investigate their murder. Somehow the circus camp is chock full of monsters and the investigation becomes a string of combat encounters against level 1 staples-- bears, snakes and rats.

I think I would like this book a lot more if it didn't immediately leave the circus after Part 1. The only reminder of you being a circus performer is a trick-off against two rival performers and Pennywise's stunt double in Part 2; otherwise it's a quick ramp up to two back-to-back dungeon crawls (one demon themed, one troglodyte themed).

I think the weirdest part about this adventure is that it shares so much in common with The Fall of Plaguestone. From elemental animals to a bare-fisted barroom brawl to the encounters against the same woodlands creatures to the primary impetus of Part 1 to the adventure taking place in a farming village... Every time it detours from that feeling, it swerves back around.

The combat encounters appear much more balanced than the other low-level PF2e adventures-- there are only 8 Severe encounters in the book's 50~ish encounters as opposed to Plaguestone's 9 in 32. Weak-adjusted monsters and Trivial encounters are great and I'm glad there's more than 0!

If you're hard up for some new PF2e content, or are a GM who's invested in adding a lot of your own content to the book, this will satisfy. Otherwise I'd wait for a bit until more of these books are out and you can read reviews on where this AP is going.


Roll up, Roll up (your characters)

4/5

Thus begins the circus/dinosaur adventure path. That is such a cool premise, right there. So awesome!

However, book 1 is just... OK. The first three quarters of the book feel like padding to get you to the Aeon Tower and the main story arc.

Also, your circus is kind of boring. The GM will have to put some work in here to flesh out some memorable NPCs. There's some really cool art for different acts you can showcase, but nothing in the adventure, other than the mechanics for slotting them into the circus management mini game.

Speaking of; the rules for running a circus feel like they will be a total ball ache to implement. This could actually top the caravan rules from Jade Regent for 'most unrewarding waste of your valuable time'. Fortunately, the adventure states they can be completely ignored.

The art and general aesthetic for the adventure is really vibrant and fun. I think sheer novelty value boosts this book from 3 to 4 stars.


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Dark Archive

17 people marked this as a favorite.

Finally the players can make clowns of themselves! ;-)

Dark Archive

2 people marked this as a favorite.

What is this placeholder art from? O_o Like, I recognize the Strange Aeons moss art, but not the character art


CorvusMask wrote:
I recognize the Strange Aeons moss art

That's actually the anima mundi from Rise of New Thassilon.

Dark Archive

HTD wrote:
CorvusMask wrote:
I recognize the Strange Aeons moss art
That's actually the anima mundi from Rise of New Thassilon.

Yes, that is the joke, because anima mondi is basically scary moss :p I was trying to avoid specific spoilers

Dark Archive

I will be sorely disappointed if the killer is not a bard called Freddie Quicksilver! ;)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Starstone Isles, in the plural?

It sounds like something dire happened to the isle of Kortos (... it probably has something to do with the end of Tyrant's Grasp, now that I think of it).


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Isn't there another island by Kortos? Maybe they're referring to both.


4 people marked this as a favorite.
captain yesterday wrote:
Isn't there another island by Kortos? Maybe they're referring to both.

Correct! The Isle of Erran.

Collectively, the Isles of Kortos & Erran are the Starstone Isles.

That said, I don't know how the final part of the Tyrant's Grasp AP ends, so... who knows? Maybe the number of isles gets expanded in P2...?
<shrug>

Carry on,

--C.


7 people marked this as a favorite.

IN any case, first in Council of Thieves, PCs got to be actors. Now they get to run a circus. Maybe next edition, they'll get to run an entire brothel! ;)

Paizo Employee Developer

25 people marked this as a favorite.
Thomas Seitz wrote:
IN any case, first in Council of Thieves, PCs got to be actors. Now they get to run a circus. Maybe next edition, they'll get to run an entire brothel! ;)

*furiously scribbles notes for the next AP*


11 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Thomas Seitz wrote:
IN any case, first in Council of Thieves, PCs got to be actors. Now they get to run a circus. Maybe next edition, they'll get to run an entire brothel! ;)

No, no...dance hall!

;)


Feros,

Why not both?

*also glad that Ron is taking my notes seriously*

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Ron Lundeen wrote:
Thomas Seitz wrote:
IN any case, first in Council of Thieves, PCs got to be actors. Now they get to run a circus. Maybe next edition, they'll get to run an entire brothel! ;)
*furiously scribbles notes for the next AP*

Woohoo!

Silver Crusade

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Feros wrote:
Thomas Seitz wrote:
IN any case, first in Council of Thieves, PCs got to be actors. Now they get to run a circus. Maybe next edition, they'll get to run an entire brothel! ;)

No, no...dance hall!

;)

*STAB*

Liberty's Edge

This sounds far more entertaining than the Hells Knight AP coming out :) Pity it comes after the story for the first part sounds most amusing

Silver Crusade

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Michael Talley 759 wrote:
This sounds far more entertaining than the Hells Knight AP coming out :) Pity it comes after the story for the first part sounds most amusing

Age of Ashes isn’t a Hellknight AP, the first adventure just takes place in one of their citadels.


Yeah Ages of Ages has about much Hellknights stuff as Curse of the Crimson Throne.

Also still think Dance Hall/Brothel works.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

A traveling circuse ap..... Im sold


6 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

This... concept doesn't really work for me. Hrm. I'll have to see if I want to get this one.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Marco Massoudi wrote:
Finally the players can make clowns of themselves! ;-)

I actually got my players reading through the play in "six trials...", anybody else?


2 people marked this as a favorite.

You guys have got to get Logue and Pett on this one. They did some of the original horror circuses and theaters in Golarion.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I hope you stick with the circues the entire ap


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I wonder who the villan is going to be in this


5 people marked this as a favorite.

Anybody want to do this with an all-Bard party?

Shadow Lodge

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Actually, I'd want to be a barbarian and lift many things. Or that act where you spit alcohol over a torch. Maybe I'd claim I came from Sarusan and had to throw dinosaurs at other dinosaurs to survive!


UnArcaneElection wrote:

Anybody want to do this with an all-Bard party?

. I think that bard is one of those classes that could do it and not be left wanting. An all fighter party for example would be hard as would most classes... Of course I am thinking in 1st edition terms.


Elrond halfelven wrote:
UnArcaneElection wrote:

Anybody want to do this with an all-Bard party?

. I think that bard is one of those classes that could do it and not be left wanting. An all fighter party for example would be hard as would most classes... Of course I am thinking in 1st edition terms.

You can do all Fighters just fine. One can Multiclass as a Cleric, one Multiclass as Wizard, one MC as Rogue and one all fighter. There, perfectly viable all Fighter party

only half in jest

Dark Archive

This 2nd AP explores the Starstone Islands, the 3rd one "Agents of Edgewatch" let's the Players be members of the citywatch of Absolom!


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Marco Massoudi wrote:
Finally the players can make clowns of themselves! ;-)

Too late, the writers of Tyrants Grasp already made clowns of the players.

Anyway the AP.
The oddest thing about this AP is I find myself not at all gripped by the spoilers for the three books advertised so far. Normally something jumps out and I think
"yay that will be cool"
even if later it turns out to be not what I was hoping.

I'm going to let you guys get this one when it comes out and I'll be interested to see what you make of it before I get it myself.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
NotBothered wrote:


The oddest thing about this AP is I find myself not at all gripped by the spoilers for the three books advertised so far.

On the flip side, my players have insisted that I not run Age of Ashes, so that they can jump into the AP where they get to run a circus as soon as it is released.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Saleem Halabi wrote:


On the flip side, my players have insisted that I not run Age of Ashes, so that they can jump into the AP where they get to run a circus as soon as it is released.

Interesting, you'll have to let me know how it goes and whether it lives up to their expectations.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

I'm super excited for this AP.

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I have pre-ordered the "Age of Ashes" AP, but i am going to wait for the updated description with this one, whereas i am going to order "Agents of Edgewatch" asap.
Traveling the backwater settlements of the Starstone Isles excited me not at all, neither does being Circus performers beyond one adventure, sorry.


Any idea when the players guide pdf's usually drop?


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Usually around the street date, but more often than not after street date.

So, in this case, in late January 2020 - probably...

...

...You're a little early for this AP, aren't you?

I guess I can understand your enthusiasm for it, so...

Carry on.

--C.


This looks very interesting.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Terevalis Unctio of House Mysti wrote:
This looks very interesting.

I had my players do the play in Council of Thieves, I think Paizo should make this a musical, with karaoke backing tracks included in the PDF, and sheete music available.....


When will the player's guide be available? december? please?

Dark Archive

Aleix Duarri wrote:
When will the player's guide be available? december? please?

Highly unlikely, the players guide drops very close to the release date and that is january 29th.


My group is very excited for this! We're going to be running Age of Ashes for a bit to learn the system, but we'll be hopping over to this as soon as it's available.

Scarab Sages

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

Full size final cover looks neat! I wonder what the owl-like talisman on that staff is supposed to be.

Silver Crusade

9 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Okay, I ADORE the title text.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

That is one mean looking halfling druid...


4 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
Rysky wrote:
Okay, I ADORE the title text.

Agreed. The title text/logo can be a little perfunctory and forgettable, but this one is great, tells a lot about the adventure and is incredibly eye-catching. The graphic designs/art team really outdid themselves on this.

Dark Archive

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Will Huston wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Okay, I ADORE the title text.
Agreed. The title text/logo can be a little perfunctory and forgettable, but this one is great, tells a lot about the adventure and is incredibly eye-catching. The graphic designs/art team really outdid themselves on this.

I agree on all your points. That title logo and the cover illustration are fantastic, making this probably (IMO) the best AP cover ever! :)

Silver Crusade

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I'm loving everything about this AP so far, both the premise, the individual adventures and the trade dress are all awesome.

Liberty's Edge

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

This is looking to be one of the most fun APs in a long time!! The question is...

Will it give us a clown archetype? ;)

Silver Crusade

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

More importantly, will it include NPCs speaking the lines:

"When you bring me out, can you introduce me as Witzmacher?"
"Have you ever danced with a dergoloth in pale moonlight?"
"How about a magic trick? I'll make this glaive ... disappear *TAADAA*"


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Hopefully they don't forget to offer a continuous stream of new recruits - more and more exotic circus performer NPCs for the PCs to interact with as the whole circus levels up :)


And a possibly stupid question:

I was asked if Extinction Curse required four players.

I didn't believe it, but I came here to find out the range of players recommended. I could not find anything.

Now, I'd assume this AP is just as easy (or hard) to run for five players as any other AP. Please tell me that's the case.

Thx

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