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Talking Combat 103: Fat Mech, Little Dwarf

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 103: Ain’t Got Time to Bleed.

Two years. It’s pretty crazy if you stop to think about it.

(pushes glasses up nose) “Well actually, we recorded for a few weeks to build up a stash of raw footage before we started putting anything out on the Internet…” [SLAP]

Sorry, where was I?

First, just to fill in my corner of Steve’s history, I probably joined the online version of the group in the 2011 timeframe, and at that point, the group had moved into Pathfinder. Carrion Crown and Iron Gods were the two major adventure paths we ran, though we also fit some smaller stuff in there (Emerald Spire, even tried a Society adventure or two) and had JUST started Strange Aeons when we decided to assemble the Action News Team for Starfinder. In terms of the technology, I’ve always been impressed with D20Pro, though Steve always complained that there was a lot of work on the back end loading everything into the tool. We tried a few sessions with Roll20 – it did a few things better, but most things worse. Voice chat was always a bit of a crapshoot until we landed on Discord, which has been pretty stable. I remember Skype being pretty tetchy, a few weeks of dabbling with Ventrilo, maybe one or two others… before finally settling on Discord.

As far as the choice to start the podcast, I don’t know that I ever flat-out refused to do it, but I was probably a little bit on the skeptical end.

First was the Starfinder game system. In my heart of hearts, I’ve always been a swords and sorcery guy. I was raised on the Rankin-Bass Hobbit adaptation (“the greaaaaaatest adventurrrrrre”), John Boorman’s Excalibur, and AD&D. The grand total of my experience with sci-fi role-playing games was a few underwhelming sessions of Gamma World, and of buying the rules for Traveler but never really getting around to playing the damn thing. Sci-fi gaming has not traditionally been in my wheelhouse, though I dig it as an overall genre. If we’re being honest, I mostly agreed to play because the rest of the group seemed enthusiastic about it, and I didn’t want to be the killjoy. I figured I’d give it the first book of the adventure path and see how things went.

The second: I’m an introvert by nature, and that need to be in “perform” mode was a little daunting. When we’re just playing for ourselves it doesn’t matter if I, say, doze off during a session. ALLEGEDLY. If you’re recording and putting it out there on the Internet, there’s more of a need to be “on”. And OK, I’ve seen comment sections – feedback scares me. I wasn’t totally sure I wanted to put our sessions online because I was leery of having people tell me I’m playing my character poorly and my jokes aren’t funny. I’m a delicate flower that way.

But here we are. Two years later, and it’s actually been a lot of fun. The things I was worried about weren’t that big a deal – Starfinder has been pretty great (and I’m glad to see they’re bringing some of the ideas into Pathfinder Second Edition), and it’s been fun watching you guys enjoy the show and interact with it. And even when we screw up on the rules, you’re pretty cool about it, so thanks for that.

I’m trying to decide what my favorite moment of the past two years has been. There’s a few to choose from. There’s the original goblinization of CHDRR, certainly, courtesy of John Compton. The first Meats and Lasko session with Rob Trimarco and Jason Keeley was a blast. The battle against the swarm on Istamak was a thrill just because it was so cool to have the perfect piece of technology that I’d been sitting on for 2-3 levels. And of course Aeon Tuttle – you could go a whole “career” and not roll a 00 on a Loot Box of Wonder/Deck of Many Things.

If there’s one mild negative… criticism… whatever, it’s the scheduling. When you’re playing for own pleasure, if someone can’t make it or you just don’t feel like playing, it’s cool to cancel and pick it up next week. With the ebb and flow of recordings, there have been a few times where our footage reserves got low and we HAD to play to stay out in front of things. Also, it can just be tough to get five schedules to sync up perfectly, and sometimes someone has to “take one for the team” a little. (Conventions season and the winter holidays can be tough in particular.) Not gonna lie, there were a few sessions in there where it felt like playing to feed the beast… those were a bit of a drag. But currently, that’s not an issue. We’re at least a month ahead in Dead Suns, and even Plaguestone has a few episodes in the can. So right now, we’re green, Corbin Dallas. Super green.

With Talking, the challenge is mostly just a matter of keeping it fresh and coming up with new things to say. When I first started writing these, they kinda wrote themselves because it was a new rule system. There was enough new material that just explaining how things worked and giving impressions on how it compared to Pathfinder was a column within itself. (In a bit of déjà vu, I’m seeing the same dynamic play out in Talking Plaguestone.) Two years in? Not gonna lie, it’s a little tougher… you all know how the rule system works, I’ve told a lot of my best stories, I’m even starting to repeat my pop culture references! I don’t want to just regurgitate the play-by-play, but there are weeks where I struggle to come up with much more than that.

Take this week. Kind of a straightforward conclusion to last week’s fight. Thought that dwarf would be tougher, but we kinda mopped the floor with him. The interesting dynamic here was our first real introduction to powered armor. Here’s what I noticed, and why I think it went so easily for us: most of what powered armor really gives you is a better armor class and strength bonus, which is primarily good for melee. It doesn’t especially improve ranged combat, and it doesn’t give additional hit points. So offensively, the machine gun was something of a suboptimal use of the tool; defensively, he’s HARDER to hit, but the dwarf on the inside was just as squishy when you land a shot. And we didn’t seem to have any trouble landing shots.

Next week, it gets interesting though. Remember back on Moon 6, I said that there was one thing that we kinda blew off that would turn out to be important, and another thing that would’ve come in handy but we completely forgot about? I think next week, we hit one of those two incidents. So there will be a chance to see us eat a bit of humble pie in this next episode if I’m remembering things right.

I’m gonna wrap things up there for this week. Thanks for the lifers who have stuck with us for two years, and thanks to those of you who jumped on the train once it was already moving. It’s been fun sharing this experience with all of you. Feel free to stop by our Discord channel and let us know what you think of the show, and we’ll see you next week. Thanks for listening.

Dead Suns 103: Ain’t Got Time to Bleed

When a Dwarf appears in power armor, smoking a cigar, and wielding a minigun you know what that means! It’s boss battle time!

Also this week, GM Stephen celebrates our 2nd anniversary by detailing the history of the show, explains our podcast origins, and outlines the future of the show.

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!

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 09: Crit Me, Baby, One More Time

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat: The Fall of Plaguestone, Episode 09: Crit Happens.

Today we learned that boss battles are TOUGH in Second Edition.

And for what it’s worth, it’s not just us. We’ve been hearing this from other people who have been playing through this adventure – there are quite a few people who had a tough time or even a TPK on this fight. I’ve been thinking about this battle for a while, and I think this is a byproduct of how the math interacts with the new system.

Think about it. Usually boss battles are set to a CR that’s a little higher than your cannon-fodder creatures. And that usually means they have higher to-hit rolls, right? (NOTE: At the end of the episode, Steve mentions Hallod’s bonuses were +11 unarmed and +12 with his kukri.)

That’s going to create two challenges in the new system. First, the -5 penalty for multiple attacks isn’t as much of a deterrent if it’s a boss who already starts +11 or +12 against the party. His second attack is as good as our first attack, so bosses are probably going to hit on follow-up attacks more frequently than the party will. Second, and more relevant to this fight, a boss that’s at +11 or +12 is going to have a  better chance to crit (at least on the first attack) in Second Edition than in First Edition. PF1 gives you a crit on a 20, so a flat 5% chance. In second edition, even with my AC of 20 (with shield up), Hallod could’ve critted on an 18 with the kukri, and I think Cade and Prue have lower ACs than I do. If I had my shield down, make it a 16 or higher to crit: a whopping 25% chance.

I do get the feeling this fight might’ve been easier if we’d had a stronger ranged component in our arsenal. If you think about the battlefield, it’s got tripwires and difficult terrain to prevent advances but it’s also got crates and barrels to hide behind. It kind of made for a slow initial advance, and Hallod was able to pick us off one-by-one for a few rounds before we got all three melees up in his face. I think of Cade in particular – we lost the strategic advantage of his sneak attack because nobody else could get up there to create flanking for him.

Frankly, it feels like grinding him down from behind cover might have been a good tactic to employ here. Unless he can fast-load his crossbow, he would’ve basically gotten one attack per round and we would’ve had 3 or 4. But we don’t really have a strong ranged element in our party – Celes has her Produce Flame, Cade has his slingstaff, but I don’t have anything and I don’t think I’ve seen Prue use a ranged weapon either.

Speaking of ranged weapons: WHO PUTS TRAPS ON A PERFECTLY GOOD BATTLEFIELD? (Oh wait, a rogue, that’s who.) This whole fight got off to a bad start when Prue sets off a trip-wire and eats a crit from a concealed crossbow. Celes heals her and got her back on her feet, but it kind of threw our tactics out the window from the jump.

And if ALL of that wasn’t enough, Hallod can also do attacks of opportunity, making it even harder to navigate the fight. Poor Cade gets to be the celebrity spokesmodel for Getting Unexpectedly Punched In The Head, and then the rest of us have to tread lightly so we don’t do the same.

On the plus side, we get to really put our hero points to good use, between reviving from death and re-rolling crappy attack rolls. I have to admit I was a little iffy on the Hero Point system at first, but it’s starting to grow on me. Though I find myself wishing there was “anti-hero point” where you could force an enemy to re-roll… hmmm… I don’t know… one of Prue’s two crits, maybe?

We also got to see Brixley’s shield eat a few attacks, and I’m starting to feel a little uneasy about this system. Basically, my shield – a STEEL shield – was able to take all of TWO hits before it was broken. That seems a little… off. I don’t exactly know how you’d change it… more hardness? maybe a save to resist the breakage?… but I’m still concerned about reaching a point (not necessarily this adventure but in general) where I have to carry four or five shields around at all times. (Or maybe I invest a skill train in Crafting so I can fix on the fly.) To be fair though, I got through every battle leading up to the boss fight without taking ANY shield damage, so I don’t know if it’s a general issue or just another wrinkle that specifically comes out in boss-fights.

So Cade gets knocked out on an attack of opportunity, Prue eats her second crit of the fight and is down, and it’s down to Brixley tanking and Celes chucking fire from afar. Even with the shield, Hallod’s first batch of attacks on me took about half my health and broke my shield, so this was basically one round from turning even worse than it already was. I thought about using Lay on Hands to get someone back up (Prue would’ve physically been closest – I would’ve had to eat an AoO to reach Cade), but it did feel like Hallod was close to going down, so I decided to push through, and… whew. Just made it. BOSS DEFEATED.

Well, sub-boss, anyway. After the fight, we get a little more plot, in the form of a letter Hallod was carrying. It turns out Hallod was not the alchemist but was just an errand boy for “V”, whoever that is. We also get some treasure (mostly stuff for Cade, but still… stuff is stuff), and we have enough points to level next time we have a chance to rest. Huzzah!

Next week, we’ll return triumphantly to town, rest and recuperate, hopefully level up, and maybe start to take a further crack at figuring out who “V” might be. We also still have a few side mysteries – finding out whether Celes is really related to the mayor and investigating the house Sir Kent thought was infested with undead. Until next week, feel free to drop by our Discord channel, let us know what you think of the show, and join in the online shenanigans. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next week.

Plaguestone 09: Crit Happens

This week the RFC Crew learn firsthand that “Hallod the town bully” certainly earned his title as they are about to have the fight of their lives.

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!

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 102: Let’s All Go To The Lobby!

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 102: Grenade Expectations.

The French have this great expression: “l’esprit d’escalier”… “the spirit of the stairs”… that captures that sense of thinking of the perfect thing to say after you’ve already left. For those of you who want me to stay in my lane and provide a reference more grounded in pop culture – the “Jerk Store” episode of Seinfeld. (Though I went all the way to French V in high school 30-plus years ago… my lane goes to mysterious places.)

I have to admit, as I was listening to this episode, I was struck with a bout of that because I realized I had the perfect tool for this situation and didn’t think to use it. Scoutbot. (I’ve played enough Rainbow Six Siege to know better. OPFOR DETECTED!)

Here’s the thing. Scoutbot has a time limit (one minute per level), the bot has a damage limit if it’s attacked, but there’s no range limit specified. So the 200-300 feet down in the elevator would have not been a problem, as long as it got there in 10 minutes. (On the other hand, contrary to what I thought, it doesn’t actually fly… not sure where I originally got that.) So if I was thinking properly, I would’ve pulled the old Die Hard standby and sent the Scoutbot down on the elevator to see what was waiting for us at the bottom. (Feel free to listen to the rest of the episode imagining Mo writing the names of cultists on his arm with a Sharpie.)

Now, I know it wouldn’t have been a perfect solution. The elevator door still opens as normal, which would clearly attract attention. We’d have a quick rules-lawyer break about how quietly it moves and how easy it is to see, but at the end of the day, they’d probably destroy it and be just as ready for us when WE came down. And strategically, the single point of entry renders it somewhat moot: it would’ve been a more useful tactic if we had the option of choosing a different entrance. But it would’ve been a pretty handy use of a resolve point, and even if it only survived a round or two, we might have gathered some intel on their strength and the layout of the room before we ever set foot on the lower level.

Instead, we plow forth into a sea of grenades. Yay! On the other hand, they’re pretty weak grenades. In fact, at first, they’re pretty weak ENEMIES. Base-level cultists, shades… nothing we haven’t seen before. You don’t want to take things too much for granted, but at first, this feels like a warm-up battle: you just leveled and got your new powers, let’s see what you can do with them.

It’s not a new power, but I have to admit I’m still a fan of Akiro’s trick with the exploding battery; it’s basically all the power of a grenade, but at the cost of a battery, which is dirt cheap. That’s a pretty good bargain. (Alternatively, it’s Fireball, but with a physical object to focus the spell’s power on.) I’m sort of envious – the Mechanic can do that with a weapon, but the damage is nowhere near comparable, and destroying a weapon is even less cost-efficient than grenades themselves. Don’t get me wrong, rigging a phaser to explode has a lot of Mechanic flavor (I just re-watched an episode of Next Generation and a bad guy did that) but the results just aren’t there. WHERE’S MY 9d6 DAMAGE?

But then things take a turn for the more serious. First, we get Berserker Cultists. Not sure if they’re any harder to kill, but they definitely hit harder while they’re alive. And then, just as we’re getting a handle on that. BOSS FIGHT right at the end of the session. Setting aside that I haven’t been the hugest fan of including Pathfinder core races in Starfinder, a dwarf in power armor is pretty dang cool. As long as he doesn’t kill us, that is.

Before closing for the week, I’ll take a moment to reflect on Steve’s point regarding bleeding encounters, and the realism of killing enemies in adjacent rooms without them noticing anything. (We’re almost back to the glory days of GM-PC Tips!) It’s a tough call. If you went with TRULY realistic acoustics, you probably couldn’t fight something on the same level of a dungeon without alerting everyone and their mother. So at some point, you probably have to suspend disbelief a little bit just to make for a playable game. On the other hand, I’ve been in games where people took long rests with enemies right on the other side of a door, which is a little immersion-breaking in the other direction. So we slaughter Goblin Troop A, and Goblin Troop B never thinks to check in on them? They don’t have dinner together? Nobody goes and checks when Grugg fails to show up for the nightly card game?

As far as that Emerald Spire story Steve told, it was basically accurate. Maybe not ONE long fight, but we certainly didn’t stop for a true rest, and probably didn’t have more than 5 or 10 minutes even when there was a pause in the action. Though I think at one point I remember clearing a few empty broom closets.

In that particular game, I was playing a rogue, so my job was fairly easy and there weren’t a lot of resources to manage. Just stab whoever is closest. The main frustration was the running fight didn’t leave a lot of opportunities to set up Sneak Attack damage because the bad guys tended to be down-range. I think John played a Paladin, and Bob was playing an archery-based monk. I feel like maybe Chris didn’t play that one because he was busy with WoW raids, but I’m not 100% sure who our fourth was or what character they played.

There were two main problems that conspired to turn it into a bit of a… well… “cluster-something”. First, the front gate of the complex was an easily defensible position with arrow slits that took a lot of initial effort to overcome. So there was some concern that if we retreated to take a long rest, the remaining bandits would just retake the “front door”, and we’d have to do The Hard Part all over again. If I remember correctly, I feel like we were pinning our hopes on finding a back door which would make it easier to come and go, and then we’d go heal… and things just got out of hand. (Full disclosure: the back door DID exist, but we didn’t find it until the whole level was cleaned out.)

The second was bad tactical luck. In one case, we chased the last runner from one encounter into a new group; in another, one of our guys was looking for a place to grab a quick heal potion and opened the door to another NPC area we hadn’t cleared yet. In fairness, based on the rooms around it, we REALLY thought it was likely to be just another storage room, but that turned out to NOT be the case.

Much to my surprise, we did survive. We pretty much burned through every spell and special ability, and most of the party was at death’s door (I want to say whoever was playing our fourth dropped and had to be revived with John’s Lay on Hands), but we made it. Definitely a fun night of gaming – that one was basically three hours of non-stop action, without being a fairly static slugfest; very fluid, almost a chase dynamic to it all.

If only we’d been recording back then. Ah well.

Anyway, enough wandering down memory lane. (Unless Steve follows through with some Year Two content, in which case, MORE wandering down memory lane.) Regardless, we’ve got to get back to saving the universe and fighting Dwarven Colonel Quaritch, but that’ll be for next week. Until then, drop by our Discord channel or other social media and join in the ongoing shenanigans. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you back here next week.

Dead Suns 102: Grenade Expectations

The RFC Crew start their exploration of the secret Cult of the Devourer lair, killing everything in their way … with grenades galore!

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!

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 08: Beast In Show

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat: The Fall of Plaguestone, Episode 08: Murderous Disco Dancing.

This week’s theme on Roll For Combat is Making Friends With The Dice Gods, as we face a pair of fights that could’ve been difficult but became easy because of fortunate rolls of the dice.

First, let’s talk about the (emotionally manipulative) fight with the dogs. This is a fight that feels like it could’ve been a disaster – four enemies that have a pack attack (mentioned by Steve but never seen), and a slippery section of the floor right in the entrance to create an added challenge. If you believe in quantum realities, there’s an alternate universe where we played Slip-N-Slide while the dogs chewed us to pieces.

But right out of the gate, Cade gets two hits at close to max damage, and now it’s two dogs instead of four. Oops. From there, the fight never gets better for the pups. None of the party members fail the save on the “Slippery When Wet” trap, Prue gets to break out her angry face, and we make astonishingly easy work of the remaining dogs. Steve can throw all the guilt trips he wants at us, but I know he’s enough of a Stephen King fan to be familiar with Cujo. “#SorryNotSorry”, as the Young People say.

There are crates to loot scattered throughout the room, but with the possibility that the dogs raised the alarm and Hallod could be waiting nearby, we decide to not to waste time searching the room and continue the pursuit. Further exploration reveals that this is definitely Hallod’s base of operations, but so far, Hallod himself is nowhere to be seen.

The exploration is not fruitless, though. First, we find a lockbox that both contains a crap-ton of money and fleshes out the details of the business between Bort and Hallod a little further. We also find a bottle containing something nasty and part of a larger shipment. Since we don’t have anyone with Alchemy skills, it’s hard to say EXACTLY what it’s being used for, but to hazard a layman’s guess, maybe it’s what’s being used to make all the local animals crazy and rabid. For the moment, file it away as a mystery to sort out after we catch up to Hallod.

The main hideout is abandoned – the only other “clue” is discarded vials with the residue of a silvery substance: not the nasty substance, and not the poison used on Bort. Again, without someone with Mad Alchemy Skillz™, we can’t really sort out what it is, but to again speculate: since it’s part of his “normal” trash and there are quite a few of them, maybe some sort of consumable he uses in his work… healing potion, buffs, something like that?

The other thing I’d like to point out: we finally learned from our mistakes and found a trap without setting it off! After a face-full of crossbow bolt and a collapsed roof, we ducked the poisoned dart mechanism on the lockbox. See? You CAN teach an old dog new tricks.

After clearing out the main hideout, the pursuit continues. After a long passage, we arrive at our second unintentionally easy fight of the session. (Well, maybe not so much if you’re Celes, but for the rest of us…) ELECTRO-SNAKE! We didn’t get to see a lot of this guy, but it seemed like a pretty cool concept from what little we got to see of it.

Once again, it’s Cade getting us out to a strong start with multiple doses of sneak attack damage. (Not sure how you sneak up on a snake in a pool of water, but we’ll table that for another time.) This time, the dice rolls also help us on defense: the creature actually lands a breath weapon attack, which could’ve been devastating (2d10!), but instead, it does close to minimum damage. (Steve was joking about using a Villain Point. I swear.)

The only time things briefly take a turn for the worse is when Celes enters the room unawares and runs headlong into one of the few creatures in the game with attacks of opportunity. Not only that, but the snake lands a crit, which is enough to one-shot her. If this had happened earlier in the fight, it might have been more of a momentum swing; unfortunately for the snake, Brixley’s next hit is enough to put it down anyway, and Celes’ dying status becomes a moot point.

(As an aside: credit to Vanessa for roleplaying that fairly. It would’ve been easy to just roll into the room, meta-game the snake’s presence, and move around it. Or maybe she just got overconfident that it DIDN’T have an attack of opportunity available.)

After the fight, we get to play around with the new dynamic of Lay On Hands a little bit. As mentioned in a previous Talking, Lay On Hands now run off focus points, which regenerate on a 10-minute rest. So we basically took four 10-minute rests and fully healed up. I’m still getting used to that… it still feels a little cheap around the edges… but can’t argue with the results.

The chase resumes. We follow another long stretch of boring passage, after which we arrive at the end of the chase, both physically (exiting the cave and getting outdoors again) and in terms of finding Hallod. Something tells me this ISN’T going to be the third easy fight of the day, but that’s where we bring the curtain down for today, so we’ll find out next week. We’ll see you back here for that next Tuesday, but in the meantime, feel free to drop by Discord and let us know your thoughts on the show. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next time.

Plaguestone 08: Murderous Disco Dancing

This week the RFC Crew face rabid dogs, poop problems, and shocking developments, all leading to a near-death experience!

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!

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 101: Fly Me To The Moon

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 101: Rusty Has A Posse.

In terms of game activity, it’s a fairly simple episode – we level, we get in the ship, we go from one moon to another. We basically rolled the dice one time (to avoid gravity effects) and that’s about it. No, the meat of this episode was in the banter.

I always feel a little guilty at times like these. Sometimes I feel like I should get more involved in the back and forth that goes on… might make for more interesting banter if there was an additional participant in the reindeer games. But if I’m being honest, that’s – to varying degrees – not Tuttle, not me as a player, and not me as a person.

Me as a person is the easy one. I’m generally conflict averse, and doubly so after coming home from work, feeding kids, supervising homework. Getting into disputes with my fellow players – even roleplay ones – aren’t that high a priority to me. (I save that sort of behavior for fantasy football.)

That kinda filters down into my choices as a player. I noticed Bob and Chris both, to varying degrees, like to play quirky characters, sometimes even anti-hero types. They seem to enjoy characters that generate tension and create story fodder. Me? Maybe it makes me a little boring, but I’m a do-gooder at heart and I play pretty straightforward character types. I almost always play good, maybe a little more evenly mixed on the law-chaos spectrum. Heck, Tuttle being Lawful Neutral is kind of a big step for me!

(I would point out this tends to be true across the board, not just in Pathfinder. I tried playing the Renegade path in Mass Effect, and I always felt like a complete asshole every time I had to say something mean or hostile. I’m just not wired for it.)

It’s not like I’m averse to complexity or character development or anything like that… but if I had to put a finger on it, I’d say I prefer to keep that aspect of the game self-contained and find it in my own character rather than creating friction with other party members to generate it. Or maybe it’s as simple as Tolkien being a formative experience and I’d rather my character be one of the hobbits than Boromir.

In a separate direction, I think some of it also comes from being goal-oriented when we’re playing. I tend to want to get to the next battle or the next plot point. Banter between partymates? Yes, it’s genuinely entertaining, but there’s always this level on which it feels a little indulgent and I want to just get on with things. We only get three hours once a week, I tend to want to make the most of it.

Tuttle’s motivations are the easy part. He’s Science Rat to the core. He probably thinks the pissing match about who is “in charge” is a bit beneath him, to be honest. He’s here to do a job and that’s it. I’ve always felt that Tuttle has come to appreciate Mo for much the same reason; he just does the job he’s there to do. I don’t think Tuttle dislikes the other two, but he’s probably a little suspicious of Rusty insofar as Rusty’s powers are more subtle than Akiro’s – Akiro blows things up and makes copies of himself; Rusty just kinda bosses everyone else around and sometimes good things happen as a result of it. Tuttle is big on people being useful, and he doesn’t always see it with Rusty.

Of course, it’s dawning on me that I PROBABLY should’ve been reflecting that suspicion by putting some points into Sense Motive as I leveled up because this Rusty Mind Control stuff is getting a little out of hand. For all the skills Tuttle has, I’ve only put 3 or 4 ranks into Sense Motive, which makes Rusty’s job a lot easier for him. (Generally I have five or six core skills I spend on every level, and then I kinda round-robin the rest. Sense Motive is one of the “rest”.) On the other hand, this close to the end of the adventure path, it feels like ability choices should be essential, and I’m not sure protecting myself from my own teammates is worth a lot of investment.

Speaking of leveling choices, I went back and forth a few times on putting my mechanic trick into Portable Power. Part of me really wanted to go with something more combat-useful since we’re nearing the sprint to the finish. But here’s the thing. First, the combat options I could take at this level weren’t really game-changers – there was a shield, but it would only take one or two hits; there was also an improved version of the overcharge ability I already have. But more importantly, leaning into my role as skill monkey, being able to power a downed system is something literally no one else in the party can do. It feels like that could be important, especially when we’re dealing with centuries-dead civilizations. Do an extra damage die? Or perhaps – even if it’s an edge case – push the game forward in an unexpected way that might save our collective bacon.

Will it work? Well, we’ve arrived at Moon 2, so I guess next week will start to reveal the answer to that question. In the meantime, feel free to drop by our Discord channel and 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.

Dead Suns 101: Rusty Has A Posse

This week the RFC Crew hit the double digits, the group holds an intervention, and, eventually, they decide to finally start the next leg of their adventure!

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