November 2019 - Page 2 of 2 - Roll For Combat: Paizo's Official Pathfinder & Starfinder Actual Play Podcasts

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Talking Plaguestone 16: Strike That. Reverse It.

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat: The Fall of Plaguestone, Episode 16: The Killer Bs.

I realize Steve starts this week’s show with further rules discussion of the tremorsense “mistake-but-not-a-mistake” we made last week, but I kind of outkicked the coverage and went over a lot of that last week, so I’m not sure there’s a whole lot to add to that. Now it turns out he SHOULDN’T have given us freebies because he administered it right the first time. This stuff all evens out in the long haul, so… no big deal.

On the other hand, the bleeding issue got glossed over a little. If it really requires a full heal to stop bleeding, that probably meant Prue and I should’ve had to take a few more saves to try and get rid of the bleeding, and should’ve stayed in rounds until that happened. I still could’ve popped a Lay On Hands to give myself some margin for error, but it might not have been as tidy as it turned out to be.

Meanwhile, there’s a brand new rule discussion brewing on the Discord forums, but I’m gonna let that percolate because Steve said he’d probably tackle it next week and I don’t want to steal his thunder. (Also, it relates primarily to someone else’s character abilities, so at this point, it’s not really “my” issue.)

I would note that the recurring theme of all of this is that it’s easy to get overconfident with Second Edition and feel like it’s just First Edition with a new coat of paint. That the action economy is the big difference and most of the rest works the same as it used to. But there ARE differences… sometimes subtle, sometimes dramatic… and sometimes we’re guilty of switching on the “it works just like it did in First Edition” autopilot and we get stuff wrong. Years of gaming inertia can be tough to shake off.

After last week’s near-death experience with the bloodbushes, this week’s battle was a definite improvement. I wouldn’t call it easy, exactly…. the dogs still landed a few solid hits, and that trick where they explode at the end was particularly nasty. Also, my personal offense was a little underwhelming – a lot of misses, and my few hits were for fairly low damage. But we all survived without dropping, at least got to handle the battle mostly on our terms and use a little bit of actual tactics.

Yeah, tactics! Remember those? It’s harder to come up with choke points when attacks of opportunity aren’t as common, but nature actually provided us with one, as long as we were able to force the beasties to come to us. Now… I’m not sure how we would’ve been able to light a bush on fire and then roll it into the cave without taking fire damage, but since Steve decided to be charitable on that front, we’ll take it. (For that matter, does a bush really “roll”?). Then again, I suppose the smoke it generated evened things out a little, ultimately costing Prue a crit. So maybe it wasn’t THAT charitable. Still better than fighting in a cave where half our party would have to be hunched over in difficult terrain.

It started out looking like it was going to be another long session when I took that first crit, though. Not gonna lie. Part of the reason that fight with the bloodbushes went so badly is that the first roll was a crit for half my health, and this started to look like “second verse, same as the first”. But then rolls started breaking our way, and I got that nice little bailout from Celes’ armor class boost, turning a hit into a miss. As I said, I was a little disappointed that I didn’t contribute more to the offense, but the team won, and that’s what’s important.

I thought the dogs’ bull rush attack would be more of a problem than it turned out to be. First, I was worried it would also do damage, but the only effect was the positioning, so that’s good. I was more worried the dogs were going to break out and either get flanking on us or attack the squishies in the back line. (Or both.) Fortunately, the breach was only temporary – we were able to polish off the one that broke out and then close the line up again before the second could find a way through the gap.

One thing I need to consider doing more of: my Liberating Step. When one of my teammates gets damaged, I can (as a reaction) give them DR (2 + level, so… 4) against the damage. It’s not a lot, but it’s also not nothing in a game where hit points are scarce. The problem is that it works off a reaction, so it ends up being a choice between that, raising my shield, or holding it in reserve to take a +2 on any save.

If there’s bad news about this week’s episode, it’s on the story front, where nothing really moves. All we had was the downtime after the first fight and the second fight, so we’re basically in the same place with that. Once the smoke clears, we can investigate the cave and see if there’s any usable information, but for this week… the plot is just as thick as it was. Hopefully, next week sheds a little more light on things.

That’s all I have for this week… we got through a fight without me dying or embarrassing myself, so I’m in a pretty good mood. Next week we’ll be back to investigate the cave and see if those two battles bought us any information worth learning. While you’re waiting, feel free to drop by our Discord channel or other social media and let us know what you think of the show. Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next week.

Plaguestone 16: The Killer Bs

This week we reflect on some rules that were done slightly incorrectly last week (and how to correct them for your home game) and the RFC Gang finally decide to do something they never did before – tactics!

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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Talking Combat 109: Stinker, Traitor, Soldier, Spy

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 109: I’m The Captain Now.

So wait… we have a SPY in our midst?

Or… there’s a 25 percent chance I AM the spy, in which case… MUAHAHAHA!

I’m not going to comment any further about the “spy” itself. My thoughts are more about the general concept of the GM “steering” the campaign. On some level, this happens all the time; it’s more of a question of how heavy a thumb the GM is going to put on the scale. NPC’s will have really specific knowledge about the path they want you to pursue and really vague information about anything else. The door they don’t want you to open will resist all skill checks to open it, while the door they want you going through will have a surprisingly low DC. Sometimes I’ve even been in campaigns where the GM will have an NPC of their own join the party to nudge the game in a certain direction or fill in skills the team needs to get to the next story point. I’ll admit enlisting a fellow player as part of an inside job is a little more heavy-handed than usual, but it’s also not unheard of.

Out at the extreme ends of the spectrum, this method of controlling the game can suck. Too much control, and the players are just glorified NPCs in the GM’s story and you start to wonder why you’re playing. Too little control, and the plot gets lost entirely and the game devolves into the players fighting each other for control of the story.

Also, as we discussed a few episodes back with regards to setting the game up for a guest, the logistics of running a podcast also add a necessary layer of game management. There’s letting the players have the agency to do cool and unexpected things, and there’s letting players wandering aimlessly for five or six episodes – with an audience listening – because they don’t know where to go next. (As someone who would’ve had to write five or six Talking Combats where nothing happens, I can sympathize.) This situation, in particular, feels like it had a high probability of going off into the weeds because it’s a big problem with a lot of unknowns, and some of the failures just could’ve gotten us anti-climactically killed. (Imagine a scenario where we just decided to fight a capital ship in the Sunrise Maiden. SHIP GOES BOOM.) So if Steve wanted to put a light thumb on the scale to make a tighter show… up to a point, that’s not some horrible breach of trust.

Next, we have a bit of a light-hearted moment with Tuttle’s newest mutation – the X-Ray Eye. (Do we go ahead and call it the Stinkeye? Perhaps.) We had a few critical fails on the lesser Stitch Spider, but this might be our first failure with the greater one, and even if it’s not the first, it’s certainly the most memorable one. So now I have Sense Through vision, but I have to keep the eye covered when not using it for that purpose.

The first question that leaps to mind is: is this permanent or not? I know with the lesser Stitch Spider, any negative effects only lasted until the next long rest. I guess there’s a chance this is going to be permanent, but I’m feeling like the answer is no. But… even if it’s a couple of days, that means I’ll at least have it for the duration of the campaign.

The second question is how effective is it really going to be? Reading some of the rules on Sense Through, it seems like it’s more useful for personal gear (seeing what someone has under armor, in safes and briefcases, etc.); a lot of building materials block it anyway. A foot of common metal or six inches of starmetal will block it. So unless the Corpse Fleet made their capital ship of wood, the bulkheads are probably going to be impervious anyway. But you never know.

But to summarize, Tuttle’s list of modifications since Level 1 now includes: climbing suckers, regenerative blood, a datajack that comes out of his head so he can plug himself directly into computers, aeon status (mostly just a soft glow), and now the Stinkeye. Tuttle has really undergone a pretty drastic transformation since we started out on this. And to think I almost went for one of the corpse grafts back on Eox too. (The hand that had the necrotic touch attack piqued my interest.)

As a little bit of a cherry on the sundae, I got to provide the name for our new ship, even though it’s probably just a loaner and I don’t expect us to have it for very long. I don’t want to act like “Midnight Maiden” was some great burst of inspiration; it just seemed like our first ship at the start of the game was “Sunrise” and this is the end and likely to be the last ship we have, so my first thought was “Sunset Maiden”. (Anyone else humming Sunrise, Sunset from Fiddler On The Roof, or is that just me?) But then “Midnight Maiden” jumped into my brain because alliteration is always fun, and OK… it sounded a little more gothy, which fit better with an undead ship.

So if we get a new ship when we get back to Absalom, is that the Morning-After Maiden? Ohhhh Myyyyyy! (I’ll be here all week, please tip your waitstaff.)

And then there’s the control system for the ship itself. Obviously our first cultural comparison was from the episode of Battlestar Galactica where Starbuck hotwires a Cylon fighter; the other comparison that was rolling around my brain was the “Johnny Cab” from Total Recall. I have to admit I’m surprised the Computers roll was as high as it was – I mean, I’ve been putting points into Computers EVERY level, and I still needed a 19 or 20, plus an assist from multiple teammates to make the roll. I mean, if this thing IS supposed to be on rails, why make the desired outcome that difficult? It’s… strange.

But whatever… we’re off the ground, we have a ship, and we’re headed for the undead capital ship where we’re going to… OK, still haven’t figured that part out yet. But come back next week and see what we come up with. In the meantime, drop by our Discord channel and let us know what you think of the show. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next week.

Dead Suns 109: I’m The Captain Now

The Sunrise Maiden is a lost cause, so it’s time to hotwire an Eoxian spacecraft and … do something really dangerous and stupid!

Also this week, GM Stephen gives details on how to gently nudge your PCs in the direction you want them to go during an adventure.

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Talking Plaguestone 15: Nature 1, Brixley 0

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat: The Fall of Plaguestone, Episode 15: Bushwhacked.

I’d been dreading writing this episode because let’s be honest… it was kind of humiliating. It’s “The Episode Where Brixley Gets His Ass Kicked By Shrubbery”. I joked about it a little in the moment because using gallows humor to deflect is kind of a thing for me, but inside I was seething.

Going back and listening, however, I had a much different reaction to it. Maybe it’s the 20-20 hindsight of having survived, maybe it’s just that it stings less with a little distance, but I was much more detached than I expected to be. You know… we caught a bad break or two. The whole fight started off on a tough note with the crit, and we (well, mostly me) never really got a chance to get our legs back under us. Heck… they hit five attacks out of six, and it was the last one that actually dropped me, so if even one of those had missed, I could’ve fired off Lay On Hands, and the whole fight might’ve unfolded differently for me.

I’ve already made this point in the Hallod fight, but I do think some of the… I won’t even say “problem”, but “challenge”… of Second Edition as a system is the fact that high attack bonuses can be lethal in this system. There’s two main dangers – crits and follow-up attacks – both of which we saw reflected in poor Brixley’s fate.

Let’s do some math. Steve mentions that those bloodbushes attack at +11; and my armor class is 18 without my shield, and 20 with the shield. And I’m theoretically the tankiest member of the party (Prue’s AC is 1-2 points lower, I believe). So their chance to crit can be as high as 20% (first attack, shield down would crit on a 17 or better), which happened first attack out of the gate. Granted, shield up, second attack, it’s basically back to “gotta roll a 20”, but still… that’s surprisingly high. What about follow-up attacks? Well, I’ll skip crunchy math and make the simple case – if I’ve got a +6 attack bonus and they’ve got a +11, their hit chance on a second attack is equal to my chance on a first attack. I will say it feels like they equalize this somewhat by giving monsters lower armor classes, but still… those second attacks can add up. Again, as they did for Brixley.

Vanessa has been lamenting that she didn’t cast Sanctuary on Brixley instead of Produce Flame, but I’m not going to fault her for it. It’s one of those things that looks like the right call with 20-20 hindsight. Once you know Brixley’s gonna eat five attacks, yeah, casting a defensive spell makes sense, but at the time… we got an early hint they’re vulnerable to fire, so might as well run with that. For all we knew, they had like 15 or 20 hit points and one good max-damage roll could’ve put one of them down before the fight even got going.

In one of his rare show notes for the Plaguestone show, Steve mentions making a rules mistake. We’re actually having a lively discussion about it on Discord, but I’m going to summarize some of that here. Basically, Steve THOUGHT he made two mistakes, but one of them turned out after further research to be done correctly.

The mistake that wasn’t really a mistake was this: Steve saw after the fight that the plants had imprecise tremorsense – tremorsense allows creatures to detect enemies through their motion and the vibrations they generate in the earth, but the fact that it’s imprecise makes it a 50 percent miss chance. Somewhere in Steve’s brain, he thought maybe the plants ONLY had the imprecise tremorsense (it’s not like plants have eyes), in which case EVERY attack should’ve had a 50% miss chance. That’s the mistake he THOUGHT he had made when he recorded the intro. But it turns out – he talked to Paizo and everything – that you can assume normal humanoid senses as a baseline unless the stat-block explicitly says one of those senses is missing. So the plants had normal senses AND imprecise tremorsense. So at least on that front, Steve actually administered the encounter correctly and all the attacks that were supposed to hit did so. It would’ve come into play if we’d had access to something like darkness or obscuring mist and tried to sneak by under magical cover.

The one he definitely made a mistake on is bleed damage. The crux of the matter can be found in the “Persistent Damage Rules” on Page 621 of the Core Rulebook, where it says that healing all the way to full would automatically cancel the bleeding condition. Now it DOES say this is all GM discretion and those are “guidelines”, but it did seem pretty specific that it has to be a full heal; especially since both Pathfinder First Edition and Starfinder explicitly state the opposite – that ANY healing effect stops bleeding.

I’m not going to bag on Steve too much for missing that. Heck, that’s what I thought the rule was. Like I said… First Edition and Starfinder both do it the opposite way, so that’s a decade’s worth of inertia over two Paizo systems telling us that any healing stops bleeding. And it doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing mistake — since it’s GM discretion how well attempts to stop persistent damage work, that also implies that a lesser heal such as a potion could still knock the bleeding condition down a few steps even if it didn’t stop it entirely.

This would’ve been most relevant for Brixley, because Brix took damage on three different occasions, but healed on two – taking a potion on one occasion, getting a heal from Celes on the other. (I don’t know that the use of Hero Points counts as a heal since you still end at zero hit points.) At the time, Steve reset my bleed counter to zero both times, but it turns out it should’ve kept ticking upwards. It couldn’t have gone over bleeding 5, but it should’ve gotten up there and stayed there… which, once Brixley was down, would’ve then increased his dying counter each time it ticked.

I did some back-of-the-envelope math and I don’t think it would’ve meant the difference between Brixley living and dying. Basically, I got some sort of healing (or Hero Point use) for most of the rounds, which wouldn’t have fixed the bleed, but would’ve kept the dying from ticking, and then Celes bailed me out in the final round with the group heal.

Still, however it played out… a pretty close a call, but we all survived. And that wasn’t even the final source of the corruption! So next week we come back and do it all again; hopefully this time with better results. While you’re waiting, feel free to drop by our Discord channel and give us your thoughts on the show so far, or just join the ongoing merriment in the RFC community. Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next week.

Pathfinder Lost Omens Character Guide Review: Leshy Hellknights Galore!

Make sure to read Jason’s review of the Pathfinder Second Edition Core Rulebook, as well as his review of the Pathfinder Bestiary.

If you enjoyed this review make sure to check out our brand new Pathfinder Adventure: The Fall of Plaguestone Actual Play Podcast!

As Pathfinder Second Edition has picked up steam, we’ve covered the release of three hardcover books for the new system so far – the Core Rulebook, the Bestiary, and the Lost Omens World Guide. Now comes Paizo’s newest, release, the Lost Omens Character Guide, which was released just a week-and-change ago. Second Edition’s moved into the neighborhood and unpacked all the boxes; now it’s time to throw a party and invite the weird neighbors down the street!

You can almost think of the World Guide and Character Guide a matched set – the World Guide exists mostly to flesh out the setting and give GMs ideas on how to flesh out their games, while the Character Guide delves deep into options for the players to incorporate into their creations. Not that there’s NO crossover, but it’s an interesting way to break the content up. In some ways, it’s almost like the World Guide and Character Guide exist more as Book 3A and Book 3B.

When looking at character-building, I tend to mentally sort players into one of three broad buckets – you’ve got Min-Maxers, Roleplayers, and Dice-Rollers. The Min-Maxers are all about creating crazy powerful character concepts that have a trick for every fight and are singlehandedly pounding dragons into the ground. They’re the ones who find every little edge in the system, and often (at least in First Edition) had dips into two or three different classes to get EXACTLY the character they want. Roleplayers, obviously, tend to focus on the “story” of their character – sometimes they’ll also be fairly optimized, but other times they’ll be off in the weeds and building weird, quirky characters that may be sub-optimal, but tell exactly the story they want to tell. And then there are the Dice-Rollers – people who approach it primarily from a standpoint of attacking the game goals; it’s usually about having a fairly straightforward character that plays easily, does a few things well, has no glaring weaknesses.

As an aside for those of you who listen to our Dead Suns podcast, Chris is definitely a Min-Maxer (he’s been known to plan his character build out all the way from level 1 to 20 before the adventure begins), Bob is a Roleplayer (he’ll often send Steve entire paragraphs of backstory and character motivations he doesn’t even want the rest of the party to know), and John and I are Dice-Rollers – we’re mostly there to get from point A to point Z without getting anyone killed or dying ourselves.

Using this as my lens, I feel like the Lost Omens Character Guide has a little something for everyone, but it’s really going to be most useful for the roleplaying types who really want to immerse themselves in the world more deeply. Yes, Min-Maxers will be able to find some moderately more effective combinations of feats that will squeeze a bit more out of a character than the tools in the Core Rulebook. Yes, Dice-Rollers may want to try a few of the new ancestries or join one of the organizations to grab a fringe benefit or dabble in the shallow end of the roleplaying pool. But this book is showing its best side when it comes to building colorful characters that fit well into the Inner Sea campaign setting.

The book is unofficially divided, almost equally, into two main parts. The first half focuses on ancestries, both by providing three new (to Second Edition) ancestries, as well as by deepening the options for the existing Core Rulebook choices. The second expands on some of the organizations and societies that exist throughout the world, such as the Hellknights and the Pathfinder Society. Where the rubber meets the road, all of the core ancestries get one or more new heritages and several new ancestry feats, while the organizations tend to be a combination of feats, benefits every member of the organization gets, and magic items that are unique to the organization. The section on organizations also includes some more GM-friendly tools – a gallery of sample NPCs, as well as a template system that would allow GMs to add monster NPCs to these organizations. So if you want your story to have a socially well-adjusted ogre who’s been recruited into the Pathfinder Society, there’s a way to do that.

As a player, my immediate first question is always “what are the NEW ancestries?” I’m a sucker for the new toys; it is what it is. As mentioned, we’ve got three to choose from – hobgoblins, leshies, and lizardfolk. Veteran Pathfinder players will already be familiar with these, but for players arriving new to Pathfinder with Second Edition, allow me to introduce you. Hobgoblins are basically the goblins’ big brother that will beat up your big brother. They’ve got a similar look and characteristics to goblins – but they’re the size of normal humanoids. Leshies are plant-people that are created by druids. I’m sure it wasn’t a Groot Thing when they were originally created, but now the comparisons are inevitable. (Also, as a little factoid, tucked away in one of Steve’s interviews is the fact that leshies were the most requested new ancestry when Paizo was fishing for user feedback.) Lizardfolk are, well, walking talking lizards. No big mystery there. Lizardfolk are strength-based so they feel like they’re geared toward fighter builds; hobgoblins are (surprisingly) INT-based, so they’d make pretty good arcane casters; with leshies, CON and WIS suggest they’d make excellent druids, though the nature theme could also create roleplay synergy with the ranger or even a primal-themed sorcerer.

Lizardfolk are a pretty fundamental race to have in a fantasy RPG, and leshies are interesting and cool, but personally, I could’ve done without hobgoblins. Just being honest. I already wasn’t all that interested in goblins as a core ancestry, and now we have… what… the Goblin S Plus? I realize I might be in the minority here and I’m just having an “Old Man Yells At Cloud” moment, but I would’ve liked a different third ancestry.

Perhaps something DEX-based? Perhaps something that has feathers and squawks? OK… tengu. Should’ve been tengu. (Damnit, I was trying to be subtle here…)

The leshies actually come with a wonderful (in a science-nerd way) racial ability – leshies generally get nourishment through photosynthesis and therefore don’t need conventional food. So if you’re adventuring in the outdoors… you’re good. However, if they spend more than a week in darkness (hint: exploring dungeons), they would actually start to starve. UNLESS… they can buy bottled liquid sunlight at 10 times the price of normal rations. Would that be… wait for it… SPARKLING WATER?

For the Core Rulebook ancestries, the gains tend to be a new heritage and about maybe a dozen ancestry feats scattered over the different tiers. I think what’s interesting here is the choice they made with humans, where they added “ethnicity” feats and “nationality” feats. Ethnicity feats are more classic racial abilities – the Nidalese can gain low-light vision from living in gloomy undead lands; one of the subtypes of Tian Xia, the Tian-Dan, have JUUUUUST enough dragon blood that you can choose to have a pocket-sized breath weapon. “Nationality” feats come from living within a particular area, but you don’t have to be of the home-town ethnicity. An example of this is the Taldan ability “Keep Up Appearances”: since Taldans pride themselves on their bravery, when you’re affected by an emotional effect like fear, you can take a roll to try and trick the caster into thinking you weren’t affected. I think the thing I like about this system is it can cut both ways – you can either lean into your home region or you can use these same feats to make yourself different from the rest of the locals. It feels like it will open up roleplaying possibilities.

Next up, we have the organizations. At first glance, it’s a little confusing to the novice player where the distinctions of class leave off and organization begin, but think of a modern military. You have a package of skills everyone learns (basic training) but there are still specialties within that structure. So putting the Pathfinder class model in modern terms, a sniper might represent a rogue or ranger and a medic might represent a cleric, but they still have SOME of the same skills. (Heck, the Marines have the Marine Corps Band, so… BARDS!) Those “SOME of the same skills” are what the organizations represent.

The Lost Omens Character Guide formally presents five organizations, though scattered through the pages are references to other organizations that might appear in future volumes.

  • The Firebrands are “go big or go home” adventurers – they dress flamboyantly; they strive to do epic deeds; if they’re gonna die, they intend to leave a good-looking corpse. If you dare a Firebrand to punch a dragon in the face, they just might try it. If you’re listening to our Plaguestone podcast, Brixley seems like a Firebrand in the making; he’s already got the foppish fashion sense!
  • The Hellknights are all about law-and-order. And pointy bits on their armor. In some towns, they even serve as local law enforcement. That sounds good until you realize they’re indifferent on the good-evil spectrum.
  • The Knights of Lastwall are a band of warriors who are known for fighting against the undead, so a lot of their perks are dedicated toward that cause.
  • The Magaambya Academy is a school of magic that seeks get in touch with the roots of both arcane and primal magic. They’ve got STEM AND liberal arts programs!
  • The Pathfinder Society are also cut from that “gentlemen adventurer” cloth that the Firebrands are, but unlike the Firebrands, they’re more about either uncovering knowledge or putting that knowledge to use to solve problems in the world. Almost more of an Indiana Jones vibe. (And nothing about a dress code.)

The one thing that stands out at first glance is they’ve made membership in organizations much more flexible and story-driven than it was in First Edition. Organizations tended to be very stat-driven in First Edition: to create a hypothetical society around the Marvel character Daredevil (the Acolytes of Murdoch), you’d have to have a level in Monk or Rogue, Stealth +8, Perception +10, and take the Blind-Fight feat before you could even consider joining. So joining many of these organizations, it was a long drawn-out process spanning multiple levels to even get your character ready, a process that almost overshadowed whatever your other campaign goals might be. Furthermore, by the time you got all the stats up to the necessary level, belonging to the organization was something of an anti-climax because it took so many levels to get there.

If these organizations are a representative sample, organization membership is going to be simpler and more story-driven. Other than a general alignment requirement, most of these (except the Firebrands, which are open to all) tend to have fairly flexible “earn the trust of someone who’s already in the organization” entry requirements that a GM could easily fold into an existing adventure – you run the campaign you were already going to run and impress, say, a Knight of Lastwall in the process. Heck, if you really felt strongly about it and your GM agreed, you could assume the requirements as part of your pre-Level-1 origin story and just start as a member of the organization, though that would spoil the fun of playing through a good origin story. (And in the case of the Hellknights, trial by combat against a devil.)

In addition to a few extra feat selections, some of the organizations have access to interesting magical items that might be fun to play around with. And sometimes non-magical – Hellknight plate is functionally the same as normal plate, but it just looks cool and has lore to it (for example, Hellknights take it VERY seriously when non-members wear their plate). But on the magic item front, there are some neat items. The Magaambya have something called the Scrollstaff, a staff that can basically be inscribed with a spell exactly like a scroll – so it can be used as a normal weapon but can also be used to cast the spell. The Knights of Lastwall offer us the Serrating Rune which creates vibrating shards of metal on the edge of a bladed weapon: yes, it basically turns a bladed weapon into the magical equivalent of a chainsaw. I think my favorite is the Firebrands’ Insistent Door Knocker. This has two main functions. If you put it on an existing locked door, it will give you suggestions on how to pick the lock and give you a bonus on your check to pick the lock. Even cooler, if you put it on a section of wall, it actually attempts to create a door that works as long as the wall isn’t too thick, or as long as the construction materials don’t include metal.

The remaining sections are more for the benefit of the GM. There are a few pages of organization-associated NPC characters, which… I guess they’d be handy if you need to whip up an encounter involving members of that organization. Slightly more interesting, the book also offers templates you can use to add organization affiliation to monsters and other NPCs. Just in case your GM wants the Hellknights to go on a recruiting drive amongst the local kobolds or something. I should mention these templates are for not just the five organizations detailed earlier in the book, but 13 organizations in total that have been mentioned at some point in this book OR the World Guide. Those kobolds can also be Red Mantis Assassins, Aldori Swordlords, or even members of the Whispering Way.

As with all these books, the production values are top-notch. Information is laid out in a way that’s logical and easy to understand and artwork is fantastic. If I have a minor complaint, it would be that the brown color they use for the sidebar text can sometimes be a little hard to read in lower light, which one sometimes encounters in gaming rooms where the GM is trying to set a particular mood. But then again, I also have Old Man Eyes and started having to wear reading glasses about a year ago, so Your Mileage May Vary on that one.

So that’s the skinny on the Lost Worlds Character Guide. Definitely another worthwhile addition to the Second Edition foundation, but one that’s probably a little more tailored to the roleplayers. (Or the surprisingly large number of leshy fans out there, apparently.) It’s not that there’s not something for everyone – there is. There’s just MORE for the people who really sink their teeth into the lore of the world since the options presented here are tailor-made to deepen a character’s connection to that lore. If that sounds like it’s up to your gaming group’s alley, get online or to your local gaming store and we’ll see all you lizardfolk Hellknights out there in the world soon.

Plaguestone 15: Bushwhacked

In the world of Pathfinder, there are a lot of ways to die. Killed by a mighty dragon, mauled by a powerful ogre, or turned to stone by a basilisk. But this week Brixley discovers a new way to die – devoured by a salad!

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Talking Combat 108: Corpse Ship Troopers

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 108: She Blinded Mo With Science!

This week’s blog may be a little short. I don’t know if it’s the Daylight Savings time change, or sitting outside watching a soccer game in 40-degree weather on Saturday, but I’ve been dragging a bit the last few days. So sorry about that.

On some level, this week’s combat is really basic; in terms of tactics, it’s almost like the Revolutionary War where the two sides just line up and pop muskets at each other. If there’s a wrinkle to be had, it’s that it’s one of the very few times we’ve ever been outnumbered. I’ve noticed (with 20/20 hindsight) that most fights in this adventure path have been “about an equal number of bad guys” or “boss encounter who may or may not have a couple of sidekicks”. Eight of them, four or five of us (depending on how you count CHDRR) is a bit of a new test for us. It’s also a bit of a departure as most of our recent fighting has been in starship and building corridors… choke points, cover, limited sightlines… all that tactical Good Stuff. Combat in a wide-open field? I don’t think we’ve had to do that since we were young pups on Castrovel.

Between the open terrain and the need to stay spread out to avoid grenade damage, we ended up dispersing into a fairly wide line, running northwest to southeast across the map – probably 20 or 30 feet between each of us – and Tuttle kind of ended up out on the far southeast edge of the line. At the beginning of the fight, the Corpse Fleet Marines were charging Mo and Akiro in the center, so… OK… business as usual. In fact, I thought there would be an opportunity to quietly sneak down and get into a position where CHDRR could flank with his line attack. Best laid plans, right?

But then John got blinded, and that changed the dynamic of the fight. It might be a little hard to tell without the map in front of you, but in addition to missing on a couple of really solid hits, John started backing off to the northeast a little toward Akiro and Rusty. Unfortunately, this opened up a gap in the line and left CHDRR and Tuttle stranded on an island with two or three of the bad guys bearing down on us. Furthermore, Rusty kept using his Get ‘Em on the guys up by him, so I didn’t even have any bonuses to hit the guys near me.

I won’t lie… it was a lonely moment for your Friendly Neighborhood Mouse Demigod.

But then we caught a run of good luck on dice rolls, particularly on Akiro’s damage roll on his area acid cloud attack, and that seemed to swing the fight back in our favor. Yeah, CHDRR and Tuttle both took a little bit of damage, but things slowed down enough that Mo was able to get his sight back and get back into the fight. From there, we were able to finish the battle off fairly quickly.

I will say, one of the beneficial side effects of being outnumbered is I FINALLY got to use my jetpack! I missed at least two opportunities to do so back on Moon Two, but this time, getting vertical seemed like the right play. I figured it eliminated melee attacks entirely, and it would hopefully make it difficult to hit a mid-air target with a grenade. So… it’s finally time for Jetpack Rat! Sing with me now… I BELIEEEEEVE I CAN FLYYYYYY!

You may have also noticed a momentary spillover of frustration with Chris. (“How about you stop talking and let me play my character?”) I pride myself on being pretty even-keeled, but… guilty as charged. First, having people try to run my character for me is a general pet peeve – I don’t mind SUGGESTIONS what to do; being TOLD what to do really grinds my gears. But it was also annoying because it was one of those times where the semi-eternal pissing contest between Bob and Chris (which, honestly, I usually find amusing) kind of trampled all over me. I think if there’s a reason I got snippy with Chris rather than Bob was that I was TRYING to do what Chris suggested, but he wouldn’t… excuse my French… shut up for five seconds and let me do it because arguing with Bob was more important.

Having said all that, I don’t want to make it more than it is. Stuff happens, it’s all good, it was completely forgotten five minutes after it happened. But I figure I’d at least talk about it because sometimes I think it’s healthy to see us as a real gaming group, warts and all. We’ve been doing this for years, we’re friends, but yup… sometimes we can get under each other’s skins a little bit.

At any rate… fight won, none the worse for wear, and now we’re back to the dilemma we had before – how to get ourselves to the Stellar Degenerator and destroy it. Only now we have an additional asset at our disposal – an actual Corpse Fleet ship. Particularly if we’re going to incorporate the capital ship into our plans, that could be incredibly useful.

But… as I’m sure you’re getting used to me saying… we’ll venture further down that path next week. While you’re waiting, feel free to drop by our Discord channel and let us know what you think about things. Heck, maybe give us your suggestions on how we can beat this thing! In the meantime, thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next week.

Dead Suns 108: She Blinded Mo With Science!

The RFC Crew face their largest fight to date and suffer at least one death – the destruction of the Sunrise Maiden! Also, Mo is struck with hysterical blindness and incredibly bad luck at the same time!

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