Review: Rite Publishing- Barker’s Circus and Sideshow (Evocative City Sites)

Evocative City Sites: Barker’s Circus and Sideshow
Barker’s Circus and Sideshow is a supplement for the Questhaven Campaign setting that is compatible with the Pathfinder Fantasy system and most other systems using the OGL written by Rob Manning and published by Rite Publishing.
By Cape Rust

Barkers Circus and Sideshow is part of a modular campaign setting that is run by the adventurers and full of evocative sites. The circus is in a fixed site and introduces some innovative ideas on how a circus could survive in a static location.


This 47 page supplement contains 8 pages of written information and 31 pages of blown up map sections, stats for three interesting NPCs and a tent full of ideas. While this offering might seem lite compared to other Rite Publishing products I can assure you it isn’t. Included with the full product package are stand-alone images of the major map pieces.


The Evocative City Sites are advertised as modular settings that can be placed in most fantasy settings and they certainty deliver as advertised. There are 100s if not 1000s of fantasy settings out there and many of them have character classes that could easily spend their entire careers in a circus. The bard, of course, is the first to come to mind but even many of the traditional core classes like the druid and the wizard can fit in easily as well. The problem is that there are few established circus settings for players to explore and enjoy. Barkers Circus and Sideshow answers a need that most people don’t even think about until they really need a circus!


Publication Quality: 9 out of 10
The public domain art used for the cover is from the wrong time period, but it feels so right! The cover art is in black and white and looks good. Because the Barker’s Circus and Sideshow is actually in a building, the cover art depicting some buxom female trapeze artists in an indoor, glass domed coliseum type circus is a rare and well used find. The reuse of the cover photo on page 3 really blew my mind. Finally color done well, really well. The color reuse of the cover art uses that four-colored rosy scheme that you see on old maps. It looks fantastic and evokes thoughts of the days when the circus was the big event in most towns across the country.

The Evocative City Sites series is good about placing a master map with a key right at the beginning of the books, my only complaint with this particular map was that because of it’s justifiably small size, it would be easier to use if it was in color. The Choice of art for Hachaliah looked steampunk or ship captain, not ringmaster. But the public domain art really stole the show.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
This book is actually light on mechanics. Other than the NPC write-ups there isn’t much crunch. Mechanically the NPCs races are not exactly what you would expect and saving the reveal until the end of the text worked well.

Value Add: 10 out of 10
If you need a circus in your game, this is the product for you. There are hundreds of directions a GM can go with this concept and material with very little extra work. The circus setting is an interesting place to let your party’s bard or jester shine for a few sessions. Finding creative uses for say your fighter or barbarian is actually quite easy and could make for some off the wall encounters

Overall: 10 out of 10
The combination of great use of art and a non-standard setting make this product worth the price of admission. The book is dedicated to P.T. Barnum and it does that man of legend justice. The inclusion of the panel map suitable for reproduction and use with minis is great and the back-story writing was good. You rarely see settings like this and Barker’s Circus and Sideshow can easily divert your players from the standard wash rinse and repeat cycle that some dungeon crawls invoke. So come one, come all and buy this book!

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