Life’s Long Shadows
This is part three of seven in a comprehensive review of the entire Extinction Curse Adventure Path. You’ll be able to read all the parts below.
part 1 • part 2 • part 3 • part 4 • part 5 • part 6 • accessories
[EDITORS NOTE: If this is your first experience with the Second Edition Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, you may want to consider starting with our previous review of the Core Rulebook. -dc]
Welcome to Life’s Long Shadows, Part 3 of the Extinction Curse Adventure Path by now the players should all have settled in, with a good understanding of how life in the circus should go. Coming out of Part 2 the characters should already be 9th level and should end Part 3 at the 12th level. There are another six potential NPC characters that they will likely encounter and possibly to hire as this adventure unfurls.
As usual, I don’t consider the back cover summary to count as a “spoiler” so, also as usual, let’s start there:
Strange forces assail the Swardlands, breadbasket to the city of Absolom. A malevolent spirit haunts the region’s leader, an unseen murderer mutilates her victims, and malicious forces occupy the once-sacred aeon towers. The heroes must stop the killings, repel subterranean invaders, and stun the people of the Swardlands with circus shows the like of which they’ve never seen!
THE LIKES OF WHICH THEY’VE NEVER SEEN I TELL YOU! NEVERRRR! (insert image of old man shaking his fist here)
Life’s Long Shadows is no less detailed than the previous parts of the series, but it less specifically less linear. The first part of the adventure SHOULD be run first, as it sets up a great deal of what’s to come. But the remaining three chapters can ultimately be run in whatever order the characters choose, providing a more “sandbox” styled experience at the gaming table, if the GM wants to make that happen. The second chapter is written to be less challenging, but the advancement track really only has one major benchmark: that the heroes should be at Level 11 before confronting the main villain. If the GM wants, they can inform the players of their options when they leave Kerrick; going north along the main road to Matten Cleave and the Wellspring Tower, or a smaller Farm Track that goes southeast to Castinlee and the Liferoot Stone tower, or southwest towards Turpin Rowe and the Old Forest Tower. Hopefully, the group takes the clearly easier road north, but they could choose any of the three, and that’s a big part of the fun here.
For this part, the heroes will end up exploring three different Aeon Towers, and interestingly each tower is slightly different from each other and the previously explored towers. While exteriors are the same (give or take the state of disrepair of any given tower) the creatures and interiors are similar but not identical. The players may or may not have consciously realized this by the time they reach whichever location they choose to explore first, but it is something that they may have noted. That’s also the closest thing to a spoiler I’ll talk about.
The circus theme is also not as heavily pushed this time around, in fact, one city almost discourages the characters from setting up their big top. There are certainly multiple opportunities to perform in each chapter, and if the players want to “go off script” to perform in the surrounding communities that are described in the Swardlands Gazetteer towards the end of the book, they can.
The first stage of running the circus is always advertising. Getting out into the current town to promote the show gives players the opportunity to learn key pieces of information for the adventuring part of the coming adventure, but it also has a mechanical effect in the circus rules. The goal here is to generate Anticipation for the circus by purchasing Advertisements (simply paying to increase Anticipation a known amount) and by Promoting the Circus (roll a Society check to increase Anticipation based on the result). There are also opportunities to generate pre-show Excitement that carries into the performance. I’ll likely talk more about Excitement another day, but at the end of each show the characters gain XP, while the circus gains Prestige and monetary payout based on the difference between the Anticipation before the show and Excitement generated during the show. The Prestige they gain as a result will also increase the payout of future performances.
The reason I mention this (aside from my promise in the previous review) is that some towns give the players circumstance bonuses on their Social checks to Promote the Circus, on Performance checks, or even at other points in the adventure. As an example, one town may give performers a bonus for a trick with certain traits, another may let players Promote more often in less time.
As packed as this adventure is, there is always more in an Adventure Path book. I already mentioned the Gazetteer spotlighting the region known as the Swardlands. That is followed by a detailed look at Zevgvizeb –the Beast of Gluttondark, Lord of Reptiles, and Sun Devourer– the demon lord worshiped by the xulgaths who feature so heavily in Extinction Curse. As always, the book closes out with an Adventure Toolbox that includes magic items found in the adventure, a four-page spread on the Shoony Ancestry, Archetypes to play as a Turpin Rowe Lumberjack or Golem Grafter (almost like an alchemical cyborg), a bestiary (that includes more about shoonies), and of course two page spreads on each of the major antagonists the characters will face.
I hope you’re enjoying this look at the Extinction Curse adventure path. I’ll be back in two weeks to talk about Part 4, Seige of the Dinosaurs, but until then you can find Pathfinder Second Edition, and all things Paizo, online at paizo.com or on Facebook at facebook.com/paizo.
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