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

Check out our reviews of the Pathfinder Society Guide and the RPG Superstar Grand Prize Winner!

Agents of Edgewatch S1|06: Save the Penguin!

Why would a zoo contain a two-ton acid-breathing bug monster? Surely that must violate some sort of zoning ordinance?

Roll For Combat, Agents of Edgewatch Podcast is a playthrough of the Pathfinder Adventure Path, Agents of Edgewatch starting with the first book, Devil at the Dreaming Palace.

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!

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The Sideshow S1|33: He Slimed Me

Jason recaps the events from Three Ring Adventure S1|33: Good Job Mortals!

For a second I thought this was going to go down as The Week That Second Edition Broke Vanessa. When she started laughing like a victim of Joker Gas after the third wasted Nat-20, I honestly worried that we were going to be introducing a new party member while Vanessa went off for some Me Time for a few weeks. Or at least that we were going to get a solid 15 minutes of swearing at Steve. Fortunately, there’s redemption around every corner, as Alhara not only gets to break out her thievery skills that have gone unused since the very first episode, but she even gets to proposition Ateran for a roll in the hay that Ateran interprets FAR too literally. By the end of the episode, I think we got her back to a point where she’ll be OK.

It started with getting chippy with Loren about Hap not doing anything with her turn, which… I’m sorry, but I have to side with Loren on this one. Sometimes, your character just doesn’t know what happened, and as much as you’d like to metagame yourself into a position to take an action, it’s just not fair to do so. In our Black Lodge game, it tended to take the shape of Mr. Peepers running off and doing something stupid “off-camera”; in this case, it was Hap not noticing the rock-flinging test that revealed the gelatinous cube.  Steve is usually pretty fair about giving players the benefit of the doubt by hearing “sounds of battle” and such, but in this case, there really wasn’t any sort of cue to indicate a fight had started. So Hap starting to cast spells would’ve bordered on psychic abilities.

But no… the REAL culprit was the not one, not two, but THREE wasted Nat-20s against Gel Cube #1. Full disclosure, I slept through most of Stats 2 in college, but I survived Stats 1, and I was definitely awake for basic independent probabilities. For those of you scoring at home, rolling three 20s in a row has a 1-in-8000 (.05 x .05 x .05) chance of happening. If you add up every die we’ve rolled in the three-plus years of this podcast, I guess we might have rolled 8000 of ‘em and been due, but still… if I lost three straight crits, you’d probably have been hearing muffled sobbing for the rest of the session. Or the aforementioned swearing at Steve.

And of course, things get worse before they get better, as it turned out the gelatinous cube was really TWO gelatinous cubes, with the second one attacking pretty much right around the same moment the first one died. I have to admit, on first listen, I was in the same boat as Rob T. – I got confused and thought this was still the same cube. I had even heard the “creature death noise” but I figured it had some sort of “last attack” or was thinking “OK, the cube is dead but the characters were still in rounds until they break free”. But in a bit of a lucky break, I broke for lunch and lost my place, backed up a bit when restarting, so I heard the sequence a second time and got a better sense of what was going on.

I have to admit, I thought I was mostly prepared for the nastiness of gelatinous cubes from First Edition, but the suffocation bit caught me off guard. I knew they had the ooze properties, so I knew the party wasn’t getting any critical hits even as Vanessa was saying it. I also loosely remembered from First Edition and even old AD&D that both acid and paralysis were possibilities. The whole suffocation thing was either a new twist or one I had forgotten about. And in either case, it’s made worse by the fact that the suffocation rules are a lot tougher in Second Edition. In First Edition, the rule for holding your breath is 2 times your Constitution SCORE… so if you’ve got a 14 CON, that’s 28 rounds to figure out what to do. In Second Edition, it’s 5 + your CON MODIFIER, so that same 14 CON gets you 7 rounds (1/4 of the time). In both systems, the number starts dropping as you take actions or take additional damage, but 2E gives you a LOT less cushion to work with.

As an aside, when Steve mentions the breathing rules happening in the other game, based on the timing, I’m assuming he was talking about the PaizoCon special. In that game, there was a moment where Chris Beemer’s dwarf champion Thorgrim had to swim around underwater to retrieve a corpse from the jaws of a slain sea serpent because the corpse had a family heirloom we were hired to retrieve. That’s the last time I can remember us using the breath-holding rules.

The battle continues, and it’s starting to look dicey for a little bit, as Gel Cube #2 destroys the back ranks: Ateran is engulfed entirely and receives All The Bad Things while Hap narrowly avoids getting sucked in, but still takes a chunk of damage and suffers the paralysis effect for a round. (But not before casting acid resistance on Ateran… nice move there!) Fortunately for the party as a whole, the Varus siblings rise to the occasion and put enough damage on Cube #2 to save the day before anything truly bad happens. Whew!

We have some healing. We have some banter. We have romantic innuendo that mostly flies over Ateran’s head. (Though, I mean, who would want to get frisky on xulgath bedding anyhow? Ew.) And then the exploration resumes, and Alhara finally gets her moment of redemption for the episode, as Darius discovers a trap and she disables it. I’m trying to think… was it really all the way back in the second or third episode that she last used her thievery? Is there another incident I’m missing, or was that it?

With the trap disabled, Darius takes a peek behind the curtain… literally. There’s a curtain. And finds the beginnings of an actual temple structure. With multiple dinosaurs, and – at least based on smell – probably some more xulgaths to fight as well. There’s a little speculation about negotiation, but come on… we know where this is headed.

DINO-PUNCHING.

But sadly, that’ll be 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|33: Good Job Mortals!

Who would have thought that a giant box of Jell-O that wants to engulf you, suffocate you, paralyze you, and then slowly dissolve your skin and internal organs would become such a terrifying monster?

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 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 Bird’s Eye View S1|05: You Had One Job

Jason recaps the events from Agents of Edgewatch S1|05: Pathfinders For The Ethical Treatment of Animals

I’m going to start this week in an odd place, with a note on spelling. At least of proper names. This mostly comes up in relation to the creatures we face this week – the almiraj and the ankhrav. As well as, to a lesser degree, the names of the zoo owner and the veterinarian.

I’m always a little torn between being an authoritative source, the “paper of record” for Roll For Combat, weighed against the idea that this is meant to be a fairly spontaneous capture of my thoughts as I’m re-listening. I think what I’ve settled on is this: if it’s the name of a creature or spell or rule mechanic, I go back and check it. To whatever extent we’re explaining rules and such, I strive for accuracy in the nuts-and-bolts discussion. When it comes to proper names (people, town names, etc.), it depends on how much I’m going to talk about them. If they’re one of the major focuses of the week’s article, or I know we’re going to continue talking a lot about that person in the coming weeks, I’ll shoot Steve a text and ask him to get me a spelling. If I’m just going to mention that person once and forget about them, I don’t mind just taking a stab at what their name sounds like and hoping for the best. (Or I turn it generic and make it “the shop owner”, “the mayor”, or some other more abstract identifier.

At any rate, we start this week with Basil in the spotlight, as it’s time to do some detective work. Specifically, Remy (I guess we DID get a name for him) shows us where the veterinary and the menagerie owner’s trailers are and we do a little digging. (Surprise, surprise… right next to each other). In addition to a trove of critter-specific magic, we get multiple confirmations that yes, they were having an affair, and yes the guy (Knight) was close enough to leaving his wife to write the letter, though he didn’t send it. But clearly, they’ve been gone for at least the week everyone thinks they were.

Here’s one of those places where I have to suspend my tendency to metagame a little. Jason The Player knows that Paizo doesn’t usually put a lot of extraneous information in these adventures. If they were having an affair that we found like… three or four different bread crumbs leading toward… I suspect that’s going to become important at some future point. But in character, we don’t KNOW it’s relevant, at which point we’re really just digging around in someone’s dirty laundry, which is a little wrong.

It also does seem to be more than a coincidence that the one person who might have been able to detect and stop the corruption of the animals conveniently disappeared. Still don’t know the motive – did the wife find out about the affair and take her revenge, or was there some other play going on here? But one does wonder if maybe the doc was removed to get her out of the way so the zoo could be sabotaged. Also, who the heck LEAVES town right before the start of the big festival that’s likely to make this place busier than it’s ever been?

After our pause to investigate, we begin our sweep of the main building. First, we round up a few more survivors, which gives us both a better picture of what’s going on, as well as a side quest. For the former, it turns out that if a rust monster escapes, all those metal cages you’re keeping the other animals in become tremendously overrated. For the latter, we have a father whose kid has gone missing in… of course… the most dangerous part of the building. FAN-tastic!

We get ready, throw open the doors, and our well-made plan kinda goes off the rails, as the almiraj (“bunnycorn” would’ve been so much easier) is pretty much waiting to attack us on the other side. You know… the thing with the horn that can paralyze us, and if we die that way, it’s perma-death. Oops.

And then… oh, who am I kidding… I screw up royally by bleeding encounters.

The goal of running deeper into the room was to get around the penalties for cover when shooting the sleep dart – it was double doors with Dougie and Lo Mang in the two front squares, but since the almiraj was small, there was a 5’ gap to get past it on the other side. So to get a clear shot, I decided to just run past the bunnycorn and shoot from the other side. Simple enough, right? But that alerted the beetle to our presence, so not only was the second encounter activated, but I had two creatures between me and the rest of the party. And I followed that up by missing with the dart, not once, but twice (via Hero Point). Not my best work. 20/20 hindsight, should’ve waited a round and used Devise a Stratagem, but I thought the rabbit would be a bit tougher than it turned out to be. That, however, was our saving grace, as both creatures ended up being surprisingly squishy and didn’t last long. I don’t think I even got a second attack before the fight was over.

As a side note, you might have noticed a few places where we sounded a little confused during this battle: specifically, John thinking he had the blowgun and sleep darts, and me loading it even after I said I loaded it before we opened the door. To let you in on a little secret, the previous session ended right before we opened the door, so we’re not stupid, we just had a week of real time pass between those two events.

At any rate, battle won… nobody paralyzed, we’re in pretty good shape to finish this up. Eventually, we have the map filled into one room, which almost has to contain the ankhrav. The big thing here is the acid attack that the keeper warned us of – it’s a cone effect, so it could hit all of us, and we’ve been warned it can do a lot of damage. (Out of character, I went and checked… 3d6. As level 1 characters, that’s lethal with a good roll.)

I got a little bit frustrated with John here, and it’s something we also saw in Dead Suns with Mo Dupinsky. He chooses to play melee-first characters – he’s said on multiple occasions he likes characters that play “simple” – but when it comes time to actually do that, he gets frustrated that he’s the one in the front taking the damage. Not sure what to tell you, man. I thought I had a nice little plan with using the desk as a makeshift barricade at the east entrance… I don’t know if it’ll work or not, but if we can hold the ankhrav off and maybe miss the acid for a round or two, maybe that’s a workable strategic advantage. You can also hear John talking about circling around to the west and using the outer doors at the other end of the ankhrav enclosure, but two problems with that. First, it feels like it would require a level of coordination we don’t really have; we’d need magical communication so we coordinate opening the doors at the same time. Second, the doors might be locked, which puts us in a situation where the east team has started the attack and the west team has to run back around the building to rejoin the fight. At which point… divide and conquer from the monster’s point of view.

We do eventually come up with a compromise, but you’re going to have to come back next week to hear what it is. 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.

Agents of Edgewatch S1|05: Pathfinders For The Ethical Treatment of Animals

Look, it’s a cute mutant bunny rabbit with a magical horn that can turn you to stone. Run away!

Roll For Combat, Agents of Edgewatch Podcast is a playthrough of the Pathfinder Adventure Path, Agents of Edgewatch starting with the first book, Devil at the Dreaming Palace.

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|32: Fortune Favors the Bored

Jason recaps the events from Three Ring Adventure S1|32: Bare Naked Skeletons.

I’m going to apologize in advance that I’ve got a bout of the old writer’s block this week. Sometimes these writeups come easy and I have the whole thing, or at least large chunks of it, laid out in my head before I ever hit the keyboard. Other times, like tonight, I go off and watch the West Wing Reunion Special so I don’t have to feel guilty looking at a blank page in MS Word for 90 minutes. My recipe for getting out of that sort of funk is to just start writing… something… so apologies if we get off to a bit of a rambly start here. IT’S A PROCESS, DAMNIT.

(Also, Sterling K. Brown was fine as Leo, but I really missed John Spencer. Just Sayin’.)

The first thing that jumped out at me this week was a bit of serendipity as, despite the real life time jump of almost two months, Steve acknowledged one of my concerns from last week in this week’s episode. If you remember, last week I was fussing about the fact that the xulgath lair probably wouldn’t stop smelling bad just because you killed the xulgaths unless it was a spray or something. Or that if it was a constant smell, they’d eventually acclimate. Well, turns out Steve tackled that problem by combining the two ideas; ruling that the stink was strongest in the immediate vicinity of the xulgaths, but at a more “normal” baseline level that the party could tolerate when the xulgaths were not around. I’m OK with that approach. I just found the timing funny because they recorded this show in… August or September, maybe?… and the recording still managed to anticipate my major complaint two months in advance.

Of course, it turned out to not matter for the remainder of this week’s episode, as most of the rest of the episode took place in a fairly clean portion of the dungeon that bears all the signs of having been cleared out by a gelatinous cube. Floors that look like they’ve been freshly mopped? Yeah, that’s a bad thing. And of course, our party slowed their pace to a crawl trying to game out the cube encounter, only to get jumped by non-cubish things in the interim.

Look, I don’t begrudge caution. At least based on First Edition, gel cubes are nothing to trifle with. I assume they’re built similarly in Second Edition – hard to see because they’re transparent, have the usual slime-family immunities to crits and precision damage, and they have both paralysis and acid attacks. If there’s a saving grace, it’s that they’re criminally easy to hit. (But of course in 2E, that means more crits going to waste.) I’d also like to mention that they are also generally one of my favorite creatures just because they’re such a weird invention. “Yeah, let’s just have a random block of Jell-O schlep its way around the dungeon dissolving things with acid.” What demented wizard decided to whip that up in his or her cauldron?

OK, time for a quick aside here. I’m never sure whether to look up 2E statblocks on these monsters or not. This is where the “two hats” thing has its limitations. The blogger in me strives for accuracy, and when I’m summarizing a fight, it’s sometimes very good to understand what abilities the creature was doing, or what it COULD have done but didn’t get a chance to. But I am still a player at heart, and sometimes that feels a little dirty because it’s looking at the other side of the GM screen. I’m not sure I want to have TOO much information about creatures that maybe we’ll face somewhere down the line. I suppose I err on the side of looking it up because I’ll probably have forgotten by the time it becomes relevant. But I always feel a little guilty doing so.

But back to the dungeon crawl. This feels like one of those moments that was clearly smart dungeoneering, but made for slow going as a listener. Casting light on rocks and throwing them down the hall in front of you would TOTALLY work as a way to find a gelatinous cube. Heck, you don’t even need to get fancy with cantrips – just pick up rocks and toss them. But as a listener, I’ll admit it reached a point where I was rooting for a little John Staats trademark impatience to carry the day.

They finally find something, but it’s not the gelatinous cube. Instead, it’s a skeleton that I assumed was going to come to life and attack, but nope. That’s just the loot. For the fight, Paizo had slightly different plans: it’s an initial salvo of bat swarms, followed by an ether spider jumping into the action halfway through the bat fight.

I have to admit I’m with Steve – I thought that spider was going to be a LOT tougher. You look at the statblock, and it’s got poison, immobilizing webs, can shift into the Ethereal Plane as a single action… I’m imagining some pretty nasty hit-and-run tactics where it shifts ethereal, moves, and then pops up and webs or bites from some other direction and then shifts out again. But – noticing a trend here – the party got pretty lucky with their rolls and it ended up not being too bad. Looking at the stat block (Shhh! Don’t tell Steve!) it’s kind of a glass cannon; it has a lot of tricks, but pretty ordinary defenses for a creature of its level.

And just think. All that work for a suit of plate armor that no one can use anyway. That’s always frustrating. I suppose it’s still got loot value, but would’ve been nice to get something of more tangible benefit.

The dungeon crawl finally resumes, and FINALLY, the pebble trick works – one of their rocks flies down the hall and stops in mid-air. GELATINOUS! CUBE! Pop the popcorn! Oh, wait. It’s gonna be next week. OK, I’m getting the extra good popcorn for next week and we’ll see you back here then.

Before I close, a general “show note” of my own. At SOME point, I might try to dive in and give some thoughts about the RPG Superstar contest. I checked out a few of the top winners, but I do want to sit down and maybe write up some impressions. In general, some great stuff – I’m surprised at how well it came out.

Anyhow, thanks for listening and we’ll see you next week.

Pathfinder Lost Omens Pathfinder Society Guide Review: Would You Like To Learn More?

Make sure to read Jason’s review of the Pathfinder Second Edition Core Rulebook, as well as his review of the Pathfinder Advanced Player’s Guide, Pathfinder Lost Omens: Legends, Pathfinder World Guide, Character Guide, Gods & Magic, Gamemastery Guide, and Bestiary 2.

If you enjoyed this review make sure to check out our new Pathfinder Adventure Path: Agents of Edgewatch Podcast and our Tales from the Black Lodge Podcast.

You never know who’s reading this stuff for the first time, so I’ll start with the basics: what IS Pathfinder Society?

And the answer is it’s actually TWO things.

First, there’s “Pathfinder Society”, the game mechanic, which I’ll introduce, and then we won’t talk about much anymore. Pathfinder Society Organized Play (the formal title) is primarily a way to create a level playing field for when people from different gaming groups sit down at a new table together – think conventions, game days at local gaming stores, and so on. In your home game, you might be a Level 7 with magic items in every slot; while I might be a Level 7 with the set of armor I started the game with, going without food to afford my first +1 weapon rune because my GM likes inflicting pain. Society Play creates a set of rules that keep everyone’s characters at ROUGHLY the same power level so that our Level 7s will be about equivalent if we ever play together. It also provides a really loose story glue for strangers to go on an adventure together – the Society picked you as a team and gave you this mission. And for some players, that’s all it is – the reason for the orc-slaying season.

But there’s also the “Pathfinder Society” as a story element and roleplaying entity within the Pathfinder game setting. In THAT context the Pathfinder Society is an organization of adventurers, knowledge seekers, and general do-gooders who band together to go on adventures. The Society is organized physically in the form of “lodges” (think: branch offices) scattered throughout Golarion, each one run by a “Venture-Captain”. Within the Society there are different factions that may have different goals, much like different majors at a university – one group might be adventuring to get rich, another might want to preserve knowledge, still, another might want to prove themselves in combat against the toughest opponents. And sitting atop all of that is the Decemvirate – a council of 10 masked individuals who run the Society as a whole.

But how does it fit into the actual world of Pathfinder? What are these factions? Where are these lodges? How much morally ambiguous grave desecration is involved? To ask the immortal question of Starship Troopers, “Would you like to learn more?”. If the answer to that last question is yes, Paizo has the book for you: the Lost Omens Pathfinder Society Guide. It’s actually completely indifferent to the first of those two definitions. There’s nothing in this book that explicitly mentions the rules of Society play. The focus of this book is more about applying the storytelling elements of the Society to regular non-Society games.

In terms of book logistics, it’s about 130 pages long. There are two primary sections – Factions and Lodges – with small sections at either end serving as the bread of the Society Sandwich. So let’s get into it, shall we?

The opening section (notwithstanding one page of new character backgrounds) is the history of the Pathfinder Society itself. The Society starts humbly enough, with a bunch of adventurers BS’ing about their deeds at a bar, and ends up as a worldwide organization that’s curiously meddlesome about what gear you can take out into the field with you. (Sorry… game mechanic creeping in again.) Among other things, this section serves as a stealth “catch-up” for First Edition players, outlining what’s been going on with the Society between editions. Along with the history, we also get a high-level description of the organization and its place in the world – their leadership structure and rules, who likes them, who mistrusts them, the means of joining and leaving, and so on.

The next chapter, and the first of the two big ones, covers factions within the Society. If you’ve never played a Society game, there are shades of the Hogwarts “houses” in Pathfinder Society, where you choose a faction aligned with your goals as a character. Only there’s no “evil one” and no “other one” where they put the kids who aren’t brave, smart, or evil.

Over the course of a decade of First Edition, there was a bit of “faction creep” and there are currently 14 different First Edition factions to choose from. In Second Edition, they scaled that back a bit – there are now four “official” factions that represent the core values of the Society and two secondary factions. (The in-story reason is that the Society had to re-evaluate things after the Whispering Tyrant wiped out a huge chunk of their agents.) The in-game factions are:

  • The Envoy’s Alliance emphasizes teamwork and diplomacy, building relationships within the Society and with the larger world. They arguably have the best backstory – their original faction was left to die by the rest of the Pathfinders not mounting a rescue operation for one of their missions; their leader survived and founded the “we’re not doing that again” faction.
  • The Grand Archive is all about seeking out and preserving knowledge. Their motto is probably “IT BELONGS IN A MUSEUM!” in Elvish runes.
  • The Horizon Hunters want to travel to unexplored places. They see gray on the mini-map, they want to fill it in.
  • The Vigilant Seal is the muscle of the Society, focused on protecting the book-nerds and diplomats, or just wanting to perfect their own combat skills. Action 1: me hitting you. Action 2: you hitting the floor. Third action reserved for drinking ale.
  • There are also two “lesser” factions – they have official recognition, but not on the same level as the Big 4. These are the Verdant Wheel (protectors of nature) and Radiant Oath (general “do good in the world”).

In terms of content, each of the Big 4 factions gets a few pages of general information (history, goals, and such), a profile of the faction’s leader, some gear unique to that faction, and a list of notable faction NPCs in the sidebar. The lesser factions… they just get acknowledged as existing. “S’up, Verdant Wheel!” I think my favorite piece of gear here is the “Bookthief Brew” – an item associated with the Grand Archive. You pour it over a scroll or two pages of a book, wait for it to dry, and then pull it off and it preserves the text (though not any magical effects). The Young People may not get it, but people my age will recognize this as Silly Putty. NOW STRETCH IT TO MAKE DICK TRACY’S CHIN EVEN MORE RIDICULOUSLY LARGE!

Along with the factions, we get sections on the other major structures of the Pathfinder Society.

First up are the three schools that offer training within the Society – Scrolls (pursuit and preservation of knowledge), Spells (magic), and Swords (combat). In formal Society Play, these are most useful as a source of consumable items at the start of each adventure, but in this book, we get additional character feats associated with each school (and spells for the magical ones) that can be added with the appropriate archetype. To pick an example, the Scrollmaster can take “Foolproof Instructions”, which allows them to create a scroll that an ally (even one not trained in magic) can use as part of their daily preparations. Or there’s the Spellmaster’s “Communal Sustain” which lets the caster transfer the ability to Sustain a spell to the person it was cast on for one round (presumably freeing the caster up to do other things). There are also some feats that can be taken by ANY Pathfinder Agent as well.

Next is a section on the Decemvirate – aka “the Ten”, the council of 10 that run the Society – and short sketches of about 30 NPC’s, some formal members of the Society, others just powerful allies, who are “people of influence” within Society circles. The Decemvirate themselves wear masks that both physically and magically conceal their identities, so their section is more about their leadership in general; the list of NPCs is more of a hard lore-dump a GM can use to create touchpoints for incorporating the Society into adventures that aren’t formally written with Society hooks.

Though OK… I can’t be the only one thinking it… you’ve got 20-some NPCs on that list. Wouldn’t be a total stretch to think some of those are actually members of the Decemivrate. JUST SAYIN’.

Moving on, we come to the next of the two BIG sections: Lodges. As mentioned above, think of these as the branch offices of the Pathfinder Society and local bases of operations where your characters can get missions, buy and sell gear, rest and recover between fights, and so on. The Grand Lodge in Absalom is the biggest and most prominent lodge, and where the Ten occasionally meet to conduct Society-wide business, but this section lays out 11 prominent lodges and a two-pager at the end lays out the basics of another baker’s dozen “lesser” lodges.

At a nuts and bolts level, the write-ups for the major lodges give you a history of the lodge itself and information on the sort of local affairs the lodge tends to get involved in, details about the Venture-Captain and other significant NPCs you might meet there, often a piece of equipment or two associated with that lodge, and a few other pieces of trivia. One of the most interesting things about the different lodges is the degree of local flavor they incorporate – it’s not like the equivalent of a big-box store where all the lodges are basically the same. The Exalted Lodge in Razmiran, which is mere miles from the Whispering Tyrant’s forces is basically a defensible fortress. The Lantern Lodge in the Chinese-influenced Tian Xia region is similarly influenced in its architecture. The Iceferry Lodge in the frozen north is more of a Viking longhall (and they have a pair of magic snowshoes as a gear option). And that doesn’t even get into the Grinning Pixie – a “lodge” that’s an actual pirate ship. The write-up for the minor lodges just gives you a brief description (repurposed cathedral, bait and tackle shop, mental hospital) and the name of a Venture-Captain.

(I should also mention there’s also a nice little callback here for people who have been listening to our Tales from the Black Lodge Podcast show, as the Exalted Lodge featured prominently in one of the adventures we played through.)

The last section (about 10 or so pages) is “Pathfinder Society Options”. This is a bit of a grab bag of other “stuff” you can get by involving yourself with the Pathfinder Society. There are selections of both non-magical and magical gear, services that can be hired through a lodge (“fixer” and “researcher” being the two introduced here), even a selection of NPC trainers that can teach a character feats they likely can’t learn anywhere else and a few familiars. To pick a few examples of “generally cool stuff”: Pathfinder agent and pirate captain Stella Fane can teach you how to throw playing cards as weapons, turning you into Gambit from the X-Men, while Meleeka Sanvara is a monk who can teach other monks a fire-oriented stance which gives both fire damage and imparts fire resistance. The Society-themed magic items tend to be either wayfinders that have different effects from the basic wayfinder, or aeon stones to slot into them, though there are a few other choices as well.

In conclusion, the question I always come down to: do you need this book at your table? It’s funny. Going in, I assumed my answer was going to be “not unless you play a whole lot of Pathfinder Society Organized Play”, but I have to admit my preconception going in was completely wrong. This book doesn’t CARE if you play formal Society play or not; in fact, quite the opposite. It deals almost entirely with the Society as one of the dominant adventuring entities in the Golarion setting. Since Society adventures sometimes treat the Society itself as a black box (put mission parameters in, money and experience come out the other end), it’s actually nice to have a book that fills in those gaps. And it’s got some decent options for player characters as well. As a softer “lore” book, it may be better for tables where the GM brews their own content, but I think a lot of tables could find some room for this one on their shelf.

Three Ring Adventure S1|32: Bare Naked Skeletons

Adventurers should never know what to expect in a dungeon because if they did, they would never get past the front door (as we discover 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!

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The Bird’s Eye View S1|04: We’re Going To The Zoo

Jason recaps the events from Agents of Edgewatch S1|04: Lions and Tigers and Owlbears. Oh My!

First, I’d like to remind everyone that this week’s episode is STILL part of the same day as the last two. Just thought I’d mention that. Fights 3-5 in the zoo alone, probably the 6th or 7th distinct incident. I’m not saying that as a complaint… more like… marveling at it. It’s just a little odd how this system works, I guess.

This week we actually have the return of the GM Steve intro, and I actually learned something in the process. I guess I didn’t realize that part of how Steve was handling loot was converting gear drops into a larger fine. I’m OK with that, but I guess I’ll start bragging about how we’re already making more money than the Circus Folk if that’s the case. It just makes things more fun when we finally get around to going shopping.

Speaking of which, not sure how you listeners feel about letting Gomez run off to buy potions in the middle of all of this. I can see both sides of the equation. On one hand, the “NYC” comparison has a point… you really can get almost anything at any hour in a big city, and Absalom is as big as cities come in the Pathfinder world. On the other hand, it does seem like it might take more than 10 or 15 minutes, so Steve might have been a touch on the charitable side with the timing. It does seem like maybe you’d be waking someone’s ass up and forcing them to mix potions in their pajamas. (And did we really bring our entire life savings with us on patrol? That’s a little weird.) At the end of the day, I see this as a temporary problem – once we get a little money in our pockets, we’ll probably build up a stash of group healing and probably won’t ever TOTALLY run out again. This was mostly just a byproduct of Dem Level One Blues.

(Also, later on, there’s a class feat I can take as an Investigator to help with that, but I’d be getting several levels ahead of myself to say more.)

Nevertheless, we heal up. To quote from Harmontown, THAT HAPPENS. And since we can’t move the owlbear out of the store, we at least lock up all the produce so it can’t eat any more if it wakes up. It’s a little unsatisfying as a story element to just leave it lying there, but at some point, the story has to go forward. Not sure you guys want us to theorize for 20 minutes about proper rope-tying.

Then it’s off to face our first fight of the new session… Rusty the Rust Monster! And I’m not gonna lie… it is pretty funny that we accidentally created a party composition that could pretty much go all-out against this guy with no ill effects. Spellcaster, monk, melee type who’s going weapon and armorless for… “reasons”… and me, who… OK, I have my sword-cane, but I also have a sap or I could even use my beak in a pinch. No metal armor, minimal metal weapons. About halfway through the fight, I had the thought of using the sword-cane while still in the scabbard (would it do bludgeoning damage?) but the fight was going well enough that I didn’t bother. I have a suspicion rust monsters don’t do a whole lot of damage because they’re meant more to damage your equipment and cost you repair bills than to really kill you anyway.

Embedded here, we get a little bit of stealth knowledge dump. First, the mural on the side of the menagerie’s fencing seems to give us a hint at what we might face as we continue into the zoo itself. We’ve got the cockatrice, owlbear, and rust monster covered. The same sign also mentions a big snake of some sort (Big Bertha), a rabbit with a unicorn horn (cheating and using knowledge from other editions, the Al-Miraj?), and something described only as “That Bastard”. As well as some more conventional zoo animals of varying sizes and lethalities. It’s like the previews at the movie theater, only we get to see what’s going to try and kill us next!

I think we’re also zeroing in on John’s character. I’m starting to settle in on a Ruffian-build Rogue. (The real short version is rogues come in STR, CHA, or DEX varieties. They all still get Sneak Attack damage, but they achieve it in different ways and have different secondary specialties.) That would allow John to use Strength as his primary statistic, and it also lets him use a wider variety of weapons to get “kapow damage” (basically any simple weapon). Though just as an FYI, the maul he picked up during the rust monster fight wouldn’t be eligible for that because it’s a martial weapon. Keep in mind neither Steve nor John have actually confirmed this, but that’s where I’m putting my chips for now.

With the rust monster dealt with we finally enter the zoo grounds proper. A brief bit of exploration leads us to fight #2 of the session, against a pack of hyenas that are raiding a concession stand. This fight ends up being tolerable because FOR ONCE they’re enemies with fairly “normal” to-hit modifiers (I think I glanced at the dice and saw they were in the +5 range), and they end up missing a lot. WE JUST MIGHT SURVIVE THE NIGHT.

The snake, on the other hand, was not as forgiving. First, thanks to a little impatience on Seth’s part, it got the drop on us and put a lot of damage on Gomez early. (The rest of us were still up by the concession stand cleaning up the hyena fight and Seth just decided to go check out the lake which was a good 30 or 40 feet northeast. So it took a round of mostly movement and positioning just to get in the fight. But the other bad news is this thing actually COULD hit is. Pretty well in fact.

But then… CRITS TO THE RESCUE… as both Lo Mang and Basil come through with crits to salvage the fight in our favor. Granted, Chris’ crit was something north of 20 points and mine was like… 6 or 7 when you added the precision damage. But hey, I’m treating them as equally valuable contributions. It’s the old baseball adage of “a line drive in the box score”, applied to tabletop RPGs.

Speaking of which: on a personal note, my damage rolls were largely TERRIBLE this episode. The good news is that I was hitting pretty reliably, thanks to the (net) +2 from Devise a Stratagem. The bad news is I counted at least three times I hit for minimum damage. I think ONE time I got a 4 or 5 on one of the hyenas, but that was about it.

Also, speaking of Devise a Stratagem, you’ll notice I’m shamelessly stealing from our Circus brethren by trying to provide some “flavor” to my Devise a Stratagem attacks. That’s one thing I really like about that show – all of them really, but the casters in particular, really describe the flavor of what they’re doing. Hap has all sorts of pyromaniac bird effects, Ateran has their incantations. So it’s a two-fer: I wanted to try and come up with something like that for Basil because I appreciate what they’re doing, and it also captures some of that same vibe as the Downey and Cumberbatch versions of Sherlock Holmes where they show the intellect gears turning. We’ll see how it goes… I don’t think I’ll do it EVERY time I attack (maybe once per opponent or something). But if I find myself noticing the same two or three weaknesses all the time and it starts getting repetitive, I might ease back on it. They can’t ALL have missing scales like Smaug.

With three fights in the book, we resume our reconnaissance of the outlying buildings before tackling the main facility. And FINALLY, we make some headway on the investigative front, as we find one of the animal handlers hiding in the maintenance shed. (Somehow we never got around to asking his name. Oops. Maybe we’ll get it next episode. CUT US SOME SLACK! IT’S OUR SECOND DAY ON THE JOB!) There are two main takeaways from talking to this guy. First, it’s pretty apparent that someone poisoned the animals’ water supply to drive them crazy, and that’s the source of the black gunk – there’s no real security on the maintenance shed, and the water does seem to have been tampered with. The other is that the owner of the zoo (Archibald Knight) and the chief veterinarian (Minera Frum) were a) having an affair and b) have gone missing within the last week or so. Not sure if that’s related or just gossip, but it’s something else to investigate. Did the vet do this? Was the vet removed so she wouldn’t detect it? Did the circus owner’s ex-wife find out about the affair and decided to sabotage the circus? Or is it just coincidence that they’re not here? Certainly, both of these leads point toward the doctor as the next person to talk to, so I also slap a Pursue a Lead (another one of my main class skills) on her.

Pursue a Lead is pretty nice and has two major effects. First, it gives me a +1 to any Perception or skill check related to investigating that target. Pretty open-ended and very useful. The other thing is that if she turns out to be a bad guy and we have to fight her, my Devise a Stratagem would become a free action against her.

And hey, if we go to the vet’s trailer, there’s also a bunch of free stuff related to animal care and handling. We might not be able to use all of it – Gomez is our only caster, and he might not have access to the right traditions, but it sounds like there might be some tools worth grabbing.

And that’s where we’ll pick it up next week. Check out the doctor’s trailer to stock up and get more info, followed by tackling the main building. 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.

Agents of Edgewatch S1|04: Lions and Tigers and Owlbears. Oh My!

For perhaps the first time in adventuring history, having no weapons or armor might actually prove useful during a monster battle!

Roll For Combat, Agents of Edgewatch Podcast is a playthrough of the Pathfinder Adventure Path, Agents of Edgewatch starting with the first book, Devil at the Dreaming Palace.

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!