Jason McDonald, Author at Roll For Combat: Paizo's Official Pathfinder & Starfinder Actual Play Podcasts - Page 2 of 19

Talking Circus S1|00: Let’s Go To The Circus!

Jason recaps the events from Three Ring Adventure s1e00: Welcome To Three Ring Adventure!

Welcome to “Talking Circus”, a weekly blog where I’ll be writing about the events of the Three Ring Adventure podcast. We haven’t yet decided on a final run schedule because we’re wrapping up two shows and starting two new ones, so EVENTUALLY, it’ll run the same day each week, but that day isn’t finalized yet.

If this is your first time listening to a Roll For Combat show, allow me to briefly introduce myself. I’m Jason McDonald and I was one of the players on the original Starfinder Dead Suns show (as Dr. Tuttle Blacktail), as well as the Pathfinder Second Edition Plaguestone game (Brixley Silverthorn) which featured most of this same group. And I will also be playing a character in the NEXT show that will be fully revealed soon. This time around, I’ll be the self-appointed chronicler (if that’s a word) of the action, going on deep dives on things they couldn’t stop the game to explain, occasionally second-guessing the players from the cheap seats, and sometimes going off on weird tangents about what 80s TV show a particular moment reminded me of. Just think of me as a one-man Waldorf and Statler. With more hair.

Now, I don’t want to be some diva acting like the show can’t go on without me, but since it’s a logical question some of our longer-time listeners might ask: why am I not playing this time? Honestly, it’s mostly a time constraint thing. We were doing two shows simultaneously because we wanted to jump on Pathfinder Second Edition while it was new, but two shows plus my home 5E game was a bit much. Absolutely nothing against these folks – they’re all great people and Plaguestone was a lot of fun – but the tiebreaker goes to the gaming group I’ve been playing with since before this was even a podcast. There’s also a little bit of “Steve really wanted to take the roleplaying to another level, and I’m more casual about that aspect of the game” but the time constraint is the main thing. That said, I still wanted to be involved in some fashion so, here I am writing about it.

So as I think about this adventure and listening to Episode Zero, what am I looking forward to? What excites me about this show as a listener?

First and foremost, it’s something the rest of you have taken for granted for two-plus years, but I’m going to enjoy listening and being surprised by what happens. I’ve listened to pretty much every episode of our shows, but because I was one of the players, I always knew what was going to happen. None of the plot twists surprised me, the jokes didn’t land the same… I had already lived it all at the time of recording. At best, there was an occasional veneer of “oh right I forgot that happened” surprise from the lag between when it recorded and when it aired, but I’m going to enjoy listening to one of our shows not knowing what’s around the next corner.

Of course, the flip side of that particular coin is it might be a little harder to write. Part of the “sizzle of the steak” of previous Talkings was that I was providing the inside scoop from the table. I had access to the stuff Steve cut, the banter before and after sessions, the non-game chat sessions. Part of what Talking has provided was the deep-dive stuff you literally couldn’t get from the show. This time, I’m gonna have to make do with mostly the same material everyone else has – heck, our Patreon supporters who listen live may end up knowing more than I do. It’s like the episode of TNG where Counselor Troi loses her empathic abilities and has to just get by with normal human intuition – though hopefully, I won’t get all salty with people like she did.

Back to what I’m looking forward to. I don’t want to load too many expectations onto one member of the party but I’m interested in seeing what Rob Pontious brings to the table. Both generally because he’s someone new that we’ve never played with, but also specifically based on his experience with Order Of The Amber Die. If this is your first time hearing of them, you’re in luck: Steve did an interview with them a while back and we did a joint appearance with them (but not Rob himself) at PaizoCon in our first year. Both are available in our archives. But the Order’s “thing” is that they do really immersive in-person games and write about them for Paizo. They’ll get their group together literally from across the country (though they operate out of the NY/NJ area) and play a whole scenario in a weekend. Full roleplaying, props, environmental effects (for example, roll in space heaters and turn the room into a sweatbox if the fight is supposed to be in a volcanic cavern). Even people who aren’t playing might show up to voice an NPC or even just act as “support staff” and prepare meals for the players who are. It’s a different thing than we do, but it sounds like a lot of fun, and if I can’t be a fly on their wall, I can at least be a fly on ours while he’s here. No pressure, Rob.

As an aside, we’ll have to figure out some sort of solution to the multi-Rob problem. I don’t want to go with Rob and “Other Rob” because that’s kind of insulting to whoever gets the “other”. PRob and TRob? In the short term, I might lean on character names until I inevitably come up with weird nicknames that only make sense to me. Or one of them will be “Rob” and the other will be “Garth” because that’s how Knight Rider handled it. Now, who’s gonna volunteer to grow the Van Dyke?

Getting back to things I’ll be listening for, we also have two of the four players playing brand-new (well, new to Second Edition) classes – Vanessa will be playing a Swashbuckler and… Bizarro Rob? (still working on it)… will be playing a Witch. If you’re unfamiliar, a Swashbuckler is sort of a mix of rogue and fighter – they’re a speed-and-finesse melee type like a rogue, but they ditch the sneaky elements and add a component of style and panache to their fighting. A witch is a caster class, but one that revolves around the mechanism of “hexes” – fewer Big-N-Splodey spells, more “oh hey, your arms turned into a swarm of bees” spells. Now as a gaming thing, this gets interesting because TECHNICALLY those classes are still in playtest and could change when they’re formally released into the wild. My understanding is that they’re going to run with the playtest versions and then Steve will allow them to tweak the characters to convert them from playtest to release. But in the here and now, we’re getting a taste of some new content, and it’ll be fun to see how they’ve carried over from First Edition.

Lastly, the circus theme intrigues me. How is a circus theme going to sit on top of what is, at its roots, a combat system?

At a conceptual level, there ought to be a way to make it work – after all, heroes are people with peak-level physical abilities, some of whom have magical powers. Sometimes when interacting with other fantastical elements, we forget it, but an 18 STR is supposed to represent Conan-era Schwarzenegger; an 18 DEX is Jackie Chan. And that’s before we get into magic – yeah, magic is a known thing in Golarion, but has the average farmer or merchant actually seen anyone cast Produce Flame, much less a fireball? Our characters are close to super-heroes when out mingling with the general public, so conducting a circus doesn’t seem like a stretch as an idea.

But at some levels, particularly low levels, I worry that might bump up against the rulebook.

Consider the real-circus example of a lion tamer. At first glance, you could simulate that as a ranger with an animal companion. But at least if you go by rules as written, a Level 1 ranger isn’t going to have access to a lion as a tameable creature and probably can’t teach it complex commands. So now you’re standing there like a doofus ordering a random housecat to do basic tricks like “stay” and “sit”, and all of the sudden, your Pathfinder campaign has become an absurdist Monty Python sketch. (But hopefully not “Ken Ewing And His Musical Mice”). Or you’re a trapeze artist who would probably fail most of their Athletics checks and… you know… die in the first performance. We present to you…. The Amazing… (THUMP)… Our next act…”

I assume that’s where the “extra rules” Steve is hinting at come into play. I’m thinking the AP will allow the players to develop tricks as part of their circus act that aren’t useful in the adventure setting but will be allowed to work within the context of the show. If you’re that aforementioned pancake/trapeze artist, you can learn a bunch of aerial maneuvers that you can use in your show, but if you run into a dungeon that happens to have a chandelier, you can’t swing on the chandelier with the same degree of success and your normal level 1 chances of success apply. Or maybe they DO apply and the world will be saved with circus skills! I swear to god, if CLOWNS save the world, I want my (non-existent) money back.

I could write more but I think I’m gonna wrap it up for now. I suspect we’re gonna have a lot of fun in the coming weeks, and I’m excited to experience it all with you. See you in the not-too-distant future, fe… fell.. (gulp)… fellow listeners.

Talking Plaguestone 32: We Have A Prue

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat: The Fall of Plaguestone, Episode 32: I Could’ve Had A D8!

Welcome to Final Boss Fight Eve here at Roll For Combat, as we finish up the fight with the amalgam and get ready take on Vilree herself. It’s like Christmas, but SOMEONE’s present is gonna be a butt-whipping.

Conceptually, I love the idea of a freakish alchemical monstrosity. It’s been hinted at with all of the various mutated animals we’ve run into, so this… thing… seems like a natural endgame for that. I see your stone horse and fire-cat and raise you a freakish abomination stitched together from three or four different creatures. A little terrifying to fight… but very appropriate to the theme of the whole adventure.

As I’m going back and listening to the episode, I’m amazed at how lucky we got with this fight. It’s a little hard to sort out at first while the drudges are still up, but I think the amalgam itself only hit us twice the whole time. If it seems busier than that, it might be because the drudges that were left sprinkled a couple of decent hits in. But I only counted two for the big boy, and I think I mitigated one of them with my champion ability. For a big sub-boss type creature, that’s crazy good luck.

I did notice that tactically, we’ve been playing Second Edition for months, and I’m still expecting attacks of opportunity that aren’t coming. Particularly when dealing with creatures that have reach. I’m getting used to it with humanoids because it seems to follow roughly the same template as for PCs – heavily-armed front-line fighter types might get them; non-fighter types don’t. For weird-ass creatures like this… you kinda have to roll the dice, take a full move, and just see if you get hit.

As usual, the flip side of “brutes are big and scary” is “brutes are easy to hit, and even pretty easy to crit because their armor class is so low”. At that point, it’s really just a race to get through those hit points without taking too much damage or using too many resources. This time, we happened to win the race. Cue the huge sigh of relief.

Not gonna lie, still, a little surprised the dwarves in the tanks didn’t wake up and join the fight. It’s Chekhov’s Gun – you don’t put a funky mutated dwarf in a tank of poison gas if you don’t plan to use him. I briefly thought about seeing if we could destroy those tanks, but the potential of doing it wrong and releasing poison onto ourselves ultimately seemed like a risk not worth taking.

After dispatching the amalgam and doing a little further exploration, we finally reach the pretty obvious Final Room. River with a single bridge crossing… check. Ominous bubbling cauldron on a dias/shrine-like area… check. Crazy boss lady? OF COURSE. It’s the payoff we’ve been waiting for – Vilree herself.

But then Vilree drops a little bit of a conversational bomb on us (since she’s an alchemist, real bombs are probably coming too). Vilree gets to monologuing – as villains do – and hits us with the potentially big reveal that we might already be too late. As well as offering us the chance to walk away from the final fight.

First, I’m not sure she’s telling us the truth. She may just be some combination of over-confident, and/or trying to psych us out of the final fight. I suppose it’s POSSIBLE she’s telling the truth. At a metagame level, some of these adventures have explicit victory conditions, and I’m like… 5, 10 percent worried there was a clock we weren’t aware of and time expired while we were taking long rests. But for the moment I choose to believe she’s lying, and that we need to beat the actual plan out of her so we can stop it.

But even if it’s true… so what? Even if it’s true and everyone’s dead, then I want some damn revenge. To borrow from Tony Stark: “If we can’t protect Plaguestone, you can be damn sure we’ll avenge it”. Plaguestone’s a weird little town with its turnip-based economy, but it’s our adopted weird little town at this point. Among other things, I didn’t go found a Cayden Cailean church only for this lady to immediately go and kill all my new converts. And in Celes’ case, they’re distant family! So even if she IS telling the truth, there’s no reason not to beat her down before we go back to town and reckon with our failure. So let’s do that.

But of course, as the episode ends, we learn it’s not going to be QUITE that simple, as a creature pops out of the river and plants itself between us and Vilree. So yeah… she’s got a bodyguard on top of everything else. Not to worry… to continue the Avengers analogy, “we have a Prue”.

So next week, it’s finally time. Team RFC vs. Vilree for all the marbles. Since Steve explicitly said there are two episodes left… yeah, it’s a long fight. But you’ll have to come back next week (and the week after) to see how it goes. While you’re waiting, feel free to drop by Discord or other social media and let us know what you think of the show. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next week.

Talking Combat 125: From Hell’s Heart I Stab at Thee!

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 125: Does Akiro Dream of Electric Sheep?

I’m going to be a little self-indulgent and smug this week because after being mostly useless up until this point in the fight, Tuttle kinda gets to have a bit of a hero moment this week.

Since there was a real-life episode break at the same point in the show, I had a week to think the problem over: what, if anything, could I do to change the nature of the fight? Taking control of the ship was what I came up with. As the one mostly-undamaged person in the party, the single most important goal was to get the boss’s intention on me. At a bare minimum, I was hoping it would at least draw some fire so Mo and Akiro could potion up a little and get back on their feet; at most, I was hoping the Big Bad would actually have to come in close and/or turn visible, at which point Mo could get to take some real swings. My biggest worry here is that there’s a third cast of Rewire Flesh with my name on it, but it’s a chance I’ve got to take.

I realize that makes it sound at first glance like a suicide mission, though it’s not meant to be one. Tuttle isn’t that grandiose. I’ll grant that I’m putting a few “last resort” contingencies in there, but I still hold out hopes of getting through this. If we can get the Big Bad down, I can always turn the ship aside and come up with a less dangerous plan. But if the Big Bad appears to be winning, maybe there’s some way of doing the high-tech sci-fi equivalent of putting a toolbox on the gas pedal so they can’t turn the ship aside. Like Khan activating the Genesis device – “from Hell’s heart I stab at thee!”. At least that’s my thinking in the moment.

If I’m being honest, it’s also a mild hedge against the possibility that Rusty might try and make good on keeping the Stellar Degenerator. I recognize he can’t really do that – a capital ship requires a crew in the hundreds, so it’s not like Rusty could fly it solo. But I am concerned about the possibility that we win the fight but then Rusty bluff-checks us into not destroying the thing. Taking this action now, in the middle of combat, also kinda forces the issue on that front too.

So for now, a collision course is the plan of choice. That said, when Steve said I had access to the whole ship-wide computer system, I briefly thought maybe there would be a way to use the ship’s internal defenses in our favor. If you remember a few sessions back, we had those security viruses that let us write ourselves out of the system and redefine who the computer considers to be friend and foe. So at least for the first round I sat down at the command console, I was trying to see whether we could do something similar to target the boss – maybe turn that anti-life ray into an anti-death ray, summon some security drones… heck, maybe there’s a magic dampening field in there somewhere to cancel its invisibility. Except that its invisibility expires anyway… and now we have at least a puncher’s chance at winning this thing (unless it has a second cast of greater invisibility, of course).

And now here’s where things get weird, with a mixed battle of space combat and regular party-based combat at the same time.

First, I have to agree with Steve’s overall decision – I love the choice to mix the two set-pieces together. I feel like the ship combat on its own would have rendered the final fight anti-climactic. You know, like all those fake endings in Peter Jackson’s Return of the King. (You bow before no one, CHDRR!) Interleaving the two battles makes for a far more interesting sprint to the finish.

Second, and I can’t stress this enough… capital ships ROCK. We have something like a thousand hull points, our main weapon does 9d6x10 damage per shot, we also have access to missiles (which we haven’t really dealt with yet)… I don’t know the exact stats of the ships we’re battling against, but as I said, the one shot we fired from the main gun would’ve not only blown through the shields; it would’ve singlehandedly vaporized the Sunrise Maiden. We’re playing in a whole new neighborhood of badassery here.

It’ll be interesting to see how the workload breaks down between the two fights. We’ll need at least one person to pilot and one to fire guns, though technically there’s an unmanned workaround for Piloting that lets you drift straight forward without doing any special moves. So really, we could put everyone on guns if we needed to. Also, since we’re planning to destroy this ship along with the Stellar Degenerator, we probably won’t need any Engineering or Science… the ship’s only got to last 8-ish rounds. I’ll probably stay on the ship side of the house since I’m mostly useless in the party combat, and it seems like Hirogi wants to get some ship combat in too. (To be fair, beyond his in-character rationale, Seth hasn’t had a chance to do starship combat; he probably just wants to get a feel for it.) I feel like Mo should stay on the boss since he’s likely to be the heavy hitter if/when the boss ever comes out from behind the energy shield. I guess that just leaves Rusty and Akiro, though Akiro is walking a tightrope at death’s door and might not be participating in either.

Since you can’t see the map, we’ve got about a 32-hex “sprint” to reach the demi-plane, with the two escort ships between us and our goal. I didn’t cheat and look up their stats or anything, but I feel like they’re going to have a tough time stopping us, especially if we’re doing 300+ points of damage per hit. I get John’s point about just setting this ship to self-destruct and letting the planetary defenses win, but I suppose you can kinda hand-wave that as “well the Corpse Fleet will just summon more reinforcements and come back and finish the job later”. Or other parties will hear about it and send fleets of their own. Best to finish the job now – though if we can win both the boss fight AND the ship battle, maybe we can just pull up at the demi-plane and shoot the Stellar Degenerator with the ship’s weapons instead of crashing into it.

And that’s where we’ll leave it for next time. A newly visible boss on the wrong side of an energy field (like Darth Maul in the final fight from Phantom Menace), the ship slowly “hurtling” toward destiny, and for better or worse, the stalemate is broken. As always feel free to drop by Discord or other social media and let us know what you think of the show. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next time.

Talking Plaguestone 31: Come Up to the Lab and See What’s on the Slab

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat: The Fall of Plaguestone, Episode 31: Firecat vs. Firerat.

We start this week with a new rules dispute, but one that – for once – I’m not the center of. Whew.

This time it’s Cade’s Nimble Dodge, which in addition to getting a callout in the show notes, is also sparking a lively discussion on Discord. If you read the rules (page 183) the trigger for Nimble Dodge is “a creature targets you with an attack and you can see the attacker”. So it’s when you’re attacked, not when you get hit. So basically it’s a +2 to AC once per round – and if the enemy rolls an easy miss or an easy hit, you “wasted” your ability.

One thing that’s complicating the issue, per the Discord conversation, is that it’s a little inconsistent when it comes to monsters and NPCs – there are some monsters that have the same Nimble Dodge the rogue has, but you have other enemies (one of our listeners mentioned the Drow Rogue) that can use the Nimble Dodge after they’ve been hit.

Maybe it’s because I’m less personally vested, but I always felt like the ability to auto-negate an attack if it’s on the borderline of hitting seemed a bit overpowered anyway. If it’s something you can do once per round; it’s probably not meant to be hugely game-changing. Also – this isn’t necessarily a criticism of Rob, but there’s probably ways to mitigate it with tactics; fight so that your party’s rogue doesn’t end up taking shots from 2 or 3 enemies.

I’m also going to give you a mild spoiler – since we’re just discovering this now, we never really “fix” this. I don’t remember how many times, or even if, Cade uses it again, but we’re probably going to be stuck with the wrong interpretation because we’ve already wrapped.

On the bright side, we FINALLY get my champion ability correct this week. See? Not trying to be smug, but a few weeks back I grumbled that I remembered a conversation where I was getting it right, and people tried to talk me out of it… turns out that was THIS week. I’m not going to regurgitate the previous discussion that it feels like we’ve already had four or five times, but I’m going to take a second and talk about the unsung hero of that ability – the immediate Step action. First, in the case of these alchemical drudges, it’s an automatic rescue from standing in the acid pools. But more importantly, was something Prue hinted but we didn’t do – you can use that Step action to disrupt an enemy from performing multiple attacks. If an enemy used Action #1 to close and Action #2 to attack, that Step lets you steal that follow-up attack, as long as the enemy doesn’t have reach. Instead, they’d have to use Action #3 to re-close the distance. Honestly, I’ve been so focused on the damage mitigation that THIS is something I wish I’d been paying closer attention to. How much damage could I have stolen by moving my teammates out of range?

I have to admit I had kind of forgotten about the weirdness with the map dimensions. It did seem odd that all of the major features of the room – the fire-rat, the dwarf in the tank, the alchemical benches – were described as if they were normal size, but the supposed scale of the map implied that all the furniture would have to be huge. I’m not going to complain as a game mechanic because if it was a mistake, it impacted both sides equally. If we had to use extra moves to reach them, they had to use extra moves to reach us. But it was a little… disorienting, I guess?

The fight itself was shaping up mostly as business as usual – we had fairly good luck hitting the fire-rat through its smokescreen and alchemical drudges are a known commodity after we fought the ones upstairs. I do wonder how calculated it was that the encounter led with the fire creature; it does start to feel like maybe Buhlman was trying to lure someone into popping the fire resistance potion before throwing a bunch of other damage types at them. But if that was the case, it feels like the rat should’ve been more formidable.

But then… the amalgam. Yikes! That’s going to be a bit of a challenge. Big means it probably hits harder than any of us do. Big means it probably has reach. Gut says it’s going to have some resistances – I have nothing to back that up, but we’re at the level where bad guys start to have those. And it’s got that howl that adds status effects to the mix. If there’s a glimmer of hope here, it’s that its first move wasn’t very fast… it only advanced about 10 or 15 feet. So there might be a possibility that it’s slow and maybe we can kite it a little bit. Having said that, this isn’t EverQuest: I suspect at some point we’re gonna have to go toe-to-toe and trade shots with it.

Beyond that…. Not gonna lie, I’m also still worried about those dwarves (and presumably poison gas of some sort) in the tanks. Releasing those seems like that little added extra “Oh you think you have this under control? Well, what about THIS?” moves Paizo likes to pull. And, one can assume someone opened the cage for the creature – Vilree? The orc archer? There’s another possible add. So maybe the Big Boy is the centerpiece of this fight, but maybe there’s even more hijinx.

But we’ll have to find that out next week, won’t we? While you’re waiting for next week’s episode to drop, feel free to pay a visit to 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 back here next week!

Talking Combat 124: Head Like A HAL9000

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 124: More Machine Than Man

As promised for a few weeks, this is the episode where things start to get a little shaky. And while John may be totally cool with a party-wipe to end this thing, I want Tuttle to live. I’m stubborn that way.

The very mild good news of this episode is that we finally beat down the remaining adds, and I got the other door locked so either no more adds will show up at ALL, or they at least have to take the long way around to get to the bridge. So now it’s just us and the Big Bad.

Unfortunately, that’s going wrong in just about every way imaginable. And the hidden reason is the boss doesn’t have to beat the whole party to put us in an unwinnable situation, he just has to beat our top two guys. It’s like losing the queen in chess – the game’s not OVER if the other side takes your queen, but it gets a lot tougher to win.

Right now Akiro is the only one who can see the boss, and he just got hit with that Rewire Flesh spell, which is proving to be NASTY, for reasons I mostly went into last week (Cliff’s Notes: no action needed to sustain + save only does half rather than removes it). As this episode ends, I think he’s out of stamina and into meat. And also running low on spells. Mo, who is our best overall damage-dealer, is chugging potions to stay up because he took the brunt of the damage from tanking the adds. He’s also flat-footed and mute, adding an extra layer of difficulty. And now we find out the boss has some sort of fast-heal. Lovely.

To return to that chess analogy, Mo and Akiro are the queen and a rook. If they go down, we gotta find a way to win with a knight (Hirogi – can do big damage situationally, but the boss is likely to save against his trick attack) and a couple of pawns (Tuttle and Rusty). So THAT’S the urgency – in a few rounds, we might “still” have three guys up, but it’s likely to be the wrong three guys.

I wanted to address some of Steve’s commentary about retreating and waiting for the spells to run out. I can only speak for myself, but I felt like we were doing a lesser version of that. Maybe not a full run-and-hide, but if we could get the adds down and just make it us vs. the boss, we could maybe spread out around the room, try to get some people healed up, and wait until the invisibility broke. If there’s one saving grace about fighting this boss, it feels like it’s not wired for big bursty damage. It’s not some melee who’s going to run in and full-attack for 50 points; it’s just going to bounce around the room lobbing fireballs (several of us have DR vs. fire) and chip away at us, and wait for that DoT to take Akiro down. The DoT doesn’t seem to be going anywhere whether we flee or not. And those corrosive hazes move slowly, so they should be easy to avoid. So the real trick is to not bunch together and give up 2-3 characters’ worth of explosive blast damage at a time. Admittedly, that’s a little more difficult when we’re trying to pass potions between us, but it’s not unworkable.

So it’s not a full tactical retreat, exactly. But it is a strategy of trying to minimize the boss’ strengths long enough for the battlefield to equalize a little. To metagame a little, we’re on round 9 or 10, and a boss is going to be at or above the level of the party, so 13-15th level, maybe? Maybe with all of these adds, the boss might be a little lower? Optimistically, we only have to wait it out a couple more rounds.

The thing we don’t know is whether it has a second cast of greater invisibility… if that happens, I don’t know WHAT we do. Die gruesome deaths, probably.

While we’re talking about invisibility, I did want to offer a mild rules-lawyer on that invisibility, in particular how it interacts with the corrosive haze. Even if you’re invisible, your interactions with objects in the world are not. If you open a door while invisible, people see the door opening. If you threw a sheet on top of yourself while invisible, people would see the sheet just fine. So I feel like there ought to have at least been a CHANCE to see the outline of a person in the corrosive haze – even if it was a really high-DC Perception roll or something. Think the Predator effect from the movie. Then again, to give Steve’s interpretation a fair hearing, a fine mist isn’t walking through a waterfall or even rain; it’s microscopic. If it’s a foggy day, can you really see individual droplets of fog displace when someone moves through them? We’re not living in the Matrix here…

So that’s where we end this. I feel like there are still possibilities for pulling this out, but we gotta come up with something that at least changes the nature of the fight. And for me personally, I should be trying to make Tuttle as inviting a target as possible. I don’t have a taunt ability, but honestly, for these next few rounds… I’m wracking my brain for a way to get the boss to focus its attention on me. I’m probably the least useful offensive character, I haven’t taken much (any?) damage, and I even have DR10 to fire if I have to eat a fireball. I don’t want to die exactly, but if it helps the team regroup, I should be wearing a sign that says “HIT THIS MOUSE, WIN A STEAK DINNER!” or something.

And guess what. I have an “or something”. But you’ll have to wait until next week to hear what I come up with. While you’re waiting, feel free to drop by Discord or other social media, let us know what you think of the show, and join the ongoing merriment. Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next week.

Talking Plaguestone 30: Averting Cat-astrophe

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat: The Fall of Plaguestone, Episode 30: Baby Shark.

This week’s episode features a battle against an old nemesis…

(record scratch)

(pushes glasses up on nose)

At the risk of being tedious and pedantic, that’s actually a mild spoiler. We never actually SAW the person shooting at us from the tower in the initial courtyard battle, so we probably shouldn’t really know it’s the same person. Though, how many elite orc archer types can one castle have? Whatever… we’ll pretend we recognize her by her fancy bow and move on I guess.

On the other hand, I guess that finally puts my long-running “Noala is an enemy plant” theory to bed. I very briefly thought that “enemy archer” was “Noala is actually Vilree’s lieutenant and snuck into the enemy camp while we were preparing”. But now we’ve got an orc archer on our hands, so consider that idea formally retired.

The single biggest development this time was the almost-death of Ember.

First, I’d like to point out that if you’re listening to both of our shows, this happened within a few episodes of losing CHDRR in the Dead Suns game, so… amusing coincidence, but it’s been a rough month for my poor pets. This does mean I’ve already mentally decided that whatever we play next, no pet for me. No animal companion, no familiar… just me.

Second, I’d like to point out that I was specifically holding Ember out of the battle because I remembered her being vulnerable to either water or ice (couldn’t remember which one, and couldn’t find the stat sheet for her as we were playing). So I swear I was TRYING to keep her safe. But then the shark retreated toward her and it presented a prime opportunity to flank, which was just too good to pass up. And frankly, if the brine shark hadn’t critted, it would’ve been fine and we’d have been in fine shape.

As far as the ruling, it actually looks like it’s NOT GM discretion; It looks like companions are subject to the same rules as the characters. Quoth the rulebook (page 459):

Player characters, their companions, and other significant characters and creatures don’t automatically die when they reach 0 Hit Points. Instead, they are knocked out and are at risk of death. At the GM’s discretion, villains, powerful monsters, special NPCs, and enemies with special abilities that are likely to bring them back to the fight (like ferocity, regeneration, or healing magic) can use these rules as well.

So it’s not even GM discretion… Ember lives! Which is a relief on multiple levels. Tactically, I’m already down a shield, I’d hate to also lose my fire-cat too. Having my character functionality slowly whittled away on the way to the final battle is kind of a drag. But also, I’d hate to have gone through all that trouble to get this cool, fairly unique mount, and then have to trade it in for a boring old horse. No offense to horses in the abstract, but… come on.

While we’re talking rules… I agree with the consensus that it still feels a little silly that alchemical flasks are a martial weapon. I mean… if someone broke into my house right this minute, I could PROBABLY figure out the mechanics of picking something up and throwing it at the intruder. Having said that, allow me to make the other side of the argument. First, on a game mechanic level, it’s an easy way to make alchemical bombs something that alchemists do well – make it a preferred weapon and a class feature, easy-peasy, they’re the designated bomb-tossers. But if you want something that works more in-game, one could argue that the skill is not the throwing, but judging of distances and blast radiuses (radii?) on the fly to be able to accurately put a bomb in the right place in the middle of a firefight. (Also allowing for movement, as everyone’s turns within a round are supposed to be happening semi-simultaneously.) Going back to that previous example, yes I could pick something up and throw it at an intruder. Could I pick up a grenade, figure out where to throw it to hit the intruder but not hit my dogs, while the intruder is coming at me? Maybe that IS a martial skill.

Of course, it’s no skin off my nose. I’m trained in martial weapons, so more fun for me.

As we reach the end of the session, we head to the bottom of the stairs and are presented with the classic RPG dilemma – we’re mostly out of resources, and what we were all hoping was a final room is really an entire additional section of the complex. (Even without Steve zooming the blank map out, we could see two corridors and two or three doors just from where the stairs let out.) So what do we do? We’ve got to assume both Vilree and the orc archer are down there somewhere – so that’s at least two formidable opponents – and maybe even some additional minions too. We simply don’t have the resources for that, but there are ALL sorts of hints that waiting too much longer would be bad for the town.

At the end of the day, you can’t help the town if you’re dead, so I guess we’re stopping to rest. It just doesn’t feel very heroic. You don’t see Superman popping off to the Fortress of Solitude for a nap halfway through the story. (Except for Superman 2, where he kinda does. Maybe not the best example.) But it’s just one of those unsolvable “problems” of any RPG system – as a game mechanic, you have to set the refresh on resources to SOMETHING. If you make it too easy to recover resources, the game becomes trivial and you lose a sense of accomplishment. If you make it too hard to recover resources, you end up with a lot of stories that end in unsatisfying character deaths. So you gotta pick something and just hope that it matches up pretty well with the story beats the majority of the time.

So… long rest it is. Next week we tackle the basement level, hopefully, find Vilree, and also hopefully aren’t too late to save the town. While you’re waiting, feel free to drop by Discord or other social media and let us know what you think of the show. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next week.

Talking Combat 123: Resistance is Futile

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 122: You’re Locked In Here With Me!

We start this episode with an act of SUPREME BETRAYAL AND TREACHERY!

Yes, I’m talking about the fact that The Voiceover Guy no longer says “and his drone CHDRR!” when introducing me. What the hell, man? We’ve still got five people coming out of the basement and onto the Internet instead of six, but you had time to do CHDRR dirty like that? I’m lodging a formal protest with… well, whoever one lodges those sorts of protests with. The World Court at The Hague? Judge Judy? WHERE IS MY JUSTICE?

Sorry… rant over.

At any rate, after two weeks of “we got this”, here’s where we finally reach the “maybe we don’t got this” portion of the fight. It hasn’t gone bad yet, but it feels like it’s teetering on the edge of bad.

The main thing is that the lion’s share of our damage has gone onto the two biggest damage dealers, so if they drop, the rest of us don’t have the firepower to take the boss out ourselves. (And in fact, we can’t even SEE him.) Mo and Akiro are the big guns – we know this. Hirogi is pretty good when he lands Trick Attack, but if he doesn’t land that, his damage output becomes kind of ordinary. Rusty and Tuttle though are pretty much support characters. If we have to take something out… well, maybe we should just let Rusty try to talk us out of it at that point. Or swear loyalty to the Corpse Fleet and ask for Australia as the price for our help. (Sorry… Gene Hackman turned 90 recently, so he’s been on the brain.)

In a normal battle, we’ve found ways to spread that out a little so the enemy “wastes” some of their damage on me and Bob (another way in which CHDRR might have been useful – clogging lanes and soaking up attacks). Or at least it’s one Big Bad Squaring off against Mo and the rest of us chop down adds. In this combat, the three of us really haven’t been getting hit, except by the secondary damage (the acid sphere or standing too close together and getting caught in an Explosive Blast).

And that’s the other thing that stands out about this fight. There’s a lot of “extra” damage being brought to bear. Explosive Blast isn’t a lot of damage at this level, but it hits multiple targets. Basically the equivalent of endless grenades. The acid damage isn’t a lot of damage, except that it gives you a 10-point kicker even after you’ve moved out of it.

But the poster child for that is the Rewire Flesh spell. Again, 3d6 per round isn’t a huge amount of damage in any one roll. But it’s a nasty little bugger because it’s basically free fire-and-forget damage for double-digit rounds. There’s no action needed to sustain it. A save only halves it; nothing short of Dispel Magic negates it (and I wasn’t paying close attention to Chris’ rolls, but the save seemed like it was in the 15ish range). It’s internal damage, so any sort of externally-focused damage reduction is useless. So even if the “average” damage on the spell is only 11 or 12 points per round, that’s a constant drain while the caster can go on about his business casting other nastiness. To which Chris is also now more susceptible because he moves slower and is flat-footed. That spell didn’t really leap off the page when I first looked at it except that it had gnarly “flavor”… now, I’d be hard-pressed to roll a caster that DOESN’T take that.

And then there’s that other door. I hinted at doing so last session, but this time I really am going to go lock that thing. I have nothing guiding that decision beyond a) general symmetrical dungeon design, and b) the fact that we really can’t handle another round of adds. We have to start making a dent in the boss. Since we’ve already seen the admiral, the captain, and their Mister Worf (Gatecrasher), I don’t feel like there would be a boss-level monster in the other room, but even another helping of undead monks would arguably push us past our limits. If we’re not there already.

Now, as Seth points out, they might still be able to go back out into the main lobby and re-enter through one of the other doors, but… first things first. If it becomes a race to lock the other sets of doors, I think we can win that one because there’s two of us and we’d have the shorter route to the remaining inner doors.

I don’t know how I feel about Steve giving us such an overt hint about the See Invisibility ampule. There’s probably some absolute level where he probably shouldn’t have done that. If we didn’t study our characters well enough, that’s on us, and if we die… I guess we die. But I do think it’s worth mentioning that this fight was being recorded during the holidays, and there was a two or three-week break around Christmas. So it really was more than a month since we had gotten that piece of loot, so maybe the little hint was warranted. I suppose that’s for you as the listener to decide – cheesy or not? Though for the moment, it isn’t cheesy until we benefit from it.

As we end this week, the adds are down or pretty close to it. If I recall correctly, there’s still one undead monk that’s been hit for at least 100 or so damage, and there might still be a second add whose overall status I’m a little fuzzier on, but that’s it. If we can get those guys down and start working on the boss as a team, there’s still a window to win this. Not to metagame too overtly, but if he’s a caster, that should mean he has fewer hitpoints than your average Big Bad. But it’s going to be a race against time, 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!

Talking Plaguestone 29: Puke The Site From Oribit

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat: The Fall of Plaguestone, Episode 29: Here Comes The Drudge.

We start today with a bit of a show note. Last night was supposed to be a recording session for us, but things came unglued because of technical difficulties – like… three different things one right after the other. Clearly someone stole a monkey-god idol they weren’t supposed to, and we all ended up paying for it. IT’S THE CURRRRRSE! (Cut to a close shot of the idol, lit with ominous shadows, with tinkling discordant piano notes.)

And yet we still had a blast because we just sat around and BS’ed about stuff. (Well, it was less fun for Steve because he was mostly down in the electronic boiler room trying to fix things. But the rest of us had a grand old time.) The reason I’m mentioning this is to offer a little reminder that it can be fun to get your gaming group together for a non-gaming session every once in a while. The game tends to impose roles, which sometimes puts us in boxes. Most obviously it separates the GM from the rest of the table by placing them in the role of rule interpreter and captain of Team Monster, but even within a party, people can start to get a little locked into the roles they play in the group. The healer ends up subservient and follows the lead of other players; the face of the party tends to dominate conversations, things like that. Setting that aside and just enjoying each other’s company for an evening is the sort of thing that keeps a gaming group together over the long haul. I highly recommend it.

(Though I’ll also be honest: the new Fire Emblem Three Houses DLC dropped last night mid-session, and I was sorely tempted to feign some “technical difficulties” of my own and go play that. MUST MEET THE SEWER CHILDREN! But that’s a whole other blog. In answer to the obvious questions: “Golden Deer, even though I think Claude is kind of an asshat” and “Petra”.)

OK, uncharacteristically wholesome digression over… time to kick some alchemical drudge ass!

This was one of those fun fights because the acid pools created an element of challenge that was interesting without being overly punitive. Yes, the squares of acid made movement tricky – at one point, the board looked like a half-finished game of Minesweeper. But as long as you didn’t end your turn in one, there wasn’t any real consequence, so it mostly just involved planning your moves carefully.

For an example of “too punitive”, there’s a room in the Emerald Spire where it’s complete (magical) darkness AND difficult terrain, and you’re facing bad guys (orcs or kobolds or something – it’s a low-level encounter) who can see just fine. Some of whom are archers. So you’re wandering around bumping into stuff, hoping you find someone to attack, while they’re shooting you to pieces. That’s an example of being challenging without being particularly fun.

This also strikes me as a fight that really works because of the way Second Edition has limited attacks of opportunity and opened up the battlefield. Put this same fight in First Edition for a second. Then you’ve got pools of acid everywhere, but if you try and escape them too aggressively, you’re choosing between guaranteed acid damage or eating attacks of opportunity. So… “damage” or “also damage”, and we’re back to “challenging, but not fun”. But in Second Edition, it flows much better.

One interesting outcome was that the flow of combat put Prue on a bit of an island. When the fight first started and we didn’t know what the drudges could do, Prue decided to charge further into the room to get in the drudges’ faces. As you do when you’re a front-line fighter. Get in faces, beat ‘em down. But then the drudges started spitting acid, and the rest of us tended to retreat backwards whenever we were standing in acid. So eventually, we had a mini-lake of acid with Prue all by herself on one side and the rest of us on the other. Also, we kind of gave them control of the main choke-point on the battlefield, the doorway. Oops.

The other thing you might have noticed is it mostly took Ember out of the fight, but that a conscious decision on my part. Once I realized that movement was going to be a key component of the fight, it dawned on me that running out of moves and potentially leaving me or Ember standing in acid was probably a worse negative than the positive of any additional damage she could do. (Also, at least early in the fight, the doorway made a natural chokepoint and just getting her into the action was going to be difficult.) If things got dire, I would’ve brought her forward, but as long as we were in reasonable control of things, I figured I’d just let her sit this one out.

Cynically, I also enjoyed this fight because I didn’t get any of my rules wrong – I didn’t use Lay on Hands, and I got Liberating Step right (for the most part). Now to be fair, some of that came about because of Prue’s choice to run into the room: she was out of range of either of those effects, so I didn’t have a CHANCE to screw it up. But we may also be catching up to the point where we actually realized we were doing it wrong and started doing it correctly. Though having said I did it right, there might have been a lost opportunity to do it BETTER. Liberating Step also includes giving the ally a Step as a free-action: as I’m re-listening, I’m thinking there might have been opportunities to use that to not only block damage but to be more clever about moving people out of the acid. Ah well.

And then at the end of the fight, I had almost forgotten about The Leap. That was literally me being a knucklehead for the sake of using a feat that a) I had never used and b) my teammates had made fun of me for taking. So even though it was only 10’ of acid and I could’ve just run through it and ended my turn on the other side, I wanted to try my leap just to say I did it. The DC of the check was pretty low – single digits, I believe – but the universe being the Great Equalizer that it is, I fully expected to roll a Nat-1 and faceplant into the acid. If that had happened, I TOTALLY would’ve deserved it. But no… I finally get to be Brixley the Bullfrog.

And that’s where we end the episode. Drudges dispensed with, new areas to explore, and since this is more of a workshop area, this feels more like the right way to go to find Vilree. 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.

Talking Combat 122: Admiral on the Bridge

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 122: You’re Locked In Here With Me!

Well, we found the boss. Or, maybe more accurately, the boss found us.

Up to a point, this fight has been going pretty well. I didn’t like losing CHDRR so early, but he did almost 100 points of damage in his swan song, and we actually made pretty quick work of the initial force opposing us (Gatecrasher plus the two monks). Plus, it was a cool storytelling moment.

But… now we have a flying invisible caster to deal with, who’s basically Mirror Universe Akiro. Which is probably the one thing our group doesn’t have an easy fix for. Mo (in particular) is great at stand-up fights – if he can see it and hit it, he can kill it. But so far, Akiro is the only one who can actually see the Big Bad, as see invisibility only works on himself. As one of our listeners pointed out on Discord, we do have a see invisibility spell ampule (basically a potion) we got in the last fight, but for now, we don’t remember it (and I think it’s in Akiro’s possession anyway.. the one guy who doesn’t need it).

I’m going to at least partially plead scheduling on this bout of forgetfulness – at some point during this final fight, we broke for the holidays, and didn’t play for like 2 or 3 weeks. So part of it is as simple as we forgot about the ampule because of the long layover. And/or we got that ampule right at the end of the session when people were starting to mentally pack it in until next week – the “cool” treasure was the four items in the display cases, and the ampule just got overshadowed.

Interestingly, there’s a rules-lawyer I should’ve thought of but didn’t think of until I was re-listening later: the Stinkeye. Just as a reminder, Tuttle has temporary Sense Through Vision (basically X-ray vision) in one eye as an after-effect of using the Stitch Spider. At first I thought I could’ve pleaded that Tuttle might detect a difference in density – that his Sense Through was going through additional material in the spot the lich was in – that maybe might merit a chance to see the edges of the lich or something.

So I went back and read the text of the effect, and it’s actually blocked by “energy fields and sufficiently dense materials”. So, missed opportunity or not? It SPECIFICALLY mentions wall of force, so if I had used the Stinkeye, I would’ve actually seen the wall of force in a bit of reverse X-ray vision. More importantly, it’s also blocked by “force fields that grant temporary hit points”, so if that lich had any sort of shield on him, that might also have blocked my Stinkeye and given me… I don’t know, a lich-shaped negative-space outline? Or, would any of his other spells have tripped it? Granted, if I’d been able to see him, I still wouldn’t be able to do much except wimpy gun damage or chucking grenades at it, but it’d be better than nothing.

(Checked with Steve. He said no, the lich didn’t have a force field. So… wouldn’t have mattered. But I thought it was an interesting digression.)

Meanwhile… reinforcements arrive from the Ready Room, including the named vesk captain Mo has heard of. Again, not an insurmountable bunch, but it ratchets the challenge level up a notch or two, and we probably need to take care to split them up so they’re not all pounding on Mo. The real danger here is that paralysis effect – remember from the train station that paralysis = free coup de grace’s, and that could turn this fight into a shitshow in a hurry. Still, some good saving throws here, a timely crit there, and we’re still hanging in there.

Speaking of good saving throws, I snuck a look at the rewire flesh spell the boss cast, and it’s nasty stuff: 3d6 damage each round (save for half), flat-footed, half-speed, and a -2 penalty to DEX saves. And one round per level so… I dunno… 13, 14 rounds? If/when I get around to playing a Technomancer, I’m definitely grabbing that one.

The arrival of reinforcements from the back left also brings up the possibility that reinforcements could come from the back right door as well – hello, symmetrical “dungeon” construction! Depending on how the flow of the fight goes, I’m going to burn a round or two to run over to that door and try to seal it so bad guys either can’t go in at all, or AT LEAST have to go around the long way and give us a few more rounds to dispatch the current batch. I’ll wait to make sure Mo has things in hand, but sealing that door might be a more effective use of my time than a few rounds of Pew-Cubed.

This brings up a meta point about the blog itself. The next few episodes represent an interesting writing challenge because we begin and end in the same battle. Which is not to say there’s not interesting stuff in each segment, but there’s a potential for overlap and repeating things. There are going to be callbacks to previous parts of the fight, and there may even be a few places like this where I talk about strategy for future parts of the fight. No overt spoilers, but a little bit of “here’s what I was thinking of doing next at this point in the fight”. I just wanted to acknowledge that the blog will be a little fluid about episode boundaries, but I’ll try to avoid spoiling anything outright.

So we end Fight Night, Round Two in roughly the same place as before – pretty good shape on the adds, NO plan for dealing with the boss, unless Akiro can somehow solo him. If you want to delve into the metagame, greater invisibility lasts one round per level so if we wait him out and can stay alive… 13, 14 rounds… we might get a target to shoot at. But that’s easier said than done. Hope you’ll rejoin us next week – you stuck with us two years, don’t leave now! – and see how this goes. 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 final fight so far. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next week!

Talking Plaguestone 28: Uninvited Guests

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat: The Fall of Plaguestone, Episode 28: Halfling Trap Detector.

The theme of this week’s episode is time management.

In the course of “normal” adventuring, standard operating procedure tends to be to gather every scrap of information and pillage every piece of loot you can find. In First Edition and even Starfinder, we sometimes boil it down to the cynical and meta-gamey “we search the room until we find whatever we’re supposed to find”, “Grayhawk the room”. Even earlier in this adventure (the Hallod fight, for instance), we were doing a bit of that. What fun is being an adventurer if you’re not getting paid?

This particular week, it’s a little harder to do that because there’s a lot of… stuff… pushing us toward trying to resolve things quickly. First, we’ve got the lone archer who survived the courtyard battle – I don’t think that’s Vilree, since it’s unlikely an alchemist would ALSO be a great archer, but it is someone who could return any time with reinforcements. Next, there’s the homunculus who should have a telepathic connection with Vilree, so it’s a pretty safe bet she knows we’re here now. And then toward the end of this session, we get the ominous diary entry claiming the final preparations for Plaguestone’s destruction are already underway. Like I said, there’s a lot pushing us to keep moving forward.

As such, I think we may have missed a few things. It’s one of those things I didn’t really pick up on when we were playing, but when we first entered the “living room” (but before we found the kitchen), Steve described one of the bookshelves as being full of “scrolls” and “exotic objects”. Or maybe “esoteric”… it was definitely an E-word that sounded promising and vaguely magical. That sounds like it could’ve been either been magic items, something that related to Vilree’s plot, or both, but I don’t think we ever came back around to searching that shelf because we were kind of in “keep it moving” mode.

The running clock does seem to be a bit of a signature Paizo move; it shows up a lot. Ironically, our Starfinder game is also in a running-clock section at the exact same time. That scenario (in case you’re only listening to this show) is that we have to disable the enemy starship before they capture the Doomsday MacGuffin – the ship is fighting its way through the outer defenses, and we have to stop them before they get to the destination. We have access to the ship’s computer so we have a rough idea of how the battle is going and how much time we have left, so… another running clock.

Sometimes the running clock is more on the order of weeks, just to keep the adventure from going completely sideways. You don’t really have to rush an individual encounter, but it does keep you from spending a week crafting or something. I suppose “the judge gets here at the end of the month” was the thing that kept us moving on investigating Bort’s murder in the first half of the adventure. But toward the end of adventure paths (like this), it’s on the order of hours, and the goal is to explicitly force the party to finish an area without taking long rests. It sometimes feels a little contrived, but at least it provides an in-story reason for it, rather than arbitrarily saying “you can’t rest here” like one of those isometric 90s-era video games.

I do think a secondary reason we’ve been getting sloppy about loot is that the “loot table” for this adventure is tilted pretty heavy toward alchemy. I feel a little guilty complaining, considering I’m the one person in the party with martial weapons training who can throw bombs the best, but still… personally I’d be more excited to search some of these bodies if there was going to be a sword of a shield. But nope… MORE POTIONS. I suppose there was that orc with the club, but I’m not sure I could live down the sheer physical imagery of Brixley swinging a club that’s taller than he is.

I don’t have a strong reaction to the homunculus encounter. On one hand, it feels a little unsatisfying like maybe we should’ve done something other than just lock it in the kitchen. But it doesn’t sound like we could talk to it, and I’m not sure fighting it would’ve been worth the time and resources, so what else was there, really? I don’t know: it just feels like some sort of thread was left dangling there, but I can’t put a finger on a better idea.

The other thing we get a closer look at this week is hazards and lock picking. I vaguely recall Cade trying to do a lock earlier in the adventure, but I think he only had one pick and broke it, and Prue ended up using strength to force it open. This time we get a closer look at the process. I have to admit, even though it’s a bit more challenging, I like the multi-step approach to locks and hazards – it always seemed kind of anti-climactic to just resolve it in a single roll (“oh look, a trap”… [roll]… “oh look, no more trap”); with this approach, there’s some anticipation involved. Makes the job of a rogue (or other trap-disabler) a little more fun.

As we reach the end of this episode, that journal entry is picking at my brain pretty hard. What if we’ve ALREADY taken too long? What if Spite’s Cradle served its purpose and Vilree has already gone… back to Plaguestone even? What if the orcs were just left behind to tie us up while she finishes the job? Or, Vilree’s previous shenanigans have involved tampering with the water supply… what if whatever’s going to kill Plaguestone has already been deployed into the water supply and there’s nothing we can do? What if we get back there and everyone’s dead?

(And by the way, I’ve still got that 2% conspiracy theory that the archer is Noala. She keeps disappearing to “clear the perimeter”… maybe she’s really one of Vilree’s henchmen and she keeps leading us into traps. Haven’t totally let go of that one either.)

So we get the living quarters cleared, and now it’s time to head into the more functional area of the keep. We’ve got some fountains (that nagging doubt about the water supply just kicked into overdrive), and that’s pretty much where we leave things for next week. While you’re waiting, feel free to drop by the Discord channel or other social media and let us know what you think of the show; always lots of good stuff happening there. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next week.