February 2018 - Roll For Combat: A Starfinder Actual Play Podcast

Join the Loot Box of Wonder Revolution Today!

Roll For Combat Loot Box of Wonder

When we first started this podcast I wasn’t sure where we would end up, but getting a published title (even if it’s a small title) written was Thurton Hillman wasn’t really on my radar at the time. However, fate and chance are a strange thing, and we were lucky enough to get Thurton to create for the show a wonderfully fun Starfinder magic item that can be used by everyone!

Part video game loot box, part deck of many things, this magic item was featured in our latest Episode 23: The Mysteries of Lootboxing and you can now download this item for free at DriveThruRPG right here!

Some of its amazing features include:

    • Two Page Introduction (almost)! Don’t you hate it when you buy a new RPG product and it only comes with a one-page introduction … or no introduction at all? With the Loot Box of Wonder, you get two whole pages of introduction (almost), that’s quality right there!
    • Lesser Loot Box of Wonder! Specially designed to cause havoc for low to mid-level PCs of all kinds, the Lesser Loot Box of Wonder will amaze and mystify your PCs and their friends!
    • Greater Loot Box of Wonder! But wait, there’s more! With the Greater Loot Box of Wonder now you can unleash mayhem on even the highest level of PCs! Bring those high-level PCs down a peg or two!
    • Twelve Full-Color Pages! Unlike other inferior products with nine pages or less, this product has not 10 pages, not 11 pages, but 12 whole pages! And all in full-color! Value city!
    • Skittermanders! Everything is better with Skittermanders, and this product has Skittermanders galore!

Don’t miss out on this amazing off today and take part of the loot box revolution! Join now!

023: The Mysteries of Lootboxing

Roll For Combat Loot Box of Wonder

Things are finally looking up for the Roll For Combat crew, they even manage to find some mysterious loot that might just be their savior … or their destruction. Plus somehow the boys managed to live long enough to make it to level 3. And Hirogi makes a new life-long friend.

Also this week, GM Stephen discusses why adding random elements makes for a better game and more interesting character development.

Finally, we released our first RPG product! The Loot Box of Wonder by Thurston Hillman was created for the podcast and adds a bit of deck of many things to the Starfinder Universe. Get your own free copy right here: http://lootboxofwonder.rollforcombat.com

Of course, we also announce another winner of the weekly $100 Amazon gift card giveaway! And don’t forget to become a supporter of the podcast at our Patreon page: https://www.patreon.com/rollforcombat where you can help us while unlocking fun exclusive rewards for yourself!

Talking Combat 022: Fear The Walking Rusty

Starfinder Landscape

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 022: Boots On The Ground.

This week’s Talking is going to run a little long, and there’s a story behind that. So if you’ll indulge a brief “how the sausage gets made” interlude, I’ll explain. (Feel free to read this in the spirit of “isn’t that funny?” rather than groveling in apology.)

The discerning fan of the podcast might have noticed a glitch in the Matrix this week, as some of the write-up stuff has been… off.

Steve usually gives me the rough cut of the podcast to use to write a first draft of Talking. That’s also when I come up with episode titles and text blurbs for the postings on social media. Then I go back and listen to the final cut and clean up Talking – sometimes I listen to the whole thing again, sometimes I just skim the pre or post-session commentary Steve adds to the final. But with last week and this week, we had a bit of a foul-up:

1) Steve originally gave me last week’s episode as two separate episodes. Let’s call them 21A (the bulk of Driftdead fight and start of zombie fight) and 21B (end of zombie fight, a lot of complaining about healing, finding the alien complex, and meeting the security robot). He then later made those into a single episode and made a new 22 (robot fight, Rusty’s transformation, the Sunrise Maiden stuff), but I somehow didn’t get the memo.

2) I also happened to get crunched for time this week and didn’t listen to the final cut of 21/thought 21B was 22 and didn’t catch the changes.

3) Not to air Steve’s business in the public square, but he’s been out of town, so he didn’t catch my mistake because he had other stuff to do. Basically, he noticed it when I sent this week’s Talking and he texted me back to ask why it didn’t have any current content in it.

So the gist of all of this? Last week’s Talking and the accompanying text blurbs for “Screw You, Isaac Newton!” pretty much ignore about half of the episode. And this week’s text blurb for “Boots On The Ground” mostly talks about the stuff that happens in the recap/first five minutes – no robot fight, no commentary on Rusty’s transformation, none of the Sunrise Maiden stuff. It passed a sniff test because we DID talk about those things in the first few minutes, but it would be like presenting the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy as the story of Bilbo’s birthday party.

We’ve since caught it, so this week’s Talking will be correct, though it’s going to be a little long since I wanted to dip back into a few points from 21 that I missed last week. Deep down, I’m just disappointed I didn’t get to use the title “THAT’S NO DRIFT ROCK, THAT’S A SPACE STATION”, which fit a lot better when initially entering the alien complex was the highlight of 21B.

OK, interlude over. Robot fight in 3… 2… 1…

FINALLY. We finally get a combat where things go mostly the way they’re supposed to, we don’t take a ton of damage, and Mo and Hirogi have nothing to complain about.

Up until now, you may have noticed two basic themes:

    • Healing potions suck.
    • Bad guys pretty much never miss.

I think the secret of this week’s fight was not so much that the sentry hit less, but its weapon spread the damage out a little more, so no one person took too much damage. The last few fights were “Mo gets punched repeatedly and almost dies”; this one was “everyone gets a little paint scraped off the fender” which only eats into stamina. But more generally, let’s talk about those two points a little.

Looking at healing, I don’t think potions themselves are any worse than in Pathfinder – if you compare a Healing Serum I and a potion of Cure Light Wounds, you’re really just losing that +1… so your disappointing 1’s stay 1’s instead of becoming disappointing 2’s. I think the real problem is one of economics, and specifically, that we’re lacking the Starfinder equivalent of the healing wand as the source of cheap after-combat heals. In Pathfinder, it’s pretty much become standard operating procedure to buy a wand of cure light wounds out of party loot as soon as you can afford it – you get 50 heals for a couple hundred gold. Meanwhile, I don’t immediately see an analog in Pathfinder, and we don’t really have the money or inventory capacity to just throw 100 potions at the problem. (If I’m missing something obvious in the Gear section of the rulebook, feel free to correct me.)

As far as “creatures never miss”… it hasn’t bothered me personally because I’m supposed to be kind of squishy and have crap armor, but I can understand the frustration of the guys who have to get up on the front line and take the hits. Though I will say that even if the math checks out and you win the fights, it’s a little off on a “feel” level. It’s a little weird to be the hero of the story and you whiff three times in a row while the Level 1 Space Sloths that should represent an “easy” fight keep punching you in the face.

On the other hand…

The first thing to consider is that between HP and Stamina, we simply have a larger pool of points, and the first half of them represent temporary damage that only kinda-sorta counts. I assume if Mechanic were a Pathfinder class it might have a d8 for hit dice. So I’d have 8 HP at 1st level, 5 at 2nd, plus 1 per level for CON = 15 hit points, whereas I have 27 in Starfinder. So we’re built to take an extra hit or two. (If you think about it, CHDRR’s flat 10 HP per level follows a more Pathfinder-y progression.) I didn’t bother running the numbers for the other guys, but I assume it’s a similar story.

There’s also some truth to the fact that we might be lagging a bit equipment-wise since we’ve never really upgraded our starter gear. (Certainly not our armor – we did find a few guns along the way.) It feels like at a similar point in a Pathfinder campaign, we might have gotten some upgrades, maybe a few magic items by now. I looked ahead and started looking at upgrades for my base armor, and even a jump from an Estex Suit I to an Estex Suit II would be +4 to both EAC and KAC… that’s an extra 20% miss chance as soon as we can make it back to civilization and cash out.

Once the fighting was done, our attention turned to Rusty, and his transformation. Steve and Bob have both been dropping hints, but yep… Rusty’s turning undead. Let’s be honest: ever since I listened to that interview with Erik Mona, I knew Steve would find a way to work this in – there are certain things, particularly when it comes to gaming, where Steve doesn’t have much of a poker face. I have to admit I thought Chris would be the guinea pig since he seemed to be the one who was most excited about the idea when we first kicked it around back in one of those earliest episodes. (Didn’t he threaten to kill off his character specifically so he could re-roll?)

I suppose the real questions are A) is this a done deal or can it be reversed? and B) would Bob even WANT to undo it, because he seemed like he was enjoying the idea as well. Maybe not as much as Steve, but he definitely didn’t seem all that alarmed at the prospect. On a personal level, I’m still wrapping my brain around the idea that undead aren’t kill-on-sight, now we’re going to potentially have one as a party member? (shudder)

Plot-wise, we get our next big chunk of information, even if it’s 80 years old. We learn that an explorer and her ship arrived here and were attacked by some creature and that she had to hole up in this room. When her defenses ran out, she decided to kill herself rather than get eaten and became the Driftdead we fought a few episodes back. It would’ve made a hell of a video game cut-scene.

The main takeaways:

1) There’s a ship out here somewhere so we now have a potential way out of here, even if Nor doesn’t send the Hippocampus back. On the other hand, it’s an 80-year-old ship, so will it be in working condition, or will we have to do some repairs? (In the back of my brain, I’d been wondering if maybe the Drift Rock itself was a ship hidden inside the rock and that we’d find a bridge. This works too.)

2) That ship now belongs to us because of Interstellar Maritime Law or Pirates’ Code or whatnot. So that’s the big prize of this adventure – a real ship to call our own! Well, that’s assuming Steve was joking about the Starfinder Society deciding they own it. If they try to claim it as theirs and lend it out to us ala The Three Detectives, I’m going to hit the roof.

3) Let’s just assume it’s going to be guarded by something nastier than a Driftdead. If there’s one thing you can count on, it’s Big Nasty Alien Critters surviving 80 years because That’s How They Do.

4) Extra credit: at first glance, this feels unrelated to the akatas. There’s not really any evidence the crew of the Arceon made it this far into the facility, and there’s the 80-year timegap to consider. I’m thinking the akatas are just something else the Drift Rock picked up in its journey over the last century – an added layer of defenses if you will. On the other hand, I could be totally wrong and it could be like the end of Aliens where the ship is guarded by an Akata Queen and hundreds of akata eggs that all start hatching as we try to tiptoe on board. WON’T THAT BE FUN?

So anyhow, I’m already running long, but I wanted to take a few minutes to talk about Steve’s postgame chat about playstyles.

I think Steve’s got a fair point that I’m not as “hard rules” as the rest of the group, but it’s a little more nuanced than that. I think I’m “hard rules, with concessions to patience”. We generally only get 3 hours a week to play, so I want to make the most of that time. So if someone’s about to live or die based on a rules decision, by all means, take time to crack the books and get it right. If it’s Round 3 of a fight that’s going to take all session anyway, let’s cap the discussion about whether poison gas flows around a hard corner at 5 minutes, let Steve make a call, and just play. If it turns out he’s wrong, he can always make it up to us later by fudging something in our favor. In short, the rest of the team is the NHL regular season; I’m the NHL playoffs – I put the whistle in the pocket on the little stuff, but still call the big things.

May dads-n-kids game is firmly in Style 2 because the kids are still learning the game – we make a few things like encumbrance and spell management a little easier for the sake of keeping them interested. They won’t ever become players if they get bored with the bookkeeping – we’ll ease into that as they get older. However, we do point out when we’re changing a rule so that they’ll know “this is a house rule and it might not be this way if you play at someone else’s table”.

I’ll just say it right now… other than as an experiment, I would never play the “Auteur GM” style. If your story is so important that you can’t have those pesky players actually controlling their own actions, just write a damn novel and be done with it.

So next time, we probably have a ship… if we have the firepower and healing potions to reach it. Can we pull it off? Come back next week and see what happens. I promise the space-time continuum between the podcasts and the write-ups will be fully realigned by then.

022: Boots On The Ground

Moriko Nash

The team finishes off the remaining zombified Arceon crew, and finish exploring the caverns before turning their attention to the mysterious door. Inside, they discover interesting new surroundings, but the most welcome find is their old friend… gravity.

Also this week, GM Stephen discusses RPG play styles and which is good for you and your players.

Plus, another winner of the weekly $100 Amazon gift card giveaway! And don’t forget to become a supporter of the podcast at our Patreon page: https://www.patreon.com/rollforcombat where you can help us while unlocking fun exclusive rewards for yourself!

Talking Combat 021: Gob-Stopper

death-head

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 021: Screw You, Isaac Newton!.

Zerky Boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling…

Well, we lost the first member of our extended entourage early in this combat as the Driftdead unloaded a crit on poor Zerk. One-hit kill, nothing to be done about it. I have to admit to a bit of mixed emotions, but on the whole, yeah I’m a little down about that.

OK, Zerk and Torsa tend to be a little stupid and got underfoot a lot. You know… as goblins do. On the other hand, they were responsible for the CHDRR rebuild, and they seemed to generally hold Tuttle in high regard. I actually had my own NPC fan club, even if their loyalties were a little fluid. And credit due, the few fights they got in, they were pretty brave, jumping right into the thick of the action.

(coughmorethanRustycough)

Sorry… did you hear something? Must’ve been the wind.

Other than Zerk dying (how’d you like the play, Mrs. Lincoln?), I have to admit the Driftdead fight wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. When the battle first started, I actually thought we were in Big Bad territory, especially when he phased through the wall. But then, that “next level” of nasty never really came together; we started putting some damage on it, and it dropped faster than I would’ve thought. Even that void ability it used on Rusty sounded far more dramatic than the 3 points of damage it ended up doing.

And OK, fine. Looks like Hirogi made the right call giving Clara’s guns back to her. (Please don’t tell him I said that.) She did some substantial damage, and I shudder to think what it might have been like throwing guns across the cavern while that fight was happening. I suppose Hirogi could’ve used his telekinesis to deal with that, though I don’t know how that works in combat.

So the exploration continues. And then we get some good news… a door. This has to be the payoff, doesn’t it? I assume the ultimate mystery of this place lies behind that door. Is it something the miners built or something they found? Could there be survivors in there? Further explanation of what happened here? Good questions, but before we find out we have to fight off a few more of the dead akata-zombiefied crew, including the captain.

I have to admit: my initial reaction was indifference. The previous one of these we fought died in… was it two rounds… maybe three, max? I remember it being pretty quick. OK, so there’s two of them this time. Big deal.

And then… one of the two just cannonballs right into us, and we realize the downside of packing everyone in close together. Welcome to Dr. Julius Sumner Miller’s Dramatic Demonstrations In Physics! Bowling pins. Shooting pool. Lottery balls. We’re one Brownian motion reference away from exhausting our arsenal of metaphors.

Now, from a game mechanics standpoint, it looks worse than it is, which is why we could afford to laugh about it at first. Off-kilter is still only a -2 – not a game-changing penalty – and not everyone was affected. So maybe this fight goes a round or two longer than it was going to.

But then Mo gets hit and takes strength damage, and OK… that’s bad. Especially if it’s a long-term/permanent effect. Now, as you can hear me theorizing, if this is like Pathfinder, the fact that there wasn’t a save probably means it’s a short-duration effect – they usually give you a save for the really heinous stuff – but we don’t know for sure. If it’s like the akata fever and lingers, I don’t know what tools we have to deal with that. Even if we manage to get through this battle, I don’t think we want Mo in a degraded state in a real fight.

And that’s kind of where we leave it. The battle still feels like it’s in our control, but with just a shadow of a question mark hanging over things. So what happens next week? Is Mo doomed to the same fate Rusty faced a few weeks ago? What do you think is behind the door? If that Driftdead wasn’t the big bad guy, who’s still waiting for us? And eventually… how the heck do we get out of here with no ship? Feel free to stop by on social media and let us know what you think.

021: Screw You, Isaac Newton!

interior-space

The party learns the hard way that combat gets unpredictable when people start running into each other in zero-gravity. We also bid farewell to one of our goblin friends, and unravel the fate of the remaining Drift Rock crew.

Also this week, GM Stephen discusses when a GM should simply skip content or a big fight.

Plus, another winner of the weekly $100 Amazon gift card giveaway! And don’t forget to become a supporter of the podcast at our Patreon page: https://www.patreon.com/rollforcombat where you can help us while unlocking fun exclusive rewards for yourself!

Talking Combat 020: Major Uncool, Babe

space-fishing

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 020: Mo Dupinsky: Fishin’ Reptilian.

Full disclosure, this is going to be a short one this week. Real life intrudes. Nothing bad, no links to a GoFundMe to buy me a new pancreas, just generally busy. (If you want to assume I’m secretly Elon Musk and “busy” is code-speak for “launching my car into space”… well, I won’t discourage that sort of thinking.)

We start this week with the tail end of last week’s dysfunction. I don’t want to write an entire “second verse, same as the first” piece about it, but the new development is that Chris went behind our back and used his various operative tricks (telepathy, slight-of-hand, weasel-y nature) to give Clara-247’s guns back to her.

To quote a particularly bad episode of Miami Vice, “Major uncool, babe”. DON JOHNSON, MASTER THESPIAN!

The decision itself isn’t what bothered me – as the podcast starts, you can actually hear both John and me coming around to Chris’ point of view anyway. (For me, the episode where she threw her gun away to spite us made me think trying to toss weapons back and forth in zero-G while in combat could get stupid real quick.) It’s the whole “I’m going to do whatever I want” attitude, particularly combined with the “you don’t respect me”, like his decision to buck the party is somehow our fault.

I can handle adversarial (evil, contrarian, uncooperative… pick your adjective) play if it’s part of a character concept or if it serves the story. Siding with an NPC over the party to get better loot, or to indulge some sort of alpha-dog contest about who’s in charge of the group? If I want that sort of thing, I can get it in abundance in WoW. But rather than sit here and vomit out another 500 words of Hirogi-Shaming, let me give you a couple examples of adversarial play that were done well.

The first was from this group’s Iron Gods campaign, that we were playing before we started into Starfinder. Bob created a sorcerer who was an entity generated by some sort of alien technology; basically, he was “born” as the campaign started. As such, Bob decided to play him with a learning curve for human interaction and tactical decision-making. Not quite as bad as Data at the end of Star Trek Nemesis, but kind of like that. Early on, he cast a sicken spell on ME just to see what would happen. At one point, even though he had a healing wand, he didn’t heal us because he interpreted Chris’ instruction of “heal us when we tell you to” literally and didn’t use the wand unless we explicitly said, “heal me”. Despite having high charisma, he was also fond of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time in interactions with NPCs. So on the surface, he was “screwing with the party” but it was so well integrated into the character concept that you didn’t mind.

Similarly, in my dads-and-kids group, one of the dads (Dave) created a wizard who had a dysfunctional relationship with his not-totally-good familiar. So the continuing challenge was that the familiar would do low-level stuff to mess with the party – steal items, lie about one party member to another, at one point it turned invisible and started pulling the druid pet’s tail just to freak it out, etc. To his credit, Dave set some boundaries and played combat straight-up, so the familiar’s actions never got us killed, but it was a way to sprinkle in some adversarial roleplay without making things completely break down.

So in short, my ability to tolerate shenanigans is inversely proportional to how clever said shenanigans are, and “extra credits for ME” is pretty low on the list.

The other major thing this week was the “fishing expedition” involving using Tuttle as live bait to explore the rooms. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t play Tuttle as willing to put himself at risk, but he’s also not stupid – as the only person with darkvision (except the goblins… and we don’t want to be relying on them for intel) he was the logical choice for what amounted to a mapping expedition. And up to that point, we’d only run into a space zombie that was a fairly easy kill – I figured Tuttle could take a hit if I ran into another room with one of those. Was it Murphy’s Law that OF COURSE, he ran right into a more powerful creature than we’d encountered before? A bit. But those are the breaks – sending Hirogi into it blind and advertising his presence with a light source probably wouldn’t have gone any better.

The hit was painful, the confusion is annoying, but the thing I’m really dreading is that the captain has turned on the INCORPOREAL sign. Pathfinder has left me with an almost-pathological hatred of incorporeal creatures because Paizo seems to love throwing incorporeal creatures at low-level parties when they don’t have the tools to deal with them. The melee guys don’t have magic weapons yet, the casters only have a couple spells, so it tends to become a shitshow of whittling away 2 or 3 points at a time. It feels like it won’t be quite as bad in Starfinder because SF leans less on melee and more on energy weapons as a trope of science-fiction, but it’s probably still not going to be easy. We may see THE BUTTON before it’s all over.

Like I said, kind of quick one this week, which I apologize for. Feel free to join us on social media and let us know what you think.

020: Mo Dupinsky: Fishin’ Reptilian

Our ever-growing party of adventurers explores even deeper into the Drift Rock. After making short work of a warm-up fight, the team has to face a challenge of a hard-to-navigate part of the caverns. Mo and Tuttle improvise a solution that resembles deep-sea fishing. It turns out ysoki makes good bait, but it’s not fish that are biting, but… something else. We also learn that Hirogi takes that whole “honor among thieves” thing pretty seriously.

Also this week, GM Stephen discusses how to handle fights at the table and why they often turn so nasty so quickly.

Plus, another winner of the weekly $100 Amazon gift card giveaway! And don’t forget to become a supporter of the podcast at our Patreon page: https://www.patreon.com/rollforcombat where you can help us while unlocking fun exclusive rewards for yourself!

Talking Combat 019: Dysfunction Junction

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 019: The Darkness Strikes Back.

I have to start this session with a bit of a confession, coupled with a shout-out to our listener community. We got an email from a listener named “Kaleb,” pointing out that as part of the “Moxie” racial ability, ysoki don’t suffer the -2 penalty and flat-footed conditions that come with being off-kilter. “I am wondering if the good doctor or Jason will remember that fact in the coming combat.”

Yeaaaaah…. About that….

I would love to sit here and say “I knew that,” but I have to admit I forgot. To my (partial) credit, I remembered the part about being able to stand up from prone as a swift action, but the off-kilter thing didn’t quite stick in my brain the same way.

The first takeaway is a tip of the cap to Kaleb for pointing it out. We do read your emails, and we appreciate the feedback, even if it’s to point out when we’re doing things wrong.

The second takeaway: since there’s a lag between when we record episodes and when you hear them, my ignorance of that particular rule is going to continue for a couple more sessions. What can you do? Welcome to the linear nature of time. (Though Tuttle has some interesting theories on that topic.)

Third takeaway: now that I’ve been set straight, you can fully expect some “Tuttle The Ysoki Pinball” hijinks once we burn off the episodes that are already in the can.

With that out of the way, let’s talk about this episode.

I’m going to be honest and talk a little bit about the elephant in the room. I have to admit this episode was frustrating to play because of all the chippiness within the group. You’ve got John getting frustrated at taking damage and feeling like no one was helping him (and I get it that the enemy doing an attack of opportunity and then immediately surrendering on her turn was a particular kick in the jimmies – kind of like a boxer punching after the bell). We had another instance of Chris doing his own thing, in this case going against the party to side with his new operative “friend.” You can hear Bob getting frustrated at the general indecisiveness and lack of forward motion, as well as people going back and asking questions already answered and re-litigating decisions we thought we’d already made. Me, I don’t know that I was mad at anyone or anything in particular, I just got kinda quiet and withdrawn – though I did clearly throw a little shade at John with the (paraphrasing) “if he’s busy drinking a potion, he won’t be complaining” line. It wasn’t our best night regarding group cohesion.

I think it was just one of those “perfect storm” things. We’ve certainly had combats that have gone worse – I would argue that the akata fights back on the Arceon were more of a cluster(fluff) than this one ended up being. Chris has always had a penchant for cutting free of the group and doing his own thing; it’s part of what he brings to the table, and there are times when it’s a lot of fun. Bob always tends to be the most organized one of us, and it’s not unusual for him to drag us back on task when we start to meander. In isolation, they were all normal behaviors and nothing out of the ordinary. But I think the key is it’s usually one or the other, not all three at once. I feel like it was the combination of all three in the same session that really made us struggle.

Please don’t read those previous paragraphs as “I’m beyond reproach, and they screwed up the session.” I’m sure I wasn’t at my best either, and if you ask them, they might have some valid frustrations with my play as well. I’m just not self-aware enough to pinpoint my own flaws, nor would I want to put words in their mouths.

I do think some of John’s frustration comes back to group composition and our lack of a traditional healer. Sure, it also hasn’t helped that his healing serum rolls have been terrible, but I think maybe when he built Mo, he was expecting more of a Pathfinder tank experience where someone else would be dedicated to keeping him upright. Or maybe this is a low-level thing and becomes less of an issue as we get access to more powerful technology – better armor and upgrading to the next tier of healing potions might help a lot. I do have to agree it’s a little frustrating how rarely enemies seem to miss in this game.

Chris being Chris… it’s just how it is. Sometimes I think he just enjoys being contrary for the sake of seeing where it leads. Though I will say, going back and listening to the episode later, it did seem like Steve was trying to gently steer us toward accepting her help, so maybe Chris was on the right track wanting to let her keep her weapons. I was trying to take a middle path on that one – I saw value to reaching some sort of truce with her and not treating her completely as a prisoner, but I also wasn’t crazy about giving a weapon to someone who already tried to kill us twice unless it was absolutely necessary.

As an aside: going back and thinking about the timeline, it’s a little goofy. Since she was the pilot of the ship we fought on our original trip out here, and we spent several DAYS dealing with Rusty’s space rabies, that implies she was hanging out on the Drift Rock all that time? I realize androids can survive in a vacuum but still, that seems like kind of a long time to just hang out. No wonder she was cranky.

Bob’s the one I fault the least – over the years our dynamic has just kind of settled into a place where Bob does the Adulting for the group, taking notes, keeping an eye on the clock, etc. It’s a thankless job, and we sometimes don’t make it easy for him. I’ll admit even I got annoyed when… Chris, I think… asked the same question that Steve had LITERALLY just answered two minutes earlier.

One listener on our Discord channel called it a “fight,” I admit things got a little testy, but I wouldn’t go that far. I’ve been in gaming groups where the game literally came crashing to a halt, and people stopped talking to each other for a few days. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a situation where punches were thrown, but I had a lifelong friend swearing a blue streak at me for like five solid minutes because he felt it was my fault his character died in one of our campaigns. This was just a little bit of releasing the ol’ pressure valve to blow off steam. At the risk of giving away spoilers, we’re all still on speaking terms.

The Unintentional Comedy moment of the evening went to my attempt to chuck the Downside Kings membership card into the middle of the battle. There was a method to my madness – since the ship itself was owned by the Hardscrabble Collective, I was thinking that perhaps she was a survivor of the original crew or an agent sent by that faction to see what happened, and that showing our alliance with the Kings might get her to stop shooting at us. (And if she was an Astral Extractions agent? Well, it’s not like she could shoot at us any more than she already was.) So it seemed like a good idea, but in execution, it turned into the scene in The Fifth Element where Bruce Willis tries to get the deaf guy to push the gun over to him, and he rolls over the completely useless billiard ball instead.  Go ahead and assume I waved and gave Mo a cheerful thumbs-up after doing it.

Of course, not sure how we got this far without talking about it, but this was also our first real exposure to zero-G combat, and… yeah, it’s pretty much going to suck. Well, Hirogi will probably be fine, but I’m hating life right about now. Basically, if you don’t have Acrobatics or Athletics as a trained skill, your choices seem to be “move so slow that you get shot to pieces before you ever get into melee range” or “bounce around like an idiot, turning your character’s likely death into a slapstick routine.” Is there a third choice? Neither CHDRR nor Tuttle is good at either one of those skills. Zero-G still doesn’t top incorporeal enemies as my Least Favorite Thing Ever, but when we get back to civilization, I’m clearly going to have to burn some credits on gravity boots or a jetpack or something.

Looking ahead, the merry band grows larger – we now have two goblins AND an android following us around – but we still haven’t really fully cracked the mystery of what happened to the remainder of the crew. Given the state of the guy we did find, it can’t be good, but hopefully, we’ll soon have some news to report. Also kinda hoping Nor offloads his goods and sends the damn ship back for us – I don’t relish the prospect of driving up to the gates in a ship that’s supposed to be in quarantine.

Anyhow, that’s it for this week. Feel free to drop us a line and let us know what you think. Maybe you have some thoughts on zero-G combat now that you’ve seen it in action, maybe you have an out-of-the-box idea for dealing with our new frenemy that we didn’t think of, or you’re welcome to share your own horror stories of that “nightmare” gaming session where everyone was ready to drop the gloves. We’d love to hear from you!