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

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Agents of Edgewatch S1|07: Enough Talk!

Another day, another level, and another mystery. Several local workers have gone missing and it’s up to the Edgewatch to find them!

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 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!

The Sideshow S1|34: Nothing About Much Ado

Jason recaps the events from Three Ring Adventure S1|34: It’s A Brand New Car!

You wouldn’t think so, but some of these combat episodes are surprisingly difficult to write about. Counter-intuitive, I realize, but true.

First, you’d think more action would be an absolute positive, in terms of having things to write about, but that’s not always the case. Action that advances the plot provides fertile ground for material. Action that gives us new monsters or powers or explores new parts of the rulebook lets us get into the nuts and bolts of the game to whatever level of detail is interesting. But sometimes it’s just “Week N+1 of fighting mostly the same creatures as last time” and that can be tough. It’s like being a rock-climber and having a flat rock face with no hand-holds to grab onto. And if I’m being honest, we had a little bit of that going on this week.

To finish the thought, boss fights are almost always the outlier in this respect. Boss fights almost always advance the plot, and the boss usually busts out a few new powers you haven’t seen before, so there ends up being a LOT to talk about. But this week, it’s like… “more xulgaths, only this one has an axe!” Eh.

Another thing is I find that the level of detail one needs as a listener and the level of detail one needs as a chronicler of the action are two different things. Don’t get me wrong: Steve and the players do their level best in fleshing out the “theater of the mind” aspect of the show. Vanessa in particular is GREAT at “dressing the set” for listeners and framing the action, and I’ve been trying to follow her lead on our Edgewatch show. For the level of “just a listener,” it’s easy enough to follow along. But sometimes if you’re trying to retain details as you go, it can all get a little opaque. As a listener, you just roll with it until you get your legs back under you, even if that’s the end of the fight. If you’re trying to write commentary and you lost track of whether there are two or three bad guys or how many times Darius critted and don’t want to rewind the last 20 minutes to figure it out… that’s a little tougher to deal with.

And look… some of that’s on me. If I were a more diligent writer, I’d take notes or even come up with some sort of “play-by-play” system to track combat more methodically. But that’s a tough call because I’ve always kind of approached this as a fairly spontaneous reaction to what I’m hearing, and I feel like there’s a danger of OVER-analyzing it to a point where I’m just listing off DPS stats for each fight like a human MMO mod.

The other thing is that I think roleplay is where this group really shines, and you don’t get as much of that in the combat episodes. More of a question of letting these folks do what they do best.

Or maybe all of the above is BS, and I’m just sullen and unmotivated this week because Cyberpunk 2077 moved its release to December and NHL 21 has a bunch of bugs that render franchise mode unplayable. Also a possibility.

Having essentially whined about the task, let’s talk about this week’s episode at least a little bit. The fight this week was fun enough; the creatures weren’t all that special, but it used line-of-sight in ways that kept the fight interesting. And hey, Darius punched a hole in a dude!

One thing was a little fuzzy to me, and you’re welcome to correct me on the Discord channel. There was that earthquake in the middle of the fight that basically knocked over everyone but Darius. Was that a creature’s ability, or was that an ambient environment effect? As in “this whole temple is unsteady and may collapse soon”? I’d been thinking the party had semi-limitless time to explore (as long as they got back in time for the next circus performance), but a seismic event that destroys the temple would put the whole thing on a bit of a clock. But if one of the bad guys did that… never mind. (I tried to go back and look for the moment but gave up after a while. See? Maybe I DO need to take notes!)

Speaking of being on a clock, how do we feel about long rests inside of dungeons? It’s one of those things that always struck me as a necessary evil of the game system, but can sometimes feel a little immersion breaking. You’re just going to lock yourself in a room for 8 hours and hope the enemies don’t notice their buddies are missing and come look for them?

If you remember the Plaguestone game, we wrestled with this a little in that campaign as well, but I think this game is a little different, and in ways that are more forgiving. First, there’s no running clock. In Plaguestone, Vilree was planning to destroy the town in a matter of day(s) and we HAD to stop her. There was a sense of urgency. Here, the xulgaths are just doing their thing and there’s no hard stop event that has to be averted. (At least none we know of yet, beyond getting back in time for the circus performance.) Also, there was more of a “high alert” vibe to the Plaguestone fortress where you had formal patrols that were expecting trouble; this just seems to be a lair where xulgaths come and go, so maybe they wouldn’t notice a missing compatriot for a few hours. Lastly, as Steve pointed out, the room the party is choosing to rest in seems to be one the xulgaths never discovered, so that might also work in their favor.

So we’ll break there, with the party catching the rare long rest, and that’s where we’ll pick it 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|34: It’s A Brand New Car!

It’s time to make a deal as the RFC Crew comes across a room full of curtains and a prize behind each one!

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!

The Bird’s Eye View S1|06: A First Day To Remember

Jason recaps the events from Agents of Edgewatch S1|06: Save the Penguin!

FINALLY! The Shift That Never Ends finally comes to a close, the zoo has been pacified, and we survive with enough experience to reach Level 2! And the final fight even ends up being a bit of a cake-walk, thanks to a couple of timely crits by Lo Mang.

This is a little weird. On one hand, this might have actually been our technically cleanest fight. I don’t think anyone even got hit. The three-action economy really seems to reward hit-and-run tactics when you can pull them off. On the other hand, it feels like if you pull back the curtain, we got there in spite of working as a team, rather than because of it.

Things started out a little rocky, with John basically “discussing” tactics by having Dougie walk out of the room the minute we opened the door. I mean, yes, his plan had merit overall: we probably didn’t want to line up in a straight line in front of a creature whose keeper just told us has a conical breath weapon that could one-shot us. So he wasn’t WRONG exactly, but there’s something a little stand-offish about waiting until the combat starts and then pulling a move that amounts to “we can either do things my way, or the three of you can fight it without me and probably die”.

It’s also another instance of “why did you decide to roll a front-line fighter and then get mad when people expect you to actually FIGHT things?”. I really don’t want to come across as telling anyone else how to play, but if you want to be in the back, maybe roll a character that belongs in the back?

Taking a bit of a detour into the show notes, I guess Steve let the cat out of the bag and you now know Dougie is a Ruffian Rogue. I had figured that out a few weeks ago, but in fairness, I also had another month’s worth of data points to work with than you guys did, so I don’t want to break my arm patting my own back here. I think Dougie showcases a key part of what I like about Second Edition. On paper, Mister Peepers and Dougie are both “rogues”, but they act and play completely differently. In First Edition or 5E, you’d end up with two characters that got most of the same tools at most of the same points in the character’s development. Here, they’re already distinct even at level 1: Peepers is more of the classic rogue archetype (albeit with a little bit of an impulse control problem); Dougie is almost closer to a barbarian, only without the rage mechanic. And that’s just at Level 1 – imagine how different they’re going to play once they get out toward Level 8 or 10 or something.

Getting back to the battle, my frustrations were probably more rooted in roleplay than tactics. Tactically, yes, charging this thing in its lair, with the kid in the middle of the likely battlefield, was probably a really stupid idea and would’ve gotten someone killed. But on a roleplay level, it presented two problems. First, as Seth mentioned, if we didn’t lure it effectively enough, it might just turn around, go back, and try to eat the kid. But there’s also a little disconnect that we have this thing confined to a building, but we’re gonna let it loose outside? I get luring it, but maybe lure it elsewhere INSIDE the building? I felt like luring it to the bend in the “L” would’ve given us options for spreading out and avoiding the breath weapon while still keeping it in the building if things went bad.

I guess that’s what I was thinking by using the desk as a barricade. Hit it a few times from behind the desk, retreat deeper into the building, set up a second ambush point, and do it again. But by the end of the round, I was the only one still there, so that plan went out the window fairly quickly. On one hand, I’m disappointed the desk turned out to be so ineffective as a barricade. I really thought it would be more useful than that. On the other hand, taken hand-in-hand with the three-action economy, that desk saved my personal bacon and basically bought us the time we needed to lure the ankhrav out of the building safely.

The other thing that’s generally frustrating was going 0-for-3 on the sleep darts. I thought being the one to wield those – especially with Devise A Stratagem – was the smart play. Lo Mang and Dougie were the melee types; Gomez had his own spells for ranged combat, so it seemed like a niche I could fill. But I just couldn’t get a roll to save my life, and either I had already used my Hero Point, or I wasn’t going to risk it when we had a foe that could one-shot us (I think I used it on the almiraj, but I don’t want to go back and listen to make sure).

So… it was a frustrating fight for me personally, but it was cleaned up nicely by Lo Mang doing back-to-back crits. Turns out it’s another critter with a powerful primary weapon but not a lot of hit points. Kid rescued, zoo officially under control, and we FINALLY get to go back to the barracks.

With one minor detour… to the site of one of the exhibits that’s mysteriously vanished. Just a building-sized attraction vanishing, no big deal. I’m already wondering if maybe setting the zoo animals free was part of the plot – create a distraction so that the authorities are dealing with that? It’s nothing we need to do anything about now, but it seems like the sort of thing that will come back into play later.

So we go back, and the rest of the episode is shopping and leveling. The shopping is fairly straightforward: +1 RUNES FOR ALL!  The one wrinkle was re-casting my sword cane as silver – I don’t know how much of an advantage it’s going to be, but it’s just cool as a roleplaying thing to have a silver sword cane. Basil doesn’t have the same “Fancy Gene” Brixley had, but he’s not totally immune, since he is supposed to be something of a rich kid. So at the end of this, most of my money is spent, but I have a fancy entry-level magic weapon and I’m starting to feel a little more like John Steed from the Avengers. (The British one, not the Marvel one.)

Leveling? We’ll get into that next time. I’m leaning toward a multiclass dip into a caster class, but there’s a couple of different ways to go with it, and as of this episode, I haven’t totally decided yet. So we’ll leave it there and pick it up next time. 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|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 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!

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 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!

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 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!

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.