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Talking Combat 121: Everything is Deader with CHDRR

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 121: Die, Robot.

I have some mixed feelings about this episode, as you can imagine.

First, as a brief aside, I’ll back Steve up that none of this was scripted. Here’s the thing: even without intimate knowledge of the tool, I’ve noticed D20Pro DOES have seem to have some mode where Steve can approve/change/override dice rolls. Mostly Steve uses it to adjust for damage modifiers, and in our PF2 game, the version we’re using doesn’t handle crits quite right with the multi-attack penalty. But when Steve puts a hold on a die roll, there’s a noticeable delay, and that “01” was in my dice window the second I clicked it. So unless he’s got some next-level D20Pro Blacksite add-on I’m unaware of that was hacking my client in real-time, that roll was legit.

On a storytelling level, I think it’s fantastic to have CHDRR go out in a blaze of glory, and even more generally, I like it when big, crazy, unexpected things happen. Paint-by-numbers combat is boring; having something out on the skinny end of the bell curve happen livens things up. So on that level, this was very cool.

And OK, pulling back the curtain a little, Steve sent me the results of the roll by text, but with the understanding that I wasn’t allowed to say anything until he gave me the cue that it was happening. So for MOST of that time, the rest of the group was getting ready, I was sitting there thinking “you poor bastards, you have noooooo idea”. It added a layer of amusement to sit on that secret for a bit. It was like having one foot behind the GM screen for a few seconds.

But… there’s the real consequences of it, which are not trivial.

First, there goes half my offense and my designated bodyguard for the rest of the fight. If you haven’t picked up on it in the past two-plus years, Tuttle is not some offensive juggernaut; take CHDRR away, and he may very well be the wimpiest member of the party. Also, fighting without CHDRR is kinda boring – there’s no real choices to make. So now I gotta do the final fight of the whole game with the least effective, least interesting version of my character. Won’t that be fun? I pretty much have to hope the fight as a whole is entertaining because my role is not likely to be.

Second, in one fell swoop, it undid my plans for The Button. Before all this happened, I specifically wanted to rules-lawyer a better Button for the final fight, and Steve gave it to me. As I said, the main reason I haven’t used The Button more is it costs me (and therefore CHDRR) a full-round action, which hasn’t been worth it for the random effects it generates. But if the Button activation is a move, or even better, a swift? That’s worth doing. I was preparing to be a button-pushing fool – certainly as many times as my intelligence allowed, and maybe even keep going after that. Now? No Button either.

The third thing is that other than the randomly-typed damage and d8s instead of d6s for damage, that was basically the same effect CHDRR already has installed in the form of the Shock Wave (which kicks in when he hits 10 hit points). So somewhere out around Plan G or Plan H on my list of internal scenarios was that if CHDRR got down around 20 or 15 points, I was going to send him on a suicide mission out into the middle of a group of enemies. Including, if needed, shooting him myself to detonate the EMP. (Preferably with a single tear trickling down Tuttle’s cheek. I had this all planned, I’m telling you…) So the coolness of dealing 49 damage to each foe was slightly undercut by the fact that I could’ve let CHDRR fight for a few rounds, let him get whittled down, and then done pretty much the same thing myself as a conscious choice.

And then the other thing that threw a wrench in the works – but this is more normal party shenanigans – was John (in particular) running out into the middle of the room. Chris did too, but he at least went for a corner and got out of the way of the blast. I don’t know why John was getting testy with me… what else did he think I was going to do with a drone that had just turned into a giant bomb? Waste all that beautiful damage? I do understand why John didn’t want our free round to go to waste – Mo’s all about getting in people’s faces and smashing them – but thanks to John moving in, I had to angle CHDRR away from the direct center of the group to avoid clipping Mo, and as a result, I only hit 2 of the 3 bad guys.

Aside from the spoiler-y fact that we just finished recording this week, there are a few in-game hints here and there that this isn’t the whole fight. Right now we’re fighting the brute and two of the same monks that were in the outer chamber which doesn’t seem like a final battle on its own. Additionally, as Seth points out, the main guy is muscle and doesn’t seem like command material. These guys aren’t some pure warrior race where they just put the biggest strongest dude in charge; they’re undead, so I’d expect someone with brains running the show. This guy seems more like a security guard. We also know that logs mentioned a captain AND an admiral, and the captain was identified as a Vesk general Mo had heard of – so even if the brute is one of those two… we’re missing one. And then there’s that force wall Mo ran into: the brute isn’t likely to have that power, and it didn’t seem like the monks could do anything like that in the previous fight. So where is that coming from? There are also multiple doors leading to other areas – is the “bridge” really a bridge complex where we have to clear multiple rooms?

All good questions and I’m sure we’ll find answers – whether we want to or not. But we still gotta clear what’s in front of us first, which we’ll continue to do next week. While you’re waiting for that, feel free to drop by Discord – among other things, Steve posted the complete list of CHDRR Button effects on the “spoilers” channel. Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next week!