December 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!

113: Akiro By Committee

What happens when a player loses their internet connection and everyone else wants to keep playing? PC by committee!

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Talking Plaguestone 19: Weed Whackers

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat: The Fall of Plaguestone, Episode 19: Cade Kale Bane.

Sweet, sweet revenge!

Now I know it’s not very sporting to sit back and nuke a bunch of plants from afar when they can’t do anything about it, but after the almost-fatal butt-kicking I took a few episodes back, I’m not in a sporting mood. If anything, I just wish I got a chance to personally do more of the damage, but I don’t really have a good ranged option, and I wasn’t going to charge right into the spore cloud. Revenge makes a man stupid, but not THAT stupid.

Speaking of spore clouds: on the surface, this fight ended up being easy, but we were about one failed saving throw away from things getting a lot more interesting. The bushes themselves were physically weaker than the bloodbushes – not as many hit points, didn’t seem to hit that hard – but the mind-affecting spores had Prue right on the line between “mildly inconvenient” and “big trouble”. Disoriented? Eh, whatever… minuses to a couple of rolls. Confused? Then you’re either attacking your own party-mates or standing around letting plants punch you. Perhaps both at the same time. If Prue had turned on us, that could’ve been quite the fight. Pretty sure I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of the Face Full O’ Ghosts.

As we were en route to this week’s adventure, we start to get a clearer picture of Vilree’s plans. I had been thinking it was just generalized death and decay: starve out the town by making all life wither away. In that vein, I’d been thinking the various creatures we’d encountered up to this point were a side effect, rather than the plan itself – that they got sick or drank contaminated water accidentally. But as we get closer to the source, it starts to look more like full-blown mutation is the real plan, and the more general blight and decay was more of a buffer zone that happened to reach the town. And that if we leave it unchecked, eventually the town itself will start to look like this “Forest of the Damned” or whatever we’re dealing with. So… even more reason to put an end to it.

It continues to be weird to be that Noala bailed on us again to… save animals, scout the perimeter, “set traps”… whatever it is she’s doing. This is now the second time she’s done that: she heads off on a smoke break; we get attacked.

On a meta-game level, I know that you send her away because you don’t want to give an NPC first-team reps that are meant for the players. If your NPC shows up and kicks asses the players are supposed to be kicking, it starts to make the players feel like they’re just along for the ride and undermines their game experience. “If Noala can do all this, why did she need us anyway?” So I get her absence as an overall gaming mechanic.

But I have to confess it still makes my Spider-Sense tingle just a little bit. There’s a little piece of me that wonders if she’s actually in league with Vilree and is leading us into dangerous situations on purpose to try and get us killed. I draw the line at her actually BEING Vilree because the ages seem to be wrong and she hasn’t shown any aptitude for alchemy or magic (as a daughter of a witch might). But I’ll admit the thought briefly crossed my mind.

Then again, it’s still true that the townspeople (or at least Dalma) vouch for her, so this is probably just crazy-talk and I should probably switch to decaffeinated coffee. Or maybe the townspeople are stupid. That’s also a possibility.

There’s something else I should mention that’s half confession, half clarification. When Steve described the entrance to the inner sanctum as “like an eyeball” or an “iris”, I think there was some confusion on our part – I (definitely) and the rest of the team (from later/off-line conversation) thought he was describing an actual eyeball… like a magical sentry or mutated wildlife that was keeping watch. In retrospect, I think Steve was describing a door where instead of it swinging open or lifting like a portcullis, it’s more of a radial thing that expands and contracts. Think the inner gateway Spock flies through in Star Trek: The Motion Picture or the ventilation shafts Tom Skerritt was crawling through in Alien. But in the moment, we thought we were dealing with an actual eyeball that was keeping tabs on us. So if we seem like we handled that with an over-abundance of caution, that’s why. And OK, that means all that time we spent nuking the door was probably wasted effort. Probably could’ve just stepped on through.

When we finally do step on through, we find another hideout, though this one seems more like we’re on the right track. It’s got orcs, corrupted animals, and a big pool of toxic sludge right in the middle of the camp. (Is that pool the source of the corruption? LET’S DRINK SOME AND FIND OUT!) If it’s not THE source, it’s still some sort of testing ground or place where the nastiness is prepared or something. If it’s the source, does that mean Vilree is here? Guess we’ll have to fight our way through the orcs and rats and find out.

As a brief response to Steve’s show note, I will concede there’s still some learning curve we’re experiencing in Second Edition. I don’t think we’re making any GLARING mistakes, but there are times when we’re maybe not working every angle our characters have to offer. Just to pick one example, I have my Liberating Step ability which lets me protect a teammate from damage, but I hardly ever remember to use it. Now, part of the reason I don’t use it is that the protection isn’t very MUCH damage at low levels (2 + my level) and it uses up my reaction so I can’t use that AND block an attack with my shield. But another reason I don’t use it more is that, quite frankly, I forget. So…. getting better, but still learning. Guilty as charged.

So next week… we fight, and it’s a real fight too… not glorified groundskeeping. While you’re waiting for next week’s episode, feel free to drop by Discord or other social media and let us know what you think of the show so far. Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next week.

Plaguestone 19: Cade Kale Bane

This week it’s back to business and, once again, the RFC Gang has to contend with killer plants galore!

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Talking Combat 112: Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes?

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 112: Nice Planet You Got There…

I’m going to go a little off the beaten path this week.

The adventure itself is Part 2 of “Seth Introduces Himself”. It’s fun and all, but there’s not a lot to write about the action itself. We poked a few more rooms with a stick. Huzzah!

What is slightly more interesting is the potential upcoming moral dilemma Tuttle and I find myself in at this point. As I was listening to this week’s show, I was struck by the fact that we’ve now had THREE of the five party members make some sort of joke about keeping the Stellar Degenerator for ourselves. And I’m not totally sure how I should feel about that – both as a player and a character.

Well, that’s not true. Jason the Player thinks that’s a bad idea. When it comes to these games, I like being one of “The Good Guys”. I’m not a big fan of moral ambiguity. I think the most “bad” character I ever played had a mild thievery streak from growing up poor on the streets (particularly with regards to food items). As an aside, I’m equally terrible at this in video games. When I play the “bad” option in games like Mass Effect, I actually feel guilty for being rude to what amounts to a computer-driven story point. DID I HURT YOUR NON-EXISTENT FEELINGS, LINES OF CODE? (pats console on what I imagine to be its head)

So OK… Jason the Player definitely doesn’t want the party to go rogue. I’m a softie at heart. We’ve established that.

But how would Tuttle respond to that? That’s the real question. Alignment-wise he’s Lawful Neutral, so he doesn’t have the +1 Yoke of Goody-Two-Shoes around his neck, but he does subscribe to some general sense of law-based ethics. I do think if he wanted to keep the Stellar Degenerator, it would be to study the science behind it rather than to turn a profit, but the lawful side of him might fall more in the “there are some things man wasn’t meant to know” camp. WHY DOES GOD NEED A STARSHIP?

Also, let’s remember that there are other ways for Tuttle to scratch that itch. The “Foundry” building back on Istamak had TONS of data modules that we didn’t really look at because we were trying to find our specific bread-crumb. But an entire library of artifacts of a civilization arguably more advanced than the Pact Worlds? Even without a working Stellar Degenerator, that’s Tuttle’s wildest dream come true. Tuttle could destroy the Stellar Degenerator, go lead a research team back to Istamak, and STILL flood the academic airwaves with papers for years based on the contents of that building. For that matter, the remnants of the defense systems – depending on how thoroughly the battle with the Corpse Fleet destroyed them – could possibly also be mined for science without having to release a planet-destroying superweapon into the wild.

(And hey, maybe he could get a date with the female ysoki we pretty much forgot about and abandoned in a locked room back on Moon Six. You know… assuming she’s still alive. And also not as crazy as her brother.)

Now we get to the other question… how much should I treat their jokes as in-game vs. out-of-game? We’ve had at least three people (Rusty, Akiro, Hirogi) express SOME sort of interest in keeping the Stellar Degenerator for ourselves.

BUT.

The nature of this episode (and last week’s) walked a little bit of a fuzzy line on whether it was the players or the characters talking. If it was Seth and Chris joking about extracting ransom from planets… then Tuttle may or may not know his teammates are planning on a heel turn. (He may think they’re untrustworthy for other reasons, but those particular statements would be inadmissible in Roleplaying Court.) Also, maybe it really is just joking and they’re going to do the right thing when the time comes. But if it was Akiro and Hirogi saying it… then I have to decide what my plan is going to be in response to that.

And that doesn’t even take Rusty into account. With Rusty, there’s the added dimension of his persuasive powers. How does that play? If Akiro or Hirogi talk about it… they don’t have a lot of guile to them, so Tuttle would know not to trust them. But Rusty is another matter. Is Tuttle even aware enough to know that Rusty can’t be trusted? In which case, maybe I should plan a failsafe that Rusty can’t talk him out of. Or is Rusty just that good and Tuttle doesn’t suspect a thing? We have also seen Rusty lie to OTHER people, so we can’t be so naïve as to think he couldn’t do that to us… could we?

And then, let’s say all of this comes to pass and Tuttle decides his teammates are truly thinking of using the Stellar Degenerator for their own malfeasance? What do I actually do about that? Certainly, I can’t outfight the rest of the party, though maybe if Mo was on my side…. Since I’m good with computers and engineering, could I rig something to destroy the Stellar Degenerator that they couldn’t counter? And then that steps back out of the game and gets into player agency – if I do something like that, am I hogging the story and trying to make the ending all about me? (But if they’re talking about stealing a planet-killer, aren’t they already making the story about them?)

The funny thing is: as I’m reading this, I realize I sound TOTALLY paranoid, and you’re probably imagining me sitting at some murder-board with pictures and strings connecting them. And to an extent that’s true, but it’s in a good roleplaying way. None of this is directed at Bob or Chris or Seth as people. It’s all directed at their characters and “thinking out loud” how my character should respond to their moves. If I can throw on my pretentious scarf and beret… “creative process”. So I think it’s a good thing for the game as a whole. Must be the Plaguestone rubbing off on me.

So that’s basically it for this week. Not much happened in the game itself, and I spent the week whipping myself into a frenzy thinking about how the endgame might play out. Not quite 14,000,003 possibilities, but quite a few. Next week I promise we get introductions out of the way and get back to the adventure at hand. While you’re waiting, feel free to drop by our Discord channel and let us know what you think of the show and join the merriment in general. Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next week.