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Dead Suns 097: Cheese & Crackers

This week the RFC Crew name their numerous pets, discover a new friend, and fight amongst themselves (somebody needs a nap).

Also this week, GM Stephen discovers that combat in Pathfinder 2e is really fast and discusses our new upcoming Quests podcast!

And don’t forget to become a supporter of the podcast our Patreon page: where you can help us while unlocking fun exclusive rewards for yourself!

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Talking Plaguestone 03: The Plaguestone Home Companion

Prairie Home Companion

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat: The Fall of Plaguestone, Episode 03: Murder By Death.

This week we have one of those transitional episodes – there’s no combat (until the last 10 seconds), but it’s also not a full-on social skills challenge either. It’s mostly just setting the table – fleshing out the story points, introducing most of the major NPCs, delivering a little bit of plot exposition and setting. You have these moments, particularly early on in a story. The weird thing is the tonal shift in the middle – we start with a very well-defined murder mystery vibe going, and then – kind of abruptly, frankly – shift into this more folksy “Prairie Home Companion” vibe where we’re pushing the old guy around and getting a history lesson about the town.

First things first, I was a LITTLE worried the sheriff might try to pin the murder on us and the thrust of the campaign would be to prove ourselves innocent. Unless there’s one heck of a plot twist coming, that doesn’t appear to be the case – John Law just feels a little overmatched (or… lazy) and wants to deputize us to do the heavy lifting of solving Bort’s murder. Certainly, Brixley is up for that; despite being more chaotic than lawful, he’s still got that do-gooder gene going for him. You can’t live free if you’re dead.

I do have to admit the idea that we couldn’t leave the town for a month until the judge gets back is a bit contrived, and would also annoy Brixley as an alignment thing. It’s not like they have a large standing militia or walls that would… you know… stop us from leaving. For half a second, I thought about staging a mutiny and seeing what would happen if we tried to leave… after all, except for the town bully, who would stop us? But I think that would’ve just pisssed Steve off, and sometimes you just roll with things to keep the story moving. Episode 3 is a little early to be peeing in the punchbowl.

Going back and listening, I feel like I sound kind of stupid asking “are we sure Bort was poisoned” but I more meant it as “should we check the body for bite marks on the off chance he got bit by the wolves and got some sort of disease, but we didn’t notice?”. So it wasn’t a COMPLETE reach, but yes… I do recognize poisoned porridge is the 99th-percentile answer to this puzzle. I’m not a complete moron.

Or maybe it was a severe turnip allergy. But wait… if he’s been coming here for years, he probably would’ve had an incident before now. Never mind.

So we participate in the impromptu wake for Bert… errr… Bort (OK, that amused me when Vanessa did that) and Cade takes some very cursory first steps toward investigating the murder itself. But then we go to bed because we’re tired, wake up the next morning, and our murder mystery has morphed into that really clunky reboot of Are You Being Served? where they move out to the country farm, and we’re doing chores, including pushing the latest iteration of Mister Grace around in his wheelchair.

As we do this, we get a lore-dump on the history of the town… there’s a witch that may have put a curse on the town, a PowerPoint on their turnip-based economy, all the good stuff. We finally arrive at a shrine to Gozreh, where… oh Celes… OF COURSE you don’t go walking up to abandoned shrines. Yup, time to fight some Things We Used to Call Stirges. The official name is “bloodseekers” now. And that’s where we pick things up next week.

My personal unofficial side mission this episode was to start to figure out how Brixley is going to relate to the rest of the party on a roleplay level. I fully admit it takes me a few sessions to figure out where my character fits, especially when playing with mostly-new players.

The relationship with Celes is taking shape most quickly. Initial positive vibes built by the fact that she chose to trust him with the secret of her magic use, but he kind of sees the naivete and “fish out of water”-ness and will probably feel like he’s got a little bit of an obligation to watch her back. (I mean, Brixley’s naïve too in his own way, but nobody tell him that.)

Cade… there’s probably going to be a little battle between the Chaotic and the Good sides that has to work itself out in Brixley’s head. On one hand, another affable short guy to help close the bar is a good thing; on the other hand, Brixley might take a dim view of things like picking pockets during a bar fight. Some of that will also depend on the choices Rob makes, but for right now, it’s superficially friendly, but with a little bit of internal “better keep an eye on that guy” vibe. Never take your eye off the guy with concealed daggers.

Prue? There’s probably going to be a little bit of “top dog” competitive tension as they’re the two heavy fighters of the team. There’s some basic level of respect for the fact that she’s a formidable warrior, but between his noble background and some level of (over-)confidence that his deity makes him right about stuff, I could see there starting to be some tensions if/when this (in his view) “scruffy barbarian with sketchy ghost magic” starts bossing him around. Or it could turn into a Legolas-Gimli thing where they’ll start keeping score of body counts. I guess we’ll just have to see.

The one thing I think I’ve been doing “wrong” the first few episodes is that Brixley is reasonably high-Charisma, and also a bit of an idealistic crusader. So he should probably be stepping up and taking charge a little more (or at least assuming he’s in charge) than I’ve been doing, and I’ve been a little more passive these first couple episodes. Something to work on for future episodes.

So… bit of a transition episode this week, but we’ll get back into the thick of combat next week and try to keep our blood from being sucked out of our bodies. Feel free to drop by our Discord channel or other social media and let us know what you think of the show, and we’ll see you back here next week. Thanks for listening!

SP16: Pathfinder 2e & The Fall of Plaguestone Interview with Jason Bulmahn

If you enjoyed this interview make sure to check out our brand new Pathfinder Adventure: The Fall of Plaguestone Actual Play Podcast! as well as our Dead Suns Actual Play Podcast.

Welcome to another special edition of the Roll For Combat Podcast where we sit down with Paizo Director of Game Design Jason Bulmahn.

Jason had the pleasure to write the first “official” adventure for Pathfinder 2nd edition, The Fall of Plaguestone, and introduce the world to the Second Edition rules. Since we’re running this adventure in our new actual play podcast, we had a lot of questions about what made this adventure different from past adventures and what it was like developing for Pathfinder 2nd edition! Check it out!

And don’t forget to become a supporter of the podcast our Patreon page: where you can help us while unlocking fun exclusive rewards for yourself!

If you enjoyed this episode, don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast. We would also love it if you would leave us a review on iTunes!

Talking Combat 096: Gotta Catch ‘Em All

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 096: Altered Coward.

This has been a little bit of a weird week in Talking Combat. Like a TV show moving to a new time, the Dead Suns show moves to a new night to accommodate the new Plaguestone podcast, so that means that Talking moves as well. It’s been a little bit of an adjustment, and I’m still playing around with the writing schedule a little bit (as well as it just happening to be a busy weekend). We’ll get it squared away though.

This week on Roll For Combat, it’s an unintentional homage to the John Wick movies, as we kick a bunch of Cultist ass in the name of avenging animal cruelty. I don’t think I can write an entire column just about the Alien Puppy (despite Bob throwing down the challenge to do so) but it’s tempting. I have to admit (bouncing around to one of the show notes here) I had forgotten about the third pet until Steve mentioned it just now. I remembered the squox because that was fairly recent, but I had forgotten that WAAAAAAY back in the early episodes of Book 1, the dwarf that got killed welcoming us to Absalom had a pet cat in his quarters that we had kinda-sorta adopted. Geez, I hope somebody is stopping by and feeding it or John Wick is going to be coming to pay us a visit.

In general, it is nice to get off the Sunrise Maiden and get things moving forward again. I mean, the fight on the ship wasn’t boring, but it can only advance the plot so much in comparison to arriving at a destination where story points will be revealed. Having said that, it’s pretty obvious that this first fight is going to be more of a tune-up fight than a serious challenge. The bad guys’ swords did OK damage the few times they hit, I guess, but they never really seemed like that much of a threat, and that was even before it turned out that Aeon Tuttle was basically invincible to their incendiary grenades.

Speaking of which, between shrugging off the grenade damage and being able to communicate with Alien Puppy, this was a good week for Tuttle’s aeon powers – aka ”Hippie Telepathy”. The good outsider (Azata) gets you actual Truespeech, but this turns out to work just as well – being able to “converse” using nonvisual concepts beamed into the head of the other… I was going to say “person” but “entity”. Arguably even better for an animal-level intellect that doesn’t really have complex language. Still… works better than “Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra”, I suppose. A few games of Psychic Pictionary and a healing serum later, Tuttle’s entourage gets a little bit larger. The real trick will be resisting the urge to perform some lab experiments on the little critter later… Tuttle’s first love is still science, after all.

I’m trying to remember if this was the first use of the Upgraded Button or not. This is where one of the times where the gap between recording and air-date is working against me a little. I know the wider range of possibilities kicked in after the rebuild at Istamak, and I don’t recall using the button during the fight on the Sunrise Maiden, so for the moment I’m saying yes. (Feel free to point out if I’m wrong – my kids do it all the time.) Of course, the Button tends to be anti-climactic in this case – a heal when CHDRR is already at full health. Oh well.

While we’re talking about CHDRR, you’ll note that here is where I really start to make a more conscious decision to use CHDRR’s line effect. Somewhere around the tail end of Istamak or the first fight on the way to the Gate of the 12 Suns, it dawned on me that I had almost never gotten full value out of CHDRR’s line weapon for whatever reason – enemies weren’t bunched close enough, friendlies were in the way… whatever. (Cough-CHDRR-gets-destroyed-cough). This book is where I start getting into a newfound commitment to be tactical and make use of that. You should see more of it in the coming episodes.

I also have to admit that I got a minor kick out of the fact that while Bob and Chris were having their back and forth about the value of kill shots versus total damage, Tuttle kind of snuck in the back door and ended up with more kill shots than either. (At least if you count the Tuttle/CHDRR combo as a united entity). I figured I’d keep quiet and let them do their thing though – it has a little bit of that “Legolas and Gimli at Helm’s Deep” energy to it and either way, the bad guys end up dead.

Besides. I got the puppy, so by definition, I won the session anyway. And yes, I do eventually think of a name for it, though if that’s where Steve chose to cut the episode, I guess you’ll find out next week. (Rampant speculation in the meantime is encouraged.)

And I suppose that’s also where I’ll wrap up for the week. Next week, we penetrate the alien complex where we assume the Cultists are in some stage of attempting to open the gate and retrieve the superweapon. According to that log we took off the ship that attacked us, they were having some technical difficulties, but no way to tell if those are still an issue or if they’ve made progress since then. Join us back here next week to find out, and in the meantime, feel free to drop by our Discord channel and other social media and discuss the show. We’ll see you next week, and thanks for listening.

Plaguestone 03: Murder By Death

Welcome back to Roll For Combat, Pathfinder: The Fall of Plaguestone Actual Play Podcast. After a tumultuous arrival to Etran’s Folly, our crew finally had a chance to sit down for a nice turnip dinner, only to have their host suddenly drop dead. Now, everyone is eyeing their food … and the PCs!

And don’t forget to join our Discord channel, where you can play games, talk with the cast, and hang out with other fans of the show!

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Dead Suns 096: Altered Coward

After several weeks of “non-starship combat”, the RFC Crew have finally found The Gate of Twelve Suns and found somewhere to land. Of course, nothing is ever easy.

Also this week, GM Stephen provides a recap of his GenCon experience and what to expect in the near future on the RFC podcast.

And don’t forget to become a supporter of the podcast our Patreon page: where you can help us while unlocking fun exclusive rewards for yourself!

If you enjoyed this episode, don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast. We would also love it if you would leave us a review on iTunes!

Talking Plaguestone 02: Today’s Specials, Turnips and Knuckle Sandwiches

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat: The Fall of Plaguestone, Episode 02: Barroom Blitz.

So much for a nice relaxing night at the Turnip-Town Inn, I guess. A bar brawl, a murder mystery… a little bit of everything.

I have to admit I didn’t plan on taking such a… well… boozy, take on Brixley when we started this thing. On one hand, he is a follower of Cayden Cailean, so I suppose it makes a certain amount of sense. The trick is to not turn him into too much of a “drunken dwarf” trope. I’ll have to play around with it a little and find a way to give him some shades of something else; in the meantime, at least for this session, we had someone who was both a heavier drinker and an actual dwarf to make Brixley look normal by comparison. That’s one way to do it, I suppose.

I’m also caught in a little bit of a bind because Champion is somewhat of a Charisma-based class, which lends itself to “face of the party” things, but it’s not my natural role as a player. I’m usually good leaving that to someone else. (In our longer-running gaming group, Bob tends to gravitate toward those types of characters a lot.) In particular, I’m going to feel a little bit silly when 3-foot-tall Brixley will be forced to try and Intimidate someone who’s multiple feet taller than himself.

Which is not to say I wasn’t about to give it a try with Hallod, the bully who was hassling the waiter. Among other things, I think it came down to and highlighted the difference between, the paladin and liberator champion variants. If I was playing a classic lawful good paladin, I probably would’ve gone ahead and called Hallod on his behavior, maybe even fought him. That absolutely seems like the lawful good thing to do. On the other hand, chaotic good feels like it can be a little more lackadaisical about stuff like that – yeah, Hallod was being kind of a jerk, but short of physical abuse, it’s up to the bar to decide what to do about an unruly customer. For all I know, maybe they pay the waiter extra to put up with stuff like that. Hallod’s free to be his authentic self, even if his authentic self is an asshole.

Also, the waiter is a goblin. Both as a mild roleplay thing and as an out-of-character sensibility, I’m not quite ready to get my ass kicked on behalf of a goblin. Still not sold on letting them be good guys.

Shortly thereafter we had the bar brawl break out, and I thought having Brixley try to play peacemaker felt like the right call. My initial knee-jerk reaction was to jump in on the waiter’s side, but somehow it didn’t seem wise to wade in as an outsider and start punching people on our first night in town. You never know who might be the mayor’s son or – at a meta-game level – might be the NPC you need to talk to later when he sobers up. Also, more as a roleplay thing, Brixley was still tired from falling in the mud, so it didn’t seem like he’d really want to be aggressive in his involvement. So I decided to tie up the drunk guy and got a punch in the face for my troubles. Yay!

Overall, the fight was a fun interlude. Since it was non-lethal damage, the stakes were pretty low, and there was some fun stuff going on – Cade trying to pick people’s pockets while they were fighting, Prue trying to flip the table only to find it bolted to the floor… all we were really missing was the stereotypical Hollywood bar-fight “drunk who is mysteriously adept at keeping his drink safe while the bar gets trashed all around him”. OK, the creepy drunk guy was a little uncomfortable for a second, but Prue took care of that pretty handily.

I do wonder if that fight was supposed to run a little longer and was condensed for time, though. Going back and doing the math, the owner (I forget her name) left to get the town constable and they came back, like… two rounds later. So apparently it takes 12 seconds to go halfway across town and get the law. Burying the lede: Plaguestone is clearly a town of people who have mastered teleportation! I think in my personal head-canon, maybe this happens so often he hangs around outside and waits for the sounds of brawling to make his entrance. (Or we can just return to Occam’s Razor and assume Steve trimmed it for time, so we would hit the cliffhanger at the end of the episode. In which case… good for him. GM’ing is ultimately storytelling, and ending on a murder serves the story better than 15 minutes of Punching Drunks For Fun And Profit.)

Speaking of the cliff-hanger… I have to admit Steve sold that death pretty well. Even though I made an unintentionally accurate joke about the porridge being poisoned, I fully admit I was fooled in the moment and the joke was just that. When Steve first started coughing, I really thought he just got some water down the wrong pipe or something. So… good sell there. Going back and listening again, The Right Thing To Do was probably burn my Lay On Hands just to see if it would help, but (putting on the meta-game hat) I don’t think LoH would really work against poison, and at a story level, I’m pretty sure the murder is what’s going to drive action, so it pretty much had to go that way.

I’ll end with two more big-picture notes about the show that stood out for me.

First, the lack of intro and outro is a little… weird. Not bad weird, maybe even good weird. But after almost two years of listening to Steve set the episode up and do his song-and-dance after, it’s a little bit of an adjustment to not hear those things.

The other… I have to admit when I went back and listened, I felt a little self-conscious about the couple times I cracked jokes, particularly the two pop-culture references (both Monty Python, oddly enough). I’m still figuring out the balance between “this is my game too, I’m gonna be me and play how I like to play” and “we’ve got people at this table who want to take roleplaying a little more seriously, so I’ll try to try and rise to meet that standard”. Maybe not all the way – I still don’t do voices – but possibly toning down my usual silliness just a touch. (Which is also not to suggest anyone else LACKS humor – everyone’s pretty funny when we’re BSing before the show; some people are just more locked in once the virtual camera starts rolling.)

That’s all I have for this week. Next week, we’ve got a dead dwarf at our table, and we gotta figure out who or what might have killed him. We’ve got the weapon (porridge) and the location (tavern), we just have to figure who Colonel Mustard and Miss Scarlet of this town are. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you back here next week.

Prue Frosthammer

Prue Frosthammer

Most lives learn of hardship as time marches on. Others are born of hardship and know no other existence.

Prue Frosthammer comes from the Realm of the Mammoth Lords, and she takes the familial name of her adoptive father, a frost giant called Golgot Frosthammer, who slew her birth father, a savage orc named Rok Grimtusk, who murdered her birth mother, a half-elven traveling merchant who’s name Prue never learned. Prue was discovered by Golgut in the flames of a burning orcish yurt after his tribe decimated a band of Grimtusk marauders that were causing trouble in his territory. Golgot trained Prue to wield her anger as a weapon in defense against a cruel and uncaring world. He taught her martial skills and runes to bind spirits to her call who had been wronged in life. Finally, after he could teach her no more of his ways, he arranged for a squire-ship in Lastwall, that she might have an attempt at a better life.

Then the Whispering Tyrant and his horde of undead destroyed Lastwall. Prue soon found herself on a cart traveling South away from the Tyrant’s destruction and even further away from her home.

Prue is played by Loren Sieg.

Celes Karvasalon

Celes Karvasalon

Celes has always been adored, even as a baby. Her parents were delighted when she turned into a beautiful and social young woman. They immediately started to make plans for an arranged marriage, one that would save the family’s wealth and status from the certain ruin it was heading for.

Celes resented being used as such a tool and ran away from home to forge her own way, but soon found she was naïve of the world around her. When her brother came to collect her and bring her back home, he became the target of some local ruffians. Though he was able to fight them off, he received a nasty slash down the side of his previously pristine face. As Celes rushed to her brother’s side to comfort him, a radiant white light enveloped his face and sealed the wound, but left a scar behind.

News of Celes’s magical powers quickly spread. Many of the would-be suitors were nervous about wedding a sorcerer and what that bloodline contamination might do to future heirs. Celes’s parents were devastated for how would they save the family?

As Celes started to explore her new powers, her father seemed to be coming around and started to get excited for each new spell Celes learned. The reason for his excitement became clear when a gathering of the local townsfolk came to the manor and insisted on seeing the new herald of the gods. Over the next several months, Celes’s father exploited her powers for wealth and influence, as magical healing was rare in their part of the country. He played up the “divine gifts” as a godsent miracle, featuring his daughter as the Chosen One. Against Celes’s protestations, he sent her on a tour of the Inner Sea to gather more fame, followers, and most importantly fortune.

When disaster struck, she found herself alone in a caravan headed to Almas. She had family there, a cousin, and perhaps this was her chance to make her own way in the world. After all, she never wanted these powers; they’ve been nothing but a curse.

She attempts to travel now in disguise, not wanting to attract the attention her minor celebrity entails. There are those who would press-gang her and force her to use their powers for their own ends, not unlike her father. If she has learned nothing else from growing up in Andoran it’s that ones personal liberty is paramount. She won’t give it up for anything.

Celes is played by Vanessa Hoskins.

Cade Thistelrot

Some halflings love the comforts of home. Some halflings love to meet new people and celebrate. Some halflings are jolly little people with a song in their heart and a constant smile on their face.

Cade Thistlerot is not one of those halflings.

He’s sarcastic, dark, and decidedly non-jolly.

Cade Thistlerot is a halfling that gets things done. He is not afraid to get his hands dirty, or bloody, for the right reasons. He was raised on the streets and survived as a thief. He now uses those talents as an adventurer and blade for hire.

Cade is played by Rob Trimacro.