By Thilo Graf
This pdf from Rite Publishing is 47 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD and 2 pages advertisement, leaving 42 pages of content for the latest ECS, so let’s check it out, shall we?
All right, we all know that there are plenty of instances where the circus is a place of horror for roleplayers and Barker’s Circus seeks to remedy that – a shelter for those rejected by society and a refuge for those born different, this circus actually is a noble place where stunning displays of strange creatures are shown – after all, in a fantasy world, a thoqqua and a remorhaz may create steam on which a pixie dances! (And yes, this is but one of several exciting ideas for acts herein.) The sideshow and circus are described not only with their acts, but following the ECS-tradition, they also have more twists – what if the circus is also the hq of a benevolent secret society?
We get an overview map with a mapkey and thankfully, maps of the subsections (menagerie, wagons, sideshow) to hand out to your players.31 pages offer blown-up versions of the maps for use with miniatures. The maps also come in separate files in both A4-format and letterpack as well as full-colour high-res jpegs. In the tradition of the ECS-series, we also get 3 rather complex statblocks – there is the perpetually-dancing athach that just can never stop moving, the mesmerist hiding a rather interesting identity and the ringmaster Hachalia Barker himself, a trickster/aristocrat. All 3 NPCs get very cool-looking b/w-mugshots. Nice!
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I only noticed one minor punctuation glitch. Layout adheres to the full-colour 2-column standard we know from the free Pathways e-zine.I already commented on the nice artworks and the cartography is fine as well. Finally, this is it – once again a ECS-installment I can’t nitpick apart! Author Rob Manning delivers a refreshingly benevolent take on the fantasy circus that brims with potential, adventure seeds and interesting NPCs and ideas, making this to my knowledge the only positive take on a circus in d20 since 2nd edition’s Carnival-supplement for Ravenloft. Now that we have a good circus, can we have an evil one? Pretty please?
I forgot the rating. Due to the low price, cool ideas and imaginative potential, my final rating will be 5 stars – well done!
Evocative City Sites: Barker’s Circus and Sideshow is available from: