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Talking Combat 114: The Council of Hirogi

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 114: Mo Them Down.

“One does not simply walk onto the bridge of a Corpse Fleet capital ship.”

This feels like the “Council of Elrond” episode of our show. We’ve got to sit down and decide on a course of action where we’ve got a fairly limited number of choices, all of which sound like a suicide mission. And our team includes Rusty, who TOTALLY wants to take the Stellar Degenerator to Gondor.

One of the interesting dynamics was letting Seth kinda serve as Gandalf (I know… I’m stretching the analogy here) and lead the discussion. In a different set of circumstances, I might actually be annoyed that “The New Guy” was coming in and monopolizing the conversation, but I think there are mitigating factors here.

First, he’s a “new guy” who has a longer total tenure in the group than I do – while he’s new to this show, he’s been playing with the group for a long time, as evidenced by the ease with which he mimics Chris’ mannerisms. So… you respect that and roll with it. But I think the more important dynamic is that walking through the options was also part of his mental catch-up process – he’s missed two years of the plot, so letting him be the one to lead that conversation was a way of helping him get up to speed. Processing information, asking questions about who has what abilities, and so on. I think if the “original four” had just steamrolled through that conversation, it might have been harder for Seth to get on board with what was going on. And in a related vein, it made him feel more like a full member of the group, rather than the four of us deciding what to do and he’s Noob-Noob pushing the mop around. (I feel like this is a Rick and Morty-friendly crowd.)

On a personal level, part of it’s as simple as I don’t feel a need to be the leader in this campaign; that’s not my character’s role. Tuttle is well-established in his niche as The Tech Guy, as evidenced in our hack of the Level 10 computer. I don’t know everyone else’s character sheets, but I think Tuttle is LITERALLY the only one who could make that roll. I know Chris talks a good game about Akiro being Tuttle’s equal, but if he’s a +21 or +22 in Computers, he’s not making that roll. My sheet isn’t here in front of me at the moment, but I’m at something like +25 or +26 in Computers, so I can get into the 50s with assists. But I think I’m the only one, and even then I think it took something like an 18 or better to get there.

Because I’m honest that way, I should also mention there were a couple non-outcome-altering fails that Steve cut for time. I’ll put it this way – it was boring for me as a player to keep re-rolling, so I suspect it would’ve been equally boring for you as a listener. These were rolls that weren’t low enough to set off a countermeasure, but not high enough (or people failed their assists) to get us over the hump. And we couldn’t just Take-10/Take-20 because of the possibility of countermeasures. I didn’t want you thinking Tuttle was too much of a technical genius.

So we get into the computer and we find pieces of varying usefulness. Obviously a map will be handy regardless. The two viruses are also extremely useful – especially the one that erases us from the security systems. The main thing I’d been dreading is accidentally stumbling through another one of those anti-life rays, and now we basically don’t have to worry about those. The one that creates the false alert? I suspect that will be useful at some future point, and I’m even willing to meta-game and feel like the plot will tell us when to deploy it.

The one that’s a little cryptic is the personal log about the plans for mutiny. Is that just “color” to give some depth to the NPC we just fought, or does that imply we might be able to get some support from her fellow mutineers in some way, or there are some pieces of her plan we could use? Probably not direct assistance: it sounds like this lady was even MORE extreme than the average Corpse Fleeter, and didn’t think the captain was doing ENOUGH to eradicate the living. So… if those are her views, it’s hard to see her disciples taking our side. But if there’s a mutiny plan we could activate without revealing it’s been co-opted by the living or pieces of the logistics (weapons caches, escape routes, access to systems)? That could still be helpful. For the moment, file it in the back pocket.

As far as our plan, I think we’re still settled on – for lack of a less aggressive terminology – a decapitation strike. Take over the bridge, somehow convince the thousands of rank-and-file soldiers we’re still issuing legitimate orders, and then somehow use this ship to destroy the Stellar Degenerator.

Let’s take the elements of that plan in order.

“Take over the bridge” is sounding like a boss fight, possibly with some adds. The real question is whether the bridge of such a ship is like the Enterprise (8-10 people), the BATTLE BRIDGE of the Enterprise (even better… like, three people) or an Imperial Star Destroyer where there are dozens of dudes hanging around. I feel like that’s where you set off the diversion virus – set off the virus to divert “extra” security away, then try to run in, beat the bad guys, and lock yourself in. Arguably the most straightforward part of all of this.

“Legitimate orders”. A lot depends on the technology. Do they have voice or video, or do commands just come in and out on a screen? Heck, maybe they went full steampunk and have old-school pneumatic tubes shooting canisters to the engine room! If it’s voice or video, can Tuttle fake an overloaded Chambers coil that’s interfering with communications, or can Rusty just fake it with charm?

“Destroy the Stellar Degenerator”. Again, there’s a little knowledge gap we have here with regards to how dependent systems work. If we order the guns to start shooting the Stellar Degenerator, are they manned by a live person at a cross-hairs, or just fired as blips on a screen. Similarly, ramming: if we set a course to ram the Stellar Degenerator, will one of those 1500 engineers notice we’re aimed right at a small planetoid, or is it just a vector and some thrust to them and they’re relying on the bridge to steer? And again, is this somewhere Tuttle can chip in – rewire the guidance or weapon targeting so they think they’re doing something benign while they’re actually blowing up their prize (and saving the universe).

The Charisma/Rusty solution here is to come up with a reason why the Stellar Degenerator now represents a threat to the Corpse Fleet and THEY need to change their objective from securing it to destroying it. Then we could use the remnants of the fleet itself to finish the job. But would they buy it, and even so, do we really want to put our entire plan in Rusty’s hands?

And then there’s one more elephant in the room we haven’t even discussed yet. We have NO, ZIP, ZERO, NADA information on an escape plan. OK, let’s say all of this works and the universe is saved. If we’re ramming, that’s a pretty direct path to death. But even shooting the Stellar Degenerator leaves us in a position where the thousands of crew now know the bridge is compromised and we, the only living creatures on board, have to get off the ship. And… what about getting back to Pact Worlds space – do escape pods have Drift engines, or are we going to float around like Ripley at the end of Alien?

Whatever. Heroes don’t sweat the little shit. Let’s do this! Join us back here next week when we decide to move forward with whatever plan we’ve come up with. In the meantime, drop by our Discord channel or other social media and let us know what you think of the show, and remember to enter the contest. Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next week.

Dead Suns 114: Mo Them Down

This week the RFC Crew encounter their toughest encounter to date – hacking into a tier 10 computer!

Also this week, GM Stephen brings back the Roll For Combat Contest! Just listen to this week’s episode for details and how to enter!

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Talking Plaguestone 20: Hell’s Petting Zoo

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat: The Fall of Plaguestone, Episode 20: Can’t Keep A Bad Orc Down.

Welcome back to Talking Plaguestone. This week we do battle in the midst of Hell’s Petting Zoo, and also fight orcs galore, who just… won’t… die already.

This week’s discovery is a little bit enlightening. I’d been assuming that the mutated animals were just a side effect of the bigger plan, sort of an accidental creation. I assumed poisoning the water table and killing off life was the main thrust of Vilree’s plan, and you just happen to get acid wolves and killer shrubs by doing that. But seeing all these cages and pens full of mutated creatures, it starts to look like weird beasties are a feature, not a bug.

I was initially alarmed when Steve described the ice rats as a “swarm” of rats because… you know… “swarm” is also a keyword and I’m not sure we’re set up that well for dealing with actual swarms. But then it turned out to just be two individual rats, and… whatever, they’re rats. More of an annoyance, even with the cold attack and the explode-y death. (And yes, I’m glad Steve let the chain reaction stand even though it should’ve been disallowed… it was a nice little moment to have Rat #1 accidentally kill and detonate Rat #2.)

On the other end of the spectrum, I thought the horse (“Stone Jerk Horse, Man”? “My Metal Pony”? “Brickretariat”?) was going to be more of a challenge than it was. It certainly SOUNDED formidable when Steve first described it. You hear “stone body” and you immediately assume some sort of resistance to piercing and/or slashing, which immediately drops me and Cade’s effectiveness. I was even half-expecting it to be immune or resistant to Celes’ fire as well. So yeah, I thought the horse was going to be the problematic piece of the encounter. But, as it turns out, Prue’s ghost flail made short work of… “Pony Stark”?

If there was an actual challenge to the fight, it was twofold. First was the openness of the battlefield and the number of combatants. When you get that many entities fighting and no real choke points, things get a little crazy – to wit, the joke about forming a Conga Line of Flankers. At least early in the fight, it was tough to find places to move to where you wouldn’t be showing your back to at least one enemy. Once the rats were gone, the numbers became more manageable, but for a while, it was interesting. (It also dawns on me that this is one of those classic fights that would’ve taken a bunch of extra rounds with First Edition because everyone would be five-foot stepping around to avoid attacks of opportunity.)

The other pain point of this fight, of course, was orc ferocity – even when orcs die, they don’t die, unless you have another attack waiting to finish them off (or if a friend can do it). It’s not a hugely unbalancing thing, but when you’re watching every hitpoint and hoarding every healing resource, it’s a little irritating to give a creature that “should” be dead an extra attack. Also just frustrating when it comes to “glory of the kill” moments; you do 20 damage and think you killed the enemy, but it stays up and the next person up lightly nudges them to get the death blow.

Still, the fight goes quicker than anticipated (thanks to a few timely crits), and we’re left to explore a cave complex to the north as the most obvious “next place to look”. (If I remember correctly, a session break actually fell between the two comments, but Steve made it sound like a pretty seamless transition.)

And there we stumble into fight number two, which is almost entirely “orcs chucking chemical bombs at us”. I’d have to go back and listen again, but did they EVER do a conventional weapon attack? I don’t think so. Maybe they punched sometimes when they ran out of chemicals? Again, this fight wasn’t THAT tough, but this time, in addition to orc ferocity, the Annoyance Du Jour was the infliction of persistent damage. The base damage on most of their attacks was actually pretty weak, but if you got that persistent damage – particularly from more than one effect at a time – it could start to add up. And as we discussed a little, your choices for getting rid of it are to hope to make flat checks or to spend actions trying to clean yourself up – actions you then can’t use to speed up the killing. It’s weird… no individual attack felt all that impressive, but it still started to reach a point where I was going to have to consider Lay On Hands.

The other frustration was a silly one. When I threw my alchemical fire into the enemy cauldron, I thought the results would be more… dramatic. OK, I was hoping for some fireworks. But nope, just an unsatisfying plunk as it goes into the cauldron with the 20 other chemicals already in there. Damn it, Steve! Give me my Michael Bay ‘Splosions!

For all that talk about different frustrations, though, it was a pretty successful combat. Nobody dropped, didn’t even take that much damage, multiple crits along the way. I don’t know if we just got lucky or if we’re actually learning some tactics, but things are looking up for us. Next time, we get to loot, and there’s still some of this cave complex left to be searched, so maybe we’ll find Vilree lurking somewhere in here.

But that’ll be for next time. While we’re all waiting, drop by Discord channel or our other social media and let us know what you think of the show. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next week.

SP19: Pathfinder Lost Omens Interview with Luis Loza

If you enjoyed this interview make sure to check out the 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 Developer Luis Loza and discuss what to expect from the Pathfinder Lost Omens line in the upcoming months.

Luis explains in detail what to expect from the new three big releases on the Lost Omens line. First up, we discuss the plethora of new gods and horrific magic spells in the new Pathfinder Lost Omens: Gods & Magic. Then we discuss the amazing details you’ll find in the massive Lost Omens: Absalom, City of Lost Omens. And then finally, Luis goes into perhaps too much detail on all the amazing items you’ll find in Pathfinder Lost Omens: Legends. 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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Plaguestone 20: Can’t Keep A Bad Orc Down

This week RFC Gang enters the acid grotto and confronts the mutant menagerie! Also this week, GM Stephen runs a new contest where you can win an Amazon Gift Certificate!

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 113: A Fistful of Akiros

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 113: Akiro By Committee.

Welcome to Talking Combat. Come for the Starfinder action, stay for the review of Shakespeare In Cleveland, the straight-to-video sequel to Shakespeare In Love.

This week, we finally get to see the newly-enlarged party in combat for the first time, and it’s kind of awesome. Hirogi, in particular, is much more effective than I remember – I don’t know how much of it is upgrades from leveling and how much of it was that Chris used to roll like crap, but Hirogi is a newly minted killing machine. I remember Chris CONSTANTLY complaining that the Operative class was broken and he could “never” get Trick Attack to work properly, and now Seth is landing shots for 40, 50 points of damage. I suspect Chris is secretly dying inside to see it happen.

Then again, maybe it’s no secret at all. Maybe Chris sabotaged his own computer so he wouldn’t have to listen to Hirogi thrive without him. Well, that’s what I’m choosing to believe, anyway.

I will say Seth is doing a good job picking this stuff up on the fly. It is true Steve edited out SOME of the learning curve (I do believe it reached a point where I snuck in a quick game of Overwatch), but Seth’s instincts have been pretty good overall. I’d put it this way – he comes in with the right ideas of HOW to use the character; he just needs a little bit with the nuts and bolts of HOW to do what he’s thinking about doing. Better that than just running around like a schmuck and getting him killed in two sessions. (Well… as far as you know… this is only our first combat session. Did I just give you a spoiler?)

Speaking of picking stuff up on the fly, thanks to Chris’ computer problems, I got to take Akiro for a test drive this week. That was an interesting change of pace. I have to admit that my grand total of experience with a technomancer was a single Level 1 society game at PaizoCon… back in 2018. Needless to say, a Level 11 character has a few more moving parts than that guy did. But I figure I could fake my way through with a mish-mash of watching Chris do his thing and whatever lessons I could port over from playing a cloth caster in sword-and-sorcery games.

As an aside: I generally agree I was probably the best choice to run Chris’ character. Seth was still learning the system, Bob and Chris have a weird competitive thing going on, and John just kinda gets in a groove with Mo. So almost by default, it was probably best to give me the call from the bullpen.

Now in general, running another person’s character isn’t that big a deal to me. In fact, it’s actually a fairly common occurrence in our Dads-N-Kids 5E game. This just in: teenagers are mercurial and sometimes decide to skip a session because there’s something cooler to do than play D&D with your dad. This is the way.

And yet, even so, I have to admit I was still a little nervous.

Certainly, the most immediate concern was not getting Chris’ character killed. Maybe it’s Pathfinder Second Edition rubbing off on me, but lately, I’ve been walking around on pins and needles feeling like I’m one hit away from an ugly death. If that HAD happened, having to explain that to Chris would’ve not been fun at all. Pretty sure coming back from technical difficulties to find out someone killed your character is “stop talking to that person for a couple of months” territory. But you know what? Akiro DID take a crit, and even 60ish points barely got into meat damage. So I guess I didn’t need to get THAT concerned about things.

In a similar vein, I was also cautious about not wanting to do anything that could mess up the 2-year investment we’ve got in this story. Logically, I can wrap my brain around the idea that a TPK was out at the really skinny end of the bell curve, but how would that suck if I somehow screwed up the sprint to the finish of this whole endeavor? “Sorry McDonald just torched the last two years of your listening life bumbling around with a character he doesn’t understand. Sucks to be you. YOU’VE BEEN LISTENING TO ROLL FOR COMBAT…”

The more immediate and realistic concern for me was resource management. Not just for this battle (if Chris happened to come back while the fight was in progress) but there’s also the fact that we don’t know when we’re going to get a chance to take a long rest. I was really cognizant of using the wrong resources and leaving him in a bad position: spells, resolve points, whatever. I didn’t want Chris coming back and feeling like I’d caused more problems than I’d solved.

So you’ll note I did play things fairly conservatively. First-round, I had mirror images left to play with, so I decided to hang in the pocket and cast a spell – magic missile, specifically. In the second round, the boss and one of the other minions were kind of running a pincer maneuver and were about to get flanking on Akiro AND he was either out of mirror images or maybe had one left. So spending a resolve point to teleport away seemed like the right call there. By round three, the fight began to wind down, so it felt safe to just have Akiro shoot his gun for the rest of the fight. I did consider the ultimate Akiro move and doing a second cast of Holographic Clone when the first ran out… which, given that crit, might have been not such a bad idea.

Chris’ technical issues and my trial-by-fire notwithstanding, we were able to finally dispatch the boss and track down the last runner. It feels like that was the big area boss and we should be able to move on, but I guess we’ll see about that next week. Until then, feel free to drop by our Discord channel or other social media and let us know what you think of the show and join the general merriment. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next week.

P.S. May you find peace in the Great Link, Constable.

Dead Suns 113: Akiro By Committee

What happens when a player loses their internet connection and everyone else wants to keep playing? PC by committee!

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Talking Plaguestone 19: Weed Whackers

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat: The Fall of Plaguestone, Episode 19: Cade Kale Bane.

Sweet, sweet revenge!

Now I know it’s not very sporting to sit back and nuke a bunch of plants from afar when they can’t do anything about it, but after the almost-fatal butt-kicking I took a few episodes back, I’m not in a sporting mood. If anything, I just wish I got a chance to personally do more of the damage, but I don’t really have a good ranged option, and I wasn’t going to charge right into the spore cloud. Revenge makes a man stupid, but not THAT stupid.

Speaking of spore clouds: on the surface, this fight ended up being easy, but we were about one failed saving throw away from things getting a lot more interesting. The bushes themselves were physically weaker than the bloodbushes – not as many hit points, didn’t seem to hit that hard – but the mind-affecting spores had Prue right on the line between “mildly inconvenient” and “big trouble”. Disoriented? Eh, whatever… minuses to a couple of rolls. Confused? Then you’re either attacking your own party-mates or standing around letting plants punch you. Perhaps both at the same time. If Prue had turned on us, that could’ve been quite the fight. Pretty sure I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of the Face Full O’ Ghosts.

As we were en route to this week’s adventure, we start to get a clearer picture of Vilree’s plans. I had been thinking it was just generalized death and decay: starve out the town by making all life wither away. In that vein, I’d been thinking the various creatures we’d encountered up to this point were a side effect, rather than the plan itself – that they got sick or drank contaminated water accidentally. But as we get closer to the source, it starts to look more like full-blown mutation is the real plan, and the more general blight and decay was more of a buffer zone that happened to reach the town. And that if we leave it unchecked, eventually the town itself will start to look like this “Forest of the Damned” or whatever we’re dealing with. So… even more reason to put an end to it.

It continues to be weird to be that Noala bailed on us again to… save animals, scout the perimeter, “set traps”… whatever it is she’s doing. This is now the second time she’s done that: she heads off on a smoke break; we get attacked.

On a meta-game level, I know that you send her away because you don’t want to give an NPC first-team reps that are meant for the players. If your NPC shows up and kicks asses the players are supposed to be kicking, it starts to make the players feel like they’re just along for the ride and undermines their game experience. “If Noala can do all this, why did she need us anyway?” So I get her absence as an overall gaming mechanic.

But I have to confess it still makes my Spider-Sense tingle just a little bit. There’s a little piece of me that wonders if she’s actually in league with Vilree and is leading us into dangerous situations on purpose to try and get us killed. I draw the line at her actually BEING Vilree because the ages seem to be wrong and she hasn’t shown any aptitude for alchemy or magic (as a daughter of a witch might). But I’ll admit the thought briefly crossed my mind.

Then again, it’s still true that the townspeople (or at least Dalma) vouch for her, so this is probably just crazy-talk and I should probably switch to decaffeinated coffee. Or maybe the townspeople are stupid. That’s also a possibility.

There’s something else I should mention that’s half confession, half clarification. When Steve described the entrance to the inner sanctum as “like an eyeball” or an “iris”, I think there was some confusion on our part – I (definitely) and the rest of the team (from later/off-line conversation) thought he was describing an actual eyeball… like a magical sentry or mutated wildlife that was keeping watch. In retrospect, I think Steve was describing a door where instead of it swinging open or lifting like a portcullis, it’s more of a radial thing that expands and contracts. Think the inner gateway Spock flies through in Star Trek: The Motion Picture or the ventilation shafts Tom Skerritt was crawling through in Alien. But in the moment, we thought we were dealing with an actual eyeball that was keeping tabs on us. So if we seem like we handled that with an over-abundance of caution, that’s why. And OK, that means all that time we spent nuking the door was probably wasted effort. Probably could’ve just stepped on through.

When we finally do step on through, we find another hideout, though this one seems more like we’re on the right track. It’s got orcs, corrupted animals, and a big pool of toxic sludge right in the middle of the camp. (Is that pool the source of the corruption? LET’S DRINK SOME AND FIND OUT!) If it’s not THE source, it’s still some sort of testing ground or place where the nastiness is prepared or something. If it’s the source, does that mean Vilree is here? Guess we’ll have to fight our way through the orcs and rats and find out.

As a brief response to Steve’s show note, I will concede there’s still some learning curve we’re experiencing in Second Edition. I don’t think we’re making any GLARING mistakes, but there are times when we’re maybe not working every angle our characters have to offer. Just to pick one example, I have my Liberating Step ability which lets me protect a teammate from damage, but I hardly ever remember to use it. Now, part of the reason I don’t use it is that the protection isn’t very MUCH damage at low levels (2 + my level) and it uses up my reaction so I can’t use that AND block an attack with my shield. But another reason I don’t use it more is that, quite frankly, I forget. So…. getting better, but still learning. Guilty as charged.

So next week… we fight, and it’s a real fight too… not glorified groundskeeping. While you’re waiting for next week’s episode, feel free to drop by Discord or other social media and let us know what you think of the show so far. Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next week.

Plaguestone 19: Cade Kale Bane

This week it’s back to business and, once again, the RFC Gang has to contend with killer plants 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!

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 112: Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes?

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 112: Nice Planet You Got There…

I’m going to go a little off the beaten path this week.

The adventure itself is Part 2 of “Seth Introduces Himself”. It’s fun and all, but there’s not a lot to write about the action itself. We poked a few more rooms with a stick. Huzzah!

What is slightly more interesting is the potential upcoming moral dilemma Tuttle and I find myself in at this point. As I was listening to this week’s show, I was struck by the fact that we’ve now had THREE of the five party members make some sort of joke about keeping the Stellar Degenerator for ourselves. And I’m not totally sure how I should feel about that – both as a player and a character.

Well, that’s not true. Jason the Player thinks that’s a bad idea. When it comes to these games, I like being one of “The Good Guys”. I’m not a big fan of moral ambiguity. I think the most “bad” character I ever played had a mild thievery streak from growing up poor on the streets (particularly with regards to food items). As an aside, I’m equally terrible at this in video games. When I play the “bad” option in games like Mass Effect, I actually feel guilty for being rude to what amounts to a computer-driven story point. DID I HURT YOUR NON-EXISTENT FEELINGS, LINES OF CODE? (pats console on what I imagine to be its head)

So OK… Jason the Player definitely doesn’t want the party to go rogue. I’m a softie at heart. We’ve established that.

But how would Tuttle respond to that? That’s the real question. Alignment-wise he’s Lawful Neutral, so he doesn’t have the +1 Yoke of Goody-Two-Shoes around his neck, but he does subscribe to some general sense of law-based ethics. I do think if he wanted to keep the Stellar Degenerator, it would be to study the science behind it rather than to turn a profit, but the lawful side of him might fall more in the “there are some things man wasn’t meant to know” camp. WHY DOES GOD NEED A STARSHIP?

Also, let’s remember that there are other ways for Tuttle to scratch that itch. The “Foundry” building back on Istamak had TONS of data modules that we didn’t really look at because we were trying to find our specific bread-crumb. But an entire library of artifacts of a civilization arguably more advanced than the Pact Worlds? Even without a working Stellar Degenerator, that’s Tuttle’s wildest dream come true. Tuttle could destroy the Stellar Degenerator, go lead a research team back to Istamak, and STILL flood the academic airwaves with papers for years based on the contents of that building. For that matter, the remnants of the defense systems – depending on how thoroughly the battle with the Corpse Fleet destroyed them – could possibly also be mined for science without having to release a planet-destroying superweapon into the wild.

(And hey, maybe he could get a date with the female ysoki we pretty much forgot about and abandoned in a locked room back on Moon Six. You know… assuming she’s still alive. And also not as crazy as her brother.)

Now we get to the other question… how much should I treat their jokes as in-game vs. out-of-game? We’ve had at least three people (Rusty, Akiro, Hirogi) express SOME sort of interest in keeping the Stellar Degenerator for ourselves.


The nature of this episode (and last week’s) walked a little bit of a fuzzy line on whether it was the players or the characters talking. If it was Seth and Chris joking about extracting ransom from planets… then Tuttle may or may not know his teammates are planning on a heel turn. (He may think they’re untrustworthy for other reasons, but those particular statements would be inadmissible in Roleplaying Court.) Also, maybe it really is just joking and they’re going to do the right thing when the time comes. But if it was Akiro and Hirogi saying it… then I have to decide what my plan is going to be in response to that.

And that doesn’t even take Rusty into account. With Rusty, there’s the added dimension of his persuasive powers. How does that play? If Akiro or Hirogi talk about it… they don’t have a lot of guile to them, so Tuttle would know not to trust them. But Rusty is another matter. Is Tuttle even aware enough to know that Rusty can’t be trusted? In which case, maybe I should plan a failsafe that Rusty can’t talk him out of. Or is Rusty just that good and Tuttle doesn’t suspect a thing? We have also seen Rusty lie to OTHER people, so we can’t be so naïve as to think he couldn’t do that to us… could we?

And then, let’s say all of this comes to pass and Tuttle decides his teammates are truly thinking of using the Stellar Degenerator for their own malfeasance? What do I actually do about that? Certainly, I can’t outfight the rest of the party, though maybe if Mo was on my side…. Since I’m good with computers and engineering, could I rig something to destroy the Stellar Degenerator that they couldn’t counter? And then that steps back out of the game and gets into player agency – if I do something like that, am I hogging the story and trying to make the ending all about me? (But if they’re talking about stealing a planet-killer, aren’t they already making the story about them?)

The funny thing is: as I’m reading this, I realize I sound TOTALLY paranoid, and you’re probably imagining me sitting at some murder-board with pictures and strings connecting them. And to an extent that’s true, but it’s in a good roleplaying way. None of this is directed at Bob or Chris or Seth as people. It’s all directed at their characters and “thinking out loud” how my character should respond to their moves. If I can throw on my pretentious scarf and beret… “creative process”. So I think it’s a good thing for the game as a whole. Must be the Plaguestone rubbing off on me.

So that’s basically it for this week. Not much happened in the game itself, and I spent the week whipping myself into a frenzy thinking about how the endgame might play out. Not quite 14,000,003 possibilities, but quite a few. Next week I promise we get introductions out of the way and get back to the adventure at hand. While you’re waiting, feel free to drop by our Discord channel and let us know what you think of the show and join the merriment in general. Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next week.