April 2019 - Roll For Combat: A Starfinder & Pathfinder Actual Play Podcast

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081: Roll For Retreat

The party is split, they are trapped inside a collapsing building, and being attacked by a massive swarm. Run away!

Also, we announce the winner to the free trip to PaizoCon 2019 contest. Make sure you listen to find out if you won!

And if you didn’t win, don’t worry. Make sure to check back next week as we’ll continue to give out weekly prizes to all people who enter the contest up until PaizoCon, so keep listening and don’t forget to enter!

And don’t forget to become a supporter of the podcast on 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 080: Seems Like Mold Times

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 080: Never Split the Party.

Another short episode this week. Shorter even than the Pittsburgh Penguins’ playoff run. (Too soon, man… too soon.) Not sure how we’re going to handle the fact that the last 30 seconds of cliff-hanger is basically the highlight of the episode, but let’s give it a whirl.

I suppose we did achieve a bit of Roll For Combat landmark history by safely detonating a trap without poor Mo having to bumble into it. That’s exciting. I mean, not totally safely – Akiro’s poor unseen servant bought the farm, but if CHDRR is occasionally expendable, I refuse to shed any tears over Chris’ spell buddy. But given that Mo’s been a human piñata up to this point in the campaign, I’m glad we were able to spare him for once.

Speaking of spells… I don’t know that we’ve full-on broken the rules, but I’ve noticed we’ve been playing a little fast and loose with Tuttle’s Comprehend Languages. I think I got confused and decided it’s a cantrip and can cast it as often as I want; in actuality, it’s a Level 1 spell, and the Technomantic Dabbler feat only allows me to cast it once for every three levels, so… twice. It’s got a duration of 10 minutes per level, so between that and Akiro sometimes handling translation duties, I don’t think we’ve totally screwed up yet, but we do have to be more careful going forward.

(cough assuming we survive cough)

This was a bit of a crazy episode for dice rolls. I think I heard two different natural 20s and at least one natural 1 (as well as a 3 or 4). Granted, some of those rolls were for fairly stupid things like assisting on doors, but still. Can’t we save those for combat? “First Bank Of Crits, established 2019”.

I also got my first chance to use my mechanic trick that kicks in when we hit a countermeasure – that’s kind of exciting. You might remember that I took this one after Chris (still as Hirogi at that point) almost erased the cultists’ data stream when we raided their base in the Diaspora. And somehow, I had not hit that circumstance since taking it. Either we didn’t hit countermeasures at all, or I rolled well enough to avoid them anyway. Annnnnd, of course, the first time I use it, I fail the roll, but it turns out the actual penalty on this particular failure wasn’t all that bad. If you HAVE to fail, I guess that’s how you do it.

So, we do some computational wizardry, and get the MacGuffin – the key codes to enter the temple that sounds like the final destination of this part of the adventure. Annnnnnnd it’s swarm time. It’s funny, as I’m going back and listening… we probably missed a few clues and REALLY should’ve been a little more diligent about testing those filaments – you know… the ones that were moving? – before we boxed ourselves into a dead-end room. But here we are. Swarm between us and the door. Yay us!

I’ll grant – if we’re looking at this as a straight-up fight, we’re pretty screwed. I have a few grenades but most of them are Mk 1. Don’t think we’re taking this down 1d6 at a time. Presumably, Akiro has some spells, but how many do burst/area damage, and that’s even before we get into resistances and such. As much as Mo loves his precious pike, that’s not doing much good. And yeah, the one weapon we had that would’ve done damage – CHDRR – is back on the ship. In the words of Charlie Brown, “good grief”.

That said, all of the above mental math requires thinking of this as a stand-up fight. I don’t think things are QUITE as dire as Steve makes it out, I think it’s going to be a matter of getting creative. Depending on how fast it moves, we might be able to just run for it. Even if it’s fast, maybe we can split up and make sure it only gets one of us at a time. It’s unclear what state the doors are in – can we lock it in, or did opening the doors roughly prevent them from being securely closed again. (Or can it use air vents or something?)

There’s also ship-based shenanigans. Rusty not being here doesn’t mean he’s totally out of the fight. I don’t know how the logistics of Rusty piloting and shooting at the same time would work, but could Rusty nuke the site from orbit? The structure is supposedly unstable – maybe there’s a way to do that. Could Rusty at least air-drop CHDRR in to give us some firepower? I mean, there’s no GREAT solution here, and I’m worried even some of the “good” ones come with a body count, but the gears are turning.

I will say this. On an emotional level, if this DOES turn out to be our Kobayashi Maru moment, this isn’t how I want to go out. I want a death worthy of the “Brave Sir Robin” song – rip some limbs off, incinerate me, drop me into a black hole. “Nibbled to death by space critters”…. It’s just such a lame way to go. So guess we’d better not go out that way, I guess.

Buuuuuut I guess we’ll get to that next week. In the meantime, get those contest entries in and drop by the Discord channel and check out the ongoing merriment. We’ll see you next week.

080: Never Split the Party

The number one rule when playing an RPG is “never split the party”. Doing so is nearly always a recipe for a TPK. So when half of the RFC Crew decide to go into an abandoned building covered with creepy mold, nothing bad could happen … right?

Don’t forget to enter our free trip to PaizoCon 2019 contest. Not only do you get a free trip to PaizoCon, but now you get to join in a private game of Grimmerspace, created by co-author Sean Astin!

Just head on over to the contest entry form to enter, and then make sure to check back on the April 23rd podcast to see if you won!

And don’t forget to become a supporter of the podcast on 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 079: Thank You For Flying Rusty Airlines

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 079: Move it Rusty, We’re Rolling.

It’s gonna be kind of a short one this week. It’s a short episode, to begin with, and the Pens went to overtime last night, so I’m operating on less sleep than usual.

It’s also difficult because the large majority of the episode is spent debating the logistics of something we end up deciding not to do, so there’s this big Monty Python-esque “START AGAIN” two-thirds of the way through the episode. In case it was unclear, the general setting is there’s a big floating island a couple of hundred yards from the mainland that are broken off and floating loose, with a field of smaller debris surrounding it.

The original plan (and probably how Keeley drew it up when he was writing it), if we were better equipped or had magic, would’ve been to hop from small rock to small rock to get to the big one. But… we aren’t that well-equipped, especially once Hirogi went poof with some of our rope and maybe a grappling gun. (Put me down in the column of thinking he had one, but I could be wrong.) And our lack of magic is legendary, even with Akiro now on the team. But hey, Tuttle can Comprehend Languages!

So we give it Ye Olde College Trye to figure out the rope thing, but it seems pretty unlikely to work, and even our best effort probably means we have to leave someone behind. So at that point, why not fly there and just lose whoever is piloting the ship because that SEEMS a little safer? As Tuttle is the bookish nerd most likely to die doing Interstellar Parkour, I am totally down with Plan B.

However, this does mean formally splitting the party. We lose Rusty, as the pilot, and I ultimately decide to leave CHDRR behind. I’ve been second-guessing that a little bit. At the time, I think I was worried he might be hard to extract at the end, and we might be left with the uncomfortable prospect of leaving him behind or doing a destroy-rebuild cycle, which would cost us a day. Meanwhile, there’s a meta-gamey sense that if it’s the Kish trash mobs we’ve been fighting up to this point, the three of us can handle it, and if it’s a boss battle we’re pretty screwed without Rusty anyway. (Please don’t tell him I admitted that. I’ll never hear the end of it.) In retrospect, I started feeling that might have been a mistake: the drone rules are written such that CHDRR is meant to be a LITTLE disposable (don’t tell HIM I said that either), so why not bring him?

So we get in the ship and… OK, the ride is a little bumpier than expected. Rocks… ship… NOT FRIENDS. And damage goes directly against the hull instead of the shields… yeah, that’s not good. The thing I don’t get a sense of is whether 15 damage was a small, average, or max amount, but it does put us on a bit of a clock getting on and off the rock. And it could ultimately mean Bob has to bail and we might have to do the hopscotch method anyway. But getting back out of here is 15 steps down the road; for now, we come through OK (only one nasty collision) and deposit the away team at the destination.

Speaking of which, I need a ruling: is the science guy or the security guy more of the redshirt in the case like this? I kinda want to say Mo is the redshirt, but not sure. There are quite a few Trek episodes where it’s the junior exo-botanist who wanders away and gets eaten. Then again, the scientists who go on Star Trek away missions rival the guys from Prometheus in their disregard for safety protocols. Sure, Ensign Giles… put your whole unprotected face right up next to where every other plant in the universe emits pollen. That’s a FINE idea.

But I digress. We arrive with a few bumps and bruises. Time to find our objective and get the security codes. And, the whole place is covered with some hybrid of mold and webbing. That might also be propping up a structurally unsound building. THAT’S NOT ALARMING AT ALL. Giant spider? Mold/ooze type creature? Mold Spider? Does such a thing exist? It’s hard to judge what’s just ambiance – this is an ancient civilization that’s thousands of years old, and this building, in particular, is isolated and untouched – and what’s a sign of danger. Oh, who am I kidding… definitely a Mold Spider, and we’re all gonna die.

(If the Mold Spider wasn’t a thing before, I’m proclaiming it to be one now. And here I was thinking I was going to ignore Steve’s GM tip because I don’t create monsters!)

Though in the short term, my concerns are more rubber-meets-the-road – CHDRR’s junk cannon might have been useful just to burn off some of these mold filaments to make the doors easier to open. (“Fire! The Biblical Cleanser!”) Mo’s getting it done, but the rolls he’s been having to make are kinda high. A few shots of plasma weapon might make things a little easier. On the other hand, maybe it brings the whole building down on top of us. Steve did say the filaments were helping to keep the building standing.

And a few doors in, that’s where we leave things for the week. Join us next time when we continue exploring the Office Park of Impending Doom. In the meantime, drop on by Discord and join the ongoing merriment, and don’t forget to enter the PaizoCon contest. (Though the people who already entered probably wish I wouldn’t say that because I’m lowering their odds of winning). See you next week!

SP10: Interview with Paizo Developer Jason Keeley, Again!

If you enjoyed this interview make sure to check out our weekly actual play podcast where we’re playing through the Starfinder Dead Sun’s Adventure Path. And make sure to enter our free trip to PaizoCon 2019 contest! Check out full details here!

Welcome to another special edition of the Roll For Combat Podcast where we sit down and talk with Paizo Developer Jason Keeley – again!

We talk with Jason about his new adventure, Eulogy For Roslar’s Coffer, the second book in The Tyrant’s Grasp Pathfinder Adventure Path and how Jason approaches writing an Adventure volume. We also discuss a bit about the future of the Starfinder Adventure Path series as well as what to expect when Pathfinder Second Edition is released later this year. Check it out!

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!

079: Move it Rusty, We’re Rolling

Now that Jason Keeley and Rob Trimarco have been sent on their merry way, it’s time for the RFC Crew to get back to the mission at hand – how to reach a tiny island floating over a gas giant planet without any rope or flying abilities. This doesn’t sound like it will end well at all.

Also for this week’s GM/PC Tip, Stephen has created several monsters for both Starfinder and Pathfinder 2e and he gives some tips and tricks when designing monsters for Paizo.

Don’t forget to enter our free trip to PaizoCon 2019 contest. Not only do you get a free trip to PaizoCon, but now you get to join in a private game of Grimmerspace, created by co-author Sean Astin!

Just head on over to the contest entry form to enter, and then make sure to check back on the April 23rd podcast to see if you won!

And don’t forget to become a supporter of the podcast on 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 078: Bowl For Combat

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 078: The Slime of Our Lives.

Here is my dilemma.

As a player and going back as a listener, a bottle episode like this is a welcome break. Doing one main storyline week after week can be a bit of a grind if we’re being honest. Cultists. Doomsday weapon. End of the world. I wouldn’t call it “repetitive” because the overall story is still developing and moving forward, but it is a little one-note. It’s nice to take a break from that and wing it for an episode or two.

On the other hand, blogging about it after the fact becomes a little tougher because an episode like this doesn’t leave as much in its wake beyond a restatement of what happened. “Keeley and Trimarco are great. Monsters ‘sploded.” If you’re not in the main story, you don’t have unanswered questions. You don’t have that “where do we go from here?” speculation. Or you have it, but it’s the same unanswered questions and speculation you had X weeks ago when you entered the diversionary side-street. So it makes for a little more challenging blogging experience.

I will say that these breaks are welcome, but it’s hard to ask for them as the player – or at least it is within the constraints of a tightly-plotted adventure path. As a role-play thing, it feels self-indulgent to break immersion by being the one to say “I know the evil cult could be firing up the doomsday weapon any day now, but let’s go to the space casino tonight”. That doesn’t seem realistic. It’d be like Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli trying to rescue Merry and Pippin but just deciding to take a detour to go get some more lembas or something. So it’s kind of incumbent upon the GM to decide that yes, you have time to take a two-hour detour to see the World’s Second Largest Ball of Twine.

Keep in mind, some of this is just the “downside” – such as it is – of adventure path play. You’re trading a tightly-focused plot for a little less freedom to screw around because it wouldn’t make sense in the context of that story. If you’re running a homebrew campaign, you just run off into the weeds, your GM sighs and rubs his or her temples in exasperation (or cackles in murderous glee – it takes all sorts in this hobby), and pulls something out of an ever-thickening binder of ad-lib material.

So yeah. Keeley and Trimarco are great. Monsters ‘sploded. What else?

Well, there’s the plague ooze, Steve’s contribution to the ever-expanding field of TPK-ology. I will join the chorus of people who wouldn’t have minded seeing that encounter turned up to full nastiness, but Steve pointed out the logistics we were operating under: we were pushing up against our end time and it might have been tough to bring Jason and Rob back the following week just to finish out one fight, so Steve kinda had to water it down to make it fit the schedule.

The general vibe I did get is that it’s built to be a heavy hitter – nothing special defensively beyond the aura and the usual benefits of oozery. The real ass-kicker is the “bowling-ball” effect – so basically, a multi-target line effect, you’re getting some damage and some disease no matter what you do, and your choices are DEFINITELY take the extra damage, but at least you might get a hit in, or do a reflex roll to maybe take less. And I don’t know if Steve chose the battle map on purpose to accentuate this, but the ooze was in a large room at the end of a hallway with no real alcoves or doors, so it really was set up like we were bowling pins at one end.

We also didn’t really get to see the disease in action, but given that one of our most memorable encounters with disease turned Rusty undead, maybe that’s for the best.

The firefly thing was neat, though I have to admit I had forgotten the specifics of that encounter. I knew there was “something” between the moonflower and the ooze, but I couldn’t really remember what it was. I think I got it confused with the healing temple and thought Mo just set off yet another more conventional trap. Which… take out “conventional” and I suppose that’s pretty much what happened. It does still scratch at that whole meta-game itch of “how environmentally secure are space suits and/or armor supposed to be?” that we’ve been kicking around since Castrovel but at some point you just accept that the plot requires the bugs to be inside the suit and move along.

And then there’s the squox. Officially, you’ll find those in the Alien Archive 2, if you want more info. I’m not sure how seriously we’re supposed to be looking into this, but if we decide to train it as a pet, how does that work? Well… one problem I can immediately see is that initial training is supposed to take 3 months if you start from scratch. Perhaps it’s already fully trained, but then we go down the different rabbit hole of how did a fully-trained squox end up on a planet this far from the Pact Worlds, and that’s far more mental effort than I wanted to expend on this. Also, you also have to use a feat to officially use it as a companion, and if it’s a squox or longarm proficiency… I choose longarms.

So let’s set aside formally training it. Even if we just assume it to be a bit of added campaign flavor, who should get the squox? Which member of Team RFC is going to be sneaking it food from the table and wearing it as a hat when he thinks the other guys aren’t looking. Who’s going to be the one getting yelled at by the other three when the squox eats an important clue?

If I didn’t already have CHDRR, I’d say Tuttle would be the first choice, but that may be too many companions for one character. Also, we might end up in some ethical gray area where Tuttle would want to start using it as a test subject for experiments, and then we’ve got Space PETA all up in our business. Even though there’s a logical progression for Akiro (technomancer = Pathfinder mage, which puts you adjacent to the concept of familiars), Chris does NOT do “cute”, so that’s a non-starter unless he finds some loophole that allows the squox to steal party loot for him. That leaves Rusty and Mo, and I think Mo hiding a cute critter under his fedora is much more wholesome than Rusty integrating the local wildlife into his pickup lines. “Come up and see my squox?” So mentally, I’m going with Mo until further notice.

Lastly, we got a Null Spa… a bag of holding, OK? In fairness, we haven’t been having too much trouble with encumbrance. I think at one point Hirogi had too many guns, but overall, between Steve being fairly lenient about dropping stuff off at the Sunrise Maiden and the rules being kind in general (NINE HEALING SERUMS WEIGH NOTHING! NOTHING, I TELL YOU!), I don’t think it’s been an issue. Still, more carrying capacity is always welcome.

That’s about it for this week. Next week, we get back to the business at hand – tracking down the security keys to the Temple of the MacGuffin. Good seeing Meats and Lasko again, but we’ve got a universe to save and squoxes to house-break. (Is it a litter box thing? Do you just zap the poop with a laser pistol? Does the Sunrise Maiden have sophisticated pet refuse algorithms? So many questions…). Feel free to drop by the Discord channel, and check out all the ongoing merriment – discussion about the show itself, our online games, the general reindeer games that erupt when you put a bunch of RPG fans in a confined space. And don’t forget to enter the PaizoCon contest. We’ll see you next week.

078: The Slime of Our Lives

The RFC Crew have faced many challenges during their adventures – deadly jungles, undead planets, academia! But this week the RFC Crew and special guests Paizo’s Jason Keeley (and author of The Ruined Clouds) and “friend of the show” Rob Trimarco, face their greatest challenge yet … an official Starfinder monster created by GM Stephen himself!

Don’t forget to enter our free trip to PaizoCon 2019 contest. Not only do you get a free trip to PaizoCon, but now you get to join in a private game of Grimmerspace, created by co-author Sean Astin!

Just head on over to the contest entry form to enter, and then make sure to check back on the April 23rd podcast to see if you won!

And don’t forget to become a supporter of the podcast on 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!