November 2018 - Roll For Combat: A Starfinder & Pathfinder Actual Play Podcast

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Talking Combat 062: Red Vesk Redemption

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 062: Merry Critmas.

First things first: I hate to rain on Steve’s parade, but I’ve never read any David Eddings. I generally trust Steve’s taste on stuff like this, so I’ll check him out at some point, but I’m probably six or seven books deep on my “get around to it” list, so it might be a while. And since at least one of those is a Brandon Sanderson, that’s more like 10 or 11 regular books.

I do think the structure Steve lays out has a certain wisdom. Change is good, keeps any one aspect of the game from getting too stale. Even fighting. Yes, battle is the engine that makes the car go, but even endless dungeon crawl can get boring after a while. Besides, what’s the alternative structure. Tolkien? 14 episodes of travel, two episodes of singing elf or dwarf songs, one combat episode that’s resolved in 30 seconds, followed by a pedantic argument that Tolkien’s definition of a “ranger” doesn’t really fit the Pathfinder class very well; if anything, Legolas is more of a true ranger while Aragorn is more some sort of fighter who maybe took a dip in alchemist to get the herb lore… or maybe a ‘roided-up bard… or… (at which point one has begun to apply head to desk repeatedly).

Sorry, now that you’ve regained consciousness…

This is one of those episodes where I have to admit I don’t remember much of what happened. There’s a lot of moving parts to my recall ability – how long between when it was recorded and when it’s time to do the write-up, how involved my character was in the action, whether real life was picking at the edges while we were playing (there are nights where Dad Duty still comes into play) – and this episode… well, it wasn’t a complete black hole, but it wasn’t all there. I had absolutely NO recollection of a second shopkeeper; I knew we fought something, but was actually thinking of a different fight that happens later on. (A spoiler… but a very mild one. Yes, we fight again at some point. Also: Rosebud was the sled.)

And yet my brain started doing the same Goldfinger parody at the same point when Steve started talking about ghoul fingers, so it’s not totally lost. Is that memory rattling around in there somewhere or are my jokes just that predictable?  I’m sure my brain will wake me up to soul-search about that at 3 am some night soon.

I forgot, for instance, about the Joy of Reach. Those swoop hammers turned this battle into a massive pain in the ass. Not so much for Tuttle; he managed to keep himself on the fringes of battle. CHDRR, on the other hand: bad times. By having him rush in without figuring out how things were laid out, I accidentally put him into one of the squares where no matter what he did he’d be open to one, if not multiple, attacks of opportunity. It didn’t totally tie my hands, and I think there were a few times where the enemies maneuvered in such a way CHDRR was in the clear to attack as long as he didn’t move, but it was like fighting with one hand tied behind my back.

Of course, I shouldn’t really complain, since John was feeling this pain – quite literally – more severely than I was. That’s right… we have the glorious return of “Mo Dupinsky, Pinata For Hire”. I’ll admit I remember him taking a crit at some point during the fight, but I didn’t actually remember him dropping. I know he was frustrated – as you can hear when he got snippy with Bob about not getting into the fight – but when the bad guys land two crits on you… what are you gonna do? Just not your day.

On a more positive note, I had fun because this was Tuttle and CHDRR’s first battle with their weapon upgrades. CHDRR rolled low on his damage rolls, so the difference wasn’t all that noticeable with him, but Tuttle landing a crit for something like 20 and then a regular damage roll for another 11 gave me all sorts of warm fuzzies. Other than the odd kill shot, I don’t get to feel like a productive member of the fighting force all that often. FEAR ME, FOR I AM BATTLE-RAT!

(Also, note to self to go back and look and see if CHDRR’s temporary BUTTON-based weapons can be upgraded to something sexier at Level 6. Probably not, but you never know.)

Plot-wise, this episode doesn’t really move the needle, though it gives us the raw materials that should pan out next week. We found the bone spur for the marrowblight, which we gave to Wynetta Trux for further analysis. We’ve also rescued the female bone trooper, though the episode ends before we can get any information from her about her friend who ran off to join the Corpse Fleet. (Still like “Corpse Corps” better). So we’ve investigated both leads and have hooks to move the story forward – just the way David Eddings would’ve wanted it.

The “Good Undead/Bad Undead” schism is still coming into focus a little bit. I’d just started coming to grips with the idea that undead are Just Plain Folks and now we’re fighting them again. And they’re ghouls… but they’re just hitting us with hammers instead of doing anything particularly ghoulish. And there’s the fact that we caught them menacing ANOTHER undead person. I’m SO going to need a PowerPoint on all of this.

I’m also a little worried that the marrowblight is next on the dance card – looks like a nasty customer – but if that’s what’s in our future, I guess we’ll jump off that cliff when the time comes. After all, Mo’s the one that’s going to be getting hit most of the time, right? I may be BATTLE-RAT, but BATTLE-RAT is not an idiot.

That’s all I’ve got for this week. Unlike Steve, I don’t have jury duty; I just picked up some PS4 games over the Thanksgiving weekend that I have yet to play. “Oh look at me balancing the scales of justice”… well, finding a team to take Carl Hagelin off my hands so I can promote my #1 draft pick in NHL19 is important too, man!

We’ll see you back here next week for the continued exploration of Eox; in the meantime, hope you’ve been enjoying the reindeer games on Discord. Have a good week, and see you next time.

062: Merry Critmas

Now that the crew knows the “truth” about Rusty, he doubles down on being “100% completely human” (other than setting up a date with a cute undead skeleton). And after weeks of undead shenanigans, the crew decide to finally get down to work and start following up on some Corpse Fleet leads.

Also for this week’s GM/PC Tip, Stephen explains how one can use the David Eddings fantasy series The Belgariad to structure your role-playing sessions!

And don’t forget to become a supporter of the podcast our Patreon page: https://www.patreon.com/rollforcombat where you can help us while unlocking fun exclusive rewards for yourself!

If you enjoyed this episode, don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast. We would also love it if you would leave us a review on iTunes!

Talking Combat 061: My Undead Has A First Name – It’s R.U.S.T.Y.

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 061: Eoxbound and Down.

Hello and Happy Thanksgiving! Today’s special bonus challenge will be to ignore the good smells coming from the kitchen long enough to recap this week’s episode. FEED ME, SEYMOUR!

So the highlight of this week was the appearance of Amanda Hamon Kunz. These guest NPC appearances have always been entertaining, and Amanda was no exception, though I wish she could’ve stuck around a little longer. I’ve said this in relation to having other players (in the Society games) but I think it applies equally to having someone run an NPC – it’s good to get another voice at the table, another take on the character.

I’m trying to frame this in such a way that it doesn’t sound like I’m criticizing Steve, but if you think about the number of roles the GM has to play over the course of a campaign, it’s hard to come up with distinct personalities for every single one. Especially in more of a roleplay-light campaign like we play. Maybe that NPC you did in Book 2 starts sounding like the one you did in Book 1. As a general pattern, Steve’s quest-giver “liaison” NPCs tend to be toward the stuffy and scholarly end of the spectrum, so I’m not sure he would’ve ever had Wynetta Trux be a tobaccy-spittin’ redneck. It was a breath of fresh air.

It’s also double-neat because Amanda herself was the author of the module in question, so you’re experiencing the material with that extra layer of the author’s original intent. I don’t want to get too grandiose – “IT’S LIKE SHAKESPEARE PLAYING MACBETH! IN THE GLOBE THEATER!” – but maybe a little bit of “playing with the DVD commentary on” vibe.

This week, we also finally got to the bottom of the Rusty mystery. Surprise! (Sorta.) Rusty is undead and has been since the akata attack way back in Book 1. Realistically, we probably saw this coming from the minute Steve started discussing the possibility during his interview with Erik Mona, but good to have it confirmed.

On the other hand, this is one of those things that played differently to me because Player Jason had information Character Tuttle did not have. Since I also write the book reviews for the site, I had already seen the part about necrografts in the Starfinder Armory, so I’d been thinking for a while that Rusty’s salvation from the akata disease involved necrografts in some way. (For the record, the Core Rulebook mentions the existence of a necrograft as A Thing in the lore-dump about Eox, but doesn’t really take it any further.)

For me, the mystery was whether Steve always knew about necrografts (Inside dirt from Paizo? Were there clandestine parking garage meetings involved?) or whether Steve had come up with a homebrew solution on the fly and then retconned it into the world of necrografts when those finally came out. In short, was Rusty infected with midichlorians, or did he gain access to an unseen Force that permeates and flows through everything in the universe?

From Steve’s post-game commentary and from what I remember of the original events, it sounds much more like the retcon route. If I remember the original encounter in Book 1, it was a lot more like an injection of nanobots, which doesn’t really fit the necrograft model. Maybe you could argue the injection was emergency triage and then Rusty got actual necrografts when we returned to Absalom, but that’s probably overthinking it.

The other thing I’m wrestling with is whether Tuttle would want any necrografts for himself. That’s a tough call. On one hand, Tuttle is very practical, and necrografts are nothing if not cost-effective. And there’s a certain level of “undead isn’t THAT strange” in his world. On the other hand, I do feel like turning himself undead would be a pretty big leap for him, and he’d AT LEAST want to think that through a little more before saying yes. I suspect he’ll come around once he realizes that turning undead would give him centuries to work on his research.

Plot-wise, Wynetta basically gives us two paths forward. There’s a robbery at a flesh-growth plant (and you thought hot dogs were gross) or we can investigate someone who expressed Corpse Fleet sympathies and may have run off to join them. Since the flesh plant is right across the street from the necrograft shop, but I suspect we’ll be visiting both before it’s all over. And in fact, we manage to turn up a bone spur in the flesh vat (and another awkward conversation with Sean) at the first location before breaking for the day.

Next time, we investigate Lead #2 and hopefully try to figure out who (or what) that bone spur was a larger part of. For now, I hear the call of Thanksgiving dinner, so I’m going to jump right into a food coma. Have a good holiday weekend and we’ll see you next week.

061: Eoxbound and Down

One year ago, Rusty “died” from a horrible illness, but soon afterwards mysteriously came back to life stronger than ever. Ever since then listeners (and players) have wondered what happened to Rusty and how is he alive? Today is the day where all secrets are revealed… and by none other than Paizo’s Starfinder Managing Developer and author of Splintered Worlds, Amanda Hamon Kunz!

And don’t forget to become a supporter of the podcast our Patreon page: https://www.patreon.com/rollforcombat where you can help us while unlocking fun exclusive rewards for yourself!

If you enjoyed this episode, don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast. We would also love it if you would leave us a review on iTunes!

Talking Combat 060: Excelsior!

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 060: Undead on Arrival.

I have to confess, the editing of this week’s episode threw me a little. I came in prepared to talk a lot about Amanda Hamon Kunz’s visit to the show, but I kinda feel like I want to push most of that to next week because it feels incomplete until you, the listener, have had the full Wynetta Trux Experience.

(“Wynetta Trux Experience”. Jam band, opened for Phish a few times… underrated, but would’ve gone further if they’d had a better bass player.)

So with no disrespect intended toward Amanda, I’m going to mostly set her aside for next week, other than to say it was a lot of fun having her on the show. Instead, let’s start with Steve’s GM note about changing PCs, with a particular eye toward Tuttle.

It is true that Tuttle has changed from the way I drew him up in my head, but it’s kind of funny how unintentional it was. (At least at first; at this point, I’ve started intentionally leaning into it.) To recycle that old joke about fights and hockey games, I went to a min-max and a roleplay broke out.

Tuttle started in my head as a very bookish academic who kind of turned his nose up at getting his paws dirty. If there was any more reputable gig that could fund his scientific ambitions, he’d rather be doing that, but here we are. And it’s only been recently that I’ve explicitly thought “Tuttle’s adventures are going to change him – he’s going to see that being a sheltered academic is limiting and embrace the chaos of field work”. To be honest, most of his changes were rooted in pragmatism: either solving the last problem we faced (especially if it revealed something that would be an ongoing issue moving forward) or anticipating a problem that was coming up. But still, it is true that walking through those progressions DID change how I perceived him and his willingness to “get weird for science”.

(“Get Weird For Science” – next Tuttle T-shirt quote.)

And I think what makes it work is that there are pieces of his core that are preserved – it’s a fusion of the old concept and the new concept. If I threw EVERYTHING about Tuttle out the window, then I’d just be min-maxing and making the character portrayal follow the stats. But I like to think I’ve preserved enough of the old Tuttle to keep on the right side of the Roleplay Gods. He’s still content to let CHDRR be the muscle of his personal operation, so CHDRR still gets all the combat feats and if Tuttle takes combat skills at all, they’re usually defensive. He’s still got the same ethical center, which usually manifests in giving Hirogi’s ethical lapses the stink-eye. While he’s embraced the necessity of roughing it, he still complains about it quite a bit – at any given moment, he’d still rather be nursing a coffee, tapping away on a keyboard, with indoor plumbing and air conditioning at his disposal.

Now, on to Eox. This week, we mostly experience Eox on a theoretical level, and really only get into the meat of it in the last 10 minutes or so. But we still learned some interesting stuff.

First, the physical environment. Radioactive and/or poisonous atmosphere. Nights last 15 Pact World days. Huge flesh-rendering plants that make the place stink of death. Yep. It’s Mordor.

It’s also kind of interesting to see the degree to which the living are tolerated rather than accepted. I’d been viewing this through my Pathfinder lens – I mistrust undead because undead were pretty universally bad guys there. It never really occurred to me to think about what the undead thought of the living and how they might be treated. So that was an eye-opener. And that’s even the “good” undead. We haven’t even gotten to the Corpse Fleet yet.

Speaking of the Corpse Fleet, as we discussed a little bit in the podcast, it doesn’t sound like Eox takes the Corpse Fleet THAT seriously, or maybe they don’t care as long as the Corpse Fleet is only going after living targets. One office in the worst part of town, staffed by one person, and (it seems) all she does is file reports – largely logging crank calls if Sean is the measuring stick – with the government that largely get ignored? There was something about the bureaucratic indifference of it that that reminded me of the beginning of Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy – I was waiting for Trux’s office to be an out-of-order restroom with a “Beware of the Leopard” sign on the door.

There’s also something that came up while listening to the show I wanted to discuss which… I’m going to ask your indulgence here.  It’s a weird little rabbit hole that even though I went through the books to re-read the lore and “proved” it couldn’t be true, it left an interesting residue. Interesting enough I wanted to throw it out there for grins.

What if the pre-Gap history was somehow wrong and Eox was Golarion?

What set me off was Steve’s description of the crater. Something in my brain latched onto that and said: “Oh, that’s just like the Worldwound”. And from there it was off to the races.

Now before you all send me 30 copies of the History Channel Alien Guy image with the caption I’M NOT SAYING IT WAS GOLARION, BUT IT WAS GOLARION… I know it’s wrong. Eox is in the wrong orbit, so there would have to be some Wrath of Khan Ceti Alpha 5 shenanigans going on. And the original inhabitants of Eox are identified as the elebrians, a race related to but distinct from humans. And some of the pre-Gap history references the existence of Eox. And the gods themselves say Golarion is out there somewhere, safe and sound, waiting to be found.

But it was a neat what-if to explore: what if undeadishness had won the long game in the campaign setting we’ve been calling home for the past decade? What if all those Pathfinder adventures saved the world, only to let it advance to the point where it could destroy itself so completely they had to turn undead to save themselves. Kinda sobering, isn’t it? I realize this is “what if our planet is an electron in an atom in a larger universe?” level crazy-talk, but it was fun to think about. Or maybe I was just sleep deprived and missing my first cup of coffee. You tell me.

Speaking of indulgence, I’d like to close with a few words about the passing of Stan Lee. Yeah, I know his bailiwick was superheroes, not roleplaying games, but I feel like there’s a fair amount of overlap in the various fan communities.

I don’t have any personal story of meeting him, and I don’t feel a compulsive need to list my 34 favorite Marvel characters in order of preference. (ABRIDGED: 1. Spider-Man. 2. Everyone else.) And I also recognize his contribution to pop culture was somewhat a product of his own hype, and he sometimes stepped on other creators to claim the lion’s share of the credit for himself, but we can unpack that some other day.

I think what I really loved about Stan Lee is how he used his public persona – even after he was out of the day-to-day at Marvel and had no more direct skin in the game – to respect and affirm people like us: people who wanted to exercise our imaginations in ways that might seem unconventional, people who didn’t see anything wrong with indulging in a little escapism because it was FUN. Hell, the man made a career out of it. Here’s a guy who was a success in the entertainment world, using his platform to tell us that stories about a kid bitten by a radioactive spider (or, at the risk of indulging hubris, making up your own stories about a science rat with a robot buddy) are just as worthy of your time and attention as More Serious Pursuits. And his cameos, which started as a bit of a gimmick, evolved into a bit of a low-key covenant with the fans – “if you keep showing up, so will I”. It was almost like having that relative out on the edges of your family tree who you don’t see all that often, but sometimes got you in ways your closer family didn’t.

Good old Uncle Stan. Gonna miss him.

That’s it for this week. Next week, we’re going to really dig into the mysteries of Eox and Amanda Hamon Kunz gets to take her appearance to the next level when we finally meet Wynetta Trux. Until then, hope to see you on the Discord channel, where the party never stops. (Though it sometimes slows to a crawl because we’re old and several of us have kids.)

Until then, EXCELSIOR!

060: Undead on Arrival

The starship is built, the weapons are bought, and the PCs are leveled … it’s time to head over to the Eox and mix it up with a world of undead! Also joining us this week is Paizo’s Starfinder Managing Developer and author of Splintered Worlds, Amanda Hamon Kunz!

Also for this week’s GM/PC Tip, Stephen explores how to mess with PCs for fun and profit!

And don’t forget to become a supporter of the podcast our Patreon page: https://www.patreon.com/rollforcombat where you can help us while unlocking fun exclusive rewards for yourself!

If you enjoyed this episode, don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast. We would also love it if you would leave us a review on iTunes!

Talking Combat 059: Guns. Lots of Guns

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 059: Pick Six.

It’s leveling week on Roll For Combat. Always fun to get a new set of toys to play with. Tuttle kind of gets the narrative short straw in this episode because I missed the memo on both weapon fusions and mnemonic editors, which ended up consuming a lot of the bandwidth.

On the bright side? Guns. Guns galore.

Tuttle gets a weapon upgrade from the repair process, and an armor upgrade too. For those scoring at home: 6400 credits’ worth of upgrades for 100 credits’ worth of UPBs. I have to admit going in, I was concerned the repair process would be tougher (and/or more expensive) but a couple really good rolls was all it really took. The armor was a fairly minor upgrade, but I’ve been using that wimpy little azimuth pistol for WAAAAAAY too long. Only downside: deafen is a pretty situational critical effect compared to the simple joy of lighting stuff on fire, but that can be fixed with weapon fusions.

CHDRR’s weapon upgrades came from the part of CHDRR’s sheet Steve doesn’t let me see, so that was kind of a nice surprise. I was getting to the point where I was going to have to retire his starter weapons soon anyway, so having them upgrade semi-spontaneously is pretty nice. I was starting to feel a little useless in combat, so even if this doesn’t make me a Hirogi/Mo level damage-dealer, it at least makes me a little more viable.

You may note that this shopping session was heavily influenced by the release of the Starfinder Armory. For me personally, the teleportation puck and regenerative blood were two of the cooler items I found in that book. The teleportation puck seems like one of those things that will be completely useless until we find the perfect situation for it – maybe we’ll need to get across a chasm, or we’ll want to use it to flank an enemy or something (Reaper from Overwatch creeping into my thinking, clearly). Regenerative blood is a lot more straightforward and generally useful; it’s the equivalent of a free healing serum each time you rest.  That certainly doesn’t suck.

The last change was the datajack. The initial reason the datajack appealed to me is that it moves the command node for CHDRR into my head, so I don’t have to use a hand to operate my datapad. Particularly now that I’m going to be riding CHDRR into combat, having a free hand seems like a good idea. The side benefit of an additional plus on Computer checks… I mean, I’m already something like +15 or +16, so it’s not THAT important, but at some point, I’m going to just squeak by a Computers check by 1 and then I suspect I’ll be singing its praises.

I wasn’t directly involved in the weapon fusion discussion because I wasn’t particularly interested in those (at least not this level), but I do have a more general observation: I found I started to understand the fusion system better after I read the Runes system in the Pathfinder Playtest. Spoiler: if they’re not EXACTLY the same system, they’re similar enough. I don’t know if it’s that the Pathfinder Playtest writers wrote it a little cleaner, or if somehow the fantasy concept and the tangible idea of engraving a rune onto a weapon made it stick in my brain a little better, but that really helped lock it in.

I do think I’ll be dipping my toes in the fusion market at some point fairly soon. Like I said above, my current gun has Deafen as a crit effect which is pretty underwhelming.  I already worry that there will be situations where it won’t do anything (e.g., creatures without hearing), but the fact that Deafen only affects initiative and Perception checks is frankly, kind of lame. So I’ll do it at some point (MOAR DAMAGE!), but for this round of shopping, I had better choices available.

In a similar vein: mnemonic editors. I like the concept; I might use one eventually; I just wasn’t interested in it this time around. I think a large part of that comes from playing a skill-monkey build: it feels like the other guys were optimizing for combat and I’ve achieved one-ness with being a crappy fighter. I do like the idea of the mnemonic editor, though. You may have noticed a recurring theme of me wanting to see them lean into the sci-fi elements more – a device that can reprogram your brain to learn new skills absolutely qualifies. Though I am disappointed none of us threw in a Keanu-ized “I know kung-fu!” Golden opportunity lost.

We end the episode ready to find out what awaits on Eox. I’m definitely curious to see what that’s going to be like, but I also don’t want to hype it up in my brain too much. Part of me thinks “undead planet” and wants it to be something mind-blowing – fountains spraying blood instead of water, scary Eye of Sauron towers everywhere, and so on. But our other encounters with the undead so far in this game have emphasized just how normal they’re intended to be. So I suppose I have to be equally prepared for undead mundanity – undead janitors, undead banging away on Excel spreadsheets, possibly even undead Starbucks (VENTI O-NEG, EXTRA BILE). It’ll be interesting to see how Paizo threads that needle between exotic and commonplace.

Speaking of which, we have the person who had to thread that needle with us next week: Amanda Hamon Kunz, who wrote the next adventure, pays us a visit. I know part of the allure of special guests is that they work at Paizo and have all sorts of inside info, and yes, that’s cool. But for me as a player, it’s equally exciting just to have someone new to break up the dynamics of the table a little. A new voice, a new sense of humor… heck, maybe mix in some movie references that are a little less dated. (Johnny Mnemonic?) So that’ll be a treat.

That’s it for this week; we’ll see you next week from Eox, vacation hot spot of the Pact Worlds. Same Undead Time, New Undead Planet. In the meantime, thanks for listening and feel free to drop by our Discord channel and join the merriment that’s going strong over there.

059: Pick Six

After their asteroid adventure, the crew decide to head back to Absalom Station, sell several thousand credits worth of stolen/recovered gear, and level up their characters. Next stop, the undead world Eox and special guest Amanda Hamon Kunz!

Also this week, Stephen was hired to create a new monster for Paizo and The Diaspora Strain (Signal of Screams 1 of 3) adventure path. Stephen explains in detail the process for creating his fearsome acid-spitting arthropod… the Crate Fiend!

And don’t forget to become a supporter of the podcast our Patreon page: https://www.patreon.com/rollforcombat where you can help us while unlocking fun exclusive rewards for yourself!

If you enjoyed this episode, don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast. We would also love it if you would leave us a review on iTunes!

Talking Combat 058: Buzzed Lightyear

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 058: O Co-Captain! My Co-Captain!.

I wanted to start this week by clarifying some chronology. Some of you more astute listeners might wonder why we spent the last episode upgrading the Sunrise Maiden, but then still had the original specs. The actual order we recorded the episodes was:

  1. First pass at Sunrise Maiden, up to where three of us had three different numbers in the builder app.
  2. This week’s episode where we flew home to Absalom and got in the scrap with the Corpse Fleet bikers.
  3. Finished the build process once we returned to Absalom, aka the second half of last week’s episode.

BEHOLD THE DARK TRICKERY OF PRE-RECORDED AUDIO!

This week’s battle was… well… “pesky” is probably the best way to describe it. You got the feeling these ships weren’t much of a match for us in terms of trading shots, but they were faster than we were, and since there were two of them, it tended to be difficult to keep both of them in a firing arc even when we won the piloting rolls. But even when they were hitting, they weren’t doing much damage, which they compounded by rolling like crap, so it never felt like we were in any real danger.

No shields to balance? No glitches to fix? This gave me a chance to step out from Damage Control Tuttle and try out some tactics on the offensive side. In this fight, squeezing out extra speed seemed to be the most useful thing I could do, but I also tried pushing auxiliary power to the weapons (kinda useless – maybe rerolling a 1 entirely might be more useful), and I even considered manning a gun. It was nice to feel like I was contributing to the offense rather than standing around with the roll of duct tape waiting to patch holes.

I’m not sure how I feel about Chris’ secondary battle with the rulebook. It’s true we don’t do space combat all that often, so it’s pretty easy to forget. But there was a stubbornness there, where people were trying to help him and he was brushing them off with “I got this” when… he very obviously didn’t. Also, it seemed like the concept he was struggling with was fairly simple – it’s turning radius. The maneuverability number is how many hexes you have to move between each turn of the arc, and you have to start with at least one move before you can turn at all. Check, please.

Maybe it was the booze/cold medicine/whatever.

Which gets us to Steve’s GM tip. I have no “moral” objections if someone wants to have an adult beverage at the gaming table. To borrow from Jeff Spicoli, this is OUR time, and I don’t really have a problem if someone wants to pop a cold one during OUR time. Also, as long as they’re not sloppy drunk, it can loosen people up and create some interesting interactions. And if they badly derail things, I leave it to Steve as the GM to handle it.

That said, I don’t drink during our games purely as an energy thing: for any given session, I’ve usually worked all day, had to make dinner for my family, and then maybe have a half-hour to decompress before we start playing – if anything I go the other direction, dip into my stash of Mountain Dew and caffeinate. I think ONE time (pre-podcast), we were playing the night of my office holiday party (open bar + take the bus, so I don’t have to drive), and so I was still a little buzzed; I don’t feel like my judgment was impaired, but I do remember feeling like I could doze off at any time. Heck, maybe that WAS the one time I fell asleep during the session.

Though I’ll also agree with Steve that anything goes at conventions. That’s like… Mardi Gras for nerds. Do what you gotta do.

Getting back to action, I get Bob’s frustration and not being able to extract more data from the Corpse Fleet ships, but I think at some point you just chalk it up to “that’s what the plot requires” and move on. Yes, I can go to my car, bring up the GPS screen, and see the 5 or 10 most recent destinations. So yeah, it’s a little odd supposedly futuristic sci-fi ships would have lesser technology than that. On the other hand, it’s easy enough to hand-wave a story reason it’s not the case – it could’ve been a suicide mission type thing where they didn’t expect to come back, so they stripped all the logs and nav computer and all that stuff because it wasn’t going to be needed – so at some point you just go with it.

As far as throwing the prisoners out of the airlock… I’ll just say that Jason the Player wasn’t sure why we even took them on board anyway and figured they weren’t going to tell us anything useful, but I had to roleplay Tuttle as being against harming them. I have to keep reminding myself that the undead are nominally good guys in this setting.

Then again… does throwing undead out an airlock really accomplish anything? On one hand, they don’t need to breathe, eat, or sleep; on the other hand, I assume the absolute-zero temperatures of space would still eventually kill them or render them functionally inert. Oooh. Maybe they’d go into some sort of deep-freeze cryostasis and come back as villains later in the story! (Kinda like tossing General Zod in the Phantom Zone in Superman 2.)

Alas, that question will be tabled for another day, as sanity wins out and we take our prisoners back to Absalom. After collecting a reward and conferring with Chiskisk, it looks like we’re going to follow our leads to Eox itself – the undead homeworld! I have to admit I’m pretty excited – the whole idea of an undead society is one of the things that’s distinctly new about Starfinder, so being able to campaign in that setting should be pretty cool. And OK, maybe we’ll be able to figure out what’s been going on with Rusty all this time. Whether he wants us to or not…