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Talking Tales: Tale 5, Chapter 2, Why Did It Have To Be Snakes?

Jason recaps the events from The Black Lodge Tale 5, Chapter 2: Sea Monster Sushi.

Welcome to Part 2 of the PaizoCon special episode. There’s a certain serendipity – planned or not – in running our previous “convention” episode at the same time GenCon is also going on. Though it’s also a little confusing and I fully admit I started typing “GenCon” and changed it to “PaizoCon” as I was writing the intro.

For the record, I’m not ignoring Steve’s announcement about the new adventure… I just figured I’d wait until there’s more to report. Also, because of scheduling snafus, we haven’t actually started playing it yet, so there isn’t even much to drop vague hints about yet. To quote Mister Incredible: WE’LL GET THERE WHEN WE GET THERE.

We resume action in the aftermath of stepping on to the sunken ship and into the waiting pseudo-pods of the mold – though I managed to avoid that particular fiasco by hanging back. I knew SOMETHING was going to happen, but I assumed it would be a more conventional ambush, rather than mold. So everyone else gets to deal with the virtual ConCrud, while I gingerly clear the decks with fire. (Lest I be portrayed as a coward, I’m pretty sure one of either Vortaris or Nixnox didn’t go on the enemy ship at all, but I can’t remember which one.)

Once that’s all subsided, we do a little search of the ship looking for the gorget and figure out it’s below decks. Which are… (wait for it)… UNDER WATER. Of course they are. Needless to say, John is ecstatic that his underwater combat feat might prove to be useful, while Nixnox’s already-evident frustration at another water-based adventure escalates to full-fledged panic. Our strong swimmers investigate, and the corpse we need turns out to be wedged in the jaws of a sea beastie.

Again, here’s where I expected an ambush. Part of it is that Pathfinder Quests are short, so you expect something to happen quickly, but I fully expected that the creature was going to be the fight… that it was just taking a nap or had gotten stuck when the ship went down and was going to conveniently wake up when we started tugging the corpse loose. Well, it turns out the folks at Paizo aren’t QUITE that devious – it’s just a skill challenge to get the body out before you drown. But still, that’s an effective little challenge as is – Thorgrim is the only officially “strong” person in the party, and holding one’s breath underwater got a lot harder between editions.

Quick rules digression, which we sort of explained but sort of didn’t: In First Edition, you could hold your breath underwater for a number of rounds equal to your Constitution SCORE. Now it’s 5 rounds plus your Con MODIFIER. So it went from something that’s likely to be well over a minute even for an average person to “over 30 seconds is pretty exceptional”. Arguably that’s more realistic: it’s actually pretty hard to hold your breath in deep water, especially if you’re thrashing around exerting yourself. But still, it’s a bit of an adjustment. It’ll especially be interesting to see how that plays out in underwater combat situations, if (when) those ever arise.

Who am I kidding? We’ve had water adventures almost every time. Of course, we’ll have to deal with that at some point.

Now here’s where being Level 3 would’ve been enormously useful. If I was Level 3, I’d have the upgrade to the Level 2 version of Wild Shape, which gives me “real” forms including a shark form. At that point, I could’ve Wild Shaped into a shark and either tugged at the corpse or eaten away at the creature (gross… yes… but possibly effective) until the sailor’s remains broke free. But since I’m still on the starter version, I can only turn into small creatures, which didn’t really offer much help here. Level 1 Wild Shape is mostly for roleplay flavor, maybe a little bit of recon work (though even that’s limited by the fairly short duration).

So Peepers and Thorgrim get the actual job of freeing our target, and Nella and her unimpressive strength are mostly there for moral support and casting Light. At first, it looks like we might end up with some drowning victims, but they finally get the body free and we’re able to drag it back to the dry part of the ship.

And then, as we’re bringing our spoils back… THAT’S when all hell breaks loose.

I have to admit, at first, I was still thinking it was going to be a BIG sea serpent – perhaps the one in the basement of the wreckage had a sibling. Or my other thought was kraken-esque tentacles – that we’d never see the actual creature, just fight off a few Grabby Boys Of The Deep. But I suppose either of those would’ve been creatures WAY outside our challenge level, so what we actually got were more ordinary-sized sea serpents. Now, they weren’t trivial – they had a charge attack, and they could also use the water to move around and attack from unexpected angles. Basically, as the front-line fighters charged all the way over to the port-side rail, one of the serpents went underneath the ship and came up in the middle of our back line. Oops. I suppose we could quibble about animal-level creatures using advanced tactics, but whatever. Made for a more exciting encounter.

Fortunately, the snakes were not that tough in terms of defenses – nothing special on armor class or hit points – and we were able to make fairly quick work of them and secure victory. And Vortaris even got the death blow and some sweet lovin’ from the captain of the ship. Good for you, Vortaris! Hope that doesn’t mean he just recruited an admiral for his eventual Fleet of the Damned when he goes full lich…

And hey, we finished on time! See we can do it when we put our minds to it.

So that’s our PaizoCon romp in a nutshell. As usual, Erik Mona was lots of fun to play with: Vortaris continues to crack me up as a character, and I hope we get to see him again down the road. But it’s also fun having the live audience to interact with – we get a little bit of that with our Patreon subscriber channel, but nowhere near to the scale of a convention appearance. It’s gratifying to see hundreds of people listening in and following along live… even if they do mostly vote for Mr. Peepers and continue to encourage his impulsive streaks. Makes for good listening, I suppose.

Next week, we return with a new adventure (back in “the studio”) with a new special guest, so I hope you’ll join us for that. I won’t spoiler anything, except to say it’s going to be an actual adventure and not a quest, so expect it to unfold on more of a 4-6 episode timeline. As always, 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 back here next week.

Talking Tales: Tale 5, Chapter 1, The People Have Spoken

Jason recaps the events from The Black Lodge Tale 5, Chapter 1: Water Water Everywhere.

This week’s Talking (and probably next’s) is going to be a bit weird just because of the circumstances… it’s a review of a live show some of you have already heard live, so I’m more self-conscious than usual about telling you things you might already know.

I suppose I’ll start by pulling back the curtain a little on the pre-game, and get into what, if anything, is different about doing a totally live show like this? I think there are two major things, and they’re both fairly positive changes.

First, when you’re in a live setting like this, you’re very aware of being “on the clock”. You’ve got a window you’re supposed to fit the show into (even if there was no one on after us, you still have to expect that some people planned for three hours and might need to bail when the clock hits 3:01), and you also know in the back of your head that Steve can’t go back and take out the dead spots and make you sound more interesting than you are. (Take a starting-to-be-tedious 15 minutes of discussion and boil it down to a tolerable 8 or 9). So some of the Paralysis By Analysis and 10-minute rulebook digressions tend to fall by the wayside. For our group, that’s huge.

The other is: I can’t speak for anyone else, but when I see comments flying by in the chat and other indications of a live audience, I’m much more aware of the need to “entertain” with my character choices. In a normal session, where maybe we have a couple of people on the Patreon chat, it’s not like I don’t care AT ALL, but I do tend to play tactically first and foremost. Fairly by-the-book, make the “right” decision whether it makes for good podcasting or not. In a setting like this, I tend to open things up a little more and do the thing that will make things happen – good, bad, or indifferent.

I have to admit Erik Mona gave a fantastic summary of the previous adventure… we probably do need to hire him to recap all our adventurers as Vortaris. That said, I ended up finding the chronology a little hard to keep straight in my brain – at the time we recorded this, we had played the first Vortaris adventure, but it hadn’t “aired” yet. So he had to summarize that one, but without actually spoiling anything major. So we’re talking about that one in the future tense, but also in the past tense, and frankly, my brain started to overheat trying to figure it all out. It was like that one scene in Spaceballs when they were watching the VHS tape of their own movie. “So when’s it going to be now?

I know it’s probably unrealistic given Erik’s busy schedule, but I find myself hoping we get to see more of Vortaris down the road. I find there’s “different” in a way that’s interesting and “different” in a way that’s just annoying or contrarian – “I’m just going to mess with other people in the name of ‘roleplaying’ my character” – and I think Erik has a good feel for where that line is.  Or… I was only half kidding: maybe Vortaris can be the villain of an adventure down the road once he assembles his undead army.

So the adventure begins with a mission debrief and then we’re off on the high seas (yet again – poor Nixnox). As with a lot of these Society adventurers, the game starts with a low-stakes social interaction, in the form of the card game. That tends to be a by-design feature. If you think about the role Society occupies, you figure these get played pretty often at conventions, sometimes with tables full of strangers. Jumping right into battle before you know who’s a grizzled veteran and who’s sitting down at a table for the first time might get people killed, so you give them a non-lethal activity to get to know each other first.

Two things – other than John’s supernaturally good luck — struck me about the dice game in hindsight. First, he figures it out right at the end, but Chris spent most of the game misunderstanding the rules – he was thinking you just had to get 12 or over when it had to be EXACTLY 12. So he was going aggressive and making bigger bets than the odds warranted because he thought any suitably high enough third roll would be a winner. Right at the end, he figures it out, but… oops. The second thing I noticed is that if you didn’t win on the opening roll, a 6 was the sweet spot for the first roll because it gives you two outs on the third die – a 1 gives you 7 and a 6 gives you 12. Any other roll would only leave you with 1 win condition – a 2-5 could go for 7 but not 12; a 7-11 could go for 12 but already overshot 7.

After the dice game, we get our first real test, and it’s a skills challenge. The bad news for Nella is that none of the things she could be doing are things she’s all that good at. A 14 DEX means a +2 for Acrobatics, but that’s canceled out by her armor penalty. Fortunately, though, Nat 20 saves the day!

The dynamic of having the crowd vote on things is something new we tried this time out, and it ended up being kind of fun way to introduce some randomness into the situation. I’m not sure I would want the vox populi deciding on anything that was truly life or death, but for something silly like the card game or even the storm, it adds a nice little dimension to things. It does tend to reward the players who play… flamboyantly?… so at least early on, I wasn’t getting many votes because Peepers and Vortaris were getting the lion’s share of the positive attention, but those are the breaks. File it away as a learning opportunity for next time. WIN THE CROWD, MAXIMUS!

As we end the first half of the adventure, we roll up to the shipwreck that’s the destination of our mission. I don’t know about anyone else, but I felt like it had “trap” written all over it, which is why I decided to hang back a little when the boarding party went aboard. And sure enough… MOLD. I was expecting something more humanoid, but that’s certainly an option.

And that’s where we’ll pick it up next week. Thanks for listening (potentially TWICE in this case) and we’ll see you next week.

Talking Tales: Tale 4, Chapter 3, Last-Call Free-For-All

Jason recaps the events from The Black Lodge Tale 4, Chapter 3: New Spell Who Dis?

I start this week with a bit of personal but game-related news.

Back when the pandemic hit, our Dads-N-Kids game pretty much went on hold, and (without putting other people’s business in the street) a couple of the people had bigger fish to fry in their quarantine situations, so we didn’t try and take it online or anything. It’s just on hiatus for now.

So… I’m intrigued to learn that thanks to COVID-induced isolation, my son and his friends from school decided to try their hand playing D&D online, completely unprompted by me. (Yes, D&D. They’re doing 5E because that’s the system the kid who’s GM-ing knows). I figured even though we’ve been doing the online gaming thing for years, I’d resist the urge to helicopter-parent and leave them to figure it out for themselves unless The Boy specifically asks how to do things. So in an interesting bit of happenstance, they’ll probably be conducting their Session Zero by the time you read this.

I’m very pleased to have raised a second-generation gamer; having said all of the above, if they start a competing podcast, I’m dropping his ass off at the bus station.

At any rate… back to the conclusion of this “short” adventure. (And yes, I love how that got the biggest laugh of the entire session.) As we begin, I think we have 3 or 4 “real” enemies, and then I think we’ve only pacified one section, so most sections also have “general mayhem” to deal with. Two of our party (Nixnox and Vortaris) have decided on the “run and hide” strategy, leaving three of us to handle most of the fighting. And they’ve been getting pretty lucky with their rolls on Thorgrim in particular, so despite their low levels, they’ve put some decent damage on us.

What Steve said about the party being split up was mostly true, except maybe for me and John – we were generally no more than 10 or 15 feet from each other at any given point. If you look at the bar as a clock (with two “extra” sections that we never entered sticking out the top of it), John and I were basically bunched up where the hands were at twelve o’clock, Thorgrim was off around 10 or 10:30, Nixnox was down around 8, and Vortaris bee-lined out of the bar along the 3:00 line.

The interesting dynamic for John and I is that we were fighting around the boundary of three different sections, so depending on where the flow of combat took us in any given round, we’d quite often be fighting in different sections. And tactics magnified that: Peepers just tended to get the nearest enemy’s face regardless of what the underlying section conditions were, whereas unless someone forced the issue, I tried to use ranged attacks and stay in the safe section(s) as long as possible. If I moved at all, it was generally in the direction of the door. Later, once the fight was a little more under control, I tried to start pacifying sections to create a way out for Thorgrim and Nixnox, but early on, I was content to play it safe.

Speaking of which, I know John got annoyed at me for using my heal on Chris and not him, but there was a method to my madness. First, Chris had taken more damage – he was in “one more good hit” territory, whereas John was only about halfway down. Second and more importantly, Thorgrim was deeper into the room, so if he dropped, we’d have to go further in to retrieve him, whereas if John dropped, I could battle medicine him the very next time my turn came up. Also, fog of war, I wasn’t sure whether Thorgrim or Nixnox had the document at that point, but if there was a chance Chris had it, I wanted to keep him on his feet.

Arguably the highlight of the session – and I have to admit I forgot it happened – was Vortaris pacifying one of the sections (the front door area, basically) while in rat form. I like to think all these drunken rough-and-tumble pirates were secretly terrified of rats, and the mere sight of one caused them to flee in panic like elephants anecdotally do. (At least that’s what happens in old Warner Brothers cartoons, and we know those are completely accurate, right?)

If you want to get technical, Steve probably shaved a few rounds off the end, but it would have been busy-work at best – there were no more active enemies, and there was a pacified path to the door for all five of us. It really would’ve amounted to us either crawling really slowly out the door three actions at a time, or making a bunch of Dex rolls to avoid slipping. Nixnox in particular would’ve faced a LONG slog over slippery floors to get out. I’m not sure that would’ve added much entertainment value to the show, so… moving along.

I suppose the big development of the postgame is FINALLY succeeding in an Earn Income check! Nella’s Nature Tours finally turns a profit! I went into the session fully intending to hold the line – I wasn’t going to let myself be humiliated again for 2 days’ worth of copper. But somewhere during the course of it, I figured it was a win-win from a show standpoint – either the running gag continues or I finally break the streak, whereas nothing happens if I just go to the bar and wait for the story to be over. So I decided to go ahead and roll, and there you go. I did it for you, the fans.

So where do we go from here? As Steve said, we have two in the can, but one of those is the live show from PaizoCon. On one hand, it would seamlessly continue the Vortaris Chronicles and it might be nice to present a cleaned-up, properly-edited version of that one; on the other hand, I assume some of you listened to that one live already so it would be a couple of weeks of already know what’s going to happen. Or we could go with the NEW-new show, but that’s a full adventure, not a quest, so that’s another 4-6 episodes.

I’ll leave you all to think on that until next week. While you’re thinking, feel free to duck into Discord and check out the ongoing general mayhem. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next week.

Talking Tales: Tale 4, Chapter 2, The Beer Barrel Poke-Ya

Jason recaps the events from The Black Lodge Tale 4, Chapter 2: Potent Potables.

When doing these columns, sometimes there is a Big Overarching Theme that manages to suck up 1000 words all on its own. Other times, it’s more of a grab-bag of loose thoughts… I’d be showing my age to compare it to Larry King, but there you have it. This week’s column is more the latter – lots of little things struck me as kinda-sorta interesting, but nothing really jumped out as urgent business.

First things first: I swear I didn’t give Voltaris a gold piece to suck up to the Paizo Muckety-Muck. Promise. Though that’s not to say it was a move without cynicism… just a different brand of cynicism. I was more worried that if the negotiations bogged down with the harbormaster, our usual brand of paralysis by analysis might kick in and we might spend 20 minutes debating how to NOT pay the harbormaster. You already saw hints of it with John debating whether to steal our money back. So… screw it, I decided to cough up a gold to keep the game moving along. And OK, roleplaying-wise, maybe a little benevolence at hitting Level 2 and feeling sorry for the character on his very first adventure. Now, if Erik Mona happens to remember this kindness at some later date, well, that’s just an added bonus.

So we find the pirate captain without much trouble, and we get our first special surprise of the evening: the return of Old Woody! Yeah, OId Woody is part alcoholic beverage, part potion, part Class 6 and/or 8 hazardous material that’s been part of our game since the pre-podcast days, and usually I am its most willing victim. In its pure form, it has medium-duration (a few days) or even permanent effects, but I assume that probably wouldn’t fly for a Society game, so we’re dealing with some black market knock-off version that just knocks you on your ass a little if you crit-fail… which of course I do. In one of those “I forgot I said it the first time, and actually laughed at my own joke listening to the second time”, I was highly amused at the idea that Nella would briefly turn back into a duck before passing out. “IT’S GOLD, JERRY. GOLD.”

I would observe that if the roll was a little closer, maybe my newfound poison resistance might have made a difference, but when you miss by THAT much… nope. I don’t think it was a Nat 1, but I don’t remember the base die roll being more than a 4.

As far as trying to cheat during the darts game by casting Guidance, I figured that was a calculated risk, but worth a shot. I somehow didn’t envision her trying to kill us or refusing to sign the treaty just because we fooled around on the final shot, and if she had, I would’ve been willing to do the groveling apology to keep the Pathfinders in the good graces. That said, I did get Survival (+8) and Stealth (+0) confused, so I wasn’t NEARLY as sneaky as I thought. So that’s an “oops” on my part. Fortunately, I gauged her (or Steve’s) response correctly, and she was basically cool with it.

But then, just to mess with us, she goes and starts a bar-room brawl… the meat of the scenario… and disappears, leaving us to fend for ourselves in the world’s worst rendition of Margaritaville. Yay!

It’s an interesting fight for multiple reasons, but the main reason is the fairly malleable definition of “non-lethal” combat. I mean, when you’ve got pirates pulling knives in round 1 and using 3d6 Hydraulic Push spells… that’s a pretty creative definition of “non-lethal”. Now, for my personal roleplay, I decide (at least to start the fight) that I’m going to still play it by the rules and formally attack with non-lethal damage, incurring the -2 penalty to hit – it just feels like the right thing to do. But after the second straight time where the -2 costs me a hit… at the risk of spoiling next week’s episode, I think I do eventually say “screw it” and hit for full effect at some point.

I’d also like to say Hydraulic Push may have to be added to my arsenal at some future point – if not for Nella, then at least for the next caster class I create. I have to go back and refresh my memory on how swapping out spells works, but that’s pretty powerful for a Level 1 spell. I WANT! Then again, at Level 3, I get access to second-level spells, and there’s probably something even cooler than Hydraulic Push on that list. But there was a moment where I sat in grim silence staring daggers at the words “Feather Fall” on my character sheet. Not gonna lie.

Looking briefly at the rest of the party, Chris’ problem is one of logistics – the good news is he decided to be brave and Champion-y; the bad news is he ran away from the exit and some of the other pirates filled in his escape route, so he’s going to have a bit of a struggle getting out again. (There’s a theoretical exit on the other side, but it opens on the water, so you probably don’t want a plate-clad dwarf jumping overboard.) Peepers ran the right way; he’s just feeling generally aggrieved at being attacked at all. Meanwhile, Nixnox and Vortaris are conducting their own two-person hide-and-seek competition. They’re both getting involved here and there – Nixnox manages to successfully intimidate one of the “general throng” areas into submission, and Vortaris casts that Agony spell – but the fact that they’re in hiding means it will probably be three of us soaking up most of the hits in the short term.

And then there’s the dynamics of the “battlefield” itself. First, the bar is basically broken into six sections; some of the section boundaries are open and you can move freely between sections, but a few are actually hard walls with specific doorways between the areas. I should also mention that if we’re JUST focused on getting to the exit, the door is in the southeast corner, meaning there are two sections to the furthest north we should be able to avoid entirely unless we specifically need to choose a new escape route or unless fighter reinforcements show up from there. Each section has “general mayhem” going on, except in the section Nixnox pacified. The general mayhem takes the form of a single “attack” if you’re in the area – being hit by a bottle or a stray punch or something – and later in the episode, we get a keg spilled which creates slippery conditions. In some ways, that might end up being more of a challenge than the actual melee, since you either have to five-foot step (aka Step) your way through or risk falling prone if you try to move through at normal speed.

So that’s what we’re facing as we end the first episode. We’re mostly doing OK, though Thorgrim managed to box himself into a bit of a corner, and even with his high armor class, they’re still landing a few hits on him. At some point, we’ll have to decide if we need to switch from everyone for themselves to “rescue the dwarf”. But that’s where we’ll pick it up next week. 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 week.

Talking Tales: Tale 4, Chapter 1, The Old Man And The Sea

Jason recaps the events from The Black Lodge Tale 4, Chapter 1: Call Me Old Man.

We’re breaking new ground on Black Lodge this week!

First and foremost, the core group finally makes it to Level 2. To be fair, you generally don’t get a lot of big changes at Level 2 – a class feat, a skill feat, an extra spell slot if you’re a caster – but the extra hit points alone make you a little less squishy and it feels a little safer out there.

In Nella’s case, I was not kidding when I said I took Poison Resistance largely because of the Three-Ring Adventure show. One thing we’re learning about Second Edition, in general, is that status effects have the potential to be MUCH more painful than they were in First Edition, so I’ll take that over… going back and getting a leshy familiar or something like that. (The other choices were nothing special.) Specifically, Poison Resistance gives +1 to my save against all poison effects, and DR equal to half my level against poisons. For the skill feat, I went with Battle Medicine… all the cool kids are doing it, but in particular, I wanted to beef up my healing skills since that seems to be the role I’m headed toward. And for my spell slot, I went with Feather Fall just because I wanted to grab some utility spells and not just be all damage, all the time. I would like to eventually add a second damage TYPE because some things are immune to fire, or maybe some AoE damage, but I’m willing to wait on that until next Level when Level 2 spells open up.

(The full endgame plan? Turn into an elemental. ALL THE TIME. My First Edition druid was nicknamed “Windy” because he spent just about EVERY fight in Air Elemental form.)

The other new ground is that this is this group’s first exposure to Quests. (John did a Quest with Mister Peepers WAAAAAAAY back when 2E first released, and I think Chris MAY have played that one as a different character.) If you think of a normal Society scenario as a 3-4 hour session, a quest should be able to be knocked out in an hour or so. Which… because we’re a living embodiment of the Mattress Salesman sketch from Monty Python… means we take 9-10 hours to do a full Scenario and 3-4 hours to do a Quest. Can we at least get credit for being predictable in our slowness?

Again, I think I’ve said this before, but it’s not like we TRY to drag things out. At least not entirely. I will plead guilty (on the group’s behalf) to a tendency to over-analyze things, particularly in the planning stage. But I also think the online format slows things down a little over playing in person, and I’ve felt this since even before we started doing the podcast. I can’t say I’ve studied it in any formal way, but I think the tools impose a level of forced queuing that diminishes or disappears entirely when you have live people sitting at a table. It’s like… you take those pauses where Steve has to process the die roll and maybe make an adjustment, where in person, it would all be happening on the fly and the next player would already have the dice in their hand. That’s my theory anyway.

We also have a new special guest… Erik Mona… who we’ve never had at our table before! I’m excited, but it’s less about the fact that he’s a Paizo Bigwig™ (though it’s also nice when people from Paizo share their time with us), but more about having a fresh face in the mix. If you count the pre-podcast days, we’ve been playing together for over a decade; you start to know each other’s mannerisms a little too well and dynamics can become a little set in their ways. Though… OK, I’m at least a LITTLE impressed that his Society number is “2”. Mine’s somewhere north of 30,000.

We don’t really get too far into the adventure in this first session, so there’s not much plot to discuss. It’s more about meeting Vortaris and getting to the destination, with a little treasure hunting on the sandbar to pass the time in between. Vortaris’ backstory is pretty intriguing… someone who’s clearly had some trouble in life, and is just now deciding to become an adventurer in his 80s? It’s actually a bit of a shame we’re (probably) only going to have this one adventure to get to know him better. Also… I’m totally digging Erik’s Old Man Voice.

In getting out to the island, the one rules question I wanted to dig into a little is the Wild Shape rules. I think the thing that’s been confusing me a little bit is that aerial forms are explicitly called out as a separate skill that has to be unlocked separately, but swimming forms are not. But then again, at least for Pest Form, the example animals listed were all land creatures – “cat, insect, lizard, or rat”. I tend to be a “when in doubt, go by the text” person, so I interpreted that to mean aquatic forms weren’t allowed. But then again when you get to the regular Wild Shape, turning into a shark IS an option. So was I assuming too much and swim forms are cool or do you not get those until Level 3? I guess Steve’s interpretation is that they’re OK, so that’s what we’ll go with. But… I’d rather be a duck than a fish… mostly so I can ruin the mood with quacking noises.

I suppose the one brief development that popped up is when the dwarf operating our boat jumped overboard. At first, I very briefly thought this was part of a double-cross where they were going to have pirates attack us at sea or something. But then it turns out she’s just Manic Pixie Dream Dwarf and likes randomly jumping out of the boat to catch fish. Crisis averted!

So we cruise into Port Peril unscathed, and it’s time to get serious about our mission… Clearly, if the words “Pub Crawl” are right in the title, that probably means some drinking’s happening, which means that poison resistance will come in handy. But that’s basically where we’ll have to pick it up next week. 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.

Talking Tales: Tale 3, Chapter 6, The Floor is Lava

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

We win!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And we’ll look at that next week with a new adventure and a new special guest. While you’re waiting, feel free to drop by our Discord channel or other social media and let us know what you think of the show. Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next week.

Talking Tales: Tale 3, Chapter 5, Friend Of The Devil

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But then negotiations break down as Thorgrim remembers he’s Lawful Good and doesn’t make deals with devils, and the inevitable final fight is on. And next week we’ll find out if the team survives to make it to Level 2. While you’re waiting for next week, drop by our Discord channel or other social media and let us know what you think of the show. Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next week.

Talking Tales: Tale 3, Chapter 4, The Not-So-Great Divide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Talking Tales: Tale 3, Chapter 3, Koboldly Go Where No One Has Gone Before

Jason recaps the events from The Black Lodge Tale 3, Chapter 3: Sewer Dragons.

It’s going to be a bit of a tough one to write this week because once again, we have an episode that’s basically one battle and a fairly easy one at that. I mean… it’s kobolds, which are pretty much THE definitive cannon-fodder RPG race. Especially now that Paizo went and made goblins into good guys. (grumble grumble)

So much like last week, this is a fight that looked like it might be tough for two seconds based on numbers (there were five or six of them), but once we started swinging weapons in earnest, they could rarely hit us and they didn’t have much in the way of hit points, so it never really felt like we were in much danger. Unless they got lucky with a crit, of course. Arguably Seth and John dragged it out longer with their varying brands of silliness – Seth trying to intimidate rather than trying to kill, and Peepers Being Peepers and almost falling into a pit in the process.

Speaking of which, I was glad we slowed down and got that ruling right on Grab An Edge because it seems like it would be a fairly useless action otherwise. Yeah, it also mitigates 20 feet of a longer fall, but the real value is not falling at all. Of course, you fall 80 or 100 feet before Grabbing an Edge, you’re probably still going to die (see also: Dirk The Daring on the falling platform area in Dragon’s Lair). The thing I found interesting is that you don’t technically have to have a hand free – you can use a weapon or other suitable object to stop your fall. (Also note, on a Critical fail, you take all the normal falling damage you would’ve taken AND also take additional bludgeoning damage – I guess in trying to grab the edge, you get hit by other rocks and outcroppings or something.)

I’ll admit it was also kind of funny that John failed the roll to climb back out and had to hero point it. It’s not exactly that I laugh at his misfortune… more like “it makes the battlefield more interesting when things like that happen”. Though OK, maybe just a little bit of schadenfreude based on the natural consequence of his playing Peepers the way he does – if he had just advanced on the kobolds instead of screwing around in the opposite corner of the room, that wouldn’t have happened in the first place. PEEPERS!

As long as we’re on rules clarifications: somehow we made it all through Plaguestone without explicitly realizing that Detect Magic can exclude magic on the party members, so that’s a good thing to know too. I think we always kinda suspected it, but since we didn’t have a lot of magic items in that campaign (other than potions), it never explicitly came up. Note that this doesn’t change the dynamics of the “Celes Maneuver” – Detect Magic still doesn’t pinpoint the magic item and you still have to search the area, so creeping up on it in 5-foot increments is still a valid way to narrow things down. But the silliness of having to move your party-mates to the other side of the room can go away.

Unless, of course, your party-mates are holding out and carrying magic items on them that they’re not disclosing to the rest of the party. Note to self: for anything-goes paranoid campaigns, use Detect Magic on the rogue periodically – if they stole something you don’t know about, it would set off the spell. Theoretically. (Of course, in Society play, nobody should be doing that anyway because people can’t play evil characters and you don’t get to keep magic loot anyway.)

The other thing that stands out about this episode is the Clerks-reminiscent digression about whether the traditional RPG adventure party can truly call themselves “good guys” when they invade other creatures’ homes, kill them, and steal all their stuff. Now, at least for adventure paths, Paizo usually gets around this by having some prior evil act read into the record to set the stage. (Usually the murder of a dwarf.) So that by investigating the Bad Thing, you are already adopting the role of the Good Guys, and everything else just follows from that. On the other hand, a lot of these Society games tend to be for smaller stakes, so they don’t have that big Call To Action that establishes moral clarity. In this case… the skeletons are fair game because you always kill undead, but there’s no real evidence the kobolds are harming townsfolk – they’re just squatting on a piece of property that doesn’t belong to them. There aren’t that many fantasy blockbusters that revolve around landlord-tenant disputes. (Begins writing first-draft manuscript for Harry Potter And The Malevolent Homeowners’ Association.)

The one combat note here is we finally got our first real taste of the new, more powerful Level 2 Millicent and her Katana of Doom. The first battle went by a little quick, so we didn’t really get to see her shine. This time, we got Attacks of Opportunity, crazy damage – just a buzzsaw of death and destruction. I’m not gonna lie – it’s at least put it in the back of my brain to have Nella dip into fighter so she could also be a katana-wielding badass. Though doing a quick scan of the archetype rules, it looks like I wouldn’t be able to get Attacks of Opportunity until Level 4. And you can’t apply Shillelagh to a katana… so, maybe not.

The exploration continues, we make our way up to the next level of the tower, and we draw to a close facing a bit of a puzzle chamber – magic runes of different colors all over the floor leading up to the next level. I mean… “don’t step on the runes” seems like a fairly obvious plan, doesn’t it? NOTHING GOOD EVER HAPPENS WHEN YOU STEP ON MAGIC RUNES. But we’ll have to wait until next week to see how that all unfolds. While waiting for next week, 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 Tales: Tale 3, Chapter 2, Hit It And Quit It

Jason recaps the events from The Black Lodge Tale 3, Chapter 2: Green Light Kid!

Sorry this is a little late but I’ve just been out of it the last few days because of the state of the country and all the protests going on and it was hard to get psyched up to write about what felt (comparatively) like a silly little make-believe session. And it still is a little. The session we recorded last night… spoiler alert: in a few weeks, when you hear it, you’re going to get a fairly zombified version of Nella because I didn’t want to cancel once everything had been scheduled, but I was definitely not feeling it knowing protesters and cops were going at it 10 minutes from my house.

Look, I’m not particularly wired for Delivering An Important Message. That’s not who I am. Or at least if I AM going to do that, I’m going to do that in my own way and using my own platform. On the other hand, I feel like not acknowledging it at all would be ignoring the elephant in the room. So, I’m not gonna give you the 3000-words version, but I’ll just say that I’m firmly on the side of the protesters and of African-Americans getting better justice than they’ve been getting in this country, and you can take that as you will.

Elephant in the room addressed. On to our episode.

I have to admit that after a few straight really long shows (if we’re lumping in Extinction Curse, some of those cracked the 2-hour mark), it was nice to get a fairly short show in this time around. I’ve probably mentioned this before but I’m more an hour, 90-minutes-at-the-max kind of listener. And we also had a bare minimum of endless bickering about pointless minutiae, which represents progress for this group. On the other hand, the trade-off is that the actual game action this week is a little sparse: it’s basically a single battle that looked initially scary, but really ended up being a walk in the park. Ultimately, the skeletons didn’t have a lot of hitpoints and couldn’t hit most of our armor classes (except maybe Nixnox, but he was hiding most of the fight anyway). Nella has an 18, Thorgrim is a 20, Mama Millicent… I don’t remember her exact number, but it’s up there too.

Having said that, the fight looked like it might be tough when it first started, just based on numbers – I forget whether it was 7 or 8 total skeletons, but they definitely had numbers on us. I did wrestle with some internal debate whether I really needed to use Shillelagh, but decided to go ahead with the thinking that it was going to take us a few days to reach our destination, so I’d probably get a chance to recharge before we hit Diggen’s Rest and the real fighting started. Heck, even if we got there the same day, we could probably rest overnight and start exploring the following morning – I didn’t get a sense there’s a time constraint on this one like there was with our other adventures.

By the end of the fight, I felt kinda silly for burning the spell though. They couldn’t hit us, they dropped fairly easily… WASTED RESOURCES. I suppose that I also argued against using my Hero Point to re-roll that final attack, but at that point I just wanted the fight done. And then Steve figured out the thing with the blindness, so I got it back anyway. I wasn’t expecting that, but a nice little bonus.

After the fight, we got to have another segment of Fun With Treat Wounds. I love the mechanic… in both directions. I like that it’s an extra source of healing that (almost) anyone has access to – it’s a handy little mechanic. I equally love that you can screw it up and actually make things worse. Which… in this case, Mama Millicent actually does to Mister Peepers, who was somehow the one member of the party that managed to take some significant damage in the fight. Luckily, Thorgrim is able to step in with Lay On Hands and bail Millicent out, but it provided a little moment of levity.

Lastly, we have a treasure and lore dump. The archaic wayfinder is kind of a neat item – being able to slot an aeon stone without using your head slot is of fairly obvious use, but I’m still trying to figure out what the optimal use of the cantrip slot would be. If you cast one of your own cantrips… duh, you already have access to those anyway. So… you maybe have someone else cast a cantrip onto it, as Chris (I think) suggested, to diversify your spell list? Or give it to a non-caster, so they have at least one spell they can cast in a pinch. I guess that’s the way to go with it.

I’m in a weird mood, so I can’t believe I’m going to go on this digression, but a few more words about Voyagers! (not Travelers). I suspect it’s probably one of those things that didn’t age well, and if I go back and re-watch it, I feel like I’ll be disappointed. (See also: Hill Street Blues). But at the time it was quite the fun little show. Half Quantum Leap (fixing history), half Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure (run-ins with famous historical figures). I feel like I should clarify that the actor (Jon-Erik Hexum) died while shooting his NEXT show (Cover Up, about CIA agents who were undercover as fashion models) – that wasn’t the reason Voyagers! got canceled. Voyagers! just got an unceremonious cancellation after one season. And because I’ve gone too far down this black hole, he also was dating E.G. Daily at the time, who was a singer who was a staple of second-tier 80s movies and also went on to voice the main character in Rugrats.

Wait. How did we end up here?

Whatever, that’s as good a place to wrap it up for this week. Next week, we’ll formally begin the investigation of Diggen’s Rest, and hopefully get into more fights, since the last adventure left us itching for a scrap. 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 week.