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Talking Plaguestone 07: Just The Traps, Ma’am

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat: The Fall of Plaguestone, Episode 07: Traps R Us.

It’s time to settle this once and for all.

It’s “Phinick” the goblin. As in “a possible distant relative of the Phillie Phanatic”.

We – ALL of us; I want to be clear I’m not just busting Steve’s chops here – have been going back and forth for three or four episodes now between “Finnick” and Pinnick”, and it’s been giving me a low-grade migraine when writing these wrap-ups. So I can only imagine how you listeners might feel about it. I thought about just wildcarding it as “*innick” or using that symbol Prince used to use, but I finally gave in and threw an impromptu strike – told Steve I wouldn’t write another word until he told me the correct spelling. You’re welcome.

So we begin this episode with a rollicking chase through the streets of Plaguestone, as we spy PHINICK trying to sneak away with some of our hard-fought BBQ. You can kill Bort… hardly knew the guy… but do NOT abscond with my swine! Personally, I thought Steve should’ve ditched the usual fantasy-themed score and pumped in some funky Starsky and Hutch-inspired 70s wah-wah guitar, but that’s just me.

And after all the low-grade humiliations Brixley has suffered up to this point in the adventure (falling mud, getting punched during bar fights, bees), it turns out this is one thing Brixley is built for – he’s a jock at heart. STR 16, DEX and CON 14… this is right in his wheelhouse (helped by some timely rolls, but still). I lucked out insofar as at no point in the chase did Brixley have to read street signs (INT) to continue the chase.

To be fair, it’s Short People Parkour, as Cade also handles the task with aplomb, while Prue and Celes have their share of struggles. Celes was probably to be expected, but I would’ve thought Prue would have the stats and skills to hang in there with us. One lively chase later, we have our leading suspect in custody… except that he’s less of a suspect and more of a bread-crumb. It turns out Hallod was the one who put Phinick up to poisoning Bort, by telling him it was just a practical joke.

Thanks to Phinick’s confession and the documents we found at Bort’s cabin, the picture starts to come into clearer focus. Hallod and Bort were doing side deals no one knew about for weird alchemical goods, and either the deal went bad or Hallod wanted to make sure to leave no witnesses behind (that part’s still a little fuzzy). Cop shows on TV always throw out “means, motive, opportunity” as a trope. We’ve got means and opportunity nailed, and as far as motive, it’s more a question of picking which one rather than not having one at all. And we even have a lead on where to find Hallod, thanks to a now-cooperative Phinick. Abandoned shack at the edge of town. So we’d better hurry up and get after him before he finds out we’re on to him.

Aside: I find the “no, not THAT abandoned shack, the OTHER abandoned shack” dynamic amusing. We’re up to like 3 or 4 different quests that involve visiting abandoned properties. Sir Kent’s rumors about undead people. The question of Celes potentially being related to the mayor. Now, finding Hallod’s hideout. “Welcome to Plaguestone: Abandoned Shack Capital of the Inner Sea.”

The second half of this episode is broadly summed up as “What’s the point of having a rogue in your party if you’re not going to use him?” as we manage to set off not one but two different traps. Now, you can probably excuse the first one just based on stereotypes: Hallod has basically been described as a walking side of beef, which is not the physical archetype for a rogue. But you’d think we would’ve taken a bit more caution after the first trap got us. And you would be wrong. Gloriously wrong.

First, after doing a fairly cautious reconnoiter of the house, Prue kicks in a door – a very Prue thing to do – and gets a faceful of crossbow bolt for her troubles. In fairness, Cade did find the (safe) way to get in, but it’s a few seconds too late to help Prue. And for all that trouble, the whole place looks like a bit of a dead-end. Until… footprints leading away in a different direction.

We follow the footprints which lead to the beginnings of a smuggler’s hideout, where we shortly encounter trap #2. This time, it’s Brixley trying to be bold and take the lead, and I end up bringing part of the passage down on our heads because I miss a tripwire. Meanwhile, Cade… I dunno… snacking on beef jerky or something? Whatever halflings do in their spare time.

Now, it’s possible this was all karmic punishment for inflicting my Bee Gees impression on all of you, and if that’s what happened… OK, that’s totally fair. I’ve been trying to behave myself and limit my random outbursts of pop culture minutiae, but that one just got away from me. I totally blame Steve for using the phrase “strut your stuff” – that Travolta strut from the opening of Saturday Night Fever popped into my head… and then right on out of my mouth. I REGRET NOTHING. (OK, I regret missing the trap, no on everything else.)

We shortly get the passage cleared again, and resume our pursuit of Hallod. Eventually, we come out of the passage into a safer and more developed portion of the Bad-Guy Lair. A ladder going down to a lower level of the complex. We descend the ladder (having FINALLY learned our lesson, Cade goes first), find and open a door… and it’s time to defend ourselves against angry dogs. FANNNNTASTIC place for a cliffhanger.

Will the party survive the dogfight (pun fully intended)? Will they bring Hallod to justice? Will they reach Level 2? Come back next week and join us as we explore more of the mysteries of Plaguestone. In the meantime, feel free to drop by our Discord channel or other social media and let us know what you think of the show. Thanks again for listening, and we’ll see you next week!

Plaguestone 07: Traps R Us

It’s off to the races for the RFC Crew this week as they literally chase down a lead. And then we get to see just how many traps the RFC Crew can set off this week? (Answer: all of them!)

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Talking Combat 100: To Infinity And Beyond

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 100: How The Sausage Gets Made.

Episode #100. Kinda crazy if you think about it. I don’t want anyone to misread and think I expected this to fail, but I would’ve expressed at least mild surprise if you’d told me when we launched this thing that a) we’d still be going and that b) we’d still be on the first adventure path. I suppose my bet would’ve been on “gotten bored of the sci-fi setting and gone back to Pathfinder”, but I suppose we’ve still managed to scratch that itch here and there, particularly with Second Edition. So here we are.

Now about my fantasy football team… (Kidding, kidding.)

Now if we were really planning, Steve should’ve edited the episodes so that I got my new mic in Episode #100. Spoiler alert (or not, if you’re listening to our Plaguestone show), I do eventually get one, but it’s still another few episodes away. So for now, still broadcasting from inside a washing machine. Sorry about that. The end IS in sight, if that helps.

It’s funny to contemplate the flow of podcast time at moments like these. Right now, as Steve said, we’re sitting on a small mountain of surplus material in the can, and what we’re recording right now probably won’t even reach your ears for another month or two. And yet it hasn’t always been like that – we hit a stretch around the holidays last winter where breaks and aggressive edits burned through most of our recordings and were probably down to about 2 or 3 episodes before we might have to start recording live.

As I was listening to this episode last night, I heard at least one thing that is going to become REALLY useful sometime in the next two months, and one thing that WOULD have been really useful had we remembered its existence, but it kinda slipped our minds and represents a missed opportunity. I’m not going to tell you what those things are right now because it would be spoilery. For now, put a pin in it, and when we hit those moments in the show, I’ll try to remember to come back around and call those out.

As far as the game action, there wasn’t a lot going on in this episode because we hit the end of a block of story. I do have to admit it was low-key humiliating to have Akiro do most of the computer-based heroics this episode. Yes, defeating the countermeasure was still pretty slick, and Tuttle got the final roll at the end to put the evil AI back in its box, but still, I’m a little red-faced even with the built-in excuse of not reading the language. Computers and engineering are supposed to be My Thing. (And you’ll notice when it comes time to level, learning the Kish language becomes my highest priority.)

I noticed I actually had a little bit of a mental vapor-lock when we were discussing what to do about the two remaining sub-bosses. This wasn’t a case where I forgot something from the previous week; I literally lost my train of thought in the span of about 10 minutes. We establish that there are two sub-bosses, including Evil She-Tuttle in this complex with us. I even make a joke about getting Tuttle a girlfriend. But somewhere in there, we shifted the conversation to what awaits us on Moon #2, and somehow I transposed that conversation into the current complex and decided we only had to clear out a few maintenance bots in our current location. In fact, going back to spoilers for future episodes, I forget so thoroughly that at some future point, I speculate about where the female ysoki is, thinking she’s yet to be found. (Or maybe Steve will spare me some humiliation and cut that bit.)

As far as the decision itself, I get the logic of locking them in and hoping for the best – we’re out of resources to fight them, and we’re generally on a clock. One can argue the sense of it on merit, and at a metagame level, they’ve mostly served their collective purpose in the story. But I have to admit, leaving a mechanic behind seems like it MIGHT be a bit of a tactical error. The fighter type? Whatever. Punch the walls all you want. But leaving someone who potentially has Tuttle-level (or at the risk of being egotistical, 80% of Tuttle’s level) hacking skills as a fire in our rear seems like a questionable choice. Hope it doesn’t bite us later.

And OK, maybe I’m biased because it would put Tuttle front and center, but I feel like depriving the world of a drone-v-drone slapfight is a missed opportunity. If we can have a Hirogi-based bottle episode (totally in favor of that, by the way – Steve should let the rest of us play NPCs who try to kill him), maybe we can also go do one where Tuttle goes back and fights Lady DeathTuttle by himself.

As far as the “working session”… yeah, that doesn’t happen too often, but every once in awhile, it’s unavoidable. Steve’s generally pretty good about warning us when level-up is coming or ending an episode at a level-up, and we come back to the next session with finished characters. The one exception is loot/shopping: it’s hard to resolve EVERY buy/sell decision over email (and some things like serums come from group loot), so money tends to be a moving target until we’re back at the table. I think this hiccup was some combination of Steve being really busy in the middle of convention season (this was somewhere between PaizoCon and GenCon), or maybe he didn’t have us level because he expected us to be completionists and do the other two rooms, and we surprised him. I will say that historically, clearing the whole complex is more of an “us” move.

(The one other exception I can think of recently is when we blew through content too fast – during Iron Gods, we had a sub-boss fight which probably should’ve taken an hour, but was reduced to a triviality because the boss missed four straight saves on Hold Person and we were able to walk up to him and calmly coup de grace him. Oops.)

Lastly, the fact that we got to claim those Kish hoverbikes is pretty great. As much as Logical Me thinks they’re a party resource, Emotional Me is TOTALLY on Mo’s side – if anyone in this group should be founding his own motorcycle gang, it’s Mo Dupinsky. “Skittermanders of Anarchy”? Still working on that one. Reluctantly, I’d probably also admit that Hirogi would’ve been a good fit for one as well if he ever returns. I’m in the middle on whether Akiro and Rusty are biker types. Tuttle’s a hard pass, though.

So we have our little working session, but we don’t really get resolution or a full unveiling… just that Akiro is probably going to prioritize saving his own hide and Tuttle will turn into the Duolingo Owl. For full details… I guess we’ll pick it up there next week, and I assume we’ll make our way to Moon #2 to continue that story as well. I realize it will “only” be Episode #101, but I hope you’ll be back to join us next week. In the meantime, feel free to drop by the Discord channel or other social media and let us know what you think of the show. See you next week, and thanks for listening!

Dead Suns 100: How The Sausage Gets Made

This week we celebrate episode 100 of the Dead Suns Roll For Combat Podcast and give you a little peek “behind the scenes”. The first half of the episode is our normal gameplay, but the second half you can listen in as we level up our characters, discuss overall strategy, and generally geek out!

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 06: Dinner And A Motive

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat: The Fall of Plaguestone, Episode 06: Swine Dining.

It’s been a hectic few episodes in the town of Plaguestone – three combat encounters and a fourth that could’ve blown up if Cade hadn’t landed his stealth rolls – so this week we slow it down a little. In fact, we slow it WAAAAAY down, spending half the episode just socializing and relaxing with a good meal. We do still manage to fit in a little movement on the mystery of Bort’s murder, but it’s good to pause and catch our collective breath. Right until the cliffhanger at the end, of course.

It dawns on me: did we roll dice at all this episode? Maybe a Perception roll at Bort’s cabin, but that’s about it, I think.

Our first “duty” of the night was celebrating our victory and restoring a little bit of confidence in the kitchen staff of the Feedmill, courtesy of a good old-fashioned pig roast. Since we found the empty poison vial and there’s no sign of Pinnick skulking about, there are some pretty broad signals that Bort’s murder was a one-time thing. I don’t think we have to worry about any further danger on that front, so I think this is more about generating some goodwill amongst the townspeople. (But you’ll notice I still let Prue take the first bite. Just sayin’.)

During dinner, we actually do a little more (re-)introduction of the team, since if you want to get technical we never really formally got to know each other. Things always seemed to come up, whether it was wolves, bar fights, murder. You know… the usual! I have to admit (out-of-character) that I didn’t really get the memo about tying my backstory into the Whispering Tyrant like the others did. I feel like it’s OK though because I kind of planned on Brixley being a little little bit sheltered and naïve – think of him as “the cop fresh out of the academy”. Having been on the front lines at Lastwall and seen death up close would’ve undermined that a little bit anyway.

Though I’m chuckling a little bit at the general tone – you’ve got three people who’ve Seen Some Serious Shit, and then there’s Brixley bouncing around like a doofus. The Burt Ward Robin of Second Edition. “Aw shucks, fellas! This Whispering Tyrant sounds like a real piece of work!”

The next, unexpectedly light-hearted interlude was watching Celes get all flustered dealing with the idea that the mayor thinks they’re related. As a roleplaying thing, Brixley generally likes Celes and has built some initial rapport with her, but his mischievous side can tell this is a bit of an awkward situation for her and he wants to see how this all plays out. (Coincidentally, my own motivations as a player.) I have to admit I don’t think they’re REALLY related, but this might be a hook to something else – maybe more general information about why the town is the way it is or something.

(It also dawned on me during this interaction – a couple of episodes after the fact – that this feels like the setup to Indiana Jones and the Temple Of Doom. Plaguestone has that pedestal in the town square that seems to be missing… a magic rock, perhaps?… and they’ve been having bad luck ever since. WE MUST GO TO PANKOT PALACE!)

Similarly, the drunken soldier – I don’t think we’re supposed to take him literally that the undead are invading Plaguestone. Heck, if it were undead, they probably wouldn’t hide in an abandoned house, they’d probably just start attacking people. If it’s good enough for the local wildlife, after all…. But I do think he saw… something. Maybe Pinnick is holed up there. Or perhaps there are other co-conspirators involved that we haven’t been introduced to yet. It’s still a little hard to believe Phinick is some criminal mastermind.

After dinner, it’s time to get the mystery going again, and that means a trip to Bort’s cabin to look over his paperwork. There’s not a lot to go on here, but we do learn a few things. In addition to his more innocuous contributions to the turnip-based economy, Bort has been running a side business delivering “reagents” to someone in town. Someone with the initial “H”. I mean… that sounds like Hallod to me, even if he himself doesn’t seem like the magic-using type. He certainly fits the bill as a bad and imposing dude who would make a formidable adversary… much moreso than a fairly meek goblin bar-back. So we’re starting to bring the picture into focus… perhaps Hallod and Phinick are working together, and maybe there’s even someone else of a more magical bent involved. And (taken with the dinner-time revelations) maybe some of them are using that abandoned house Sir Kent saw as a base of operations.

And as we leave Bort’s to head home for the night, answers present themselves in the form of our wayward goblin friend. All that we have to do is catch him!

Buuuut… that’ll be an exercise (figuratively and literally) for next time. Heck of a cliffhanger, huh? We’ll see you back here next week when the chase gets underway. While you’re waiting, feel free to drop by our Discord channel or other social media and let us know your thoughts on the show. Until then, thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next week.

SP18: Pathfinder & Starfinder Society Interview with Linda Zayas-Palmer

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 Organized Play Lead Developer Linda Zayas-Palmer.

Society has grown a massive amount and with the recent launch of Pathfinder 2nd edition and Starfinder, Linda Zayas-Palmer was promoted to help develop all of that upcoming Society content. During this interview, we discuss Linda’s new role, her fascinating journey to Paizo, the upcoming Society Quests line, and lots more. Check it out!

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!

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Talking Combat 099: One Step Forward And Two Steps Back

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 099: Bravely Run Away!

For once, I start with a bit of a “show note” of my own. As Steve mentioned, I will probably be moving the Tuesday Talking (Dead Suns) to Mondays – it was going to be this week, but I had surprise guests in town for the holiday weekend and things got away from me. The big motivation for me is easing confusion – it seems like a bit of a disconnect to have the Plaguestone episode and Dead Suns Talking Combat release on the same day. If I move this to Mondays, it kinda closes the book on each in sequence – Plaguestone airs Tuesday, Talking on Thursday; Dead Suns airs Friday, Talking on Monday. I think it makes more sense that way; it just turns out I needed an extra week to get with the program.

Does it count that it FEELS like a Monday because of the holiday?

This week, we complete the big fight against Malice and its minions. A close call, but we live to fight another day.

The first thing I noticed is it’s about 15 minutes until I actually get to say anything this episode. Part of it is as simple as being at the tail end of the initiative order – my turn didn’t come up, what are you gonna do? I’ll also admit I was a little self-conscious about talking with my Hobo Mic when it came time to discuss the inner workings of grenades. But I have to admit I was a little amused to be cruising along almost 15 minutes into the action and then have the narrator pop in with my intro.

I don’t know if this fight was statistically the closest call we’ve had – with Xavra, the final Solarian boss fight on Istamak, we actually had people drop and didn’t even have CHDRR – but this just felt like it could go either way right down to the wire. I think the big difference was group damage. Xavra had group damage, but it was centered on him and could be mitigated by spreading out so he couldn’t focus on more than one of us at a time. In this fight, there was a LOT of group damage, between the Cultists’ grenades and Malice’s Tron disc, and it could be directed more easily. Also, the adds in the other fight were literal cannon fodder; in this fight, the adds were actually a force to be reckoned with.

The Tron Disk, if I remember correctly, made its first appearance during the final boss fight on Castrovel. It seems to be a staple of crazy cultists everywhere! It’s kind of a high-risk, high-reward spell – if you make your attack rolls, it can dole out a TON of damage for a second-level spell, but if you miss a roll, the whole thing just kinda dies on the vine.

Grenades really proved their usefulness in this fight – on both sides. I’ve always felt like the economics of grenades are kind of flawed – just, for example, each of those Shock Grenade III’s that Rusty used retails for about 5400 credits – but if you set aside the cost and get them for free, they’re actually fairly useful. Even with all the mitigating factors, Rusty was still putting 30 or 40 damage up across all enemies with each grenade. The perfect tool for thinning numbers when you’re outnumbered. Then again, also a handy tool for letting the Cultists take a few chunks out of us.

I don’t know how easy or hard it is to visualize, but the flow of this fight was basically a rolling retreat. Basically, CHDRR and Mo were meant to be the defensive front line, and that was going well at first. But once they started taking damage, they both started falling back toward the entrance to the north. Of course, that left the squishies on the front lines and so we had to get back behind our reluctant tank again. I doubt anyone would come out and admit it, but there may also have been some jockeying for position to not be the first one hit by the Tron Disk.

Well, everyone except Akiro. Despite the fact that all the Cultists seemed out for his head, he took the least damage of any of us. A fact that seemed to infuriate John to no end.

Not that I blame John for being frustrated. That exhaustion spell he got hit with sounds like a bear, and that’s even with John’s haste circuit evening things out somewhat. If he didn’t have the haste circuit, that probably would’ve been a freaking nightmare. Not to mention he almost certainly would’ve ended up stuck up front taking hits and probably would’ve dropped. Did the haste circuit save us from a TPK? Hard to say, but you can make the case.

As far as the decision to have CHDRR back out of the fight… I realize I’ve spent the better part of 99 Talkings telling you that CHDRR is disposable and he can be sacrificed for the greater good if need be, but in this fight, you’ll notice I was a LOT more concerned with keeping him standing than in previous fights. I think… I wouldn’t be so grandiose to call it “roleplay”, exactly, but I do feel like it’s more important to keep him alive because the story is unfolding in terms of hours, not days. There’s clearly no chance to retreat to Abaslom for a day or two and rebuild him at my convenience. Even below that threshold, it feels like we’re going to have to jump right into the next stage of the fight, which doesn’t seem to leave a 24-hour window available for a CHDRR Mk 5. So this one time, I actually got a little more protective of my yellow companion.

As a side effect, I’d also note this might be the first time I’ve ever used THE BUTTON twice in the same combat. If I’m being honest, I was totally fishing for the heal effect I know is hiding in there somewhere. Movement speed and damage weren’t useless, but I really could’ve used some hit points. Alas… ‘twas not to be.

Tuttle himself didn’t really fare too badly – I did take that one crit from the sword for 30 or 35 damage, but other than that, I didn’t really take a lot of hits. I ended the fight very close to the stamina-hitpoint border, though I honestly don’t remember if I was JUST over or JUST under. I mention it because if it had come right down to it and people started dropping, I probably could’ve slugged it out with Malice for another few rounds if I’d absolutely had to.

As a low-key comedic moment, it was kind of funny to hear Chris offer his nugget of poker wisdom (“only one player to a hand”) after he just got done with five solid minutes of… we’ll call it “constructive criticism”. One player to a hand, indeed.

Lastly, I always enjoy it when Bob and Chris get into one of their pissing matches about who’s doing more damage and I sneak in and get the actual kill shot on the boss. I played it cool on the show, but internally, I was cracking up. Sweet victory for Aeon Tuttle!

Next week… we deal with the aftermath of the fight, advance the plot, and since Steve’s been hinting at it, it’s probably not a huge spoiler to suggest we probably level in there somewhere. In the meantime, I’m cutting this short tonight because we have our annual fantasy football draft. I’m picking last, I’m not happy about it, it is what it is. Feel free to drop by Discord or our other social media outlets to let us know what you think about the show, thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next week.

Plaguestone 06: Swine Dining

After seemingly endless animal attacks, the RFC Crew get a bit of downtime where they eat some delicious boar bbq, connect with one another, and chase down new leads.

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!