1 - The Show Must Go On (GM Reference)


Extinction Curse

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Silver Crusade

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This is a spoiler filled resource thread for part one of the Extinction Curse Adventure Path, The Show Must Go On by Jason Tondro.

Other GM reference threads for Extinction Curse:

Part two, Legacy of the Lost God

Part three, Life's Long Shadows

Part four, Siege of the Dinosaurs

Part five, Lord of the Black Sands

Part six, The Apocalypse Prophet

Silver Crusade

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Extinction Curse Player's Guide

Blog containing the missing feat, Additional Circus Trick, from the Player's Guide


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Something that seems to be immediately obviously incorrect is the scale on the Circus Camp map. It says that each square is only 5 feet. That would mean that each of the wagons is only about 5 ft. square. The area around the fire is definitely not large enough to contain the reverie described in the faerie fire encounter and Bardolph's wagon isn't even large enough to contain a grizzly bear.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Really, really disappointed at the lack of fleshed out members of the Circus of Wayward Wonders... or even a list of members with super short descriptions. Seems like characters are the most important part of a campaign whose players are supposed to care for members of the circus... but other's opinions may vary!

I wonder if I've missed something...

Dark Archive

Sounds like they didn't want to flesh them out too much in case players want to have same trick in circus as them, had backstory related circus members or aren't too interested in circus stuff?

I mean I've been kinda worried about them pointing out that you can ignore circus stuff if you really want to :p


Superfriends wrote:

Really, really disappointed at the lack of fleshed out members of the Circus of Wayward Wonders... or even a list of members with super short descriptions. Seems like characters are the most important part of a campaign whose players are supposed to care for members of the circus... but other's opinions may vary!

No, your opinion is entirely reasonable.

I asked this earlier over at the product thread:

Ron Lundeen wrote:
Zapp wrote:
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 :)
Oh, we haven't forgotten that *at all*! As a wholly independent and not-at-all related issue, it's fun deciding what goes on the inner covers of our adventure path volumes...

If you're saying the circus isn't filled to the brim with wondrous and colorful NPC characters that's a super disappointment!!!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I had read your post (and Ron's subsequent reply) weeks ago, and it got me quite excited!

Zapp wrote:
If you're saying the circus isn't filled to the brim with wondrous and colorful NPC characters that's a super disappointment!!!

That certainly seems to be the case currently. There are several tricks in the inside covers which depict an NPC performer- but there isn't any information on them beyond their tricks.

It seems like there will be more NPCs to come... Adventure Paths often do a pretty good job of that... but damn it would have been nice to have some interesting and elaborate NPCs to start.

I would have loved to see what the author's interpretation of characters that are a part of a circus troupe on Golarion.

Silver Crusade

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You can only add so many NPCs to a single book, Age of Ashes for example kept adding Breachhill characters throughout all six issues.

Also just listing the tricks might be better since then the GM can craft up their own unique circus each time, which helps with the circus theme me'thinks.


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No, Rysky, there's nothing good about releasing an adventure focusing on a circus...

...without lots of colorful circus NPCs to interact with already from the start. Individual portraits, mini-quests, soapy love triangles, petty rivalries, the lot!

I absolutely expected there to be lots of people in the circus; including "sideshow" acts. I hope I don't have to populate the whole circus all by myself.

Silver Crusade

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And we might still get those throughout the rest of the AP, just like we did in Age of Ashes, again we only have so much in one issue, and it mostly needs to involve the plot of said issue.

And differences of taste and experiments I guess, having a way to build your circus performers is neat to try out.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Yeah, I understand that more NPCs are likely coming... I have some reservations about that structure when a group of characters plays an important role in the first/second chapter, but I get that there are limitations.

People have different tastes, and it must be extremely challenging to balance them for an AP. The reason I'm commenting this time is because I feel like there is a bigger disconnect than usual between my expectations and desires versus what is presented.

I echo Zapp's sentiment- would have loved more portraits, side quests, soapy love triangles, petty rivalries, etc!


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Superfriends wrote:


I echo Zapp's sentiment- would have loved more portraits, side quests, soapy love triangles, petty rivalries, etc!

Definitely would have appreciated this. That said, I'm going to wait and see in terms of my grumbles on the NPC-lightness. It would be awesome to see NPC side-quests/love-triangles/rivalries/etc develop through-out the campaign, and kind of hoping they start to emerge from book 2 onwards. That said, what sounds like a very light NPC base (my book hasn't arrived yet, the woes of being a Brit) has me a little worried.


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Riobux wrote:
Definitely would have appreciated this. That said, I'm going to wait and see in terms of my grumbles on the NPC-lightness. It would be awesome to see NPC side-quests/love-triangles/rivalries/etc develop through-out the campaign, and kind of hoping they start to emerge from book 2 onwards. That said, what sounds like a very light NPC base (my book hasn't arrived yet, the woes of being a Brit) has me a little worried.

Your mileage may vary- I hope there is enough that you won't be disappointed. I hope I'm just being overly critical.

We'll see... I'd love to see it expanded in a big way in future chapters. There is definitely a disadvantage to not waiting till all AP installments are in-hand.


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To turn a page on my initial disappointment; I'm thankful I got this advance warning (before I'm planning to start off the AP).

To that end I started this thread:

https://paizo.com/threads/rzs42x1o?NPC-Portrait-Gallery-Circus-Performers#1

I cross-posted this to other major rpg forum sites too:

Spoiler:
https://forum.rpg.net/index.php?threads/npc-portrait-gallery-circus-cabaret -carnival-performers.858122/

https://www.enworld.org/threads/npc-portrait-gallery-circus-cabaret-carniva l-performers.669879/

Here's to the hivemind quickly filling in the gaps, as it were :-)

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I enjoy the new sidebar at the beginning of each chapter that announces the treasure that the PCs are able to earn. Helps me keep track of where those items are at.


Michael McLaughlin wrote:
I enjoy the new sidebar at the beginning of each chapter that announces the treasure that the PCs are able to earn. Helps me keep track of where those items are at.

Yes! And it helps when I decide to scale it for a larger party.


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Superfriends wrote:

Yeah, I understand that more NPCs are likely coming... I have some reservations about that structure when a group of characters plays an important role in the first/second chapter, but I get that there are limitations.

People have different tastes, and it must be extremely challenging to balance them for an AP. The reason I'm commenting this time is because I feel like there is a bigger disconnect than usual between my expectations and desires versus what is presented.

I echo Zapp's sentiment- would have loved more portraits, side quests, soapy love triangles, petty rivalries, etc!

I was a bit disappointed myself that the second half of the adventure was basically straight dungeon crawling, with no involvement of the circus at all. Still, we'll see how it develops.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I have a few questions about this cockatrice encounter-- first of all, there's no duration to the slowed effect the cockatrice puts on people, which feels like an an oversight? Are we treating it as though the character has been petrified, and so must wait 24 hours before he can attempt at DC 20 Fortitude check to reduce the slowed status by 1?

If so this seems very tedious -- basically forcing the party to stop investigating for a few days so that Patricia get a good enough roll to play the game properly. DC20 can be a high check for level 1 players, and it's very easy to get slowed 1 or even 2 from the encounter. I don't mind that it's hard -- but as written it feels _unfun_.

Or is this just a sort of typo, and the slowed shouldn't last more than, say, 10 minutes. What's the intent, here?

I'm also not wholly certain why the players would even find the cockatrice, as there's not a trail of Nemmia's that leads there, but I suppose you could lamppost it with a missing cow, or some such.

How are other GMs handling this encounter?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
The Rot Grub wrote:
Michael McLaughlin wrote:
I enjoy the new sidebar at the beginning of each chapter that announces the treasure that the PCs are able to earn. Helps me keep track of where those items are at.
Yes! And it helps when I decide to scale it for a larger party.

I just wanted to weigh in as well that those treasure sidebars are a great little innovation.


Matopi Golem wrote:
I have a few questions about this cockatrice encounter-- first of all, there's no duration to the slowed effect the cockatrice puts on people

I don't have the module but the Bestiary Cockatrice has the same issue, so no change here, it seems.

https://paizo.com/threads/rzs42t15?How-long-does-the-Slowed-condition-from- a

Paizo Employee Developer

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Rycke wrote:
Something that seems to be immediately obviously incorrect is the scale on the Circus Camp map. It says that each square is only 5 feet. That would mean that each of the wagons is only about 5 ft. square. The area around the fire is definitely not large enough to contain the reverie described in the faerie fire encounter and Bardolph's wagon isn't even large enough to contain a grizzly bear.

Hooray! A GM thread! Let me chime in here as I can.

Yes, that should by one square is 10 feet. That makes for more reasonable-sized everything in the camp.

Paizo Employee Starfinder Developer

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Hey everyone. Glad you're enjoying the adventure, and I want to briefly address the concern that "there's not enough NPCs, or not enough info on the NPCs we do have."

There's just not room for everything. Oh, I wish there was! We've got to get you through 4 levels by the end of this adventure, and that means a lot of encounters. There's the whole circus to establish, plus Abberton, the monastery, the Aeon Towers... there's a LOT to pack in!

But I did the best I could. First, you've got 6 circus acts on the inside covers. Some of these acts are discussed in more detail in Part One of the adventure where, for example, you learn about Axel, Elizia, and Mordaine and her assistant Hod. None of these characters have game stats, but you're not expected to be fighting them. Then, at the beginning of Part Two, we introduce the Sideshow of Everyday Marvels, which has its own cast of colorful circus characters, like the Bearded Man, the Dog-Faced Dog, and the Unjoined Twins. And there are other circus characters along the way, like Myron the dead ringmaster, and the Great Fortunato who—while dead—nonetheless give the circus a feeling of history, like it did not just spring into existence the moment the campaign started.

Now, obviously, your mileage may vary. You're going to want more info on some characters, and others you won't care about. You're going to introduce your own new NPCs—as you should! I 100% endorse Zapp's thread brainstorming more circus personalities!

Paizo Employee Developer

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Superfriends wrote:

Yeah, I understand that more NPCs are likely coming... I have some reservations about that structure when a group of characters plays an important role in the first/second chapter, but I get that there are limitations.

People have different tastes, and it must be extremely challenging to balance them for an AP. The reason I'm commenting this time is because I feel like there is a bigger disconnect than usual between my expectations and desires versus what is presented.

I echo Zapp's sentiment- would have loved more portraits, side quests, soapy love triangles, petty rivalries, etc!

By all means, build off of what your players find interesting for all those soapy love triangles! If we included a paragraph for each of the dozen-plus performers hinted at on the inside cover as we did for the members of the Sideshow of Everyday Marvels (at the start of chapter 2), there'd be little room left for the adventure! So feel free to expand a bit on anyone you or your players find particularly compelling. Without spilling too many of the beans, we'll be doing something like that on the blog later this week.

EDIT: Jason beat me to this response by mere moments!

Paizo Employee Developer

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Matopi Golem wrote:
The Rot Grub wrote:
Michael McLaughlin wrote:
I enjoy the new sidebar at the beginning of each chapter that announces the treasure that the PCs are able to earn. Helps me keep track of where those items are at.
Yes! And it helps when I decide to scale it for a larger party.
I just wanted to weigh in as well that those treasure sidebars are a great little innovation.

These are tricky to implement properly (it's another double-check for our already overworked editors), but I believe it'll be worth it in utility for you, the reader. Please provide feedback about this!

Paizo Employee Developer

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Matopi Golem wrote:

I have a few questions about this cockatrice encounter-- first of all, there's no duration to the slowed effect the cockatrice puts on people, which feels like an an oversight? Are we treating it as though the character has been petrified, and so must wait 24 hours before he can attempt at DC 20 Fortitude check to reduce the slowed status by 1?

If so this seems very tedious -- basically forcing the party to stop investigating for a few days so that Patricia get a good enough roll to play the game properly. DC20 can be a high check for level 1 players, and it's very easy to get slowed 1 or even 2 from the encounter. I don't mind that it's hard -- but as written it feels _unfun_.

Or is this just a sort of typo, and the slowed shouldn't last more than, say, 10 minutes. What's the intent, here?

The intent is that, if the creature isn’t petrified, the slowed condition ends once 1 minute passes without the creature failing a saving throw against calcification. Please use that!

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32

Jason Tondro wrote:


There's just not room for everything. Oh, I wish there was!

Have you guys looked in to doing something similar to page 61 from Dragon's demand? In just one page there is a ton of information on over 50 locations AND NPCS, that give a great jumping off point for those GMs who are less creative when it comes to coming up with interesting personalities on our own.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, PF Special Edition, Rulebook Subscriber
Ron Lundeen wrote:
Superfriends wrote:

Yeah, I understand that more NPCs are likely coming... I have some reservations about that structure when a group of characters plays an important role in the first/second chapter, but I get that there are limitations.

People have different tastes, and it must be extremely challenging to balance them for an AP. The reason I'm commenting this time is because I feel like there is a bigger disconnect than usual between my expectations and desires versus what is presented.

I echo Zapp's sentiment- would have loved more portraits, side quests, soapy love triangles, petty rivalries, etc!

By all means, build off of what your players find interesting for all those soapy love triangles! If we included a paragraph for each of the dozen-plus performers hinted at on the inside cover as we did for the members of the Sideshow of Everyday Marvels (at the start of chapter 2), there'd be little room left for the adventure! So feel free to expand a bit on anyone you or your players find particularly compelling. Without spilling too many of the beans, we'll be doing something like that on the blog later this week.

EDIT: Jason beat me to this response by mere moments!

Okay. Just wanted to check... We shouldn't expect more members of the circus to be fleshed out in future books of this AP?

Paizo Employee Developer

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Sporkedup wrote:
Okay. Just wanted to check... We shouldn't expect more members of the circus to be fleshed out in future books of this AP?

Yes, but that's prospective people to add to the circus, not anyone who's with it from the start.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Ron Lundeen wrote:
Superfriends wrote:

Yeah, I understand that more NPCs are likely coming... I have some reservations about that structure when a group of characters plays an important role in the first/second chapter, but I get that there are limitations.

People have different tastes, and it must be extremely challenging to balance them for an AP. The reason I'm commenting this time is because I feel like there is a bigger disconnect than usual between my expectations and desires versus what is presented.

I echo Zapp's sentiment- would have loved more portraits, side quests, soapy love triangles, petty rivalries, etc!

By all means, build off of what your players find interesting for all those soapy love triangles! If we included a paragraph for each of the dozen-plus performers hinted at on the inside cover as we did for the members of the Sideshow of Everyday Marvels (at the start of chapter 2), there'd be little room left for the adventure! So feel free to expand a bit on anyone you or your players find particularly compelling. Without spilling too many of the beans, we'll be doing something like that on the blog later this week.

EDIT: Jason beat me to this response by mere moments!

Thanks for the feedback Ron and Jason. I get it, and thanks for your communication. The work you and your peers put into adventure path's is fantastic, and I'm always eager to see what the writers put on paper. That's where my disappointment stems from- a thirst to see and get even more... especially when you are exploring such interesting and unique themes and locales.

You do what you can, and I appreciate it.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber
Ron Lundeen wrote:
Matopi Golem wrote:
The Rot Grub wrote:
Michael McLaughlin wrote:
I enjoy the new sidebar at the beginning of each chapter that announces the treasure that the PCs are able to earn. Helps me keep track of where those items are at.
Yes! And it helps when I decide to scale it for a larger party.
I just wanted to weigh in as well that those treasure sidebars are a great little innovation.
These are tricky to implement properly (it's another double-check for our already overworked editors), but I believe it'll be worth it in utility for you, the reader. Please provide feedback about this!

I absolutely LOVE these sidebars. Before I had to spend time going through and highlighting all the notable treasure, then flip around in other books to figure out what each item did so that I can keep in mind how my player's capabilities might be changing throughout the adventure. Now right at the start I can look at the items I'll need to be familiar with, read them, then not worry about it too much while I actually read the adventure. I'm also going to be running this AP for 5 players, so I imagine this'll go a long way towards helping me scale up the loot. Thank you so much for these sidebars. They are seriously awesome!


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

The first circus performance starts with 15 anticipation, but i wonder if this was meant to be 10. I don't think the PCs have any chance to generate 15 excitement (could this be intentional?). If you want to give them approx 50/50 chance in this first performance I suggest lowering starting anticipation to 11, or making a net +4 excitement from random events likely.

Here's the math to maximise expected excitement generation:

Use trick DC 15

1st trick attempt, Bonus +7
65% success x +1 exite = 0.65
30% fail x 0 exite = 0
5% crit fail x -1 exite = -0.05
Total: 0.6

2nd attempt, Bonus +2
40% success x +1 exite = 0.4
60% fail or crit fail x +1 excite because you should send in clowns on failed attempts = 0.6
Total: 1.0

3rd attempt is a negative expected value, even with an agile trick, so never attempt.

Result:
Over 7 tricks that's an expected total of only about 11. I skipped over some things, but i think their net effect would make the result worse, such as:
- you can only send clowns 4 times
- crit success raises anticipation, at level 1 this means you get no closer to success
- PCs could be assisting each other for a +1 on 4 trick attempts total. I estimate this balances the negatives somewhat.
- Agile tricks will help, but not enough to make the 3rd attempt a net positive

Notice that you can't even get to 15 if you always skip attempt #3 of your trick (2 attempts x 7 tricks = 14), which we did because it's optimal for expected value. To get 15 you have to accept a lower expected value.

I modeled this in excel trying to account for the stuff i didn't include above, and in no case could I turn up a success:
100 attempts w/non agile tricks yielded an average 9.5 excitement, highest was 14
100 attempts with agile tricks yielded an average 10.1 excitement, highest was 13
100 attempts with +8 bonuses, +1 circumstance every roll, and agile tricks yielded an average 11.0, highest was 14


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Jason Tondro wrote:
Hey everyone. Glad you're enjoying the adventure, and I want to briefly address the concern that "there's not enough NPCs, or not enough info on the NPCs we do have."

First of all me thank you for your work) I enjoyed reading this volume, this is my 7-th Paizo AP, and i searching for something unusual, and mostly get it.

Only sad thing for me is that 3 and 4 parts dont't have connection to circus at all( after a great perfomance battle in part 2, it little disappointing.

Other things like Circus theeme rules, spells, etc are very great!

Anyway if there anything that don't fit ine the book like detailes of some performers or any interesting thoughts, i and maybe other GMs really like to read it)

Paizo Employee Developer

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Cyprion wrote:
The first circus performance starts with 15 anticipation, but i wonder if this was meant to be 10. I don't think the PCs have any chance to generate 15 excitement (could this be intentional?).

10 is a good starting number to use if you want to ease into the circus with a fairly straightforward introduction to the circus rules (a good thing, right at the beginning). Yes, it's hard to get 15.

One wrinkle with starting at level 1 is that a critical success at a performance (which adds half your level in Excitement) still adds 1 Excitement, which is the same as your Anticipation gain...so you've made no actual progress to that goal. That becomes a bigger difference at higher levels, but level 1 makes it seem more problematic.


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Ron Lundeen wrote:

10 is a good starting number to use if you want to ease into the circus with a fairly straightforward introduction to the circus rules (a good thing, right at the beginning). Yes, it's hard to get 15.

I want to emphasize for other GMs, 15 isn't just hard, it's all but impossible for lvl 1 characters to reach with tricks alone. A +2 to +3 net gain from random events is necessary if you think the PCs should have even a small chance to succeed.

But as you mentioned, at higher levels it should tune well, especially since the PC's can choose how much anticipation to start with in the first place.

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Cyprion wrote:
Ron Lundeen wrote:

10 is a good starting number to use if you want to ease into the circus with a fairly straightforward introduction to the circus rules (a good thing, right at the beginning). Yes, it's hard to get 15.

I want to emphasize for other GMs, 15 isn't just hard, it's all but impossible for lvl 1 characters to reach with tricks alone. A +2 to +3 net gain from random events is necessary if you think the PCs should have even a small chance to succeed.

But as you mentioned, at higher levels it should tune well, especially since the PC's can choose how much anticipation to start with in the first place.

Thanks for the calculations Cyprion. It made me review the opening performance. I've been working on adding more to the opening session to give more flavor to the circus mechanics. Here is a few quick ideas to help bolster the odds of the PCs being successful by rewarding their investment into the play.

As a reminder there is two events that generate extra Excitement. Aiding the Kanbali family and dealing with the vipers will net a +3 bonus. Keep these in mind.

1. For level 1, grant an additional +1 to Excitement for Critical Success with Perform a Trick. Alternatively reduce the additional Anticipation to 0. Or both. Regardless it would be a good idea for a Critical Success to feel good for the PCs to achieve at level 1.

2. The PCs earn an additional +1 Excitement for when they successfully handle the Drunks and Ruffians, for a total of +2 Excitement. This will make the not-performing PCs feel they are contributing to the show and earning a reward for resolving a problem properly.

3. Some of the NPCs have access to two separate checks for Perform a Trick, with one often being better than the other. Grant an additional +1 Excitement for each additional check used during an trick. Otherwise I see no reason for an NPC or a higher level PC to use their lower bonus checks. For example Elizia has Intimidation and Nature. If she uses both, her final Excitement total will generate one additional point.

4. Give purpose to the different Acts of the show. If the Opener is successful, reduce the DC for the remaining Acts. If the Build-Up is successful, increase the Anticipation of the show and grant a bonus to the Big Number. For the Big Number, feel free to make it to star of the night by having it generate additional Excitement. Lastly, the Finale encourage teamwork between the three performers by granting bonus Excitement should they costar. Little modifications like these can help make each Act feel purposeful and help the PCs engage on where they and their NPC cast fit best.

All these little bonuses can add up overtime to help the players succeed their very first show. Each table and GM obviously needs to understand what their players want, but on a personal level I find nothing is more exciting than having all the player's contribution and choices come together to bring the opening day into a smashing success. You want the players to enjoy this and having a blast scrambling to get the show working.


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The Mechanical Carny on page 86 says it's possible to replace some of its Berserk-abilites (Berserk and Berserk Slam) to other listed abilites.
But the stat block does not show any Berserk-abilites.


Cyprion wrote:
Ron Lundeen wrote:

10 is a good starting number to use if you want to ease into the circus with a fairly straightforward introduction to the circus rules (a good thing, right at the beginning). Yes, it's hard to get 15.

I want to emphasize for other GMs, 15 isn't just hard, it's all but impossible for lvl 1 characters to reach with tricks alone. A +2 to +3 net gain from random events is necessary if you think the PCs should have even a small chance to succeed.

But as you mentioned, at higher levels it should tune well, especially since the PC's can choose how much anticipation to start with in the first place.

The question on my mind is:

Maybe there's a story point to be gained from failure?

Might it be the case to drive home the point their circus is in dire straits (with the competition and whatnot)?

On the other hand, if the story expects success, there's a miscalculation here.

(That is, if the party must attain success much like they "must" attain success in nearly every combat scenario, since everything else is a TPK, the probabilities of success needs to be more like 99% than 10%.

If circus success, on the other hand, is just a small perk on top, not strictly needed to progress through the AP, then the listed demands might be reasonable.

I don't know. That's why I'm asking)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Cyprion wrote:

The first circus performance starts with 15 anticipation, but i wonder if this was meant to be 10. I don't think the PCs have any chance to generate 15 excitement (could this be intentional?). If you want to give them approx 50/50 chance in this first performance I suggest lowering starting anticipation to 11, or making a net +4 excitement from random events likely.

Here's the math to maximise expected excitement generation:

Use trick DC 15

1st trick attempt, Bonus +7
65% success x +1 exite = 0.65
30% fail x 0 exite = 0
5% crit fail x -1 exite = -0.05
Total: 0.6

2nd attempt, Bonus +2
40% success x +1 exite = 0.4
60% fail or crit fail x +1 excite because you should send in clowns on failed attempts = 0.6
Total: 1.0

3rd attempt is a negative expected value, even with an agile trick, so never attempt.

Result:
Over 7 tricks that's an expected total of only about 11. I skipped over some things, but i think their net effect would make the result worse, such as:
- you can only send clowns 4 times
- crit success raises anticipation, at level 1 this means you get no closer to success
- PCs could be assisting each other for a +1 on 4 trick attempts total. I estimate this balances the negatives somewhat.
- Agile tricks will help, but not enough to make the 3rd attempt a net positive

Notice that you can't even get to 15 if you always skip attempt #3 of your trick (2 attempts x 7 tricks = 14), which we did because it's optimal for expected value. To get 15 you have to accept a lower expected value.

I modeled this in excel trying to account for the stuff i didn't include above, and in no case could I turn up a success:
100 attempts w/non agile tricks yielded an average 9.5 excitement, highest was 14
100 attempts with agile tricks yielded an average 10.1 excitement, highest was 13
100 attempts with +8 bonuses, +1 circumstance every roll, and agile tricks yielded an average 11.0, highest was 14

Did you take into account that performers can help each other, and also all the background roles that a PC could take over?


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Zapp wrote:

Maybe there's a story point to be gained from failure?

Might it be the case to drive home the point their circus is in dire straits (with the competition and whatnot)?

On the other hand, if the story expects success, there's a miscalculation here.

As written I don't think the AP requires either, but it also doesn't warn the gm that a generous hand is needed to make success possible. I checked it because I think many players (like my group) would be angry if we reached the end of that and realized there was no chance.


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Dire Ursus wrote:
Did you take into account that performers can help each other, and also all the background roles that a PC could take over?

Yeah, the last scenario I ran with +8 skill checks and +1 circ bonus modeled that generously, as if every single check was helped by assistance and agile tricks. My model circus failed all 100 tries even so.

If you want the players to have a shot (and maybe you don't, idk) you really need to make sure they net that +4 excitement from outside events, or start with 10-11 anticipation.


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Cyprion wrote:
Dire Ursus wrote:
Did you take into account that performers can help each other, and also all the background roles that a PC could take over?

Yeah, the last scenario I ran with +8 skill checks and +1 circ bonus modeled that generously, as if every single check was helped by assistance and agile tricks. My model circus failed all 100 tries even so.

If you want the players to have a shot (and maybe you don't, idk) you really need to make sure they net that +4 excitement from outside events, or start with 10-11 anticipation.

Thanks for working out the math! I'll probably lower the starting anticipation level when we have our first session.


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SkylerJB wrote:


As a reminder there is two events that generate extra Excitement. Aiding the Kanbali family and dealing with the vipers will net a +3 bonus. Keep these in mind.

1. For level 1, grant an additional +1 to Excitement for Critical Success with Perform a Trick. Alternatively reduce the additional Anticipation to 0. Or both. Regardless it would be a good idea for a Critical Success to feel good for the PCs to achieve at level 1.

2. The PCs earn an additional +1 Excitement for when they successfully handle the Drunks and Ruffians, for a total of +2 Excitement. This will make the not-performing PCs feel they are contributing to the show and earning a reward for resolving a problem properly.

3. Some of the NPCs have access to two separate checks for Perform a Trick, with one often being better than the other. Grant an additional +1 Excitement for each additional check used during an trick. Otherwise I see no reason for an NPC or a higher level PC to use their lower bonus checks. For example Elizia has Intimidation and Nature. If she uses both, her final Excitement total will generate one additional point.

4. Give purpose to the different Acts of the show. If the Opener is successful, reduce the DC for the remaining Acts. If the Build-Up is successful, increase the Anticipation of the show and grant a bonus to the Big Number. For the Big Number, feel free to make it to star of the night by having it generate additional Excitement. Lastly, the Finale encourage teamwork between the three performers by granting bonus Excitement should they costar. Little modifications like these can help make each Act feel purposeful and help the PCs engage on where they and their NPC cast fit best.

Thank you for these suggestions (I had to edit the post, since the software otherwise cuts it off)!

To add:

0. The only reason for setting the first show's Anticipation to 15 is because the pre-show work has presumably already been done by Myron Stendhal. That is, there's no "core rule" that says Anticipation must be at least 15.

But there is no reason he would have set an unattainably high goal. So if the maths tell us he could not have expected success with that number, it stands to reason he would have chosen a more realistic number. Say 12, making things really easy if the PCs gain the maximum extra Excitement of +3.

1. A better phrasing, I feel, of this rule would be that the Anticipation from a critical success must always be lower than the Excitement from the same critical success. Since a level 1 trick nets you 1 additional Excitement, it adds zero Anticipation.

2. I would not use both this AND lower the default Anticipation. Since the ringmaster can't depend on drunks or vipers saving his show, I'm leaning more towards the latter (as discussed in #0 above).

3. A great suggestion that deserved to be in the official rule :)

4. Another great suggestion that deserves a complete write-up:

* If the Opener is successful, reduce the DC for the remaining Acts by 1.
* If the Build-Up is successful, increase the Anticipation of the show by the circus' Prestige, and grant a +1 bonus to the Big Number trick.
* For the Big Number, feel free to make it to star of the night by having it generate additional Excitement equal to the trick level.
* Lastly, have the Finale encourage teamwork between the three performers by granting a +1 bonus Excitement should they costar.

In total, these four modifications amount to a considerable change. The GM should therefore not be shy to add in negative random events to group that optimizes them.


SkylerJB wrote:
As a reminder there is two events that generate extra Excitement. Aiding the Kanbali family and dealing with the vipers will net a +3 bonus. Keep these in mind.

As a reminder, you only gain the +2 from Kanbali if a) they're persuaded to perform without their net and b) they succeed at their trick!

The +1 from vipers is easier to attain, since it merely requires the party to defeat them in combat.

But then there's events that lower Excitement. It is quite possible the Ruffians and Brawlers cost the party 2 Excitement each; DC 15 is by no means easy for 1st level characters.


I'm having... thoughts... about the show system used. I'm wondering if this thread really is the best place to go into details? If not, which (sub)forum would be appropriate for a thread discussing the ups and downs of the included system, including suggestions on how to modify it?

This one? (Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder Adventure Path / Extinction Curse)

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Making another thread in this subforum should be fine.


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SkylerJB wrote:


Thanks for the calculations Cyprion. It made me review the opening performance. I've been working on adding more to the opening session to give more flavor to the circus mechanics. Here is a few quick ideas to help bolster the odds of the PCs being successful by rewarding their investment into the play.

I can add that I've been thinking about playing with yet another variable: the level of the NPC performers.

To justify Mordaine's diva manners, I'm planning on mspainting :-) her level up to 2. That is, so she has a point of being given the big number, and isn't just a nuisance.

On the other hand, to justify the players' talking her out of that, there probably should be another level 2 (or even level 3) act with a greater likelyhood of success. Maybe the Kanbali family.

This also helps with the Excitement, since level 2 performers gain 2 excitement instead of 1. With our rule for the Big Number, even a single success there yields 4 Excitement alone.

Z

PS. I am well aware it isn't fun to upstage the players' characters. Yes, this means that rational players will likely feel they shouldn't replace Mordaine or Kanbali with their own act.

But they're level 1. If there's any time where a player can accept not being the Big Honcho, it is when their character remains level 1.

And there's still five slots open even if Mordaine and Kanbali takes the two best slots. Even a group of six players can work with that assuming not every player wants to be a performer.


Ron Lundeen wrote:
Without spilling too many of the beans, we'll be doing something like that on the blog later this week.

I look forward to your thoughts! :)

Paizo Employee Developer

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Zapp wrote:
Ron Lundeen wrote:
Without spilling too many of the beans, we'll be doing something like that on the blog later this week.
I look forward to your thoughts! :)

Here it is!


Rysky wrote:
Making another thread in this subforum should be fine.

Thank you.

Instead of filling up this general thread, let's discuss the specifics of the show mechanics (and their probabilities) here:

https://paizo.com/threads/rzs42x9c?Circus-Show-analysis


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Super excited to run this AP (my first time running an AP), but I had one thing I was confused by. It was my understanding things tagged "Uncommon" had specific unlock requirements, but I couldn't find anything that said how Players could unlock being able to use the Juggler or Staff Acrobat archetype, or learn the new spells in the volume. Is the unlock requirement just that they're playing this adventure?

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