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

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Talking Combat 088: Down Goes Xavra! Down Goes Xavra!

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 088: God Things Come in Small Packages.

This is a bit of a rushed Talking this week because I’m in the midst of packing for the annual family beach vacation. Part of me would prefer to be packing for – or at least planning a day trip to – Origins, but for something like the fourth or fifth year in a row, we have a schedule overlap. While Origins is fun (especially now that John and Bob are close enough for an in-person meetup) it’s not “Losing A Day At The Beach, Turning 10 Hours In The Car Into 16, And Spending All My Beer Money On Dice And Minis” levels of fun.

On the other hand, while I’m missing Origins, my good non-RFC news is that my Dads-N-Kids game is finally getting up and running again after being on extended hiatus. I won’t go into a deep-dive because it’s ultimately a side game you don’t care about – very basics: 5E homebrew, starting at Level 1, I’m playing a Warlock – but it might come up from time to time in a “compare and contrast” fashion.

Back in the world of RFC, the boss fight continues. It’s kinda grindy, but there are enough little moments to keep it interesting. In general, this hasn’t been quite as painful as, say, the sniper fight on Castrovel. Whether that’s because of the lack of difficult terrain or Tuttle turning into a demi-god, I leave as an exercise for the discerning reader.

The first bit of fun is that I get to make use of my Miracle Worker class skill. Frankly, I wish I’d thought of it earlier, but the truth is this fight ran multiple sessions, and this was a between-sessions inspiration. I started looking for… something… to increase my offense between sessions (since Aeon Tuttle, while very cool, doesn’t help my damage-dealing at all) and the act of re-reading my character sheet dug that up. A +2 to hit and damage doesn’t do a LOT to improve my chances, but every little bit helps.

I was incorrect about a few of the minor details. First, just as a matter of nomenclature, it’s a class skill, not a mechanic trick – every Mechanic gets it automatically at Level 7. Second, I think on the podcast I said something about it taking a resolve point, and that’s not actually the case – it just has limited uses (once per day, plus once for every 4 additional Mechanic levels). I must’ve been confusing it with the Scoutbot or something else.

Tactically, I was thinking that if I wasn’t dealing with being slowed, the smart play would’ve been to put it on Akiro’s weapon instead of my own. For one thing, it he seems like he already has a little better native chance to hit, but more importantly, hitting with that 1d20 rifle is probably worth more than me hitting with my 1d8 sonic pistol. But it would’ve taken two turns to do it AND it would’ve bunched us up more for his Solarian abilities. So… I go with the self-buff, even though it’s sub-optimal.

Second, I had almost completely forgotten about Rusty’s call for the phantom reinforcements. That was a bit of an inspired play by Bob. This is one of those cases where I credit Steve with letting a goofy idea go through when he didn’t have to. He could’ve said it was too implausible to be believed or even just made it a lesser effect where Xavra was confused for a round and stood where he was, but no… Steve let him buy it hook, line, and sinker. Tactically, it gave us a round or two to serum up and get some readied attacks going, but I enjoyed it most as a storytelling moment. It also confirms that whatever MacGuffin we need is in the records room since he did seem pretty intent on protecting whatever was in there.

So Xavra finally comes back out, and we end up moving the fight back into the cube farm where we fought the previous sub-boss. The best thing about this is it gives us some room to spread out. The lower level of the records room was maybe 40 or 50 feet in each direction, and the cube farm is closer to double that in width. It also has cover (the undestroyed cubes) which may or may not be useful against his Solarian blast.

Somewhere along the line, we also decide to start using more grenades. The damage ceiling is lower, but it means you only have to hit a square instead of hitting his armor, and I don’t get the sense he has the evasion skill that would let him take zero damage. I don’t think we could burn him ALL the way down this way, but if it comes down to the last 10 or 15 points, that might be how to do it.

So the fight continues. Rusty even drops (and turns into a pile of creepy goo… what’s up with that?), everyone’s getting pretty low on hit points… and Xavra finally drops! Whew.

OR DOES HE? Cue ominous music.

Without getting into it in great detail – and believe me: next week I’ll have THOUGHTS – Xavra has resolve points, so he’s not QUITE done yet. And with a few of us teetering at death’s door, finishing him off isn’t necessarily the slam dunk you’d normally expect it to be. But that’ll be next week. For now… time for me to get ready for sun, sand, and seafood. Feel free to drop by our Discord channel and join the fun, and we’ll see you back here next time.

088: God Things Come in Small Packages

Now that Tuttle has become AEON TUTTLE, perhaps they RFC Crew will have a fighting chance against the horribly overpowered boss they have been fighting. Or not…

Also this week, GM Stephen has officially run out of GM Tips. Help him come up with new ones!

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Talking Combat 087: Are You a God? Well… Kinda?

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 087: What’s in the Box?.

I’ll try not to make this ALL about me this week, but this is a pretty big moment in Tuttle’s development as a character.

Let’s talk Aeon Tuttle, shall we?

First things first, I’m still generally astounded at the whole situation in general, even though we recorded this at least a month ago, if not longer. When I went for the loot box, all I was really hoping for was something that might make me more combat effective. Better to-hit. More damage the few times I DO hit. Or, like I said, even getting rid of the slow effect would’ve been something. I definitely did not expect to become some sort of extra-planar hybrid. And like Steve said, it’s even more mindblowing because this is the second time something like this has happened to one of my characters. So it’s like winning the lottery twice.

Elephant in the room? I know… I know…. Technically we broke the rules on this. The rules of the Loot Box of Wonder say it’s supposed to be a randomly generated subtype. We kinda blew right past that in our enthusiasm. Going back and listening to the episode, I can actually hear Steve say “random” not once but twice. So… sorry, but also not that sorry (feel free to imagine me saying that in a Larry David voice).

However, the Min-Maxers Defense League would like to present the following arguments:

  1. After finding out about the mistake on the difficulty of the Xavra’s armor, I’m not apologizing for anything else during this fight. To be fair, the Starfinder rules were still being finalized as this adventure was being written, so I’m not going to get too mad about it. (Or maybe I am mad and I’m just writing this to establish plausible deniability at a later date. That’s for me to know and the rest of you to guess at.) Still… as I sit here re-listening to the fact that I missed on a 19, knowing that it was because of a glorified typo… not feeling that guilty. I’m feeling like the universe owed us a little something, and letting me choose was part of the karmic payback.
  2. The downside of rolling randomly is that there are a few options on that table that could’ve really screwed up my character badly when we’re ALREADY teetering on the brink of a TPK. I joked that being incorporeal would be kind of funny, but depending on how encompassing that is, being unable to use my weapons or interact with the environment would really create problems. Below that threshold, some choices would just be… not bad, exactly, but an underwhelming reward for rolling a 00. Goblin? Bleah. If you want to be even more anticlimactic – ysoki! I feel like it’s worth bending the rules just a touch to ensure that a special occurrence is, well, special. Like getting socks for Christmas when you’re expecting the new iPhone.
  3. I feel like I deserve some credit for choosing something that was fair from a roleplaying standpoint because it’s in line with who Tuttle already is as a character. Choosing something with fire immunity just to neutralize the Solarian blast would’ve been taking the lame min-max way out. I did briefly consider the good-equivalent outsider (Azata) because truespeech felt more useful, but I decided that neutral fit Tuttle’s alignment better and the feature about adding to knowledge recall checks seemed more aligned with Tuttle the Scientist. So while yes, the aeon subtype does have some cool stuff, I feel like I tried to respect the spirit of the character in my choice.

If I had written a Point #4, it would’ve been this: for all the long-term potential of this moment, in the here and now, it doesn’t really do all that much to help us win this battle. I know that seems like a rather petty complaint in the grand scheme of things, but it’s true. The biggest thing we could use is more damage to make the fight shorter, and I didn’t get that. Though granted… I personally will stay alive longer. Immunity to crits has a 1-in-20 chance to be huge. Damage Resistance against fire takes some of the sting out of his Solarian blast, though I’d still better hit those saves. Full immunity to cold negates his gun entirely (though he’s only fired that once or twice). The sword still worries me, though – got nothing for that, so if he gets into melee range, I’ve got problems.

The other piece of the package are the communication upgrades, though clearly we have to survive this battle before we even get a chance to kick the tires on those. First… I can communicate telepathically with other aeons… kind of situational. More importantly and more generally useful, aeons get a Pictionary version of telepathy. You can communicate non-verbally by beaming images into the other person’s brain that show your intent. That could be a really interesting thing to explore going forward… you know, as long as we don’t die.

In closing, I’m really happy with this turn of events. It enhances Tuttle in interesting ways without drastically changing who he is or how I play him – I’m not going to be forced to run to the front to use a breath weapon or something like that. It’s not exceptionally overpowering, but it makes me a little more survivable (didn’t even have a chance to mention poison immunity) and adds some interesting wrinkles to Tuttle’s non-combat skills. And next time Gozer the Gozerian asks if I’m a god, I can plausibly say “yes”.

OK, finishing up with Aeon Tuttle, and returning to the battle as a whole, things are going as expected so far. The trash sidekicks haven’t been doing much damage: they just clog up the battlefield and make it hard to move around, but they’re more of an inconvenience than a real problem. Also as expected, Mo is the only one who can semi-consistently hit. On the other hand, he’s rolling like crap at the moment, and naturally, that has John frustrated. (The saving grace being that the Big Bad has also tanked a few rolls too.)

When it comes to John’s relationship with tanking, I’m pretty evenly split between feeling bad for him versus feeling like this is the path he chose. Back when we started all of this, he wanted to play a Soldier because I think he felt more comfortable playing a fairly simple character when breaking in a new ruleset. Unfortunately, given our party composition, this has pretty much meant that he’s the one up front taking damage while the rest of us get to bounce around the perimeter watching him get punched in the face from afar. Ninety percent of the time, he’s fine with it, but every once in a while, a little frustration bubbles over.

As the fight unfolds, I think we were JUST about to sound the retreat, but the combination of Rusty’s slow wearing off and Akiro critting for 40-some points changed our thinking and made us decide to hang in the fight a little while longer. I’m not sure it’s the right call, but I’m both the least damaged AND the least effective damage dealer at the moment, so I’m not sure my vote is the one that matters. Looking at it tactically, I don’t think retreating to rebuild CHDRR would help much here – his attack bonuses are such that he’d probably be crit-farming as well, and Xavra would be resistant to the junk cannon. (Also, it dawns on me that getting slowed again would REALLY screw up the move-sharing dynamic with CHDRR). On the other hand, Akiro having his whole complement of spells probably would be fairly handy… especially now that we’ve learned Xavra has pretty strong fire resistance, so Akiro wouldn’t have to waste any slots on fire spells. So if we want to retreat to get Akiro more spells, cool, but let’s not worry too much about CHDRR.

But whatever we decide to do, that’ll have to be next week, as it turns out this was much fight for even a super-sized episode. I know the armor thing didn’t help matters, but at the end of the day, you can’t really begrudge when Xavra fights run long; they’re supposed to test your limits as a party.

So we’ll see you back here next week. In the meantime, feel free to stop by our Discord channel and other social media and let us know what you think about the show. Which subtype would you have chosen?  Would Ghost Tuttle or Swarm Tuttle have created more problems for the campaign? Should we retreat or push on? Should John retire entirely from the tanking business? All good questions, and we’d love to hear what you think. So… see you next week, and until then, hope you roll lots of 20s.

087: What’s in the Box?

The RFC Crew continue their fight with the CR 10 Solarian, who due to a “misprint” by Paizo, has the armor of a CR 17 Solarian. WHOOPS!!! I guess it’s TPK-time … that is unless they manage to somehow win the lottery or something this week, but what’re the chances of that?!?

Also, this week GM Stephen gives a full report of his PaizoCon 2019 experience (spoiler, it was awesome).

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!