Talking Circus S1|03: Rats on the Run - Roll For Combat

Check out our review of the Bestiary 2! And don't forget to enter the RPG Superstar Contest today!

Talking Circus S1|03: Rats on the Run

Jason recaps the events from Three Ring Adventure s1e03: Plants Are Evil.

We start this week with an unfortunate “show note” as the news of PaizoCon’s cancellation is flying around as I’m writing this. Obviously, everyone’s gotta do what they can to stay safe and healthy, and it wasn’t totally unexpected, but still… disappointing. I hadn’t decided on whether to attend yet, but still… it’s a fun time and I know a lot of you were looking forward to it. Pour one out. Maybe we’ll see if we can do something cool Memorial Day weekend to make up for it – dig the original blue-box D&D out of mothballs and run a session of that or something. Dibs on “FIGHTING MAN”.

The other small show note is that it looks like the two new shows (and therefore the two Talkings) are going to settle into the timeslots occupied by their predecessors. So Three-Ring will run Tuesday with Talking Circus on Thursday, and Black Lodge will run Friday, with Talking on Monday.

So let’s get to it. I wanted to start this week with a brief follow-up on something I wrote last week. Last week I noticed that all three of our “main” adventures started with the investigation of a murder as the inciting event that got things rolling. It’s not meant as a criticism; more marveling at the coincidence that we happened to pick three adventures that all had that same plot hook.

Well, it turns out – as one of our listeners pointed out via email – the coincidence runs even deeper, as all three murder victims were dwarves! So first, a tip of the cap for connecting those dots. But also… OK, Paizo, what do you have against dwarves? It’s almost pathological. Paizo’s dwarven NPCs clearly need to unionize and demand a safer workplace.

Back to our story. We rejoin the action in the aftermath of the circus’ first performance. First, we have a quick pit stop to get paid and interact with the circus folk, and each party member gets 5g for their trouble. On one hand, 5g for one night’s work is pretty good money (especially at Level 1), but it’s important to keep in mind some portion of that is based on getting a perfect performance, so a “normal” payday might not be that high. (We also don’t know if any of that money is going to have to go back into the circus, or if that’s what the rest of the money is for.) I also enjoyed the interaction where Darius gave the rousing speech to make everyone feel better, and then Ateran almost immediately kills the mood Darius was building by suggesting they’re all going to get eaten by rats while they sleep. Well played.

Once the circus troupe is sufficiently scared, it’s time to start investigating. I was a little surprised they didn’t talk more with the snake lady since Myron was bitten by snakes, but instead, it’s time to follow the rat tracks. (Aside: you just KNOW this is going to lead to a swarm fight at some point.) Hap is playing the Nancy Drew role, Darius and Alhara engage in some fun sibling banter, and we learn Ateran has a deep but not fully explained suspicion of all things druidic. Make a note to come back to that – I sense there’s a weird story there. Unfortunately, the rat tracks don’t really provide much clarity, as the tracks lead to Myron’s own trailer. They certainly don’t lead to a neon sign that says “MURDERER LIVES HERE”.

Although… (breaks out the murder-board and a brand-new ball of string)… unless we have TWO plots running simultaneously. We’ve been assuming one druid is controlling all the animal-related shenanigans. But what if?… the ringmaster was controlling the rats and trying to sabotage his own circus, but then someone found out and offed him with the snakes? (Remember, I’m the one who spent half of Plaguestone thinking Noala was a plant working for the other team.)

Well, put a pin in that. They get to the trailer and Alhara gets to break out her Rogue-Lite skills and pick the lock, but that just sets the stage for Darius to eat a face full of pollen attacks. Oops. It’s a short fight because the plants aren’t very tough and have a long recharge before they can attack again, but Darius takes an annoying amount of damage in the process. Poor guy can’t catch a break. The fight is an easy win and reinforces the idea that a druid is involved in the shenanigans since the plants can be grown in a couple of hours. (And in the process we also get a thinly-veiled allegory about the dangers of vaping.)

As an aside, when it comes to the debate about Mountain Stance, put me down for voting that ground should be interpreted as “as opposed to flying or swimming”. Two main reasons. First, stances are not explicitly “elemental” – they’re supposed to be evocative of things. Crane stance emphasizes sweeping defensive moves, dragon style emphasizes kicks, mountain emphasizes standing your ground in one place. But also, it feels like the stance imposes enough other restrictions – you can only make falling stone unarmed strikes, you lose movement speed, and you lose your DEX bonus to armor class – that “you can only do this on natural earth” would make it so situational it’s almost not worth the trouble.

Once the fight is over, Darius gets his second batch of heals of the session, we have a brief search of the trailer and some history of the circus, and that’s basically where we end for the week. It turns out there DOES seem to be a path forward, as it’s implied the rat tracks continue elsewhere – I misunderstood and thought Myron’s trailer was the final destination those – so I guess next week we’ll do “Rat Tracks, The Sequel”. Until then, feel free to drop by our Discord channel and let us know what you think of the show so far. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next week.