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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3.70/5 (based on 3 ratings)

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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

Wow. Aroden is good at not planning ahead or checking results of his actions xD

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Why would you plan or check if your inherent superiority ensures that all your actions succeed?

Dark Archive

Have to say that while map art is as great as ever, some of the art in book is bit... Off...

Like Jellico Bounce-Bounce's art doesn't really match the whole "Acrobatic bouncy clown" gimmick :p


CorvusMask wrote:
Like Jellico Bounce-Bounce's art doesn't really match the whole "Acrobatic bouncy clown" gimmick :p

Maybe we can come up with a new name for him? (Easier than to redraw the illo, I mean. Plus, there's nothing wrong with the illo. In fact - it's excellent!) I think I'll simply call him "Jellico".

On that topic, it appears there's *no* art for Daring Danika or Viktor Volkano...

Spoiler:

While I understand there can't be art for every monster you face, this trio isn't exactly monsters - they're supposed to be the PCs former colleagues from as little as a few weeks ago!

Guess I'm taken slightly aback at how the module just shrugs at the issue of explaining three murdered circus performers. Is Abberton entirely lawless? Not a huge issue, but a small one.

Dark Archive

2 people marked this as a favorite.

The art looks like something audience is supposed to be scared by instead of being entertained by though :D

Also to note:
You only fight ONE of the three after the performance battle. You never fight all three in combat, so presumably two of the surviving ones should show up in next book, unless writers didn't know that

But yeah, wouldn't be surprised if pawn box for this will have art for all circus performers

That said, Daring Danika and her lion does appear chapter opening art :D


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Simple question: how many circus shows are you guys planning on holding during this first part of the AP?

(Apart from the first one, I mean)


Anyone else having trouble with the map PDF? For some reason the maps in the main book are pristine but the maps in the interactive map pdf are MUCH lower resolution and I cant use them for the game I have planned!

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Zapp wrote:

Simple question: how many circus shows are you guys planning on holding during this first part of the AP?

(Apart from the first one, I mean)

I'm probably only going to do one, as the end of the volume, as the mystery is pretty pressing.

You could fit one between parts 3 and 4, probably.


I was kind of meh about this AP but now that I have it and was reading through it, I really like,


2 people marked this as a favorite.
CorvusMask wrote:
Wow. Aroden is good at not planning ahead or checking results of his actions xD

What colonizer is? XP


Graeme Lewis wrote:
CorvusMask wrote:
Wow. Aroden is good at not planning ahead or checking results of his actions xD
What colonizer is? XP

All of them? Superior planning skills and analysis are pretty universally greater in colonizing countries/governments than in colonized ones. That this may break down at certain scales doesn't change the relative competence levels.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Why is the product delayed worldwide from January to April 2020, it cannot be ordered from Amazon, BookRepository or anywhere else.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

It's not delayed. It's been standing on my shelf for 4 weeks now.

Also, you can order it from this very site, which certainly qualifies as "anywhere else".


CorvusMask wrote:
You only fight ONE of the three after the performance battle. You never fight all three in combat, so presumably two of the surviving ones should show up in next book, unless writers didn't know that

Spoiler:
None of the three are mentioned in book two Legacy of Lost God (where the rivalry with Mistress Dusklight and her circus comes to a point, and presumably finishes).

I would assume none of them are ever seen again.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
ApoApostolov wrote:
Why is the product delayed worldwide from January to April 2020, it cannot be ordered from Amazon, BookRepository or anywhere else.

It's relatively common for Amazon to provide incorrect information about RPG products release dates.

My guess would be that they received their January shipment of preorders, sold out and have put a conservative placeholder date for when they'll receive their restock.

It's still available.

Paizo Employee Developer

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Zapp wrote:
CorvusMask wrote:
You only fight ONE of the three after the performance battle. You never fight all three in combat, so presumably two of the surviving ones should show up in next book, unless writers didn't know that
** spoiler omitted **

You can add them back in. But we don't know who you fought, so that's up to the GM.

Paizo Employee Developer

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Zapp wrote:
CorvusMask wrote:
Like Jellico Bounce-Bounce's art doesn't really match the whole "Acrobatic bouncy clown" gimmick :p

Maybe we can come up with a new name for him? (Easier than to redraw the illo, I mean. Plus, there's nothing wrong with the illo. In fact - it's excellent!) I think I'll simply call him "Jellico".

On that topic, it appears there's *no* art for Daring Danika or Viktor Volkano...

** spoiler omitted **

Daring Danica is illustrated on page 16.


Ron Lundeen wrote:
Daring Danica is illustrated on page 16.

Yes, thank you, CorvusMask was kind enough to point that out.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
EvieEternal wrote:
Anyone else having trouble with the map PDF? For some reason the maps in the main book are pristine but the maps in the interactive map pdf are MUCH lower resolution and I cant use them for the game I have planned!

You are most definitely the only one who noticed. A thread was already spun up about this over here. I don't think there was ever an official response in that thread but based on the numbers I was getting it looks like the maps in the dedicated maps pdfs significantly worse resolution(I have numbers in a post over in the other thread). Funnily enough though, the aspect ratio I got for the images was not the same between the two pdfs.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Taylor Hainlen wrote:
You are most definitely the only one who noticed.

Perchance a "not" there missing...? :)


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Zapp wrote:
Taylor Hainlen wrote:
You are most definitely the only one who noticed.
Perchance a "not" there missing...? :)

Ha! Indeed, seems I shouldn't post when tired. Re-read that message a few times and still didn't spot that I missed a word. Thank you for the correction!


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Taylor Hainlen wrote:
I don't think there was ever an official response in that thread but based on the numbers I was getting it looks like the maps in the dedicated maps pdfs significantly worse resolution(I have numbers in a post over in the other thread).

FWIW, I don't expect Paizo to respond until they themselves 1) realize what is happening, 2) have investigated exactly why things are going wrong and 3) have agreed internally on what they are gonna do about it.

I mean, obviously we will keep telling them until they acknowledge the issue (since it likely is just a silly handling error) - it's just that it's better IMO to give them time to coordinate a fully comprehensive reply.

tl;dr: still early days.

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