January 2020 - Roll For Combat: Pathfinder & Starfinder Actual Play Podcasts

Talking Combat 120: Does It Come With A Gift Receipt?

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 120: The Five Stooges.

It’s a bit of a short episode this week as this is basically the last fight before the Big Bad, and it made for better storytelling to let that unfold at its own pace next week. So instead, we finish off what turns out to be a fairly straightforward fight against the monks, and we break down a bunch of pretty cool loot, a lot of which goes unused anyway.

The fight… well, for ONE glorious round you see the potential of the monks, as they corner Rusty and land four attacks on him. So there’s a multiverse world where they catch a party unawares and put a good thumpin’ on them: imagine the party that doesn’t do advance recon and just starts walking right down the middle and lets the monks descend on them from both sides, possibly with surprise. So I’m going to give Seth another round of attaboys for phasing into the room and tipping us off to their presence.

On the other hand: that alarm Seth set off. Still not sure what the full ramifications are there. No new reinforcements joined the fight, but that doesn’t mean SOMETHING didn’t happen. Does it mean more reinforcements are on their way, or is it more just “we lose any chance at a surprise round because the bridge knows someone’s outside”? It’s one of those things I’ll probably ask Steve in the post-game, once we know how it all turns out. In other words, if we TPK, I’ll want to know how angry we should be at Seth. (Kidding… but kinda not.)

Speaking of angry: RULEBOOK WARS!

On a rules level, Steve was correct about the doshkos. The basic unpowered doshkos are indeed unwieldy, but of the advanced ones – basically, anything that’s battery-powered and has typed damage – does not have that keyword. And Paizo is pretty careful about keywords, so that’s pretty much got to be intentional.

More generally, there are two more general principles that pretty much put me on Steve’s “side” on this one.

First, Keep the Game Moving. The amount of time you spend on a rules decision ought to be inversely proportional to the importance of the situation. If the death of someone’s character hinges on a rule interpretation… by all means, stop the game and make sure you get it right. But a between-battles ruling about whether you can take a full attack with a weapon… decide something and let it go. Or… figure it out while you keep playing, which is ultimately what happened. (Perhaps without getting all chippy about it.)

Second, maybe it’s a little self-serving and cynical, but If The GM Gives You Something Good, Take It. I suppose you have a responsibility to be fair and speak up if you know the GM’s making a mistake and you’re getting an advantage you don’t deserve, but if you’ve spoken up and the GM rules in your favor, you don t have to keep arguing. Applying to this situation, John wasn’t wrong to initially call it out, but at some point… take the doshko and enjoy.

As an aside, I use the same principle when it comes to paying for drinks – ask once, if someone else is buying, don’t ask again. Saved me a lot of money over the years.

The rest of the loot… well, first I’m glad it’s not animating and attacking us. That’s certainly a plus. I was still kind of concerned the mist was some sort of creature that was going to attack us. At least it’s not that. As loot? It’s interesting stuff, it’s got cool undead flavor, but it turns out to not be all that useful to me personally.

The eyes, in particular, are possibly my favorite thing we’ve run across in terms of flavor, except that but they happen to confer two benefits I already have access – darkvision is a ysoki racial ability, and the scouting function basically works the same way as the mechanic’s Scoutbot ability (minus spending a Resolve point).

The worm and the warlock stone are basically Mark 3 ability crystals, which… that’s pretty nice, but I don’t think you waste something like that on a secondary ability, and I’m not sure bumping Intelligence up really does me much good at this point. My primary skills are in the +25-27 range, I already know pretty much every language spoken in the Pact Worlds and then some… It’s something I would probably consider if we were to play another adventure path beyond this one, but for a final battle for this one… might as well give it to Mo for more damage.

Besides, one of the two had the same problem as the Flux Fig – it took an hour to apply and I’m pretty sure we don’t have an hour to work with. Much like the ability crystal, the Flux Fig is something I might consider to freshen up the character if we were to keep playing, but even if it didn’t come with a cooldown, I’m not sure I would want to muck with my character right before the final fight. I mean, I’m barely making some of these Computers checks as it is; imagine if I change to a dumb race and lose points in Intelligence. To say nothing of the fact that “Blacktail” would be a silly last name for someone who no longer has a tail.

Of course, there’s also a rules-lawyer issue I thought of while re-listening: Steve said constructs and outsiders are immune to the effects. Since Tuttle is now part aeon, that probably means it wouldn’t work on me anyway. So I eagerly await Mo taking it and becoming a fellow ysoki… if for no other reason than to visualize a ysoki trying to wield a doshko twice his height.

So this is it. As Steve mentions in the show notes, we’re basically at the threshold of the final fight. For Realz, as the Young People say. I’m glad Steve slowed John down a touch on throwing open the door because this does seem like one of those fights we might want to make sure we’re ready for. I don’t PERSONALLY have a lot of buffs, but I could at least use one of my uses of Miracle Worker to give my weapon a bonus for 10 rounds, maybe pre-push CHDRR’s button once or twice since he has a few buffs in his arsenal.

As far Steve’s description of the Big Bad being an A+ boss… I’m not going to go there yet. Steve can share what he wants to share; I’ll leave my reactions until we’re actually in the fight, and that’ll be for next time. While you’re waiting, feel free to drop by our Discord channel or other social media and let us know what you think about the show. Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next week.

Dead Suns 120: The Five Stooges

This week the RFC Crew are showered with priceless treasures … and the GM is meet with nothing but endless complaints. Ingrates!

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Talking Plaguestone 26: Better Living Through Pacifism

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat: The Fall of Plaguestone, Episode 26: U Can’t Touch This.

OK, first things first, I’m going to indulge in a ridiculously small and nerdy show note. This is one of those rare times where all four of our voiceover intros came one right after the other. Usually, there’s a gap where Steve will say something in the middle, or half the people will come in early and the others will trickle in over the first couple minutes of the show, but this time it was all four of us one after the other no interruptions. Silly thing to get excited about, but I’m weird that way.

So… that was an interesting fight, wasn’t it?

Nine grunts, a barbarian boss, and an unseen archer chucking arrows at us… we should’ve been dead, right?

But no… SANCTUARY TO THE RESCUE! Thanks to some remarkably effective magic from Celes, Brixley does his best impression of a cork in a bottle and manages to control the flow of the fight long enough for the others to thin their numbers and turn the tide of the battle. This is meant as an “aren’t I great?” thing; it was absolutely a team effort. But I’m being realistic that if they had been able to get through the archway and into our backline and start hitting Celes in particular, that fight might have gotten ugly.

I have to admit, I’ve always kinda turned my nose up at Sanctuary in the past. Maybe it’s as simple as I’m a brute force kinda guy, and I like being on offense. Sanctuary seemed like it could be a good spell for a dedicated healer/buffer who never attacks, or situationally as an emergency shield for someone who was about to die until they could pop a potion, but the trade-off of not being able to take any sort of hostile action always left me a little underwhelmed. Consequently, I don’t think I’ve ever taken it as a spell when building characters.

After this? I may have to start because that was pretty close to amazing. Yeah, eventually the boss orc got a critical save and dispelled it, but that pretty much let me hold half the choke point for a good 2-3 rounds taking almost no damage. I kinda lost count, but I think we were up to three orcs that critically failed and couldn’t attack me at all. And though it’s not the spell’s fault, I noticed that even on the few occasions when attacks went through, I had pretty good luck on the hit rolls too.

I don’t know if it’s a strategy that will easily replicate to future games though, so caveat emptor.

First, let’s be honest that we lucked out a little bit that we were facing (mostly) stupid enemies with low Will saves. If they had a few Wisdom-based casters (orc shamans or something), they might have been able to make more saves and put more damage on me and I might have had to retreat. Eyeballing it, it looked like the grunts only had a +2 bonus to the save, and it was DC 19. So their spread of outcomes was 30% critical fail and can never attack me (1-6), 50% regular fail (7-16), 15% regular success (17-19) and a critical success only possible on a Nat-20 (5%).

The other thing is, even with the ability to give actions to Ember, Human Roadblock Duty was still a pretty inefficient way to use one entire party member. It’s not a complaint, exactly… I knew what I was doing was providing value to the party… but it was a little frustrating to give Ember a command than then pretty much have nothing productive to do for the rest of my turn. I think what I’m going for here is an observation that if you ARE going to dabble in the dark arts of the Human Roadblock, maybe use someone who has more defensive/passive actions built into their character, so they’ll have things they can be doing while they clog up the works.

Speaking of Ember, it was nice to finally put my new pet to work. She’s not overpowering – her attack only does 1d8 and I think she’s got fewer hit points than Celes – but it’s an extra source of offense, and being able to set up flanking (especially for Cade’s Sneak Attack) could be useful. If there’s any complaint, it’s a certain sameness that I’ve somehow arrived at playing a pet class in this game AND Dead Suns. But… whatever. Fire Cat Is Good. Fire Cat Is Our Friend. I regret nothing!

The other thing about this fight that gave me a mild chuckle was when the boss orc ran out of reactions and couldn’t use his orc ferocity. You may assume a Nelson Muntz “ha ha” on my part when that happened. After having to deal with all the grunts getting an extra action, I was glad the boss lost his. Fortuitous.

Coincidentally, this is PART of why I haven’t used my champion’s Liberating Step ability more. Fact is, I have three different reaction abilities (block with a shield, Divine Grace to get +2 on a save, or Liberating Step) so there have been times where blocking 3 or 4 damage vs. keeping those other options available didn’t seem like a good trade-off. But now that it’s 5 damage and now that my shield is broken anyway, we’ll probably start to see Liberating Step some more. Some of these future fights, I pretty much use it every round.

Lastly, I’ll re-acknowledge the mistake we’ve been making regarding Lay On Hands. Since the spell level is half the character level (but rounded up), it should only be healing for 12 points at Level 3, not 18. I did use LoH after the boss hit me twice, so it was in play this fight. That said, I was mentally tracking the damage re-listening to the episode, and I don’t think it got close enough to make the difference between dropping or not. It’s more relevant for after-heals, but that just adds time – 10 minutes per cast, times however many extra casts would be required to make the math correct.

So, orc battle survived, we pause to catch our breath, and we’re going to assault the keep next. Unfortunately, as far as we know, the remaining archer probably survived and had time to raise the alarm, so whoever is left in there (Vilree? More orcs?) is going to be ready for us. Will Steve have more orc rhymes left – Spork? Bjork? Peter Tork? I guess you’ll just have to find out next week. In the meantime, feel free to drop by Discord or other social media and let us know what you think of the show. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next week.

Plaguestone 26: U Can’t Touch This

Orcs, orcs, and more orcs. The RFC Gang encounters a clown-car of orcs this week and has to pull out all the stops before getting overwhelmed.

Also, learn more about the new upcoming Pathfinder podcast, Extinction Curse!

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Talking Combat 119: Me, My Seth, And I

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 119: Interview with the Undead.

Welcome to another edition of “The End, But Kinda Sorta Not The End, But You Know What We Mean”. We’re certainly in the final sprint, and it’s heavily implied at a metagame level that whatever’s left is the amount of combat that can be fit into one long rest (3 or 4 fights, maybe?). But if we’ve got a minion fight and more doors to open and the guy who’s been talking to us on the comms isn’t visibly evident, that probably means this isn’t THE final fight. So hang in there. We’re getting there.

Of course, when we talk about The End, I’m probably the person least affected by resource management – with one huge exception. Ammo isn’t an issue; if we run into something that we have to shoot 50 or 60 times to kill it, we’re gonna lose. I have plenty of resolve points (something like 14). Presses of CHDRR’s button work off my INT modifier (it’s something like 3+INT or 4+INT) so I’m close to double digits on that. The only truly limited-use ability I have is my Miracle Worker (+2 to hit and damage for a weapon), of which I only get two uses. The one big exception is CHDRR himself – if CHDRR “dies”, it takes 24 hours to rebuild him, which would put him on the bench for the rest of the adventure.

Stepping back a little, I was a little caught off guard that I ended up being the one to chat with the Big Bad – Rusty tends to do all the talking for the party, so it’s an unusual position for Tuttle to be in. I suppose I was trying to convince the Big Bad that we were more of a diversion and were distracting him from a bigger problem so he’d keep reinforcements away from the command center, but he didn’t seem to be buying it. On the other hand, I don’t really know that there was anything to be “bought” – we get so locked into thinking every interaction is an active plot point and a chance to roll some dice that we forget that some interactions are just about storytelling. I think that’s what was going on here: I don’t think there was anything here that would influence the outcome (unless we did something REALLY stupid); I mostly think Steve was setting the table and ratcheting up the suspense by letting us know that the Big Bad is both Big and Bad enough that he doesn’t consider us much of a threat even as we’re marching into his inner sanctum. “Sure, come on to my bridge, take control of my ship. Let me know how that works out for you!

Also, somewhere in this bit of pre-game, Chris drops a Mandalorian reference – that’s how you can tell we’re catching up to current. Our cultural references finally have a foot in the 21st century. Now I feel like I’ve got to throw in a current events Easter Egg every time we record so the astute listener can figure out when we were taping. It’ll be the podcast equivalent of taking a picture holding today’s newspaper. “Tuttle takes out a tactical baton and bangs on a trash can to let his teammates know the computer is online”.

We weave our way through ship security – it’s just like Star Wars, only instead of trying to get to the hangar and get OFF the ship, we’re headed for the heart of it. When we reach the command deck, we even start out with some semi-impressive tactics, as Seth phases through the wall while stealthed (I didn’t know he could do that!) and gets us the lay of the land – it’s kind of an antechamber with some glass display cases, and bad guys hiding behind the display cases. So far so good. Though that probably means we have another warm-up fight and then the real final fight in one of the rooms beyond.

Aside: I wonder if the items in the display cases represent a last dose of general-purpose loot, or are actually items that would be specifically helpful against the Big Bad. I feel like they’re almost certainly treasure; I just don’t know if they’re going to turn out to be specific treasure or general treasure. OK… there’s also a 2% chance they Voltron together to form some sort of monster – you’ve got a skull and spine, a severed hand, a spear, and a mist-filled helmet. I mean… there’s also a chance that mist is like… ghost ectoplasm that will join together with the other stuff to form an incorporeal centurion. This isn’t Ghostbusters; it doesn’t have to be green. So, OK… PROBABLY loot, but be wary if the grunts try to open any of the display cases during the fight.

As combat starts, all indications are that these guys are melee dominant – they’re described as both “undead monks” and solarians, both of whom are more effective in close than at range. So for once, Chris has the right idea: I fire up my jetpack and get airborne. I don’t know that I’m going to spend the whole fight in the air – might want to conserve some for the boss – but at least until we get a better sense of how hard they hit and how hard they are to kill, might as well stay comparatively safe.

We get off to a strong start – Mo lands both halves of a full attack, one for a crit, and puts up 100 damage right out of the gate. So it’s a bit of a good news/bad news situation – they have a decent amount of hit points, but they also don’t seem to have anything special in the way of resistances. We tend to thrive in fights like that. Ask the dead ellicoths.

But then Seth… oh Seth. Sweet summer child. Seth puts himself in early running for the “What The <expletive> Were You Thinking?” award by trying to open one of the side doors. I mean… that’s LITERALLY one of the first thing we tried to teach the kids in my Dads-N-Kids game – don’t split the party, don’t bleed encounters. Annnnd, of course, he sets off an alarm. Now look… I don’t mind people acting on their own, as long as they’re able to articulate how what they’re doing helps the party achieve some larger goal. This? Maybe I’m just not a very smart person, but I just don’t see how this possibly helps us. Or even how it WOULD have helped us even if it had worked perfectly. We’ll see what happens, but if THAT’s how we end up losing, I’m gonna be a little pissed.

The remainder of this episode unfolds mostly in our favor. The good news is that we get one of the four monks down – establishing them at around 130-140 hit points. And at least so far, there’s no evidence Seth’s gaffe has brought reinforcements down on us. The bad news is the bad guys do have a ranged attack option, though we made our saves and avoided the effects… this time. (They can also see Akiro while invisible, but that’s mostly his problem.) If they can hit at range, staying in the air may not be the I WIN button I thought it was. Don’t feel like having something go wrong and take a bunch of falling damage, so I’m probably going to conserve battery, land, and try to use CHDRR or the display cases to shield myself from melee.

And that’s where we pick it up next week. We have a numerical advantage, we know roughly how much damage they can take, and it feels like we should be OK as long as Seth hasn’t brought the entirety of the Corpse Fleet chain-of-command down on our heads. Join us next week as we continue our push toward the command center and see how it all turns out. Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next week!

Dead Suns 119: Interview with the Undead

As our heroes get closer and closer to their final confrontation with the Final Boss™, the RFC Crew have a nice little chat with the ship’s captain. It’s monologue time!

Also this week, learn about our new upcoming podcasts!

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!

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Talking Plaguestone 25: Enough Talk!

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat: The Fall of Plaguestone, Episode 25: Have Fun Storming the Castle!

I feel like since Steve addressed the “where we go next” question in his pre-show commentary, I figured I’d start this week with a little more of an explanation why I decided not to do Extinction Curse. Full disclosure: Steve offered me a slot to keep the merry Plaguestone band together, but I wanted to chime in on why I passed.

The first and simplest answer is time. Between Plaguestone (soon to be Extinction Curse), Dead Suns (soon to be Whatever Follows That), and my home game, I’m playing three times a week, and I’ve come to the realization that’s my saturation point. I absolutely wanted to do Plaguestone and get in on Second Edition as soon as possible, so I didn’t mind burning the candle at both ends for a few months. But now that some of that new gaming system smell has worn off, I think two games is more my comfort zone.

As to why Plaguestone is the one to go, I think that gets into the style of game Extinction Curse is going to be. I mean, it sounds like a GREAT concept for an adventure. Don’t get me wrong. But Steve is hoping that Extinction Curse will take the roleplaying tone that started with Plaguestone to the next level, and… I’m not going to say that’s not me, but it takes a great deal of effort for that to be me for a full three-hour session. Perhaps more than I’m willing to commit. I’m the guy that breaks out in song when someone says a phrase that fits a lyric, or gets lost in Dad Jokes for five minutes, or stops to philosophize about which Hollywood actor would best fit the NPC we’re talking to. Plaguestone eventually reached a happy medium where we let some of that slide, but if the intent is to take that to the next level in Extinction Curse, I’m not sure my Benevolent Assclown persona fits there. So… “this above all, to thine own self be true”. Granted, Hamlet’s “own self” was a deranged murderhobo, but it’s still good advice.

This is not to say I’ll have zero involvement in the new show. As Steve said, I’m currently planning to write a… Talking Circus?… which will be interesting because I’ll be writing completely from the listener’s perspective for the first time. (I listened to the Pathfinder one-shot where everyone died, but never got around to doing a write-up because that’s around the same time all the hardcovers came out.) I also wouldn’t rule out showing up as an NPC at some point. Heck, if life circumstances change, maybe I’ll pull a Seth and jump in halfway. But for now, I’ll be watching from the sidelines.

OK, enough about the game we haven’t started yet. We still have this one to finish. And this week, we do the initial planning for the assault on Spite’s Cradle.

First thing: I didn’t do all the math, so this might be wishful thinking, but I find myself wishing Prue had taken a stab at reverse-engineering potency crystals so we could make more. If you remember, you can figure out how to make a magic item by breaking it down into its components. I didn’t run the math to determine how hard it would be; I don’t know if we have access to the proper ingredients to make more, but a few more One-Round Superhero Crystals would rock right about now.

We also split up all the bombs and potions. The only real footnote here is that bombs are considered martial weapons, so Brixley is actually the most effective bomb-thrower in the party. But that also goes against the idea that he’s supposed to be up front being a meat shield. So I don’t want to just take ALL the bombs, in case I’m stuck in melee and can’t use them, but I do grab a few, just in case. If the battlefield unfolds in such a way that it’s effective for me to be artillery, I’m totally willing to not get punched repeatedly.

When we reach Spite’s Cradle, we start with reconnaissance. I’m smiling internally because this is something our Dead Suns group is absolutely not known for, unless you think John getting impatient and throwing a door open counts as “reconnaissance”. I have to admit as I was re-listening to this, I didn’t really appreciate the full gravity of the situation – there was a scenario where Cade might’ve gotten caught, and been stuck fighting multiple orcs behind a barred gate the rest of us couldn’t get through. (And then once they’d filled Cade up with stabby-holes, could’ve climbed up on the palisade and started shooting arrows at the rest of us from relative safety.) So this could’ve been the shortest ride to the finish ever if Cade had screwed up a roll or two. Somehow I didn’t really appreciate that in the moment and was mostly just impatient to get on with the fight.

Fortunately Cade did not screw up his rolls (at least not the most important ones), and we got a decent picture of the enemy complex. Only two visible orcs in the courtyard, but there are two structures flanking the valley behind the wall – a true building on the northwest side, more of a thrown-together hut to the southeast. At this point, I’m feeling like the hut may just be a guard shack (maybe just for the two in the courtyard, or maybe there are more guards inside) and the structure is the actual villain lair.

Though this is Paizo we’re talking about… definitely more than two orcs.

So now we have to figure out how to get in. Very generally, we’re going to go with “Forest Moon of Endor” gambit – hide our true numbers, do something to get the guards to open the gates, and then rush it. Minus the AT-ST, of course. (Could Prue reverse engineer one of THOSE?)

At first, I was a little disappointed the group didn’t go with my plan of using Ember as bait, but thinking back on it, it was actually kind of a weak plan. If the orcs were under strict orders to hold their posts, a random fire-kitty prancing around outside their perimeter might not have been enough to get them to investigate. Especially not when Vilree’s been parading weird beasties past them for months, if not years. They’d probably be like “Yeah, yeah… fire cat. Third one this week. Hey Gorth, remember the one that ate your favorite boots?”

So I guess we’re going with that old standby: “I Have A Prisoner”. If it was good enough for Han Solo and Luke Skywalker, it’s good enough for us. The classics never truly go out of style. On the plus side, we do have a partially maimed, menacing-looking half-orc, so we’ve got a natural advantage in the guard department. I’m just not thrilled that Brixley has to be the prisoner. Even faking it, my pride is wounded by the idea of being fake-captured. But I can’t stealth into position like Cade, we don’t want a plan that puts our squishy caster (Celes) up front, so… A Prisoner Is You. Deal with it.

I don’t know if it worked exactly. They didn’t exactly seem to be buying what she was selling, but it got them to open the door open enough for Prue to rush it the rest of the way. It felt kind of like the scene from the second (lesser) Conan movie where the bad guy is doing his little speech and Conan yells “ENOUGH TALK” and just throws a dagger into the belly of a dude wearing some of the most improbable minion armor in movie villain history. Vision obscuring mask, skirts that could tangle my lower-body movement without providing any protection, absolutely no center mass protection? WHERE DO I SIGN UP?

(Then again, Conan is basically nekkid, so maybe I should just leave such complaints at the door.)

Sorry… I digress. (See, this is why I can’t be in Extinction Curse. I’m telling you…) The doors are open, we have a foothold, and now we have to fight our way in… and that’s where we’re going to leave it for the week. Come back next time and find out how many secret orc reinforcements were hiding in wait for us, and see if we survive. While you’re waiting, feel free to drop by our Discord channel or other social media, and join the ongoing festivities. Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next week.

Plaguestone 25: Have Fun Storming the Castle!

The time has finally come for the RFC Gang to find and confront Vilree once and for all! Of course, they first need to find her hideout … it’s time for adventure!

Also this week, learn all about our several new upcoming podcasts!

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 118: Hack The Planet!

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 118: Undead of Unusual Size.

This week’s column is going to be a bit of a rush job, as I had an unexpected childhood friend come to town and lost more of my weekend to frivolity than I planned. Also, I may or may not be in self-imposed shame exile because “Undead of Unusual Size” was originally my joke (from last week’s Talking) and I forgot that ellicoths aren’t actually undead, thus nullifying the entire premise. SHAME! SHAME! (rings bell)

The battle itself turns out to not be that big of a deal… and that’s kind of been a recurring theme for Starfinder. Things that JUST have a lot of hit points and nothing else going for them have not traditionally been that hard for us. Mo lands a crit or two, Bob’s Get ‘Em usually means we can do full attacks against them and still stand a chance of hitting both attacks, and we can usually chop ‘em down fairly quickly. The fact that they had reach was a little bit of a nuisance at first, but once the first one dropped we pretty much had enough room to move safely. Either that or Mo could afford to eat the first attack of opportunity and let the rest of us move freely.

The radiation could have been a problem in a different setting. If we’d run across an ellicoth on Castrovel, when we were sometimes not wearing our armor to save on the total days of cooling, that could’ve gotten messy fast. (Or if someone had gotten behind the upgrade curve and still had level 5 or 6 armor.) But in a scenario where you’re already wearing a de facto Hazmat suit… it’s kind of shrugworthy. I don’t know if this was bad creature design, or just pairing them with an encounter where people are already going to be geared for it is the issue.

I kinda retroactively liked Steve’s idea of having a couple of support troops with them. Not only might have that been a way to spice up the encounter a little and mix in some different dynamics, but it does seem kind of odd you’d leave (essentially) farm animals to guard a train station with no humanoid supervision. But whatever… big beasties it is. I guess I leave my dogs to guard the house when I go to the grocery store; maybe this is the same concept. Except I apparently need to make stilts for my dogs to get the full ellicoth effect.

I’ll have to admit I got a little frustrated toward the end when Seth was trying to lawyer Steve into a roll on re-routing the guards once they had already been called. I have some sympathy that on a storytelling/improv level you want to say yes to players rather than just shutting them down cold – it’s that whole “spirit of cooperation” vibe. But at the same time, there are limits to that. Some things in life are just flat “no”s, and I’m not sure the GM is required to give out a roll on an impossibility just to humor the party. I mean, where does that logic end… if I proclaim that Tuttle learned how to breathe fire, how many Nat-20s do I have to roll before Steve has to let me do that? Or is it on us as players to SOMETIMES accept that X, Y, and Z are just impossible in this story and work with that?

I’m gonna stick with this for a second and go a little more granular. I’m an IT guy, and this scenario is mostly a computer problem, so it’s kind of in my wheelhouse. I would say there are probably five broad classifications of things I run across in my day job. I would call it easy, easy with dependencies, hard, long-term projects, and impossible.

The first three are a kind of classic problem resolution with increasing levels of difficulty. You know what you have to do, you might even have all the knowledge and tools you need to fix it, but it will take some non-zero amount of time to accomplish. And in the middle case, it’s a conceptually easy fix, but there are binary failure conditions where if you don’t have the right password/cable/tool, it becomes a harder or impossible problem. The long-term project stuff is something where articulating the problem on a theoretical level is easy, you might even have a sense of what you have to do to fix it, but there’s no realistic way you could do that quickly – it’s an hours/days/weeks effort. And then there’s impossible, like getting an air-gapped computer to talk on the Internet or retrieving usable data from a single disk pulled out of a RAID array. You can want to solve those problems all you want, but you’re not going to succeed.

OK, so how does all of this tie back to Seth’s request? Well, going back in time a few episodes, installing and using TombRobber was probably an “easy with dependencies” situation. Once Tuttle got access to the right computer system, running TombRobber was just like running any other program. The idea Seth had in the previous episode with re-routing the trains or crashing them on purpose was more like a long-term project – if Tuttle could’ve studied the system for a few hours or days, he might have been able to re-write the system, but it hardly seems like the sort of thing he could’ve done in five minutes. But the fact that the captain or the admiral (I presume) saw their ellicoths dying and had already called troops to come back… I mean, that’s not really even a computer problem anymore. The message already went out. That’s a “the captain of the ship has ordered guys to Hangar Bay 23, we’re in Hangar Bay 23, we need to not be here when they get here” problem. I’m no military expert, but I don’t even think recalling the order would work as a matter of protocol: if your captain orders you to return to the bridge and then some computer says “never mind”, you probably still come to the bridge.

At any rate, we win the battle, we’ve got a foothold on the command level, but the clock is running. Whoever is on the bridge is at least generally aware we’re on our way even if they can’t see us on the security scans, and reinforcements are on the way. The sprint to the finish begins now.

And that’s where we’ll pick it up. Feel free to drop by our Discord channel and let us know what you think of the action and join in the ongoing merry-making. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next week!

Dead Suns 118: Undead of Unusual Size

What’s better than an epic fight with a gargantuan magical beast? How about a fight with four gargantuan magical beasts!

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