August 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!

098: Shock It To Me

This week the RFC Crew decide to skip the rest of the dungeon and face the big bad boss … even though they are grossly under-leveled. Should be a fun week!

Also this week, GM Stephen discusses upcoming interviews and new podcasts.

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 Plaguestone 04: Float Like A Bloodseeker, Sting Like A Bee

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat: The Fall of Plaguestone, Episode 04: Ghost Bee Gone.

It’s a fun week on Roll For Combat as it’s a mostly combat-oriented episode with a pair of encounters. Granted, the whole adventure did kick off with the fight against the wolfpack, but that one was over pretty quickly and was mostly straight melee, except for Celes casting a few spells. This time, between the stirges and the bees, we got to explore a few more situations and got a little deeper into our powers.

Brixley, in particular, got to test out a couple of his champion abilities. The first class feature to get the spotlight is Liberating Step. The short version is basically what I described on the show – if someone within 15 feet gets grappled, I can use a reaction to give them a free chance to break free. It’s actually got a few additional wrinkles that I didn’t cover. It can also confer damage resistance (2 + my level) and/or can let the target take a Step. So, it’s actually a pretty neat and versatile little ability, even if it’s a LITTLE bit situation-dependent.

(As a side note, the Paladin equivalent lets the champion take a free swing in return when an ally takes a hit, and the Redeemer can either nullify damage entirely or confer an enfeeble effect on the enemy.)

The other class ability to make it into play is good ol’ Lay On Hands, the staple of the first-edition class. First, yes, all flavors of Champion get Lay On Hands; it’s not just for Paladins anymore. It’s the same basic concept as in first edition, but with a few new mechanical wrinkles. Within the action economy, it’s just a single action – nice and simple. Next, the damage healed is just a flat 6 points per level – no randomness. (However, if you use it as a damage spell against undead, you still roll for damage.) The bigger change is that the number of uses changes – it used to be a flat number of uses per day (half your level + CHA modifier); now it’s based on the mechanism of focus points, which can be regenerated with a 10-minute rest. Cliff’s Notes version: the first-edition paladin can use it more in a single encounter (especially at higher levels) since you can have no more than three Focus Points, but the second-edition champion can replenish them instead of having a finite pool. After-heals galore!

So the stirge fight went fairly quickly, leaving only a little residual guilt on my part that Brixley was the only person who didn’t take any damage. (Sorry, everyone!) We roll the Grumpy Old Man back to town, collect some experience, have a little lunch, and it’s time to get back to the murder investigation at the heart of the story. Our next lead to follow up on is the cook, Amora, who has been absent since Bort’s murder, so it’s off to her house.

And greeeat. Not only do we have a battle against a swarm – one of my least favorite things to fight (it’s either that or incorporeal creatures) – but Brixley continues his gradual descent into slapstick comic relief by stumbling into the bee swarm unawares. Falling in mud, getting punched in a bar brawl, stumbling into a bunch of bees… Brixley is gradually becoming a Warner Bros cartoon character. Which may represent a good career change for him, because he’s totally useless in this particular fight. (I mean, I guess I “did some damage” by letting them sting me? Does that count?)

Fortunately, Prue and Celes manage to be FAR more useful. Statistically speaking, Celes’ fire fingers probably ended up doing the most damage but you have to admit that Prue killing bees with ghosts wins the battle for style points. WITH GHOSTS, people. We also get to see Hero Points in action. I’m going to be honest: I’m not sure how I feel about random do-overs as a game mechanic (seems kinda cheap), but if they’re part of the system, I’ll find a way to get comfortable with them sooner rather than later.

Finally, as we kill off the bees, Amora comes out of her shack with the tools that would’ve been far more useful for the job. Amora invites us in, which leads to both a snack that Winnie the Pooh would envy and a lead on the mystery – it turns out Bort’s bowl has a floral poison-y scent that Amora doesn’t recognize. Presuming we believe her, that means we’re narrowing things down to one of the kitchen staff – either Finnick/Pinnick the goblin who plated it, and Trin who actually served it to the table. Full disclaimer… first edition habits die hard, so I’m blaming the goblin until further notice. As a side mission, we (but mostly Celes) convince Amora to return to work, thus saving turnip-based cuisine for the people of Plaguestone. Yay?

The one thing I probably should have asked a lot earlier is if the woman who has all sorts of beekeeping equipment had any sort of remedy for bee-sting poisoning. You’d think someone who keeps bees would cover all her bases. Does the world of Golarion even have the equivalent of an EpiPen? But unfortunately I don’t think of it until the poison has already cleared my system, so oh well… opportunity missed.

And that’s where we break for the session. We have two new suspects to investigate, a dead body to scrutinize more closely, and Celes has an inside track on special turnip-and-honey concoctions that the general public can only dream of. Brixley? I’d just settle for not enduring some low-grade cartoonish humiliation, thanks. Hope you’ll join us next week to see where the mystery leads; in the meantime, feel free to drop by our Discord channel or other social media and let us know what you think of the show. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next week.

SP17: Pathfinder & Starfinder Society Interview with Tonya Woldridge

If you enjoyed this interview make sure to check out our brand new Pathfinder Adventure: The Fall of Plaguestone Actual Play Podcast! as well as our Dead Suns Actual Play Podcast.

Welcome to another special edition of the Roll For Combat Podcast where we sit down with Paizo Organized Play Manager Tonya Woldridge.

With the recent launch of Pathfinder 2nd edition and Starfinder, Society play has gone through a mountain of changes over the past few years, and as Organized Play Manager, Tonya Woldridge has been right in the thick of these changes! Topics covered include how Society has changed with the launch of Pathfinder 2nd edition, what they learned from Starfinder Society, why did all of the Pathfinder factions change, and lots 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 097: Whine & Crackers

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 097: Cheese & Crackers.

There are times when I sometimes feel a little bit guilty about being The Quiet One on Roll For Combat. Then there are episodes like this one where I feel like Derek Smalls from Spinal Tap… they’re like fire and ice, and I’m lukewarm water.

So let me see if I’ve got this right. Chris wanted to kick doors, but was so impatient that he was generally being antagonistic and basically ignoring the lore dump. John wanted to kick doors, but didn’t want to be the one do the kicking because he didn’t want the umpteenth trap going off in his face, and was probably getting pissed at Chris calling him a coward. And Bob wanted to make sure we got everything we needed from the lore dump and was getting pissed that John and Chris weren’t listening to varying degrees, especially when he is our long-suffering note-taker. (Also, since there were 10 minutes left and Bob likes hard stops, I also suspect Bob wanted to end at the lore dump and pick it up the following week.)

Me? I was just playing with my new space-dog, man.

This is one of those times when I’m reminded that I’m a LITTLE bit of the outsider in the group. I don’t mean this as a mopey emo thing… just acknowledging that I came a little later to the party. As a reminder of the history, I met Steve in college; he moved to NYC and met the other guys and started gaming with them, and then I joined their group and we all started gaming together online more recently (7 or 8 years, maybe?). So “the New Yorkers” (to oversimplify) have a shared history and rapport with each other that I don’t quite share. One way that manifests is that I have a little bit of Rust Belt discomfort telling any of them they’re being a dick. Especially with a hot mic in the room.

Which is not to say I haven’t had my chippy moments as well. In a game before we started the podcast, we had a situation where somebody was getting really bossy and basically telling me what I should do… EVERY… SINGLE… ROUND. Not suggesting. Not asking. Pretty much just giving orders. I believe that ended with me suggesting XYZ could just run my character for me, dropping an f-bomb or two, and leaving the session 10 minutes early. So I don’t want to hold myself as some enlightened Paragon of Proper Gaming Etiquette who’s above such outbursts… just saying these guys have a particular dynamic where sometimes there are another 15-20 years of subtext that’s above my pay grade. In moments like that, I just poke aimlessly at my phone until it blows over.

(It’s also small beer compared to how angry the board game RISK makes me, but that’s a story for another time.)

And like Steve said, these incidents are almost always forgotten by the next session anyway. Maybe there’s a little Airing of the Grievances over group chat and things are back to normal. Welcome to life in a long-running gaming group.

Getting away from the gossip and returning to the game, I’d like to footnote my references on my choice of pet names. “Crackers”? Total tip of the cap to Wallace & Gromit – I was thinking “cheese” and “sci-fi”, and the episode where they went to the moon because they ran out of cheese just popped into my brain. Particularly the scene where they’re literally about to launch into space and Wallace’s biggest concern is… wait for it… “We’ve forgotten the crackers!”. And there it was. It’s like an onion – it’s got layers!

So, the actual “action” this week was mostly just a short lore dump. In case it was unclear with all the background noise of our squabbling, there’s a good AI and a bad AI fighting it out in the complex we’re in. The bad AI currently has the upper hand – it locked the good AI away and is trying to help the cultists. The good AI is walled off by the same security protocols that used to protect it but is trying to at least slow the cultists down from acquiring the weapon and will help us if it can. It’s unclear how this will manifest – traps seem likely, possibly Tuttle having to deal with some electronic counter-measures, possibly even security robots to fight? – but our immediate next step is to get to the computer core to undo things and put the good AI back in charge.

Confession: 2% of me doesn’t trust this machine. How do we know this isn’t the malevolent entity and we’d be doing its dirty work by releasing it. For the moment, the computer core seems like a good place to go anyway, but once we get there, I might want to see if there’s any way to verify its story before releasing it.

As Steve mentions, this is one of those times we have to balance meta-gaming against good roleplay. Meta-gaming, it probably would be good to clear the complex room by room. Get a little more experience, find some loot, possibly even level up. But on a roleplay level, if you know a malevolent entity has control of the computers and the bad guys still have an indeterminate lead on you, going directly to the core (do not pass GO, do not collect 200 credits) seems like the “proper” response. Why would you pack in a bunch of extra fights you theoretically don’t need to face? I suppose “clear everything behind you so they can’t ambush you later” could pass muster as legit reasoning, but when push comes to shove, I guess I’d rather get to the core and see what we’re up against there first.

But that’ll be a task for next week. Come back next week as the kinder, gentler Roll For Combat crew (promise) try to get the right AI back in charge. In the meantime, feel free to drop by Discord and other social media and let us know what you think of the show. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next week!

Plaguestone 04: Ghost Bee Gone

What started as a nice tour of Etran’s Folly has turned deadly as Celes is swarmed by a flock of bloodseekers (aka stirges). Good thing Prue is there to punch them to death … with ghosts!

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!

097: Cheese & Crackers

This week the RFC Crew name their numerous pets, discover a new friend, and fight amongst themselves (somebody needs a nap).

Also this week, GM Stephen discovers that combat in Pathfinder 2e is really fast and discusses our new upcoming Quests podcast!

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 Plaguestone 03: The Plaguestone Home Companion

Prairie Home Companion

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat: The Fall of Plaguestone, Episode 03: Murder By Death.

This week we have one of those transitional episodes – there’s no combat (until the last 10 seconds), but it’s also not a full-on social skills challenge either. It’s mostly just setting the table – fleshing out the story points, introducing most of the major NPCs, delivering a little bit of plot exposition and setting. You have these moments, particularly early on in a story. The weird thing is the tonal shift in the middle – we start with a very well-defined murder mystery vibe going, and then – kind of abruptly, frankly – shift into this more folksy “Prairie Home Companion” vibe where we’re pushing the old guy around and getting a history lesson about the town.

First things first, I was a LITTLE worried the sheriff might try to pin the murder on us and the thrust of the campaign would be to prove ourselves innocent. Unless there’s one heck of a plot twist coming, that doesn’t appear to be the case – John Law just feels a little overmatched (or… lazy) and wants to deputize us to do the heavy lifting of solving Bort’s murder. Certainly, Brixley is up for that; despite being more chaotic than lawful, he’s still got that do-gooder gene going for him. You can’t live free if you’re dead.

I do have to admit the idea that we couldn’t leave the town for a month until the judge gets back is a bit contrived, and would also annoy Brixley as an alignment thing. It’s not like they have a large standing militia or walls that would… you know… stop us from leaving. For half a second, I thought about staging a mutiny and seeing what would happen if we tried to leave… after all, except for the town bully, who would stop us? But I think that would’ve just pisssed Steve off, and sometimes you just roll with things to keep the story moving. Episode 3 is a little early to be peeing in the punchbowl.

Going back and listening, I feel like I sound kind of stupid asking “are we sure Bort was poisoned” but I more meant it as “should we check the body for bite marks on the off chance he got bit by the wolves and got some sort of disease, but we didn’t notice?”. So it wasn’t a COMPLETE reach, but yes… I do recognize poisoned porridge is the 99th-percentile answer to this puzzle. I’m not a complete moron.

Or maybe it was a severe turnip allergy. But wait… if he’s been coming here for years, he probably would’ve had an incident before now. Never mind.

So we participate in the impromptu wake for Bert… errr… Bort (OK, that amused me when Vanessa did that) and Cade takes some very cursory first steps toward investigating the murder itself. But then we go to bed because we’re tired, wake up the next morning, and our murder mystery has morphed into that really clunky reboot of Are You Being Served? where they move out to the country farm, and we’re doing chores, including pushing the latest iteration of Mister Grace around in his wheelchair.

As we do this, we get a lore-dump on the history of the town… there’s a witch that may have put a curse on the town, a PowerPoint on their turnip-based economy, all the good stuff. We finally arrive at a shrine to Gozreh, where… oh Celes… OF COURSE you don’t go walking up to abandoned shrines. Yup, time to fight some Things We Used to Call Stirges. The official name is “bloodseekers” now. And that’s where we pick things up next week.

My personal unofficial side mission this episode was to start to figure out how Brixley is going to relate to the rest of the party on a roleplay level. I fully admit it takes me a few sessions to figure out where my character fits, especially when playing with mostly-new players.

The relationship with Celes is taking shape most quickly. Initial positive vibes built by the fact that she chose to trust him with the secret of her magic use, but he kind of sees the naivete and “fish out of water”-ness and will probably feel like he’s got a little bit of an obligation to watch her back. (I mean, Brixley’s naïve too in his own way, but nobody tell him that.)

Cade… there’s probably going to be a little battle between the Chaotic and the Good sides that has to work itself out in Brixley’s head. On one hand, another affable short guy to help close the bar is a good thing; on the other hand, Brixley might take a dim view of things like picking pockets during a bar fight. Some of that will also depend on the choices Rob makes, but for right now, it’s superficially friendly, but with a little bit of internal “better keep an eye on that guy” vibe. Never take your eye off the guy with concealed daggers.

Prue? There’s probably going to be a little bit of “top dog” competitive tension as they’re the two heavy fighters of the team. There’s some basic level of respect for the fact that she’s a formidable warrior, but between his noble background and some level of (over-)confidence that his deity makes him right about stuff, I could see there starting to be some tensions if/when this (in his view) “scruffy barbarian with sketchy ghost magic” starts bossing him around. Or it could turn into a Legolas-Gimli thing where they’ll start keeping score of body counts. I guess we’ll just have to see.

The one thing I think I’ve been doing “wrong” the first few episodes is that Brixley is reasonably high-Charisma, and also a bit of an idealistic crusader. So he should probably be stepping up and taking charge a little more (or at least assuming he’s in charge) than I’ve been doing, and I’ve been a little more passive these first couple episodes. Something to work on for future episodes.

So… bit of a transition episode this week, but we’ll get back into the thick of combat next week and try to keep our blood from being sucked out of our bodies. Feel free to drop by our Discord channel or other social media and let us know what you think of the show, and we’ll see you back here next week. Thanks for listening!

SP16: Pathfinder 2e & The Fall of Plaguestone Interview with Jason Bulmahn

If you enjoyed this interview make sure to check out our brand new Pathfinder Adventure: The Fall of Plaguestone Actual Play Podcast! as well as our Dead Suns Actual Play Podcast.

Welcome to another special edition of the Roll For Combat Podcast where we sit down with Paizo Director of Game Design Jason Bulmahn.

Jason had the pleasure to write the first “official” adventure for Pathfinder 2nd edition, The Fall of Plaguestone, and introduce the world to the Second Edition rules. Since we’re running this adventure in our new actual play podcast, we had a lot of questions about what made this adventure different from past adventures and what it was like developing for Pathfinder 2nd edition! 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 096: Gotta Catch ‘Em All

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 096: Altered Coward.

This has been a little bit of a weird week in Talking Combat. Like a TV show moving to a new time, the Dead Suns show moves to a new night to accommodate the new Plaguestone podcast, so that means that Talking moves as well. It’s been a little bit of an adjustment, and I’m still playing around with the writing schedule a little bit (as well as it just happening to be a busy weekend). We’ll get it squared away though.

This week on Roll For Combat, it’s an unintentional homage to the John Wick movies, as we kick a bunch of Cultist ass in the name of avenging animal cruelty. I don’t think I can write an entire column just about the Alien Puppy (despite Bob throwing down the challenge to do so) but it’s tempting. I have to admit (bouncing around to one of the show notes here) I had forgotten about the third pet until Steve mentioned it just now. I remembered the squox because that was fairly recent, but I had forgotten that WAAAAAAY back in the early episodes of Book 1, the dwarf that got killed welcoming us to Absalom had a pet cat in his quarters that we had kinda-sorta adopted. Geez, I hope somebody is stopping by and feeding it or John Wick is going to be coming to pay us a visit.

In general, it is nice to get off the Sunrise Maiden and get things moving forward again. I mean, the fight on the ship wasn’t boring, but it can only advance the plot so much in comparison to arriving at a destination where story points will be revealed. Having said that, it’s pretty obvious that this first fight is going to be more of a tune-up fight than a serious challenge. The bad guys’ swords did OK damage the few times they hit, I guess, but they never really seemed like that much of a threat, and that was even before it turned out that Aeon Tuttle was basically invincible to their incendiary grenades.

Speaking of which, between shrugging off the grenade damage and being able to communicate with Alien Puppy, this was a good week for Tuttle’s aeon powers – aka ”Hippie Telepathy”. The good outsider (Azata) gets you actual Truespeech, but this turns out to work just as well – being able to “converse” using nonvisual concepts beamed into the head of the other… I was going to say “person” but “entity”. Arguably even better for an animal-level intellect that doesn’t really have complex language. Still… works better than “Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra”, I suppose. A few games of Psychic Pictionary and a healing serum later, Tuttle’s entourage gets a little bit larger. The real trick will be resisting the urge to perform some lab experiments on the little critter later… Tuttle’s first love is still science, after all.

I’m trying to remember if this was the first use of the Upgraded Button or not. This is where one of the times where the gap between recording and air-date is working against me a little. I know the wider range of possibilities kicked in after the rebuild at Istamak, and I don’t recall using the button during the fight on the Sunrise Maiden, so for the moment I’m saying yes. (Feel free to point out if I’m wrong – my kids do it all the time.) Of course, the Button tends to be anti-climactic in this case – a heal when CHDRR is already at full health. Oh well.

While we’re talking about CHDRR, you’ll note that here is where I really start to make a more conscious decision to use CHDRR’s line effect. Somewhere around the tail end of Istamak or the first fight on the way to the Gate of the 12 Suns, it dawned on me that I had almost never gotten full value out of CHDRR’s line weapon for whatever reason – enemies weren’t bunched close enough, friendlies were in the way… whatever. (Cough-CHDRR-gets-destroyed-cough). This book is where I start getting into a newfound commitment to be tactical and make use of that. You should see more of it in the coming episodes.

I also have to admit that I got a minor kick out of the fact that while Bob and Chris were having their back and forth about the value of kill shots versus total damage, Tuttle kind of snuck in the back door and ended up with more kill shots than either. (At least if you count the Tuttle/CHDRR combo as a united entity). I figured I’d keep quiet and let them do their thing though – it has a little bit of that “Legolas and Gimli at Helm’s Deep” energy to it and either way, the bad guys end up dead.

Besides. I got the puppy, so by definition, I won the session anyway. And yes, I do eventually think of a name for it, though if that’s where Steve chose to cut the episode, I guess you’ll find out next week. (Rampant speculation in the meantime is encouraged.)

And I suppose that’s also where I’ll wrap up for the week. Next week, we penetrate the alien complex where we assume the Cultists are in some stage of attempting to open the gate and retrieve the superweapon. According to that log we took off the ship that attacked us, they were having some technical difficulties, but no way to tell if those are still an issue or if they’ve made progress since then. Join us back here next week to find out, and in the meantime, feel free to drop by our Discord channel and other social media and discuss the show. We’ll see you next week, and thanks for listening.

Plaguestone 03: Murder By Death

Welcome back to Roll For Combat, Pathfinder: The Fall of Plaguestone Actual Play Podcast. After a tumultuous arrival to Etran’s Folly, our crew finally had a chance to sit down for a nice turnip dinner, only to have their host suddenly drop dead. Now, everyone is eyeing their food … and the PCs!

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!