June 2020 - Roll For Combat: Paizo's Official Pathfinder & Starfinder Actual Play Podcasts

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Three Ring Adventure S1|17: Hapniss Everdeen

It’s time to go out and promote the circus, but what happens when promotions don’t quite go as planned? Beer to the rescue!

Roll For Combat, Three Ring Adventure Podcast is a playthrough of the Pathfinder Adventure Path, Extinction Curse starting with the first book, The Show Must Go On.

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 on our Patreon page 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 Tales: Tale 3, Chapter 6, The Floor is Lava

Jason recaps the events from The Black Lodge Tale 3, Chapter 6: Deal With The Devil.

We win!

Heck with that… we survive! And we’re finally gonna be Level 2!

I honestly thought our collective goose was cooked in this fight, especially when the devil basically obliterated Thorgrim on his first attack. I don’t think the Three-Ring crew had reached their devil encounter yet, so I didn’t KNOW-know, but I strongly suspected it would get ugly. It’s always unnerving when you’re fighting something that you KNOW could end your day with one crit. At the same time, I didn’t want to back down before we at least got a chance to test our offensive capabilities – sometimes these brute types that do big attacks are also fairly easy to hit and damage, so… five of us, one of him… let’s at least see how it goes, maybe he’ll miss and we’ll get lucky.

Speaking of Three-Ring, I did find it mildly amusing that Vanessa kinda-sorta played Millicent like Alhara there for a second, doing a bunch of nimble leaps to get into position to fight. NO, YOU DON’T GET PANACHE, MILLICENT. And OK… for all that hype, the fire spout from the floor doing one point of damage was pretty hilarious.

I was a little surprised that John tried to re-open negotiations once the fight started. I guess I can sort of see the argument that Thorgrim getting one-shotted changed the tone of the fight and created a window for a new round of negotiation. On the other hand, it seemed pretty unlikely to work, and then Mama Millicent decided to pull the plug on it by attacking.

I suppose the next thing I have to comment on is Seth starting to go into Analyze Mode and deciding that the best course of action was for me to heal Chris instead of casting Shillelagh. Set aside I had already cast the spell – to use chess terminology, I took my hand off the piece. But more to the point… I have to admit I don’t like being flat-out TOLD what to do during battle. A helpful reminder, if there’s something obvious I’m missing? Sure. A suggestion if I’m sitting there “hmmm”-ing for 20 seconds because I don’t know what to do? Bring it. But combat is My Time. It’s the part of the game I enjoy most, I know what my character does, just let me do my thing.

And OK, maybe a touch of my frustration was pride about the default assumption that Chris would deal more damage than I would. Honestly, the extra damage dice on Shillelagh make me a fairly effective fighter in this particular scenario… at least for as many rounds as I remain standing. I think Thorgrim’s advantage in this situation would have been the higher armor class and larger hit point pool.

It’s also kind of immersion-breaking because we’re supposed to be in combat; stuff is supposed to be happening in quasi-real-time. I don’t mind going deep on the strategizing when we’re in downtime, but when combat is happening… you oughta respect that and keep things moving. You shouldn’t have to LITERALLY take your turn in six seconds, but I think you should respect that and make your move FAIRLY quickly, and with minimal input from other party members. Fog of war, and all that. Sure, you can still measure a distance or double-check what a spell does because it’s still a game at heart, but holding a 10-minute Zoom conference to script out what is supposed to be less than 20 seconds of game reality seems like it goes against the spirit of the thing.

The other small logistical thing is I was thinking of healing Thorgrim the following round anyway if no one else got around to it. So really we agreed on the actions and were just hung up on the sequence; I just wanted to have the magic stick ready to go if the opportunity to use it came early.

I notice this was a rough fight for status effects. The scythe had a bleed effect, the Wriggling Beard (great power name, BTW) dispensed poison, and the floor created fire damage pretty much anywhere you would want to stand in order to melee. So not only did this guy hit hard on his own, but there was a lot of “extra” damage piling up around the edges. Personally, I lucked out on saving throws and didn’t have to face too much of it, but there was ugliness in abundance.

The other thing that struck me as amusing was our first instance of a player being saved by the vox populi… literally… as live listener “ActionJackson” caught a rule clarification that saved Peepers from death. Just in case you were having trouble following that exchange (because EVERYONE was talking at the same time), let me break it down for you. As background, Chris had applied Glimpse of Redemption to the Big Bad, which applies Enfeebled 2… Steve had assumed it ticked down each round (most statuses do) and changed it to Enfeebled 1, but it’s supposed to stay at Enfeebled 2 until the end of the NEXT round. So Steve rolled a critical with Enfeebled 1 applied, and the full crit damage would’ve been enough to kill Peepers on the massive damage (twice your max HP) rule. But ActionJackson caught the Enfeebled error, and the difference between Enfeebled 2 and Enfeebled 1 was the difference between a crit and a normal hit – still enough to take Peepers to zero HP and Dying 1, but not an instakill.

So, hey… donate to the Patreon, and you might just get a chance to save a life!

The battle continues, and fortunately, Millicent proves once again to be the advantage we need, and we dispatch the Big Bad. Probably JUST before things got really bad. Peepers down, Thorgrim back up but still working on stopping his bleeding; Millicent and I were both in single-digit hit points… I guess Nixnox was still fairly fresh, but could he have finished the devil off himself? Probably depends on what its fire resistance was. But Millicent came through and we live to fight another day.

So in the aftermath, we use Diggen Thrune to banish the devil, and there’s a little bit of “did we do the right thing” second-guessing as he departs with an ominous laugh. I know the story drops a few hints that Thrune isn’t the stand-up guy the official history books say he is, but a) we made a deal and at some point, it’s more about honoring your own word, and b) that devil really does represent the Greater Evil in the situation. So… OK, maybe we didn’t min-max the treasure bundles or whatever we would’ve got for keeping him trapped, but I still feel like honoring the bargain and letting him go was the right call.

Lastly, we have the aftermath. (In a bit of clever editing, this actually took place a different day – the fight went right to 11 pm, so we did Vanessa’s downtime and then called it a day and did the rest of the party later.) I suppose the big thing here was Nella running her losing streak to 3 on earning income. Sigh. At least this time I “just” missed instead of whiffing in the single digits… progress I guess?

And since that’s the end of the third adventure, that means next time, we’ll be introducing the Level 2 party. Obviously, I’ll leave those details for that episode, but I’m glad to get that little bit of survivability bump. Level 2 isn’t a huge leap in class powers, but the extra hit points alone make it something to look forward to.

And we’ll look at that next week with a new adventure and a new special guest. While you’re waiting, 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.

The Black Lodge Tale 3, Chapter 6: Deal With The Devil

It’s a lose-lose situation for the PCs this week with the options being a deal with the devil (and eternal damnation) or death. Time to run away!

Roll For Combat, Tales from the Black Lodge Tale #3 is a playthrough of the Pathfinder Society Scenario #1-11 Flames of Rebellion. Our guest-star is Vanessa Hoskins.

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!

The Sideshow S1|16: Roleplay Roulette

Jason recaps the events from Three Ring Adventure S1|16: Broken Homes and Gardens.

My dilemma this week revolves around the mystery of Hap’s unknown origin.

Part of me wants to play Sherlock Holmes and really dig in on this. Break out all the sourcebooks and figure out exactly what combination of feats we’re looking at here. I know elemental humanoids in First Edition – Ifrits were the fire-friendly ones – but unless got access to some super-secret Paizo stuff that’s not released yet, I don’t recall there being an Ifrit for Second Edition yet. Maybe stealing some sort of draconic bloodline or something?

This week, I even started to wonder if it’s a mechanism specific to the Extinction Curse AP. I had been assuming it was a character development thing that Steve and Loren worked out between them, but now we’ve also got Darius waking up with a weird mark on his arm too. So maybe there’s some mechanism Paizo whipped up specifically for this AP that causes ch-ch-changes in people, above and beyond normal character development. Could that be? Or am I just being silly? Or do ALL the characters have little surprises in store for us as they level?

But then there’s another side of me that says “you’re thinking WAY too hard about this; just roll with it and enjoy the story”. Not everything has to be analyzed until it’s a joyless math exercise. So, OK… Hap is turning into Spicy Hot Cheetos Hap, and we’ll eventually learn more about what’s going on there – it’s not like it will NEVER be explained.

So this week was a fun episode. Not only did it go deep on roleplay, but it went broad as well – I noticed almost EVERY one-to-one interaction available within the team got some “camera” time. Really the only one missing was Alhara and Hap – I don’t recall the two of them getting more than a couple passing comments to each other. It was almost the “Tales Of Ba Sing Se” episode of Three-Ring Adventure. (Guess who just finished re-watching Avatar: The Last Airbender?)

First, the groups broke into Varus siblings in one corner and Hap and Ateran in the other. Rob T. and Vanessa didn’t break a lot of new ground or have any big dramatic revelations, but they’re really building a nice warm familiarity between their two characters that I’m enjoying a lot. They did plant some seeds that might bear fruit in future episodes, though, sending the letter to try and find the whereabouts of their father. Loren and Rob P.’s chemistry works in more of an “odd couple” way where the differences between the characters make their interactions interesting. You have Ateran, fairly buttoned-up and cautious, trying to focus on the mission at hand, but you can see them TRYING in their own way to open up, but not really having a feel for how to do it. On the other hand, you have Hap, who’s far more interested in playing matchmaker and life in general… very much the teenage girl; you’d barely know there’s an adventure going on listening to her side of the conversation. And in this interaction, we get tension between those two viewpoints when Ateran tries to get Hap to discuss the changes she’s starting to experience.

Then we had a re-shuffle and had Ateran and Alhara spend time together while Hap and Darius did the same. These interactions both blew me away in different ways.

I’m going to go out of order and talk about Darius’ interaction with Hap, because Rob T. managed to channel an almost parental role in a way that was really warm and felt real. A few shows back, Steve mentioned one of the scenes he did with Hap as being like talking to his own daughter, and this felt similarly authentic. As a parent, I really felt this moment: you have these times where your kid is hurt, confused, whatever, and you want to know what’s up but you also don’t want to be part of the problem by being too pushy, so you just kinda… be there for them and hope they’ll talk about it when they’re ready to. I just thought Rob really nailed that feeling.

Ateran and Alhara… I have thoughts on this, but they can all be summarized under the positive umbrella of “I’m impressed how well they’re developing this”.

I feel like romantic interactions between characters are probably some of the hardest things to do in a game setting like this. I’m not talking about “we’re a couple in real life so we’re going to be a couple in-game and mine our existing relationship for the details”. I’m talking about building a new relationship between two fictional characters when the people playing them are also still figuring out who those characters are as individuals… that’s such a delicate thing to figure out. Especially when it takes a level of trust in the other person to go to what’s kind of a vulnerable place, even for fictional characters.

First and foremost, I’m impressed they’re doing this all on the fly. I found myself in disbelief that they didn’t have some sort of “script” in mind for this, so I actually broke the fourth wall and asked Vanessa if they have any pre-planning or any of this is scripted. Her answer was that they have a little bit of a sense where the relationship might go, but everything that happens in an individual session is completely spontaneous in the moment. That’s crazy… in a good way. And maybe that’s what makes it feel so authentic.

The other thing I appreciate is they’re not rushing it and even allowing the relationship to step backwards as well as forwards. I feel like there might be a tendency to rush to “get to the good part”, but they’re willing to let it be a little awkward and maybe even have moments where they misunderstand each other, to let it develop a little more organically, and that also makes it feel more real.

And here’s the thing. I don’t know whether I’m ultimately rooting for Ateran and Alhara to get together or not. In real life, I’m NOT an “opposites attract” person; I’m more of an “opposites mostly annoy the shit out of each other” person. Alhara may be a bit too carefree and Ateran may be a little too reserved for it to work. But I AM vested in seeing where it goes, and I AM convinced that wherever Vanessa and Rob take it will be the right place. For now, that’ll work.

The last interaction isn’t the biggest, but we haven’t really seen Darius and Ateran interact outside of battle much, so it was nice to get them some time together. Smoothing over the ruffled feathers from the last battle and acknowledging their different approaches to fighting maybe isn’t as weighty as some of the other interactions in this episode, but it’s still good to see the Robs working off each other a little since we haven’t had much of it yet. Between this and the Hap interaction, I do see some development creeping in at the edges with regards to Darius embracing a real leadership role instead of just being a guy who fills a room by talking loud and punching stuff. He’s slowly turning from a fun-loving doofus into a fun-loving doofus with a sense of responsibility to his fellow show people.

And OK… honorable mention for Loren and Steve roleplaying Hap’s magic show for the little girl. We get so used to thinking of Pathfinder adventurers as grizzled veterans that it’s fun to have an interlude where Hap The Teenager shines through, just showing off her magic dog to a little kid who had a rough day.

The only “downside” of this episode is that because of all the character development, not a lot actually happened. We got a quick fight against the air mephit trapped in the armoire (NITPICK: maybe it’s because I’m stuck on A:TLA’s definition of the elements, but why does an air mephit blow sand, again?) and then released what’s left of the Hawfton Mill to its rightful owners. And then it’s mostly downtime. On the horizon, it FEELS like it’ll be time to get back to the circus for a while, so that’ll be fun – I want to see what a few characters and more familiarity with the system do for their act the second time around.

But I guess we’ll see that next time. While you’re waiting for next week’s show, feel free to stop by Discord and let us know what you think of the show so far. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next week.

Three Ring Adventure S1|16: Broken Homes and Gardens

The PCs kill the monsters and save the day, but who cleans up the mess after they’re done? This week we find out!

Roll For Combat, Three Ring Adventure Podcast is a playthrough of the Pathfinder Adventure Path, Extinction Curse starting with the first book, The Show Must Go On.

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 on our Patreon page 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 Tales: Tale 3, Chapter 5, Friend Of The Devil

Jason recaps the events from The Black Lodge Tale 3, Chapter 5: Last Kobold Standing.

It’s funny. Steve goes and gives me all this credit for remembering the show better than him, and now I gotta walk that back and admit that I thought we went right from Diggen Thrune directly to the final encounter with the devil. I totally forgot about this group of goblins. Or kobolds. Or maybe both? Steve says “goblins” the first couple times, but then says “kobolds” the rest of the battle.

In my defense, there’s a real-life gap here – since the Black Lodge game is dependent on special guests and anyone remotely connected to Paizo-Land was busy getting ready for PaizoCon, we had a 2-3 week stretch where we simply couldn’t play at all. So if my memory is fuzzy… that’s at least part of why.

Logistically, something weird happened to me at the start of this fight where I was distracted when the fight started and ended up WAY out of position, all the way back at the stairs down to the third level. (Think I was talking with one of my kids or something.) I could’ve argued I should’ve at least been up with the rest of the party, but whatever… it’s only one lost round.

So… OK. Unexpected cannon-fodder fight. We can adapt. Tactically, we’ve got two guys in front of the barricade and an unknown number (at first) on the other side. Now, we’ve established in multiple fights that these guys aren’t THAT tough… and when they start out with a bunch of ineffective sling attacks, there doesn’t seem to be much to worry about.

But then the field changes a little. First, we have a caster, which is a bit of a wrinkle. Haven’t seen that before. Still… if only one of them are special, there’s five of us… we should be OK. Millicent’s initial charge even wipes out the guys in front of the barrier, so this is looking like another walk in the park. But then Millicent charges to get up in the caster’s face and the kobolds get some help from the great equalizer – environmental damage! – as the barricade collapses when Millicent tries to pass through the too-convenient-in-retrospect gap in the wall. Even the mightiest Level 2 character can be felled by a bunch of junk falling on them.

(Aside: I’m glad Steve made the Les Mis reference… saved me the trouble.)

So that leaves poor Millicent out on an island by herself – yeah, she survives the initial trap, but it leaves her alone on the wrong side of the barrier, making herself the obvious target for the mage. Meanwhile, our choices are to try and climb over the barrier while taking fire, or engaging in a ranged battle against them, which both hands them cover and also doesn’t play to our team’s strengths, as Thorgrim and Peepers are both better at melee.

So the battle continues, and it’s really three fights in one. We’ve got Chris doing his personal Battle Of the Trident against the one kobold. Mama looks like she’s going to get a reprieve when she gets an attack of opportunity against the mage, but it doesn’t finish him, and the kobold does almost max damage on its magic missile, putting her at death’s door. Meanwhile, John, Seth, and I are having the Generic “This Isn’t That Hard, What Are You All Complaining About?” Kobold Fight where we’re taking out the trash fairly efficiently.

And then… damn! One of the kobolds actually has the round of his life with two nat-20s in three attacks. The first drops Mama because it’s also close to max damage and she was already pretty worn down. The second gets converted to a regular hit because of the way Second Edition does crits – a nat-20 just raises the outcome by one rank, so if the roll would have been a miss, it just becomes a regular hit, not a crit. Luckily though, that’s pretty much the last round of combat, and we can quickly pass Millicent up before we have to get too deep into the dying rules and burning Hero Points.

So after the fight, we do a little bit of cleanup. The big takeaway here is the very druid-y but low-key humiliating magic item in the loot – a pair of goggles that aid in Nature checks. We don’t get to keep them in the here and now because of how Society play works, but they might be worth buying at a later date. For now, they merely serve as an ongoing mockery of my poor downtime rolls. Oh, a +1 on nature rolls? Ha ha. Very funny.

Up the stairs we go, and we reach the final chamber, and at first assessment, I’m getting uneasy about all of this. First and foremost… devil. Pretty sure those are tough to kill. (Though… counterpoint: Shillelagh will be extra-effective.) On top of that, it’s a bad physical environment for a fight – the room is generally hot and there are also specific squares on the floor that represent some sort of fire. There’s a flame-free boundary area around the sides of the room, but if anyone wants to get up in the devil’s face near the throne, they’re probably going to be fighting the environment AND the bad guy. It’s also a little alarming that the devil already seems to know what Diggen Thrune was planning. It’s never a good sign when the Big Bad sees your plan coming from a mile away.

But then Peepers throws one of his best curveballs ever… and starts negotiating with the devil. I did NOT see that coming. And I have to admit, I’m momentarily swayed to at least hear the devil’s counter. Two reasons: yes, part of it is low-grade cowardice in the face of what’s shaping up as a tough fight, but I’m also not sure I totally trust Diggen Thrune either. I mean, he’s the one that made the initial contract with this devil, and then there was that letter talking about how the history books are bullshitting us about the real Diggen Thrune. So there was a second where I caught myself thinking this could be “they’re actually both evil, you have to pick which evil you want to side with”.

But then negotiations break down as Thorgrim remembers he’s Lawful Good and doesn’t make deals with devils, and the inevitable final fight is on. And next week we’ll find out if the team survives to make it to Level 2. While you’re waiting for next week, 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.

The Black Lodge Tale 3, Chapter 5: Last Kobold Standing

Those poor kobolds never stood a chance, but they sure put up a good fight! Their boss, on the other hand, that’s a different story.

Roll For Combat, Tales from the Black Lodge Tale #3 is a playthrough of the Pathfinder Society Scenario #1-11 Flames of Rebellion. Our guest-star is Vanessa Hoskins.

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!

The Sideshow S1|15: What A Difference A Day Makes

Jason recaps the events from Three Ring Adventure S1|15: Sting Operation.

This week’s episode is somewhat of an achievement for Roll For Combat – a two-hour episode, that’s BASICALLY the resolution a single fight (but not a boss fight – we’ve had 2-hour boss fights before). And mixed in, we had a mid-episode leveling break.

And it all starts with a swarm, the nemesis of many a player over the years. Personally I still hate incorporeal creatures worse than swarms, but the gap is definitely narrowing.

Let’s start with the differences between First Edition and Second Edition swarms. The truth is it’s a bit of a mixed bag – in some ways, they’re better; in others, they’re far worse. And in both editions, they’re a struggle for low-level players to deal with because low-level characters don’t tend to have a lot of area-effect tools unless they SPECIFICALLY prepare for one. Melees don’t usually have ANY area damage, and casters MIGHT have one 1st-level cone or burst spell if they chose their spells wisely.

On the good side, swarms are generally easier to hit and damage in Second Edition – they removed the immunity to single-target spells and modeled a lot of the damage reduction as flat resistances instead of “half damage” or “no damage”. (For the wasps, it was bludgeoning 7, piercing 7, and slashing 3). So you can use more of your toolkit against a swarm and still stand a chance of doing some damage. Area damage is still the ideal, but you can whittle away with other tools.

But here’s where they’re much MUCH worse. Swarms in First Edition did automatic damage, but it was a small amount – even up to 5 hit dice, a First Edition swarm only does 1d6 damage, once a round. Meanwhile, those wasps were doing 2d8, AND inflicting poison. So yeah, you can hit them more often, but they can hit the players more – and harder – as well. The net effect is that offensively, it’s closer to a full monster, but with a bunch of swarm resistances.

So our team of adventurers makes a valiant first try at beating the wasps, and boy it just… does not go well, does it? Both Varus siblings in serious distress, Hap blows her most effective spell (Burning Hands) and does almost minimum damage, the poor dog gets summoned only to serve as a sacrifice… honestly, it’s a miracle this didn’t end in a TPK. Tactically it also didn’t help that they bunched up and made the swarm’s job easy, but I don’t think spreading out would’ve changed the central dynamic of the fight.

On the bright side, we learned a lot about door-hinge technology in the process. Screw putting an icon into Roll20 – we need a “Door of Many Hinges” T-shirt on the website. Perhaps the artwork can be a door where one entire side is a single, massive hinge. Or many hinges made of different metals with different gemstones. Though the door itself should be as ordinary as possible, just to stick a further finger in Rob T’s eye.

Brief digression: Steve didn’t explain this fully, but Rob T. has a history of bad luck with doors. In one of our Starfinder Society games, he was playing an Operative and spent four or five rounds unsuccessfully trying to open a door while we were in combat against space zombies. Never did get it open. Then in our Black Lodge game, his dwarven fighter tried to muscle his way through a door and met with similarly disastrous results. I suppose Darius critting the hinges this time redeemed him a little, but doors still hold a 2-1 lead over Rob in the grand scheme of things.

So the team has to limp back to camp in semi-humiliating fashion (the Minister of Dad Jokes would ask if they had “Bee-TSD” after that fight?), but it’s always darkest before the dawn, as the team levels up overnight! Level 3! At first glance, Level 3 tends to be a boring level for melees, but casters get their first Level 2 spells, and more hitpoints are an across-the-board good thing.

Though on a personal level, I feel like I have to mock Vanessa a little bit next time I see her. After making much fun of me for taking Quick Jump with Brixley (eliminates the run-up action for jumping), she goes and takes Powerful Leaper? That doesn’t seem fair. Then again: Alhara is a swashbuckler and leaping around is an inherent part of her character whereas Brixley is a stubby little gnome in heavy armor – leaping isn’t really much of a priority for him.

I have to admit I’m intrigued by Hap’s unknown ancestry. Obviously there’s not much to say about it yet, because it’s… well… you know… a mystery, but if she’s feeling cold, does that imply she’s got latent fire elemental DNA that’s starting to come to the surface? Is Hap eventually going to ignite and become The Human Torch? If so, I am absolutely down for that.

For the immediate situation, leveling isn’t half as important as the fact that the team can gear up properly for the rematch with the wasps. That means antidotes for the wasp poison, alchemical fires so there’s splash damage available to the melees, and Hap can overload her spell list with extra casts of Burning Hands. It’s kind of rare to go into a situation where you know EXACTLY what you’re gonna fight, so when it does happen, you might as well make the most of it. This is one of those few cases where even if you’re more of a roleplay group… yeah, min-max the crap out of it.

And guess what: armed with better knowledge what they’re up against and better tools for dealing with it, the rematch is actually a fairly easy win for the Wayward Wonders crew. WASPS BEGONE! The mill has been (mostly) reclaimed… after a quick recon of the premises to make sure there’s no more trouble. At first things look calm – even calm enough to allow Ateran and Darius to get into a grumbling match about whether to use the mending oil on the door or not – but then right at the end, moving the furniture around sets off the combat alarm, and we’ve got at least one more fight on deck for next week.

And that’s where we’ll pick things up next time. As always, feel free to stop by our Discord channel or other social media, let us know what you think of the show, and join in the ongoing merriment. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next week.

Three Ring Adventure S1|15: Sting Operation

Who doesn’t love a good monster swarm? Oh, nobody? Right … nobody loves swarms. (Except GMs!)

Roll For Combat, Three Ring Adventure Podcast is a playthrough of the Pathfinder Adventure Path, Extinction Curse starting with the first book, The Show Must Go On.

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 on our Patreon page 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 Tales: Tale 3, Chapter 4, The Not-So-Great Divide

Jason recaps the events from The Black Lodge Tale 3, Chapter 4: Klaatu Barada Nikto.

I thought I’d start this week with Steve’s open question about the nature of the show and what people like or don’t like about it. Among other things, I thought it was interesting because I’m in the rare position of having two different perspectives – both as a player and as a listener (at least for the Three-Ring Adventure show). I do listen to this show as well to refresh my memory, but it’s a different experience when you know 90 percent of what’s coming.

I will start with one observation Steve didn’t directly mention, and that’s the consideration that breaking in a brand-new system was part of our whole raison d’etre: first Starfinder, then Pathfinder Second Edition. So when we laid the foundations of this whole thing, teaching a brand new game to people who might be thinking of kicking the tires was explicitly part of our mission. So if sometimes we get a little lost in the rules, part of that is a reflection of the notion that the instinct to teach the system is baked into what we do at this point.

The other general caveat I’ll make is that part of the reason combat is so detailed on this show is that we KNOW you guys don’t have access to the battle map* and things can be hard to follow in your head, so we try and fill in some of those details by being extra descriptive. Theater Of The Mind, you know? “I move 10 feet to the west, put myself between the pillar and the staircase, and attack”. “I am moving up close enough that I can cast a touch Heal on Millicent”. Pre-podcast when were just playing for ourselves, we’d probably just bang through these things without a lot of the explanation because everyone was looking at the same screen; now we gotta make sure we give you enough detail to understand what’s happening and why.

*=Until recently. Now our Patreon subscribers have the option to listen live and watch the game-board, so they can see for themselves what’s happening. But that’s obviously not all of you, so we still gotta fill in the details. For contrast, I suspect the virtual PaizoCon game didn’t have that same level of detail because we pretty much played to a live audience that could see the board. (Which may also explain why we finished on time.)

But with all of that disclaimer aside, which one do I prefer?

As a player, I’m probably more in tune with the combat-oriented shows. I’m not great at roleplaying – I can do it in short bursts (see also: Brixley bonding with Ember in the Plaguestone game, where I ad-libbed an entire toast to Cayden Cailean for the ceremony on the fly), but I don’t really sustain it well over multiple sessions. I tend to have JUST enough story to understand my character and how they would react to situations, but anything outside my immediate bubble tends to come across as MacGuffin-y to me: “Why do we have gods? To give clerics a mechanism for their spells, of course.” And then beyond all of that, it’s in my nature to be the loveable goofball – I like making Dad Jokes and pop-culture references, and I always feel like I’m peeing in the punchbowl if I do it in an RP-heavy setting. I PROMISE YOU WILL ALWAYS KNOW WHICH EPISODE OF MAGNUM P.I. THIS STORY BEAT FEELS REMINISCENT OF.

As a listener, though, I have to admit I enjoy the heavier roleplay style better. Maybe it’s an appreciation of something I don’t consider myself very good at, maybe part of it is just that I’m hearing the Three-Ring show with fresh ears and things are a surprise in a way they aren’t with the other shows, but I really like the way those folks are building their stories and the relationships between the characters. I still want SOME combat – I’ve heard some shows where combat is abstracted away to one or two key rolls with storytelling filling in the blanks, and I don’t dig that either. But as a listener, I’m going to admit that higher roleplay floats my boat a little more. To be fair, it’s not an ironclad distinction: Seth, in particular, has some pretty great roleplay moments in Black Lodge, and the Three-Ring show has had some combat-heavy episodes where you’d be hard-pressed to find much roleplay. But Steve asked, so I’m answering.

With all of that out of the way, let’s get onto the week’s game action. The majority of this episode is a straight-up fight, but with an annoying twist – runes that summon reinforcements AND enemies who are smart enough to use that to their advantage by deliberately stepping on them. And our old friend… some bloodseekers to add the bleeding status to the mix! Oh, joy!

(I mention this in the show, but if you’ve been listening to our other shows, we had a bloodseeker encounter very early in Plaguestone, but they mostly whiffed and we dispatched them fairly quickly. I think ONE attached to Celes for a round, but that’s about it. Compared to this, completely unmemorable.)

Even going back and listening to a second time, the workings of the runes were a little fuzzy to me. OK, I did get that each of the different colored squares summoned a different creature, but other than that, there were a lot of moving parts. Did it summon when someone entered the square or left it? Could a rune only trigger once or could it be triggered multiple times? Shouldn’t the summoned creature attack the person who summoned it, in which case some of them should’ve attacked the kobolds? Or were the kobolds recognized as being allowed to be there by whatever entity controls the runes? But the gist is that a simple fight against what presented as two or three kobolds turned into a free-for-all with eight or nine bad guys.

Nevertheless, we get through the fight mostly unscathed (well… except for Mister Peepers, but as usual, it’s his own damn fault) and move on up the tower. Next up it’s a library, where we come across the ghost of Diggen Thrune himself. Here we get a copious lore dump and get the endgame (and reward) spelled out for us. Diggen made a deal with a devil – LITERALLY – to ensure his military success, but now the devil controls the Pathfinder Lodge and Diggen can’t escape unless we set him free by beating the devil. We also find a bag with the deed to Diggen’s Rest itself, and a letter which serves as (I assume) a lore dump for the larger mystery of the season. (For those who don’t know, when it comes to Society play, most of the adventures are one-offs, but there does tend to be an overarching theme and a few of the adventures tackle that directly. I think the mentions of the keys and the door probably come back to that at some point down the road. But for today, it’s beat the devil to win the rights to own this place.

And that’s where we’ll pick it up next week. As always, feel free to stop by Discord or other social media and let us know what you think of the show… especially now that you’ve got Steve specifically asking for your feedback! Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next week.