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

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Talking Tales: Tale 6, Chapter 4, When The GM’s Away

Jason recaps the events from The Black Lodge Tale 6, Chapter 4: This is Ducker Tap.

I have to admit I enter this week in a bit of a gloomy mood, so I apologize if I don’t have my usual level of verve and good humor. Without getting overtly political, the state of things has been pretty discouraging lately, and then the death of Chadwick Boseman over the weekend was a huge cherry on the shit sundae. Even beyond the Marvel movies, the dude was a talented actor and it would’ve been fun to watch his career develop – I loved him as Jackie Robinson in “42” almost as much as T’Challa. Though… yeah, I’m a huge Marvel fan and couldn’t wait for Black Panther 2. That too.

Of course, part of it was just how sudden it appeared to be from the outside: he did such a good job preserving his privacy that I spent a good 5 or 10 minutes waiting for the retraction, assuming the first reports were a mistake and some intern had put the wrong name in the story. But nope. Here we are. (And actually, going back with 20/20 hindsight, you start to see stories of him looking thin and people assuming it was just for a role or something.)

So yeah. I’m not here to overdramatize my level of grief – I don’t know the man personally, and I don’t have that same connection to the importance of his portrayal that black fans might have – but I’m a little bummed out. Seems like 2020 just keeps coming up with ways to keep kicking us when we’re down. So apologies in advance if this column ends up being a bit on the dry side.

Returning to live-action, the first thing I’d like to share is a public service announcement that I discovered in the car this afternoon: if you put the show on 1.5x speed to try and listen to it quicker, Ducker gets a LITTLE scary. Perram’s “up the holler” accent at normal speed… you get used to it. Perram’s accent coming at you at Daveed Diggs “Guns and Ships” velocity? Yikes.

As we get back to the repair of the fortress, there’s both good news and bad news. The good news is the finish line for repairing the fortress is in clear sight and our chances of making it are pretty good; the bad news is both that we’re running low on funds, and that we’re starting to struggle to keep everyone busy. When we had four full “trees” available, it was pretty easy to find something for everyone to do. At this point, I think we really only had two trees open to us, and they both had a mason dependency somewhere on their path. So keeping 2 or 3 crews busy could be achieved through a little forethought, but keeping all five party members involved sometimes proved to be difficult, if not impossible.

I continue to be a little frustrated that I have the wrong character for this particular adventure, but this week I managed to find ways to make myself useful. The heavy-use skills in this mission are Crafting and the social skills (Diplomacy, Society… Intimidate if you’re feeling bold). Which are pretty much the opposite of what Nella does well. If we had more of a backwoods crawl where Nature and Survival were the key skills, I’d be running circles the rest of the party (or perhaps not, given my history of Earn Income rolls), but here we are.

And look… I’m a practical person at heart. It’s not in my nature to get mad or complain. It’s a combination of seeing the big picture and knowing that the wheel will stop on me eventually (my Edgewatch character is going to have TONS of stuff to do) and the sense that my goal as a gamer is to keep the story moving forward, so yes, let the person with the best chance of succeeding make the roll. Unfortunately, that’s sometimes meant a few too many “and Nella… you… alphabetize the spice rack” moments.

But this week at least, there’s a nefarious shrine to be cleared, and I’m actually pretty good at religion. So let’s do that! Unfortunately, that ran Thorgrim and I smack into our next hurdle, as we were hit with our first out-of-pocket costs for materials – we need 40 gold to pay for incense and other spiritual-cleansing stuff. I always felt like we were going to run into this at some point, and now it’s here. Fortunately, we have some offsetting loot to defray the costs a little, so it’s not a complete disaster. But it is going to make things a little tighter coming down the stretch.

I also get a chance to schmooze in town a little as the session goes on. I don’t know if Steve’s making rolls for me, or if I’m just finishing off people who are already “done”, but whatever. I did get to use my Druid-y abilities to keep the apothecary on our side – sometimes you just gotta talk shop about rats with someone who gets it.

In the middle of all of this, we had a bit of a lull, as Steve had a work emergency. The funny “behind the scenes” thing I wanted to mention about that is that Steve left his camera on (and for part of it, his mic too), so we had a pretty good sense that things were going sideways for him (lots of annoyed typing and pained faces while talking on his cell phone) and we knew it wasn’t going to be the “five or ten minutes” he originally asked for. So we strategized on the endgame a little, but also just BS’ed about various other things for a while.

The one thing worth covering here are the endgame possibilities. To clarify what I was thinking, I feel like we’re going to get attacked at some point, and I think there’s going to be some sort of abstracted “chase-rules” version of combat – I don’t think they’d design a battle with 20 or 30 combatants (I’m potentially including townspeople on our side) for a 4-hour scenario. But I do think “what’s the point of fixing up a fort if you don’t fight something?”. So maybe the condition of the fort helps us and the townspeople that we made friendly help us defend it or something.

But I suspect we’ll find out… well, in a week or two, depending on how Steve cuts the episodes. While you’re waiting, 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 6, Chapter 4: This is Ducker Tap

Time to finish fixing up the castle and bring this project under time and under budget!

Roll For Combat, Tales from the Black Lodge Tale #6 is a playthrough of the Pathfinder Society Scenario #1-18 Lodge of the Living God. Our guest-star is Jefferson Jay Thacker (aka Perram).

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|25: Please Extinguish All Smoking Materials

Jason recaps the events from Three Ring Adventure S1|25: Hide and Seek.

When I was writing last week’s episode up, I had questions, as I’m sure we all did. I asked Steve, and he said to wait because we’d get some answers next week.

So here we are… it’s next week, and I guess that’s SORTA true. We don’t know the total scope of Darius’ new powers in terms of game mechanics – how often can he use it, how many rounds does it last, does he even (yet) control it, or does it just come out when it wants to, etc.? But we get a little bit of enlightenment as far as the story of his mark. And in particular, we get the fact that it’s a very stylized letter “N” which maybe gives us hints about its origins (or was that an “M” as in “Mancy”?), and Darius also has a dream vision of his mother, reassuring him that the mark was not sinister and could be used for good. The latter annoys the heck out of Alhara – why doesn’t SHE get dream visions of Mom – but also suggests a trail of breadcrumbs back toward the rival circus, as maybe Darius’ father can shed some further light on the topic.

Among other things, I thought this was a really great roleplaying moment for Rob T. because it showed a whole new side of Darius we hadn’t seen before. Up until this point, we’d only really experienced the big, boisterous, happy-go-lucky, extroverted version of Darius… pretty much unafraid to tackle the world’s challenges as long as he was stocked up on Pocket Bacon. Even the more subdued version of him we saw in heart-to-hearts with other party members was more Benevolent Sitcom Dad dispensing nuggets of life wisdom. This time, we actually got to see an out-of-sorts Darius, shaken in his usual confidence, worried about the possible negative effects of this power that had unleashed itself. It’s always cool when a player can take a character to a new place in a compelling way, and I think Rob really pulled that off here.

We also get a little more insight into Ateran’s mistrust of druids – it turns out they were raised by druids, who were abusive toward them as a youngster – and a bit of an apology for losing their cool with the captured priestess. And we also briefly get into the fact that Hap is either firePROOF or at least fire RESISTANT. Guess we’ll need to park her in front of increasingly strong red dragons and have them breathe on her and see at what point she starts taking damage. FOR SCIENCE.

Oh, we also got a little more information about some of the treasure the group picked up. Turns out the fancy trident can lengthen or shorten so that it can be optimized either for throwing or can create reach in its longer configuration. Someone’s going to have to let Chris Beemer know that exists, so Thorgrim can keep an eye out for one… he sure does love throwing that trident of his. Also, one of the scrolls was a spell called Personal Rain Cloud. It creates a little cloud that, in terms of tangible effects, extinguishes non-magical flames and provides 2 points of fire resistance. (And if a creature has a weakness to water, also does water damage, in case you find yourself in a Wizard of Oz crossover campaign.). I find myself wondering if it has any applications within the circus environment because as a combat spell, it seems fairly useless.

Needless to say, after the events of the last few episodes, a long rest is in order, so the party barricades themselves in the… maintenance shack, I guess?… so they can rest and heal up, and then the exploration resumes the next day.

The first bit of good news… we find that the book that was needed to satisfy the side quest was NOT in the room that caught fire, but in a separate room, so it was unharmed. The same cannot be said of the poor librarian, whose dead body is found locked up nearby. We also find the first secret door in… geez, I don’t know when… we might almost have to go back to Dead Suns for that. Plaguestone? Don’t remember there being a secret door. We had a few pit traps on the Black Lodge side, but a secret door? Been a while.

Next, the team discovers the hermitage’s animal hospital, a discovery that ought to make Hap pretty happy. Most of the cages are empty, except for one fairly specific habitat enclosure that’s held closed with wire. Is opening that cage going to trigger a combat encounter? Damn right it will. Does the party do it anyway? Of course they do.

My first reaction to the smoke leopards was to think they were distant relatives of Ember, my pet fire cat from the Plaguestone adventure. Could this all be part of the Paizo Connected Universe? Did these guys ever work with Vilree?

I did respect that Hap at least tried to just let them go – good to see Hap staying true to her critter-lovin’ roots. That said, it became pretty obvious these cats weren’t ones to just be let loose, or our heroes might get back to town to find half the circus eaten. On the other hand, glass half full, I did also have the very brief thought that Plaguestone history could repeat and Hap could tame one of these cats as a pet. Though I’m not sure a cat that engulfs you in smoke and obscures people’s view would work well with Hap’s pyrotechnics act.

As this fight unfolded, I was actually surprised how tough it ended up being. Their first few strikes, you heard 5, 6 points of damage, and… certainly, in comparison to the demons from last time, I figured this should’ve been a walk in the park, right? But then two things happened. First, the cats got a run of TREMENDOUSLY good luck on their rolls – particularly against poor Alhara. Second, the concealment from the smoke ended up being much more of a pain in the butt than one would’ve initially thought. Not just the 20 percent miss chance; it also complicated basic movement and attempts to work together as a team. Being unable to see people heal or buff them? Kind of a problem.

So the fight goes back and forth a bit, but then the party finally gets their act together, Darius lands a timely crit, and the cats are beaten. Poor Alhara took a bit of a beating, but the rest of the party should be able to continue… and that’s where we’ll pick things up next week. As always, 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.

Three Ring Adventure S1|25: Hide and Seek

Hap is fireproof, Ateran worships a mystery god, and Darius can turn into a glowing red berserker. There is a lot to unpack this week.

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 6, Chapter 3, Lizards And Laborers

Jason recaps the events from The Black Lodge Tale 6, Chapter 3: Ducker The Slayer.

This is a weird week in real life, so apologies in advance if I seem a bit distracted.

First, I’ve been a little under the weather recently. Don’t worry, not COVID – though it got rough enough that I took the test and everything. Just garden-variety Seasonal Snot Factory. I’m coming down the back end of it, but still, feel a little ragged around the edges.

Second, it’s back-to-school time. Both as someone who works in higher-ed and as the parent of a school-age kid, things have been a little extra hectic this week. Swear to God, if I hear the word “Zoom” one more time, my eye is going to start permanently twitching like Scrat from Ice Age.

The other thing is I turned 50 this week. I’m not particularly mentioning it to get a free round of virtual applause, but to mention that we TRIED to put together an impromptu gaming session with my very first gaming group – my brother (Jon) and two guys (Chris and Dmitri) that lived on the same street. It didn’t quite come together because of the reasons I mentioned above, but it was still fun to get together on Zoom (OK, I’ll let it slide for this) and share some of the stories of those good old days. Thinking back, I notice that Chris’s character dying in non-heroic circumstances was an alarmingly common thread.

Incidentally, these are also the reasons why my review of the Starfinder Starship Operations Manual isn’t ready yet. I do hope to have it done soon, but it had to push back a little further. Apologies for that.

Meanwhile, back in the world of this game, we have a bit of an inversion of our usual Roll For Combat dynamic. Usually, our shows feature a bunch of combat broken up with the occasional social interaction or mini-game. (See also: Three-Ring Adventure… sometimes it seems like they do nothing but fight on that show.) This time around, it’s all mini-game and social interactions, but this week we have actual combat to break things up a little bit.

Well, the rest of the group had combat. As for me? Between weak enemies, good rolls by everyone else, and being at the tail end of the initiative order, there wasn’t really much left for me to do by the time it was my turn. Truth told I spent most of the combat Photoshopping the GEICO Gecko’s face onto the Lionel Richie “Dancing On the Ceiling” album cover to get a cheap laugh out of our Patreon live listeners. I wear many hats, people. I’m a multimedia experience!

So we defeat the geckos, but surprisingly, they don’t have any loot (well… I mean, there’s Thorgrim’s trident… but that doesn’t really count). That’s actually a little troubling. As I discussed last week, we have about a 30-gold hole in the budget, and I’d been assuming the dungeon was going to hold some treasure that might close that gap. But… nothing.

But then work on the keep resumes and we catch a couple of breaks.

First, a little re-reading of the rules reveals that Nixnox (in particular) can use his Crafting to serve as a carpenter. It’s not a HUGE game-changer – the town does have two carpenters – but it does mean that we can potentially tackle three carpenter projects at once. At least for a few more cycles, that might be necessary as there are carpenter requirements on multiple paths. Now, the real benefit would’ve been if Nixnox could have served as a second mason, but we didn’t get that lucky. Mason remains a critical point of failure… though we did finally finish the rebuilding of the gate, which was the single longest mason task on the board.

The next break came when we finished the gate and put the mason to work on fixing the well, where we found something that might be the treasure bundle we didn’t get from the dungeon. Though… maybe it won’t. It’s a map to gold, but if it’s in Ustalav, it’s not like we can just go take a field trip and grab it. Among other things, that would mean going north into Tar Baphon’s territory. Probably a bad idea. But it’s still worth treasure bundles. So… it’s something good overall, but maybe still not the budget-fixer we’re looking for in the short term.

Meanwhile, Thorgrim continues to have mixed results attempting to convince the townspeople the Pathfinder Society are the good guys. OK, the guys at the forge get along fine with him, and Snake Plissken likes us, but the rest of the residents are mostly giving us the stinkeye. It may be time to put someone else on that duty. Maybe… just spitballing here… someone who isn’t constantly brandishing an opposite-aligned holy symbol in their faces?

And that’s where we leave it this week. Kinda short episode this week. Don’t worry, I do think business picks up again next time. (I know there are interesting things about to happen – it just depends on where Steve cuts the episodes whether it’s next week or two weeks down the road.) So in the meantime, feel free to duck into 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 6, Chapter 3: Ducker The Slayer

After weeks of hard work fixing up the castle, it’s time for a little relaxing R&R in the infested dungeon!

Roll For Combat, Tales from the Black Lodge Tale #6 is a playthrough of the Pathfinder Society Scenario #1-18 Lodge of the Living God. Our guest-star is Jefferson Jay Thacker (aka Perram).

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|24: Who’s The Master?

Jason recaps the events from Three Ring Adventure S1|24: Dance With Demons.

Well, that was a wild ride, wasn’t it?

Full disclosure: on some level, as much as I try to insulate myself and have a pure listener experience, working on the show, in general, handed me a few bread crumbs going in that nobody was actually going to die. First, Extinction Curse and Black Lodge use the same Roll20 environment, so sometimes the remnants of the previous session are still there and you can see the last few rolls that happened from the previous session. I tried to never look CLOSELY – partly to avoid spoilers – but I’m pretty sure a brand-new party member would’ve caught my eye. Also, we have an online board-game night on occasion, which both Steve and Vanessa are part of: some of the pre-game shop talk while we wait for everyone to get logged in (intentionally or not) sounded pretty strongly like business was continuing as usual. No “HEY, LOREN’S NEW CHARACTER IS EVEN WILDER THAN HAP!”

All of that having been said, this fight was close enough that I experienced a moment of doubt – I caught myself thinking maybe they’re just THAT good at keeping a secret. Thoughts like: “I’ve heard Vanessa talk about Alhara a few times, but am I SURE I heard her say anything about Darius recently?” started creeping in around the edges. So by the time Darius reached Dying 3, a little bit of uncertainty had crept into the equation.

The first thing that struck me about this combat was how much of it might have turned JUST on favorable initiative. If you remember, it was basically Creature #1, Entire Party, Creature #2, which gave our heroes ample opportunity to work their tactics as seamlessly as possible. The monsters don’t move behind cover and throw off the actions people lower in the order had planned. Nobody takes damage and has to withdraw to heal. If you think about it, being able to move together (and before the enemies) is a pretty significant advantage. Yes, you can get a similar effect by delaying actions – I’ve heard of some groups that use their first turn just to delay and get in the order they want to be in – but having it come up that way naturally was even better.

Now, on to the flaming squirrel in the room: Loren’s decision to cast a swarm spell. I think I get some of the strategies behind why she did it, but I do have to side with the majority that it probably wasn’t a good tactical move. Even before it turned out the swarm didn’t have enough actions to attack. The positive side is swarms tend to be harder to kill because they’re dispersed (unless the enemy has area effect attacks) and the damage they do is basically automatic – if you’re in a swarm’s square, you take the damage. So, there’s a scenario where it’s either a nice little persistent nuisance chipping away at the bad guys, or it forces them to “waste” a turn or two dealing with the swarm instead of hitting party members. On the other hand, how much damage would it realistically be expected to do? 1d6 or something? Hard to imagine that making a huge difference with these big uglies.

The follow-up to this conversation brings us to the etiquette segment of the program – how much teasing is too much? There’s probably no definitively right answer, so consider this more of an open discussion than calling anyone out in particular. But I have to admit after about the third or fourth joke about Loren screwing up, I was starting to feel like it was overkill.

On one hand, having a little bit of a laugh at someone doing something unexpected or making a mistake is just as much a part of table chemistry as any other part of the game. Whether it’s gallows humor as a means of coping with a dangerous situation or whatever, sometimes you make a crack about somebody doing something you wouldn’t have done. Over in our Black Lodge game, Mister Peepers does reckless things all the time, and we… ummm… “provide him colorful feedback”… there as well. So this isn’t me being all holier-than-thou. We all do it from time to time.

I do think, however, there’s something to be said for saving it until the danger has passed. It’s one thing to joke about something during the next long rest once everything’s OK and it’s on its way to being imprinted as a fond memory/funny story; it’s another thing to tell a fellow player “if we have a TPK, it’s basically your fault” WHILE the combat is going on. Finish the combat first, and THEN suggest maybe Hap should’ve just summoned one really big squirrel instead.

I suppose some of the reason this stands out for me so much is the fact that it’s so at odds with the rest of the character interactions within the Hap/Alhara/Darius family unit. In character, they’ve been really warm and supportive of each other – Darius and Alhara as characters would never say something like that to Hap. This was more Rob and Vanessa cracking jokes at Loren, but the roleplay relationships made it feel weird.

Now we come to the meat of the episode: Darius’ Last Stand and the activation of his mark. Which we now know gives him … barbarian rage? At the risk of giving some mild spoilers, I asked Steve a few clarifying questions (did Darius dip barbarian and hide it all this time?), and he said next week’s episode will provide a fair amount of clarity. So as far as sitting here attempting to parse the various rulebooks and figure out what ability that was… I’m just going to punt and wait for next week.

First, I’m going to admit I felt like the whole exchange when Hap and Ateran were strategizing about how to use their actions was pushing up against metagaming just a little bit. Yes, they would know Darius is in bad shape and can’t take much more of a pounding, but when you get into “he has Dying 3 and doesn’t have a Hero Point”… that’s not something the characters would really know. But at some point, particularly when a character’s very life is on the line, I think you give the players wiggle room on stuff like that.

One thing I find fascinating to speculate about is what would’ve happened if Darius hadn’t critted and dropped the second demon. If I’m remembering the turn order correctly, Ateran and Hap had just gone, so it would’ve been the demon’s turn next. And since Darius had already been at Dying 3 and didn’t have another Hero Point, dropping again really would be the end of the line. So the reality of the situation is that even with the surprise revelation of his mark, the crit may have ended up saving Darius from death.

The other thing I wonder: the rage took the decision out of his hands, but what would Rob have chosen to do if he wasn’t enraged? Would he still have charged Darius into the fray, knowing the next hit would be certain death? Would he let the demon beat on the squishy casters for a round so he could try to sneak in some healing? As cool as the reveal of the mark was, it would’ve been equally dramatic to put that decision directly on Rob’s plate and see what he did with it. On a roleplay level, I feel like Darius would’ve gone down fighting – he’s always kind of been the protector of the group, so why stop now?

For that matter, it’s interesting to speculate whether Steve would have gone for the jugular in that situation. I feel like if you look at the situation logically, Darius did the most damage to the demon, and therefore represented the biggest remaining threat, and maybe demons have enough intelligence to recognize the value of finishing an opponent off. Would Steve have done so, or would he have found a reason to do something different?

But fortunately, Darius’ newfound powers and a timely crit are enough to put the second demon down, and the party lives to fight another day. But they’re definitely going to need a long rest after this one. There’s still a few rooms left so I don’t know if they’ll go all the way back to town or just find somewhere safe to hole up, but there’s going to be some wounds to lick after this one.

As I mentioned earlier, it sounds like next week’s episode will sort through and provide some clarity on all of this, so I’m going to leave it here for now and we’ll pick it up there. As always, feel free to drop by our Discord server or other social media and let us know what you think of the show. Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next week.

Three Ring Adventure S1|24: Dance With Demons

The last time the RFC Crew faced a single Wrecker Demon they were one roll away from a TPK. This week, they are facing two of them … you might have paid for your whole seat, but you’re only going to need the edge this week!

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 6, Chapter 2, World of Chorecraft

Jason recaps the events from The Black Lodge Tale 6, Chapter 2: Keys to the Castle.

This week, the Best Of Mobile Gaming comes to Pathfinder Second Edition!

I kid a little, but also not. To pick a mobile game I wouldn’t be TOO embarrassed to admit I’ve played, those whole scenario feels like something out of (let’s say) Clash of Clans. Oh, you want Fire Archers? Well, first you have to upgrade your Barracks and your Wizard Tower. And for some reason, we can’t quite explain, your city walls. THEN you can teach your archers to light their arrows on fire (which, if we’re being honest… fire arrows sound like something they could figure out through trial and error).

Thanks to John’s handy-dandy flow-chart (as opposed to the flat listing that comes with the adventure) we can break the work into four top-level tracks, not all of them are created equal in terms of tasks or time required. We’ll call them Exterior, Courtyard, Hall, and Barracks. Also, we don’t really start to get into this until halfway through the episode, but some of the tasks are restricted through the requirement of skilled laborers, of which the town has a limited number. (Specifically, two carpenters and only one mason. But oddly, LOTS of trappers, which we don’t seem to need at all… unless that comes later.)

So let’s start with a really quick summary:

  • Exterior: 4 tasks, 50 days, needs both mason and carpenter
  • Courtyard: 3 tasks, 20 days, mason
  • Hall: 8 tasks, 72 days, carpenter and sage (purifying the shrine)
  • Barracks: 2 tasks, 20 hours, carpenter

Skills-wise, the mason is going to be the big sticking point, because none of us have that skill and there’s only one in the town. Also, two of the mason tasks on the Exterior track – Repair Wall (18 days) and Repair Main Gate (12 days) – are some of the most time-consuming tasks on the entire board. Carpenter isn’t nearly as bad; both because the tasks tend to be shorter and the town has two of them. The sage tasks are buried several steps deep in the Hall path, so we won’t really need one until the late stages. Also, the requirement is only to be Trained in Religion, so I know Nella has that, and Thorgrim probably does as well. So we don’t really NEED a sage and could do it ourselves if we had to. Unless the town sage has a lot better roll, in which case we might want to use them to avoid releasing a bunch of demons on the fort.

Money-wise, if you add it all up, there are something like 170 or 180 person-days of labor to do all the tasks, and we have 147 gold, so we’re going to have to find some additional funding sources, or do some of the work ourselves. Or maybe both. It’s not an insurmountable gap, but it’s a gap. On the plus side, maybe there are other opportunities to unearth treasure – I mean, there’s a dungeon right in the keep. On the minus side, Steve has also mentioned that there might be costs for resources such as stone and lumber. So it’s in the ballpark of doable, but there are still some details left to flesh out.

We also get what sounds like a timeframe for completing our tasks. Our kinda-sorta ally Mask Narsen has to go on a mission back to the capital, and he’s going to be gone… a month-ish. Nobody actually comes out and says “be finished by the time I get back”. But it feels like that’s the intent here – that we should be wrapped up (or close to it) by the time he returns. (I feel like the “about” a month is meant so the GM can slice days off the end if the players finish early, so the players don’t end up spinning their wheels for two weeks if they have a party of skill monkeys and get lucky on their rolls.)

I feel like I should clarify one aspect of the mini-game which is explained both a little poorly and well after we get started. There is a provision to basically “take 10” (the First Edition term) and just assume a rate of work that assures proper completion. You can’t fail, but you also can’t critically succeed and speed things up. But here’s the thing — that “mode” can only be used on the tasks that have no skilled labor component: in essence, the four top-level tasks, plus a couple of other ones in the Great Hall track. If the job requires a skilled worker, you have to risk the roll. However, it does mean that moment where I was finishing off Thorgrim’s 2 hours and failed my roll twice, I should’ve been allowed to take the mulligan and just finish it the easy way.

(Which would also be my advice to any players who might end up playing this down the road. Always take the mulligan on the last day of work if it’s available. You don’t want to eat an entire extra day cleaning up 1-2 hours of the previous day’s failure, both in terms of planning the logistics, as well as the sheer psychological frustration of having to waste a day fishing for one hour of labor.)

We also have two secondary tasks, but they’re short, don’t cost money, and are fairly well-covered by our skills. They’re the definition of “fit them in when you can”. There’s planting the spy plants, but that’s basically a one-day task with Nature as a skill. So… that’s got Nella written all over it. (And in fact, skipping ahead, we end up knocking that one out in the first few days.) The other is befriending enough townsfolk to the point where we can recruit them as allies by giving them the coins. We’re also pretty well-positioned here as we’ve got a party full of faces – Thorgrim (champion) and Nixnox (sorcerer) should have decent Charisma scores, and isn’t Ducker a champion too? It should be easy to reach a point where if we have a workflow blocked, just send a face-off to town to work on the recruiting drive. (I thought the goal condition here was three recruits, but I honestly can’t remember if I actually heard that or am just imagining that.)

The first few days are fairly non-descript. We make most of our rolls, fail one or two, but are in pretty good shape overall. All the first-level tasks are knocked out, and we start working on specialized jobs. At this point, we start to hit the first hiccup in our strategy, which is that unlocking the dungeon freaks all of our workers out and they won’t come back to work until we clear it out.

So what are we dealing with here? Is it basically one room, or is it a three-session slog that’s going to cost us multiple lost days of labor? Putting on the meta-game hat, the fact that it’s a Society game means it’s PROBABLY on the shorter side, but you never know.

And that’s actually where we’ll leave off 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 of the show. Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next time.

The Black Lodge Tale 6, Chapter 2: Keys to the Castle

Can five adventures live together, work together, and fix up a fort without killing each other? Find out this week on The Real RFC.

Roll For Combat, Tales from the Black Lodge Tale #6 is a playthrough of the Pathfinder Society Scenario #1-18 Lodge of the Living God. Our guest-star is Jefferson Jay Thacker (aka Perram).

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