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    Pixie in the Playground
     
    BarbarianGuy

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    Default Looking for some advice in setting up a circus

    My game is set on an island nation loosely based off of Chult. My players are having a celebration thrown in their honor and as part of that celebration I wanted to have a circus with some interesting creatures being made to perform for their entertainment (and of course things could go horribly wrong). One of my first thoughts was having a Manticore as the main attraction, but I'm not sure if that makes a lot of sense. What would be some good acts/creatures to include? There are 4 PCs of 5th level (possibly 6th by the time this happens) so I wanted some slightly level appropriate creatures (a bit harder is fine) in case things do turn south.

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    Troll in the Playground
     
    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Looking for some advice in setting up a circus

    I'd say go for the classics: Blink Dogs, Rust Monsters, a bunch of mimics being fed fish so that people can watch them eat, black pudding, etc.

    The problem comes in when the mimics get smart, and one of the mimics appears to look like two objects, and now there's an unaccounted mimic in the Blink Dog section.
    Last edited by Man_Over_Game; 2019-05-21 at 10:33 AM.
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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    QuickLyRaiNbow's Avatar

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    Default Re: Looking for some advice in setting up a circus

    Hate to steal the classic circus encounter, but the whole thing is a a series of illusions perpetrated by a sadistic 'ringmaster'.

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    Ettin in the Playground
     
    MonkGirl

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    Default Re: Looking for some advice in setting up a circus

    ‘Circus freaks’ that are actually Far-Realms tainted folks kidnapped along the show path... starspawn and the like

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Brookshw's Avatar

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    Default Re: Looking for some advice in setting up a circus

    Griffin is lower level but could be okay, while on display breaks free when it wants to eat a passing horse. (Maybe advance it)

    A giant that's worked out a deal with the circus

    Chimera might be better than Manticore, they're more freaky (and higher CR)

    How based on Chult? Cause,...dinosaurs.
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    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: Looking for some advice in setting up a circus

    I would reflavor some of the raptor dinosaurs as Dire Chickens or Ostriches for the purpose of dangerous beasts performing stunts.

    A half-dragon (dire-)boar, or other somewhat silly creature, could be a prime attraction for being a fire-breathing beast.

    Having several Imps or Quasits pose as “highly intelligent animals” could cover a number of minor acts in a row.

    A swarm of Brain Rats is CR 5, and intelligent enough to work for a living.

    I suppose some short range benign transpositions could allow a few “disappearing acts” or other tricks where you do something like swap the places of an elephant and rat.

    A Mask Of Many Faces warlock, or a changeling, may be a good plant for a “volunteer” who participates in an act with a “dangerous” beast.

    Maybe a Nature Cleric could be on stand-by for some emergency animal control. Perhaps a worshipper of Baphomet if you need an evil bent.

    Animated Objects from a spellcaster could allow for a wider variety of acts, especislly if paired with an illusionist, than simply owning a pair of permenantly animated brooms, but I don’t know how much you want a strong spellcaster involved.
    Last edited by DrKerosene; 2019-05-21 at 11:16 AM.

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    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Looking for some advice in setting up a circus

    ,
    taming of the owlbear ( high mortality rate)
    Drow fencers on a tight rope.
    Manticore throwing spikes at an a woman on a spinning board.
    Nymph charming the crowd and taking everyone's money.

    I suggest pixies mingling through the crowd, pacifying trouble makers and selling " pixie dust" to others.

    Dwarf tumblers,
    a Rakshaza ( illusioned of course) Ring Master who leaves an open challenge/ Reward to any Spell caster who can beat him in Spell duel, 1st to be hit 3 times by a spell. Limitation to Single target spells.

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    Troll in the Playground
     
    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Looking for some advice in setting up a circus

    Quote Originally Posted by Callak_Remier View Post
    ,


    Dwarf tumblers,
    a Rakshaza ( illusioned of course) Ring Master who leaves an open challenge/ Reward to any Spell caster who can beat him in Spell duel, 1st to be hit 3 times by a spell. Limitation to Single target spells.
    That Action Surge Sunbeam build finally comes in handy!
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    Prestige Options, changing primary attributes while maintaining balance with default options.
    Adrenaline Surge, fitting Short Rests into combat to fix bosses/Short Rest Classes.
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  9. - Top - End - #9
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    BarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: Looking for some advice in setting up a circus

    Wow, thanks for all the great input. Love the mimics as an "opening act" of sorts and one isn't noticed to be missing for a while and then BAM someone in the crowd is eaten. I honestly hadn't considered Circus Freaks at all, but I'm seriously considering that now.

    I did have a mental picture of a standard human ringmaster that is able to control all of these dangerous beasts with a Whip of Charming, where anything he successfully hits is charmed by him for a couple hours (long enough to get it back in whatever holding cell it travels in). But the idea of the illusionist or the Rakshaza are really fun, I'm just not certain how much I want to bring in a high level spellcaster.

    I have already incorporated dinosaurs, so those are absolutely on the table.

    I was really at a loss for what to do with the manticore but the thought of it being the "knife" thrower is great, and I think that makes a good act close to the end of the show.

    Since I'm a fairly new DM, I do have a question for the more experienced DMs out there. I don't necessarily need anything to go wrong and start a ruckus, but it could be fun. Do you think that I should plan for a specific act to "go wrong" or setup a series of checks for each act that involves something dangerous? I personally lead toward the checks, but I'm open to anything.

    I've got lots of thinking to do and this is great stuff, keep it coming!
    Last edited by SpectreCatcher; 2019-05-21 at 12:29 PM.

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Re: Looking for some advice in setting up a circus

    You don't need something to go wrong right now, this could just be good foreshadowing for another run-in with the circus down the road.

    However, the obvious point of failure in this circus is someone (disgruntled employee?) stealing the whip. You might have pretty high tension if it was discovered missing during the manticore act: the trainer will be unable to calm the manticore down as knives get closer and closer to the tied up target.
    Last edited by pragma; 2019-05-21 at 12:32 PM. Reason: Adding even better ideas!

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    BarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: Looking for some advice in setting up a circus

    Quote Originally Posted by pragma View Post
    You don't need something to go wrong right now, this could just be good foreshadowing for another run-in with the circus down the road.

    However, the obvious point of failure in this circus is someone (disgruntled employee?) stealing the whip. You might have pretty high tension if it was discovered missing during the manticore act: the trainer will be unable to calm the manticore down as knives get closer and closer to the tied up target.
    I hadn't considered that they would ever run into this circus again, but now that you mention it I can think of at least three different scenarios that could lead them to encounter the circus again.

    I love the idea of the whip "going missing" mid show and then the ringmaster needing to find another way to calm the manticore as it comes closer and closer to impaling the tied up target. Maybe a nature cleric on standby as someone mentioned previously or maybe one of the PCs would step in. I do have a Ranger, Druid, and Cleric...

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Troll in the Playground
     
    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Looking for some advice in setting up a circus

    Make sure this is a DnD scenario, not a cutscene. It needs to be interactive. To make that happen, I'd have a number of things that could go wrong, but the players can intervene to prevent this from happening. To prevent things from stopping from making sense ("Why is this circus a thing when we had to save it 5 times in the same day?!"), I'd make it so that someone is intentionally trying to sabotage the circus. Maybe some kind of crazed Druid, trying to set the creatures free?

    This allows the players to consistently save the day and interact with the area, while also having it all make sense within the universe.
    Last edited by Man_Over_Game; 2019-05-21 at 02:48 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by KOLE View Post
    MOG, design a darn RPG system. Seriously, the amount of ideas I’ve gleaned from your posts has been valuable. You’re a gem of the community here.
    Quote Originally Posted by Man_Over_Game View Post

    5th Edition Homebrewery

    Prestige Options, changing primary attributes while maintaining balance with default options.
    Adrenaline Surge, fitting Short Rests into combat to fix bosses/Short Rest Classes.
    Pain, using Exhaustion to make tactical martial combatants.
    Fate Sorcery, lucky winner of the 5e D&D Subclass Contest VII!

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    BarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: Looking for some advice in setting up a circus

    Quote Originally Posted by Man_Over_Game View Post
    Make sure this is a DnD scenario, not a cutscene. It needs to be interactive. To make that happen, I'd have a number of things that could go wrong, but the players can intervene to prevent this from happening. To prevent things from stopping from making sense ("Why is this circus a thing when we had to save it 5 times in the same day?!"), I'd make it so that someone is intentionally trying to sabotage the circus. Maybe some kind of crazed Druid, trying to set the creatures free?

    This allows the players to consistently save the day and interact with the area, while also having it all make sense within the universe.
    Excellent point! I can setup a skill challenge of sorts to take them from spectators to saviors! The crazed Druid may even tie nicely into another part of the campaign that I have presented but they haven't bit on yet.

  14. - Top - End - #14
    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Re: Looking for some advice in setting up a circus

    Hi SpectreCatcher,

    i loved the idea from the classic Baldurs Gate 2 PC-Game.
    Every "Visitor" in the Circus is a Monster. Every Monster in the Circus is a simple commoner.

    The ugly menacing Troll screaming for a key for its shackles? a cute little elf-girl.

    The Commoner in his expensive brocade shirt and shorts? He is actually a controlled giant spider who just waits for her part to attack your fellow players.

    Orchestrated by the almighty illusionists wizzard, who didnt get all the appriciation he deserve from the circusleader

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Kobold

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    Default Re: Looking for some advice in setting up a circus

    I think your PCs will hint "what goes wrong." When they do, make it so.

    If they don't, then Plan B, its a foreshadowing event that leaves them wondering, "Did we miss something?"

    Either way, awesome DM, right?

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    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Zombie

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    Default Re: Looking for some advice in setting up a circus

    Displacer beast. For added fun at some point it can appear to be out of its cage.

    Giant snakes could be fun.

    Boggles.
    I am the flush of excitement. The blush on the cheek. I am the Rouge!

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Ventruenox's Avatar

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    Default Re: Looking for some advice in setting up a circus

    Toss in some throwaway setting description side shows for flavor. Standard carny games, snack vendors, side shows involving the ferocious "Man Eating Chicken" or behind some glass - a real blade of grass.

  18. - Top - End - #18
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Kobold

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    Default Re: Looking for some advice in setting up a circus

    Quote Originally Posted by Ventruenox View Post
    Toss in some throwaway setting description side shows for flavor. Standard carny games, snack vendors, side shows involving the ferocious "Man Eating Chicken" or behind some glass - a real blade of grass.
    "Be careful as you pass, move along move along!"

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