The Sideshow S1|27: The Hosts With The Moats - Roll For Combat

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The Sideshow S1|27: The Hosts With The Moats

Jason recaps the events from Three Ring Adventure S1|27: Harlock, I Presume.

This week it’s Boss Battle Week on Roll For Combat and not just Boss Battle week, but it feels like we’re also on the final approach for wrapping up Book 1 of the adventure path. There might be some cleanup for a few weeks after, but with the hermitage cleared out and the circus side of things facing diminishing financial returns, it’ll probably be time to move on to a new town and a new mystery. And we should get to see some new Level 4 characters soon… Steve pretty much admitted as much in the show notes, and that’s also How It Usually Works when there’s a big boss fight. So we’re on the threshold of pretty big stuff.

But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves; first, our band of merry adventurers has to survive the fight in front of them. Two casters, pet lizards, environmental hazards… should be interesting.

First, let’s talk about the elephant in the room: how to pronounce the lady druid’s name. I don’t usually get in Steve’s business about this stuff, because it’s not like Paizo gives you phonetic spellings to help you out, but this time it went through about 10 different iterations and Rob P. even made a joke about it, so… it kind of became A Thing. The spelling from the adventure is “Enkrisha”, so I would assume “En-KREE-sha” or maybe “En-KRISH-a” would be the right call. “Escargot”, “Anchorage”, and “Abracadabra” are not correct.

I have to admit to giving a silent mental cheer at Alhara’s opening move to start the combat. Pretty inspired, classic swashbuckler stuff. It was a little hard to visualize at first, but I guess there was a water moat on one side and an air moat on the other, and the druid and her pets were on the strip of land between the two. So Alhara swashbuckled her way right in between them and almost successfully pushed both of the lizards into the moats. (Technically her roll succeeded both times, but one caught an edge and avoided the fall.) For extra credit, it also incapacitated the druid in the process, since she was holding their leashes, and forced her to make a choice between saving her pets or getting dragged in herself. That was pretty badass, even if it took a Hero Point to get there.

Unfortunately, the moats turned out to not be the “I win” button the party was hoping for, as the lizard that falls in climbs back out the next round. So clearly they’re not “bottomless”. But that cuts both directions – it’s not a death sentence if one of our heroes gets pushed in either, which happens to Alhara the following round. At that point, we find out they’re not really THAT bad as long as you have semi-decent climbing skills. Now if one of the casters get pushed in with their low strength scores, that could be bad, but as long as it’s the fighters, it’s a survivable situation.

Speaking of which, two things. First, I was surprised the summon ended up being “just” a mephit. I thought the druid summon was going to be something nastier. Teeth, claws, whatever. Probably a bit of a missed opportunity. (Then again, it also wasn’t a squirrel swarm. I would’ve cracked up if Steve had done that.) I was also kind of amused by Vanessa’s annoyance at the mephit copying her tactics and pushing her in – it’s “Hipster Alhara”, pushing people into moats before it was cool!

The mephit was a symptom of a larger surprise related to this fight. I was actually surprised that there didn’t seem to be a big central enemy in this fight. Usually, Paizo is fond of one Big Bad Guy who is easily identifiable as such, and maybe a few minions helping it out. Here, it didn’t really seem to fit that model. The lizards were tough opponents, but summoning a mephit was kind of a wimpy choice, and the other druid cast Produce Flame. Cantrips? In a boss fight? Really? I guess if you have four different enemies (pre-mephit) and environmental complications, that’s still a challenging fight, but it’s not the usual way these things unfold.

That’s not to say it wasn’t challenging. While she didn’t take a lot of damage, Alhara basically lost an entire round escaping from the moat she fell in. Meanwhile, Darius did his job tanking and taking hits with Mountain Stance, but that ongoing acid damage was doing a number on him (didn’t help that Steve rolled pretty well for the ongoing damage every time – I distinctly remember both a 6 and a 5 coming up at various points). Hap and Aterian stayed pretty safe in the back, but things could’ve gotten bad quick if Darius had dropped.

The battle continues and there’s a distinct ebb and flow to the action. The players got off to a tremendous start in the first round. Then in the second round, it’s the bad guys getting the better of the action, with Alhara getting knocked into the trench and Rob taking a few big hits. But the players rebound from that point on, the casters basically focus on keeping Darius standing, and eventually, the team puts the fight to bed. Even better, nobody drops!

Unfortunately, we aren’t going to get any answers this episode – we do finally meet Harlock, the object of this whole search, but he’s too tired from his ordeal at the hands of the bad guys to explain much yet. So it seems like next week is when we’ll finally get an explanation of just what the heck’s been going on here. Harlock also drops a hint that he’ll be able to cure Hap’s ghoul fever, but when a man’s got to nap a man’s gotta nap. And Steve dropped the hint that we should see some leveling soon.

So that’s a lot to get into next time. For now, feel free to drop by our Discord channel or other social media and let us know what you think about the show. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next week.