July 2019 - Roll For Combat: Pathfinder & Starfinder Actual Play Podcasts

Celebrate the release of Pathfinder 2e! New Podcast! New Review of Pathfinder 2e! New Review of the Bestiary!

095: Blowin’ Up Is Hard To Do

The ship the RFC Crew are on is about to blow up, but there is a mountain of treasure hidden somewhere on the ship! What to do … what to do?

Also this week, GM Stephen goes into detail on the new release schedule for the Roll For Combat Dead Suns and Fall of Plaguestone podcasts going forward.

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!

Plaguestone 00: Welcome to Roll For Combat

This episode will give you a quick rundown of the Roll For Combat, Pathfinder: The Fall of Plaguestone Actual Play Podcast, introduce you to the players, their characters, and what to expect on each show.

Whether you are brand new to the show or a long-time listener, you’ll learn everything you need to know about how to best experience our podcast and what to expect each week!

And don’t forget to join our Discord channel, where you can play games, talk with the cast, and hang out with other fans of the show!

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 094: Game, Cube

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 094: Akiro The Zero.

This is going to be one of those weeks where I’m going to go off the beaten path a little. The fight itself mostly circles the same themes we’ve talked about before – space combat is kind of a slog, we don’t like the way Resolve points work in boss fights (but this is prior to discovering that we’ve been doing it wrong and Coup De Grace does actually exist). It was kind of fun to see an enemy Envoy in action (BIZARRO RUSTY), but not sure I can pull a whole column out of that.

I suppose I will spare a moment to apologize for the quality of my mic for the next few sessions, as – I kid you not – my dog ate my mic and I was using a backup I borrowed from work. Cliff’s Notes: son borrowed headset, left it on a low table, and I have a dog that’s chewy when it comes to home electronics. Debated killing one or both; settled on buying my son his own (lesser) headset and declaring mine off limits from now on.

Anyhow… moving on. This week, I think I’ll go for a Talking Combat first and write my first column that focuses (at least indirectly) on the show notes. Now that the cat’s out of the bag, I can mention that yes, we’re doing Pathfinder Second Edition, and yes, I’m part of the crossover cast.

I’m not going to deep-dive on the new show itself because I’ve got to save some material to write about when those episodes start airing. SPOILERS! But it drives toward the interesting question of “how much gaming is too much?”.

You see… this will, at least for a time, be my third concurrent game, and there are times when I stop and ask myself if this is a good idea. Truth be told, I considered sitting out PF2, but I have to admit I’m psyched to explore the new rules and couldn’t say no. But it’s going to be interesting to see how this develops.

First, there’s Roll For Combat: Starfinder. I’m pretty sure you’re all familiar with that one. If you’re somehow reading this column and not listening to the show… you’ve got some odd reading habits, that’s all I’ll say.

Next is my Dads-N-Kids in-person game that I’ve sometimes mentioned, which took a hiatus for about a year, but restarted about a month ago. (With one less kid, but that particular kid spent most of the sessions looking at his phone anyway.) It’s a 5E campaign, kind of a hybrid of homebrew and off-the-shelf – our GM uses existing modules as a starting point but tweaks them to his liking. Or he’ll use the maps from an existing module as the setting but write the story himself. In that game, I’m playing a Warlock – my initial thinking was to go with a melee bladelock lean, but I may be chickening out and becoming more of a pure spell-slinger.

And now we have Pathfinder Second Edition. New game, new game SYSTEM, and… we’ll say “new-ish”… players. Rob has made multiple appearances on our show and Loren was a guest on one of the Society episodes. This is my first time playing with Vanessa, but she was our contest winner and played with Steve at PaizoCon.

I think the thing I’m already digging more than I expected is that each table is its own entity with its own flavor. And most importantly, each is fun in its own way.

The Starfinder table is probably the most power-gamer-y table of the three – we tend to be highly focused on getting from fight to fight, roleplaying is fairly light… the atmosphere is almost more like a WoW raid, but with a more engaging story. But it also has the ease of familiarity going for it – the in-jokes and stories from other campaigns that have accumulated over the years, we know each other as players and know what to expect, we can even step outside the game and talk fantasy football for 10 or 15 minutes.

It’s early yet, but the Pathfinder 2 table is a little less… intense?… which is a nice change of pace. I don’t know if because we’re comparative strangers and maybe more focused on being polite and not stepping on each other’s toes (or maybe it’s just fewer New Yorkers), but it’s definitely got a more mellow vibe. On the other hand, it’s also more oriented toward roleplaying which… I’m not generally great at, but I’m willing to give it a go. (Sorry, I’m really bad with voices. Know your own limits.)

The 5E game? Supremely casual. I’d almost say that’s more of a social gathering that happens to have a roleplaying game dropped on top of it. We’re dealing with newer players – in addition to the kids, our GM’s sister-in-law is an RPG novice who decided to join us – so we sometimes miss or fudge rules. We go slow. We crack jokes and screw around. If someone dies, we just get a new character sheet ready. (Suffice it to say it would probably make for a TERRIBLE podcast.) And… of course, the single biggest difference is that it’s a live game. It’s totally cool that the technology exists to play with people hundreds (if not thousands) of miles away, but nothing totally replaces rolling real dice at a real table.

Aside from the flavors of the tables, different is good just for difference’s sake. Play one character for… holy crap, coming up on two years… it’s good to mix in a little something else to break it up a little. We briefly played around with that when we were doing the Society shows; PF2 will be another way to freshen things up a bit.

So what’s the downside of three different games? Well, the first one, which you can surely guess, is simple scheduling logistics. If you add up the people (setting aside Steve and myself as duplicates), there are up to 14 different schedules to accommodate in a given week. (And that’s even without considering spouses, significant others, and other people outside the immediate bubble of the games.) It can be tricky to make that work week after week.

I have to admit there’s also a little bit of “which game am I playing?” confusion that sometimes creeps in at the edges. Not so much the characters – I haven’t yet mistaken Tuttle for a melee character and charged into battle – but three different systems (one of which is brand new) creates the occasional synaptic misfire on the rules. Advantage in the 5E game tends to be a big one – I’ll often forget what does and doesn’t give advantage for a few turns until someone reminds me or the light switch flips.

And, OK, there are weeks when 8-10 hours of gaming is a lot of time to be committing to any hobby. Not quite full-blown “burnout”, but in that direction. That one doesn’t hit me OFTEN, but I’d be lying if I said it NEVER happened. There have been one or two nights I’d rather futz around with my NHL19 expansion team or make a dent in my Netflix queue than roll dice.

If there’s one safety net to all of this, it’s that it’s likely to be a short-term arrangement. Dead Suns is meandering toward a conclusion, and the Pathfinder Second Edition adventure is supposedly fairly short. And even with the Dads-N-Kids game, that might become a less frequent thing when the kids go back to school in the fall. So if this somehow proves too much, I guess there will be opportunities to re-evaluate. In the meantime… anyone running a 4th Edition game I can get in on? (Kidding, kidding).

Well, that’s about all I have for this week. Next week should be an eventful one. Back in the Dead Suns world, our intrepid team has to go find the cultist mothership and hit the “Hey, Come On Over And Kick Our Asses” snooze bar. For the show as a whole, we’ve got GenCon and the official release of Second Edition, which should mean some bonus content – book reviews, bonus podcasts, and such. Some of that is on Steve to do before he gets on the plane to Indy, but some of that is my bailiwick, so I guess I’d better get to it. We’ll see you back here next week.

SP14: Pathfinder Lost Omens World Guide Interview with Paizo’s Luis Loza & Eleanor Ferron

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 check back next week when we start our brand new actual play podcast where we play through The Fall of Plaguestone!

Welcome to another special edition of the Roll For Combat Podcast where we sit down with Paizo Developers Luis Loza & Eleanor Ferron and discuss in detail the upcoming Pathfinder Lost Omens World Guide.

During this interview, we discuss how the Lost Omens World Guide was designed to be integrated into your game as both a GM and PC, what new feats, spells, items, and backgrounds players will have access to, how the World Guide is different than the Inner Sea World Guide, how the history of Golarion was incorporated into this Guide, and much more! 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!

094: Akiro The Zero

Perhaps highest up on the list of “what annoys players the most” is when they fight NPCs with class levels. Well, this week the RFC Crew encounter a high-level Envoy … and things get a bit testy when he starts to use those sweet Envoy powers on the PCs!

Also this week, GM Stephen goes into detail about the new Roll For Combat Pathfinder podcast coming next week!

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!

SP13: Pathfinder 2e Core Rules Interview with Stephen Radney-MacFarland

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 check back next week when we start our brand new actual play podcast where we play through The Fall of Plaguestone!

Welcome to another special edition of the Roll For Combat Podcast where we sit down with Paizo Senior Designer Stephen Radney-MacFarland. With the upcoming release of Pathfinder Second Edition, we had a lot to cover!

Not only do we discuss the “standard” topics – the three action economy, the rarity system, Goblins – but we get into the thought process behind the engine that drives the game. How did Stephen and the team come up with some of the new game mechanics such as why add level 10 spells, the advantages of modular design, issues with fractional level progression and more! 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!

Talking Combat 093: I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghosts!

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 093: Akiro The Hero.

It’s another week of Not Ship Combat on Roll For Combat, though as Steve points out, last week’s encounter was actually supposed to go the way it went and this week was the one that was significantly different from the way it was written in the book. This week we get to REPEL BOARDERS!

I get what John was trying to say about the fact that the enemy ship was able to sneak up on us, but at the end of the day, you can’t have it both ways. We were all fairly unanimous that we didn’t want to do ship combat, so Steve accommodated us and gave us something different to work with. If you ask the chef to make something that’s not on the menu, you don’t turn around and complain about it. So if that means the enemy vessel gets Plot Armor when it comes to being detected on sensors… whatever. As the guy on the sensors, it makes Tuttle look a little bad at his job, but I’ll get over that.

(Aside: I know there’s a minority of people on our Discord channel who like space combat, and if you do… cool. I don’t exactly HATE it, but I do think it’s a little under-baked and could use a little more fleshing out in future supplements.)

In Steve’s defense, I think part of the problem is that this is one of those grey areas in the rules. There are a few scattered mentions of boarding enemy ships scattered throughout the rules, and there’s even a transporter upgrade you can put on a ship. But they don’t really tell you how to manage that seamlessly. It’s a little unclear how you transition between the two modes – if you’re in ship combat and the crew of one ship or the other leaves their stations to board the other vessel, who’s running the ship? Or does it just fly in a straight line and you can take free shots at it. Or, at least for the bad guys, do you assume an army of red-shirts to keep the lights on while the boarding party comes over? But then what do the players do if THEY want to board a ship?

All of this kind of strikes me as fuzzy, so I can understand why Steve just did a hand-wave and let them sneak up on us. Blame it on the nebula, I guess. SAUCE FOR THE GOOSE, MISTER SAAVIK. So now we have an enemy vessel “parked” in our cargo hold and intruders on board. Yay! Specifically, one humanoid boss-type NPC, who appears to have some sort of mind-altering effects, and a bunch of minions who, ohbytheyway, are incorporeal.

Would. You. Look. At. That. Somebody put the Ghostkiller Fusion on his weapon! SERENDIPITY.

Now I swear on a mint-edition copy of Detective Comics #27 that I had no idea what was coming, but it’s quite the handy break. Incorporeal has always been one of my pet peeves, and we’ve run into ghostly enemies at other points in this adventure, so I just thought it would be a handy thing to have. The closest thing to meta-gaming was the consideration that it would also make my weapon magical (since we’re getting toward the levels where some creatures can’t be damaged by conventional weapons) but I could’ve done something trivial like Called and gotten that same effect. Ghostkiller was just a lucky bit of happenstance.

Just to set the stage in case it’s unclear, this fight is being held at a four-way intersection. Using the bridge as north, we came in from the north, the bulk of the minions came in from the west, and the boss is down the hall 30 or 40 feet in a room to the west (the aforementioned cargo hold). The bonus surprise minions came out of the wall into the south passage – we’re not totally flanked, but it did mess up my positioning in particular, as I had hidden in the south passage where I thought I was safe. Now I had two minions in striking distance when I had Mo, Akiro, and CHDRR between me and the other bad guys.

So battle starts, and my Ghostkiller gun draws a few oohs and ahs, but then it gets pushed off the stage by Akiro and his ridiculously powerful electrical attack. It’s exciting to finally see Chris cut loose a little. We’ve seen a few of his tricks back at Istamak (blowing up a battery, your garden-variety fireball), but it’s starting to dawn on me that maybe we should’ve had a magic-user in the party all along. Then again, maybe Chris should be casting something other than mirror image all this time, too. Door swings both ways.

The good news about this fight is that the minions don’t seem to have a lot of hit points, so if you can put damage on them, they go down quickly. Also, knowing the layout of our own ship, they’re boxed into a dead-end, so once we get down into the room, it’s Pinata Party Time. On the other hand, the damage rules for incorporeal creatures are going to slow things down AND there’s the fact that they can control the battlefield better than we can by going through walls. And there’s also the fact that the boss can play Whack-a-Mole with relative impunity. Yes, we did put a little damage on him early, but he seems to have the ability to hop in and out of the doorway – possibly aided by a Haste Circuit – so there are rounds where he can just take a shot at us and move so we can’t hit back. So… this doesn’t feel like a LETHAL encounter, but it does have the potential to be highly annoying.

OF course, that’s assuming we’ve seen all the tricks the boss can throw at us. If he’s got something worse, I may choose to revise my remarks at a later date. Or… next week, since that’s when the battle continues.

Before I close, one general show note: Steve mentioned I might be making it out to GenCon this year. I’d say that’s about 50-50 for now. I’d certainly LIKE to, but without throwing my personal life WIDE open to the world, there are moving parts regarding the fate of my dogs and how those I leave behind would fare without a car for a few days. I’m still rolling ideas around my brain, but… TBD. If it works out, it’d be cool to see y’all there. (And a fine opportunity to con a few new RFC T-shirts out of Steve by claiming I “forgot” the ones I already have. Shhhh!)

So, next week we should conclude the Battle Of The Sunrise Maiden – I don’t remember it being a three-episode sort of fight. How will it turn out? I guess you’ll just have to come back next week and find out. In the meantime, feel free to drop by our Discord server and other social media and join the ongoing merriment. We’ll see you next week, and thanks for listening and reading.

SP12: Interview with Paizo Creative Director James Jacobs

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 check back next week when we start our brand new actual play podcast where we play through The Fall of Plaguestone!

Welcome to another special edition of the Roll For Combat Podcast where we sit down with Paizo Creative Director James Jacobs. With the upcoming release of Pathfinder Second Edition, James and I had a lot to cover!

We discuss the new Pathfinder Adventure Path, the Age of Ashes, how Pathfinder Second Edition makes development easier and faster, some of James’s favorite creations, how his home campaign shaped the world of Pathfinder, and much more. 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!

093: Akiro The Hero

Last week the RFC Crew had combat in space by having actual combat on their ship. This week the RFC Crew explore more fun ways to have “space combat” without firing starship weapons!

Also this week, GM Stephen explains our plans for the new Roll For Combat Pathfinder podcast (coming really soon!).

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 092: Ship Combat, Now With 100% Less Ships!

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 092: The Power of Tuttle Compels You!

Here we go, off to Books 5 and 6! (I prefer to think of it in the same manner as Infinity War and Endgame – it’s really one story, just divided into two different chapters).

And we start with… NOT starship combat. I hate to beat the dead horse, but I’m firmly on the record agreeing with Steve on starship combat. There’s the beginnings of a good system there, and maybe it could be expanded into something more robust and fun, but as written, it’s kind of shallow and plays itself out after the first two or three ship combats.

My main complaint is there aren’t enough disruptive events. If you think about player combat, it can sometimes be susceptible to the same “lather, rinse, repeat” ennui, but the reason it generally doesn’t is that unexpected things happen to disrupt the routine. The enemy trots out a spell they hadn’t used before that changes the battle. The players come up with some creative use of their powers to turn the tables. Something changes about the environment – the room starts to flood, artificial gravity fails, whatever. I think those sorts of things are under-developed in ship combat – yes, you have crits, but that’s really about it. Maybe those will be developed in future releases; maybe the enterprising (pun semi-intended) GM can homebrew their own, but I think a little controlled chaos would add a lot to the system.

My other complaint has always been that some roles are more dynamic than others. Science is a fairly active role (especially if you pair it with Engineer and hop between the two roles), pilot is the most overtly tactical, but the other gigs can get stale fairly quickly. If you’re the Captain or firing a gun, there’s just not that much to do.

Parenthetically, my favorite “system-within-a-system” was the hand-to-hand combat rules from Top Secret. You had different attacks and defenses, chosen from across different martial arts (boxing, judo, karate, etc.) and the interactions between those attacks and defenses determined how the combat was going to go. If you choose a low block and I do flying face kick… you get kicked in the face. It had its flaws – there were a few super-moves that only had one or two defenses – but it was a clever little system.

So the fight itself… this struck me as one of those battles where the flavor of it was more alarming than the actual battle ended up being. You hear “swarm of nanites” and you envision this guy having resistances and being a lot tougher to put damage on. And I guess he did have some of that since CHDRR’s junk cannon didn’t really do anything to him. On the other hand, Mo and Akiro were both landing pretty solid shots throughout the fight, and it never felt like we were in that much danger. Though I suppose the attempted takeover of CHDRR was a big swing that could’ve caused the battle to go dramatically differently. What’s the worst case there… he takes over CHDRR, we have to kill CHDRR (90 points of damage, so several additional rounds of combat), and then we still have to finish off whatever’s left of Nanite Boy on the other end, without CHDRR’s help. If you put THAT fight in the script… well, we probably still would’ve won, but it would’ve been a much more interesting fight. Especially if I had roleplayed Tuttle as ambivalent toward attacking his own drone. Which I might have.

But nope. Tuttle comes through as a computer genius and saves CHDRR from hostile invasion, and the rest of the fight was relatively easy.

I did think it was a little odd that Steve would simultaneously play up the possibility of parlay, yet still attack us first. I guess I’d expect that an enemy that’s willing to talk would show that willingness by… you know… not attacking right away. But Nanite Boy started swinging in Round One, rendering most of the conversation moot. I guess they do things differently in this part of the galaxy.

Since Steve did a “show about the show” with his GM tip, I’ll also jump in with some “how the sausage gets made” comments from the player side, and as the person who writes Talking each week.

I will say first and foremost, the other players and I don’t have anywhere near the responsibility Steve does. As players, our commitment is basically the 3 hours a week we’re playing, and sometimes we might have some homework between sessions, particularly when we level up or when there’s a new version of the D20Pro software. But none of us get involved in the editing process… that’s ALL Steve.

Do we censor ourselves? I don’t know how the other guys feel, but for me, I think “compartmentalize” might be a better way to put it. We have a bit of a bullshit session before Steve starts recording that can be anywhere from five minutes to (on one or two occasions) an hour or longer, and we kind of get all the other stuff out of our system during that pre-session chat, so when we do roll, we’re ready to focus on the game. But once we get going… no, not really. I generally play the game I’m going to play and rely on Steve’s judgment to edit wisely when we get too far off in the weeds or start acting like jerks to each other. I suppose the ONE concession is I try not to swear because maybe we have some kids listening and I don’t want “The Guy Who Plays The Science Rat On The Internet” to be who taught them to launch the F-bomb. “What is a legacy? Teaching F-bombs to pre-teens that you never see?

When it comes to writing Talking, I usually remember the “Spark Notes” summary of the week’s episode just from memory and can often start writing just based on what I remember (I know where we left off the previous week, so Steve just has to tell me where the new episode stops, and I can extrapolate). If it’s a Tuttle-centric episode and I mostly just want to talk about that (Aeon Tuttle, for instance), I can put most of the column to bed just based on that. Having said that, I do go back and listen to the whole show, both to catch the finer details (as Steve said, we’re doing these a month or two after they actually happened) and to listen to the intro and outro to see if the GM/PC tip or any of the “other” stuff has any hooks to play off.

The trick is always to find that balance – I don’t want it to just be a dry regurgitation of what you just listened to. That would be pointless. On the other hand, I don’t want to be so far in the weeds that I’m going onto 2000 characters about what I had for lunch three days ago. (For the record: Chinese takeout – beef and broccoli.) I suppose what I’m shooting for is something like the “director commentary” on DVDs: here’s what I was thinking when I chose to do this. Here’s where I briefly considered doing THIS, which could have been cool, but then I realized it would probably wipe the whole party. Here’s what Bob did three years ago that makes this line funny. Here’s where Steve edited out the two minutes of dead air where I forgot it was my turn because I was trying to multitask and play Overwatch in the background because there was a Symmetra skin I really wanted. “Allegedly”.

The GM/PC tip can be hit and miss because if I’m being totally honest, I don’t GM a whole lot. Occasionally for my Dads-n-Kids game, but not regularly. Some weeks, the general topic can still be a fertile one and I can still counter or add to Steve’s GM perspective with a player perspective. Other times, it’s something I really don’t have much of an opinion on and I just let it sail on by. Like… the “packing for PaizoCon” one… if I’m wearing pants and have a dice bag with me when I get on the plane, that’s about all you can expect from me.

I caught myself nodding along with Steve when he mentioned getting the sense of déjà vu, or making the same comment twice on re-listen. I have that happen a lot, right down to the specific wording. Though sometimes it’s the other way around and I get mad that I didn’t think of something at the time. Example: when we were talking about “Rusty’s Daily Affirmations” in last week’s episode, I could’ve sworn I went for a Stuart Smalley SNL reference there, but either I didn’t think of it, or perhaps Steve edited it out. The other thing I’ve noticed is that I’m much more aware of the other guys’ banter the second time around – I don’t know I miss stuff at the time because I’m locked in on what Tuttle is going to do next, but some of the things they said the first time, I barely remember them saying. So it can be like hearing it for the first time when I go back and listen.

Anyway, this is getting long-winded, so I’m going to wrap it up for now. Next week, since Steve already spoilered it just a bit, we’re going to have some more NOT SHIP COMBAT, so you’ll have to come back and see how that goes. In the meantime, drop by our Discord channel or other social media, let us know what you think of the show (as well as check out the community), and we’ll see you next week.