Jason recaps the events from Three Ring Adventure S1|22: The Rule of Ghoul.
This has to be one of the weirdest episodes of Roll For Combat ever. Although we got a few ghouls for an appetizer, the main combat of the episode went basically unresolved and the big bad ghast (I assume that was the point of Steve describing the one attack as “ghastly”) got away. In fact, most of the action came from just navigating the environment – falling rocks, no light, etc. – and dealing with the sickness. And we end the game with a little light violation of the Geneva Convention as Ateran murders a captive prisoner, the boss from the previous episode that they had previously tied up. Then again, we all know how Ateran has been on edge because of their feelings about druids, and the session did start with Hap joking about slitting her throat, so maybe the signs were always there that this was going to end badly.
Hmmm… maybe murdering prisoners is how the evil clown from the other circus got his start…
On to the game. First and foremost, it was good to get that reminder about “Learn a Spell”. Loren was just doing a regular Identify, but it’s good to get into that stuff. “Learn A Spell” is kind of a compromise between the First Edition poles of either “you get access to every spell on the list” free-for-all and the overly restrictive “you get these five spells and that’s all you can EVER do”. As a general skill, any caster class can do it. One of the interesting features is that you can either learn the spell from a scroll or spellbook OR you can have someone teach you the spell through conversation. So theoretically, one way to learn new spells is just to study with NPC casters, if the GM allows it. The thing that’s a bit risky is that if you fail the check on Learn a Spell, you can’t try again until next level. Oof.
Another thing I found interesting was Loren was going back to the First Edition version of Produce Flame, and I was a little surprised Steve let her do that. If you’re new to Pathfinder with Second Edition, Produce Flame used to be kind of a hybrid between a light spell and a combat spell. You basically got a blob of fire on your hand that lasted for 1 minute per level, which you could either use as a light source, or you could use as a ranged attack, with each shot consuming one minute’s worth of fire. Looking at the plain text of the rules, Second Edition took away the secondary usage and just made it a combat spell, but I guess Steve let it slide a little.
I will say, lighting has not traditionally been this big of a problem in our adventures. I can probably count on one hand the number of times we’ve had major issues with lack of light source. I think the biggest thing is that a lot of fights tend to be in rooms that are either already lit, or are at least fairly open spaces where all of the party’s (and enemies’) light sources can combine to make lighting mostly a non-issue. Even most “dungeon” crawls are usually something semi-civilized like a castle or a tavern or something, so there’s some type of human activity. Also, at least in our other group, we tend to be fond of darkvision races, which gets around the problem entirely. And more as a personal choice, if I’m any flavor of caster, I’m taking Light as one of my cantrips anyway.
The one notable recent exception to “no light, no problem” that I can remember was Emerald Spire – not only was there an entire level that was dark narrow passages like this, but most of it was also difficult terrain. And did the enemies have darkvision? Of course they did! That was a freakin’ nightmare.
On the other hand, all of this business with the light sources did give us the moment of the night: Loren discovering AFTER all the dust had settled… “Oh, I do have light!”. That’s just fantastic.
At the end of the episode, we have the somewhat shocking (but maybe not) resolution with the evil priestess from the previous session. I think it was inevitable that some sort of renewed fight would break out – she seemed to be stone-cold crazy, so I don’t think she would’ve just let herself be walked back to town. On the other hand, it was a little surprising to see Ateran lose it and just off her like that. They are usually so calm and collected; if there was going to be an emotional outburst, I would’ve put my money on Hap.
It’ll also be interesting to see how they roleplay this going forward. Both Vanessa and Loren were both showing various levels of disappointment (bordering on disgust in Alhara’s case) and Ateran’s still getting over the hump on being the outsider of the group. One hopes this doesn’t set them back too far in their personal relationships.
I think what’s messing with me as we end the episode is the ambiguous note it ends on. Generally, Steve tends to end either on a natural stopping point in the story, or at least on a fairly well-defined cliffhanger – i.e. combat is about to start and that’s where we’ll pick it up next week. So the idea that there’s still this undead Super-Ghoul running around, they don’t know where it is, and we don’t really know if it’s going to attack them five minutes into next week’s show or we won’t get a resolution for 2 or 3 more weeks… that’s a little weird and atypical, and I’m still processing how I feel about that.
But… my feelings aside, that IS where we’re ending this week. Next week, I guess we’ll see what happens with their battle against the undead. 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.