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Three Ring Adventure S1|06: A Pox Upon Him!

This week the RFC Crew tries to figure out why all the evil crazy people always dress so damn well?

Roll For Combat, Three Ring Adventure Podcast is a playthrough of the Pathfinder Adventure Path, Extinction Curse starting with the first book, The Show Must Go On.

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 on 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 Tales: Tale 1, Chapter 4, House Hunters

Jason recaps the events from The Black Lodge Tale 1, Chapter 4: You Be Heroes!

And just like that, our first Black Lodge game is in the books! I hope you all are enjoying things so far. I have to admit, the shorter stories with more immediate payoff is kinda nice.

We start this week’s episode with something that is likely to become a recurring theme for this crew – the wonderful world of overcomplicating simple issues. OK, except Mister Peepers. Mister Peepers is the opposite of over-complicating things. Mister Peepers is a force of nature.

To briefly back up and look at all of this from a metagame level: Society games are meant to be quick play-throughs. They’re meant for conventions or other sorts of short-play formats, so there generally aren’t going to be a lot of complex dilemmas, double-crosses, and such. In a convention setting, there’s just not time for that sort of thing. So at a meta-game level, Society games tend to be pretty face-value – people and things are what they seem to be on first inspection.

Also, Society games also tend to have a main story and side quests – basically “stretch goals” for the adventure. And this guy seems like a perfect “stretch goal” for the adventure – killing the croc, fully exploring the sewer, and beating the zombie brutes were the main quest. This guy is pretty much the definition of one of those “extra” goals.

So we have a fairly simple dilemma in front of us: we’ve got an undead prisoner, but a fairly coherent one. In a “the enemy of the enemy is my friend” sense, if the Dagonites locked him up, that probably means he’s a good guy. He’s also got 500-year-old information about one of Absalom’s most venerable families to share, which would be fairly valuable to the Pathfinder Society… you know, the folks who sent us down here in the first place.

Now if this were an adventure path, maybe he’s gonna double-cross us and attack us if we release him. But this is a Society game, so… sitting here listening to it, it seems like a no-brainer that we take him with us. And yet we manage to bog that transaction down for SEVERAL minutes before we finally come around to what now seems like an obvious conclusion.

If there’s a silver lining to our indecision, it’s that we decide to finish searching the complex for one last suggestion as to what we should do, and we end up finding the kinda-sorta deed to the playhouse. Which means we could basically give the goblins ownership of the playhouse, which will double-dip positive rep with the goblins – we killed their beast AND got them a permanent home.

After finishing our search, sanity finally wins out, we spring the undead guy, and head back toward civilization. We decide to disguise him using the nasty disguise beret we found, which makes a certain amount of sense. I still don’t know how we’re going to explain the appearance of an extra party member to the goblins, but it’s still to the greater good that he appears to be a normal human rather than a crusty 500-year-old undead. But, if we’re giving the goblins title to their home, are they really going to care? Probably not.

We row back across the cove, navigate back through the sewers and show up to finally find the other party of adventurers that we’ve been expecting to stab us in the back all this time. And they ARE stabbing us in the back, at least morally speaking: trying to take credit for our original kill of the huge croc. For a moment, I still thought this was going to end in combat – especially with Chris and Seth shit-talking the other party – but nope, instead it’s a social encounter to convince the goblins we’re telling the truth, and the deed kinda breaks the tie in our favor. We have a tooth, they have a tooth, but we have land ownership. CHECKMATE! “We be heroes”, as the man says.

So there it is. Team Black Lodge is 1-0 in Society play, and now we move into the post-game. As Steve says, this is something that tends to get short shrift in convention settings – the endgame at conventions tends to be running past your timeslot and someone else needing the room. But we have time to give it a little room to breathe.

First, we have Fame Points and Reputation Points. They’re related but different concepts. The main difference is that Reputation Points are accrued with the various factions within the Pathfinder Society whereas Fame Points tend to be applied within the world at large. It also seems (or at least that’s how it worked in First Edition) that most Reputation rewards are Boons you can slot for individual adventures, whereas Fame Points unlock lesser benefits, but ones you can cash in while a scenario is happening – for example, if you need a sage to translate a scroll written in a different language, you can use Fame Points to find someone to do it for you.

Next, we have downtime. I’m in the middle on downtime – on some abstract level, I like the idea that our characters exist and have lives between adventures. But at least at Level 1, the benefits are barely worth doing it. Especially if you fail your roll and get paid a few copper pieces for a week’s work. Ugh.

Lastly, and this is specific to our show, Steve drops a few hints about the Black Lodge itself through tavern interactions. As we’re doing this, I’m trying to strike a balance – the Black Lodge seems kinda secretive and not the sort of thing we should be blabbing about to total strangers, but as a character, I’ve also been envisioning Nella as a fairly simple trusting sort. (It takes all sorts in Pathfinder Society!) In this case, I was trying to play it close to the vest out of the gate, but once the lady showed that she already knew something about the exploding bird, Nella couldn’t quite bring herself to lie to the lady’s face. At least that’s what I was going for there.

So next week, we start our next adventure for the Black Lodge. New scenario, new special guest, new shenanigans. Hope you’ll come back and join us. 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.

The Black Lodge Tale 1, Chapter 4: You Be Heroes!

This week our heroes finish their first Tale and find out that others are quite interested in learning more about the Black Lodge.

Roll For Combat, Tales from the Black Lodge Tale #1 is a playthrough of the Pathfinder Society Scenario #1-07 Flooded King’s Court.

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: https://www.patreon.com/rollforcombat 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!

The Sideshow S1|05: Teenage Snakeland

Jason recaps the events from Three Ring Adventure S1|05: Snake Eyes.

Welcome back to another week of Talking Combat: Innocent Bystander Edition. The relentless pace continues as we’re up to our fifth and sixth encounters (not necessarily all combat) since the first circus performance ended – poison spores in Myron’s trailer, bear, water mephits, cockatrice, and now dancing grigs and snakes. (Let me know if I’m forgetting any).

The first thing we have to address, even if it’s a little out of order, is Steve’s interesting vocal choice for the snake. Look, I’m not going to make fun of Steve because I can’t do voices at all, except for a really bad Sean Connery. And Ross Perot, which hasn’t been topical for almost 30 years. So I would absolutely NEVER say that it sounded like The Count from Sesame Street and Borat had a love-child. That would be unkind and possibly hypocritical of me.

Steve remarked on it, but I’m going to amplify what he said – I thought the choices in the grig encounter were interesting because they covered a bunch of different scenarios. First, I’m impressed they resolved it without bloodshed: our Black Lodge group probably would’ve just gone running in weapons-hot. But I also appreciate that they each took an approach that worked for their character. We had Darius going with brute force, picking people up by the head (I was immediately struck with the imagery of those crane games they have in Chuck E. Cheese) and rushing the center of the circle through sheer brawn. Ateran went with a knowledge check – fairly standard plan for your designated Smart Person. We had Alhara going more roguelike and attempting to get up high to do some general recon. And then Hap, in some ways made the most interesting choice, using Performance to “go with the flow” and dance her way to the middle.

The situation itself resolves peacefully: it turns out the grigs just want to party and didn’t realize what effect their music was having. But I still wonder – was this coincidence, or did someone send the grigs that way to create more chaos? If the murderer is really a druid type that can control rats and interact with nature, they might have it in them to influence the grigs to say “hey, go party over there”. But things resolve peacefully, and the party gets what we later find out is a potency crystal for their troubles.

By the way, we here at Roll For Combat are HUGE fans of potency crystals. Just want that on the record.

Anyone who was disappointed they didn’t get a fight out of the grigs didn’t have long to wait as the party stumbles on a group of snakes. The battle gets off to a rough start for our heroes as Hap wanders face-first into the minion snakes and loses almost her entire health bar in one shot. Alhara has problems of a different kind dealing with the boss – her best attacks are powered up by panache, but she tanks her roll and just flops in a heap right in front of the Boss Snake. Meanwhile, Darius is still down an action because of the Slowed condition. Things are looking a little dicey for a while, particularly for poor Hap, but the team pulls it together, thanks in part to Ateran blowing his big-gun Level 1 spells and better rolls from the Varus siblings.

In the aftermath of this battle, I have to admit I was really enjoying Loren’s roleplay of Hap, who is out to an early lead as my favorite character. Whether it was the emotional reaction of being attacked by the snakes she normally considered friends, or throwing what amounted to a tantrum at being asked to identify the potency crystal, Loren really nailed the “sulky teenager” vibe. (I should know. I have one of those at home.)

I think one thing I like about it is that it’s a fun but fairly realistic way of making the character unpredictable. “Wild card” characters are one of those things that sound great on paper – there are some great examples in film, TV, and literature of such characters – but they can be tough to do in a compelling way, and if done wrong, can come across as peeing in the punchbowl. An example of the worst case is someone who creates an “evil” character and then interprets that as “do the opposite of what the rest of the party is doing just to get a rise out of people”. “You open the door on the left? I open the door on the… RIGHT!” (And an entire table does a group facepalm.)

I’m going to draw a contrast here between Hap and Mister Peepers from the Black Lodge. This isn’t meant as a criticism of John – it’s just that game is more of a low-roleplay environment and the expectations are different. John is playing Mister Peepers as unpredictable, but since that group is fairly low-roleplay, there’s not really any rhyme or reason to WHY Peepers acts the way he does. It just comes across as random Brownian motion, bumping into things until something happens. That’s fine for that game, but compared to this game, it’s a little hollow. Here, Loren’s managing to take Hap and make her unpredictable in a way that is really relatable – she’s only a teenager, so of course she’s not always going to have the Rational Adult Reaction to situations. I know you can argue teenagers were basically adults in a medieval fantasy setting, but still… kids are kids, they don’t always do what you’d expect in a given situation. I think Loren’s doing that really well so far, and I’m interested to see where she takes it from here.

So everyone’s blown their spells, Darius is still slow, so it’s pretty much unavoidable that a long rest will be coming up soon. The mystery of Myron’s murder is still languishing in the “to-do” column but we’re making some headway, and it feels like we’re nearing the end of the line on the rat tracks, even if it’s just by process of elimination. Hopefully next week will bring some resolution. While you’re waiting, feel free to duck into our ongoing Discord mayhem and let us know what you think of the show. Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next week.

Three Ring Adventure S1|05: Snake Eyes

Hap learns that not all animals are friendly … especially the ones trying to kill you.

Roll For Combat, Three Ring Adventure Podcast is a playthrough of the Pathfinder Adventure Path, Extinction Curse starting with the first book, The Show Must Go On.

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 on 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 Tales: Tale 1, Chapter 3, Pocket Paladin

Jason recaps the events from The Black Lodge Tale 1, Chapter 3: Mister Peeper’s Tours

Put another log on the fire and let me sing for you The Ballad Of Nella Amberleaf, The Pocket Paladin.

I know there’s a lot to get to this episode – the ACTUAL champion’s use of a cloth caster as a human shield, Peepers going wandering (again), the general frustration of monsters in Level 1 adventures that have a disturbingly large hit point pool. But I’m going to start with what’s near and dear to my heart this episode – the fact that druids turn out to be stealth undead killers. (At least at low levels. Don’t know if it scales.) I didn’t really factor this in when building the character, but that is…. Good. To. Know.

Now, the channeled burst heal isn’t unique to druids – any divine or primal caster can get that one. Heck, there’s probably even a way to pick up a heal spell with some sort of ancestry feat letting just about ANYONE pull that little trick. But let’s hear it for everyone’s favorite druid spell that can’t possibly be pronounced THAT way… Shillelagh. Originally, I just wanted it for the fact that it’s basically a potency crystal with a one-minute duration: at the time I took it, I hadn’t even seen that it gets an EXTRA damage die against undead. So at least when using it two-handed, that’s a 3d8 attack as a Level 1 character. Hey battahbattahbattah… SWIIIIIIING battah!

If that seems overpowered… well, it’s worth remembering that the undead thing is fairly situational. And as I mentioned, you can only cast it on your own weapon, and only a staff, which imposes a few fairly onerous restrictions. Now, if you were somehow able to cast it on a heavy-armor fighter and have them wade in and smash things and do attacks of opportunity on anything that tried to get past – OK, that would be kinda O.P., as the Young People™ say.

(I can neither confirm nor deny there was about a 10-minute pause here while I researched what it would take to spec up a fighter-druid hybrid that had access to both Shillelagh and Attack of Opportunity. Yeah, the “no metal armor” restriction would get in the way, but it looks like the Cliff’s Notes answer to that question is “4th level” – if you start fighter and multi-class druid, that’s when you can get real spells and not just cantrips; if you start druid and go fighter, that’s when you can get Attack of Opportunity).

OK, let’s set aside the hypotheticals and get back to the action. As usual, the zombie brutes follow the general Pathfinder/Starfinder Big And Tall Rules: lots of hit points, hit pretty hard, but not all that hard to hit either. It’s not clear whether or not they have reach, but it’s probably pretty safe to assume the answer is yes. So it’s basically going to be a race to see if more small attacks can chop these guys down before they get too many big hits in.

The bad guys get out to an early lead, knocking Peepers out and putting a hefty amount of damage on Millicent, since they were the ones that ended up in the front when the fight broke out. Initially, I thought we’d actually be fighting a rolling retreat, chucking Produce Flames at them while we moved back toward the water. But then things start to turn things around fairly quickly. For starters, it turns out slashing damage actually does extra to the big guys. And then Nella and Nixnox roll out the big guns – the three-action group heal not only does extra radiant damage to undead, but also heals Peepers and Millicent. Nixnox even scores a crit, so his heal is – much like a Pokemon attack – super-effective! All of a sudden, a fight that looked like it could get pretty dire seems mostly manageable.

We even have time for a brief moment of levity, courtesy of Mister Chris Beemer. If this podcast goes another 10 years, our armor-clad fighter saying “I’ve got your back” and then hiding BEHIND the person he just said he’d protect will be an all-time classic. Chris has always had a… ahem… self-protective streak, but this was one for the vaults. On the other hand, maybe he meant it literally – maybe Nixnox had some lint on the back of his cloak and Thorgrim was attempting to brush it off.

On the other hand, Thorgrim gets the last laugh – figuratively and literally – by getting the kill shot on the final brute after everyone else did all the hard work, almost prompting a full-group mutiny. OF COURSE HE DOES. Come on, Dice Gods. Don’t reward that behavior!

With all the creatures disposed of, we begin a search of the temple. First, we land a bit of treasure from the main “shrine” area, but nothing earth-shattering – the potion of water breathing actually would’ve been useful for the earlier puzzle of the lockbox at the bottom of the well; not sure the occult medallion does much for anyone. Then… we finish the session with a bit of exploring. I think there’s a general sense the other adventuring party might appear, but so far… just empty, maze-like hallways.

And then at the end, we hear… something. Scratching.

And that’s where we’ll pick it up next time. As always, feel free to stop by our Discord channel or other social media and give us your thoughts on the show. Thanks for listening, and we’ll see it next week.

The Black Lodge Tale 1, Chapter 3: Mister Peeper’s Tours

Remember folks, zombies in Pathfinder 2nd edition are 500% stronger than those from 1st edition!

Roll For Combat, Tales from the Black Lodge Tale #1 is a playthrough of the Pathfinder Society Scenario #1-07 Flooded King’s Court.

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: https://www.patreon.com/rollforcombat 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!

The Sideshow S1|04: Darius and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Jason recaps the events from Three Ring Adventure S1|04: Man of the Mountain.

This week represents a return to familiar ground, as it’s a mostly combat-oriented episode, featuring not one, not two, but THREE different battles.

OK, the first is a little out of the ordinary as they’re fighting against the circus’ own bear, so they don’t want to hurt it too badly in the process. I have to admit I thought it was mildly amusing to watch the party try to use every skill-related trick in the book to avoid having to fight the bear, only to have it punch Darius in the face anyway. (Would a Society check work? Can we shame the bear for pairing the wrong wine with its dinner?) I also thought the imagery of tiny Hap trying to shove Darius out of the way was pretty darn hilarious. We need a special Patreon level where you can inject an Nat-20 or Nat-1 into the proceedings – it would’ve been funny to have Hap send Darius flying across the trailer. Ironically, the combat is ultimately resolved by, well, not fighting. The minute Darius steps back and gives the bear some room, it immediately calms down and makes amends by giving Darius some big bear kisses. (Which would be a lot handier if bear saliva had healing properties.)

I did have a thought, but it was a very after-the-fact thing – wasn’t there a bear-cloak in Myron’s trailer? Could they have calmed the bear down by wearing that? Either outright disguising themselves as him, or even just bringing something with his scent along to keep from spooking the bear.

After looking around the bear trailer, the team follows the rat tracks into our second fight of the day… a pair of water mephits down by the stream, kinda just minding their own business, hoarding rocks from the stream into a backpack. I assume mephits don’t really have “gear”, so I assume the backpack belongs to our druidic friend and the mephitis somehow found it or stole it. To metagame a little, even without Darius messing with their rock collection, the team probably needed to get that backpack and see what’s in it, since it probably belongs to Myron’s killer.

The fight starts, and looking at the mephits’ stat block, their big weapon is acid arrow (3d8 + 1d6 persistent acid damage) as an innate ability. They also have a conical breath weapon (2d8) with a randomized recharge (1d4 rounds). They are fairly “glass cannon”-y as they only have 20 hit points, but man they hit hard. As poor Alhara finds out with a vengeance, as she gets critted and dropped (fortunately, not quite reaching the insta-kill threshold, though). I’ll note that’s the second straight show we’ve had a one-shot crit – Chris’ dwarf got critted in Black Lodge, and now Alhara gets the same treatment here.

Luckily, the party is able to finish off the mephits and save Alhara, and we have some loot to move the plot forward, and some roleplay action. The loot is mainly in the form of a map with key locations on it – presumably, those would be additional places to look for the culprit. The roleplay? A little possible romantic tension between Alhara and Ateran brewing? I’m intrigued to watch this play out because it’s something our usual group doesn’t do a lot (OK… ANY). Our group might roleplay an encounter with a key NPC, but we don’t really do a lot of deep interactions within the party itself.

Once everyone’s healed, the search resumes, and we eventually end up at the third fight of the session – a battle against a cockatrice! My first reaction here is surprise more than anything. I don’t know why but I always thought a cockatrice was both bigger and higher level. I don’t know if I accidentally swapped it with a different monster or I’m just losing brain cells, but I never really thought of a cockatrice as a low-level creature. Maybe it’s the petrification ability – maybe it just SEEMS more powerful because it can turn people to stone. (Especially since in earlier editions, it was a single save.)

Ironically, the cockatrice, despite sounding like the most formidable foe, ends up being a fairly quick fight, though Darius (he’s having a rough session) manages to take a cockatrice bite and become slowed. He eventually makes the save to keep it from getting worse, but he’s still going to have the Slowed 1 condition for a day.

I wanted to run through the progression here, just for the curious. Each round you have to make a DC20 save against the petrification. Each fail adds a level of Slowed (essentially, one less action per round), and if you reach Slowed 3 (aka you lose all three actions), you’re petrified. From there, it’s a save every 24 hours: regular success means you can move again, but you’re still Slowed 1. Critical success and you’re totally back to normal. Failure means you’re paralyzed another 24 hours, and a CRITICAL failure means the petrification is permanent, and… you roll a new character, I guess. So it’s pretty fortunate Darius got off that train when he did, though being limited to two actions for an entire day is nothing to sneeze at.

For the moment, the team decides to retreat to camp – they’re pretty beat up and most of their rechargeable resources are spent. (And a tank with only two actions.) But they return to scene of turmoil… as well as a good place for a cliffhanger, as the entire circus troupe is stuck in some weird compelled dance. S-s-s-s, A-a-a-a, F-f-f-f…

And that’s where we’ll pick it up next week. Is this going to be a fourth straight combat for the team, or will they be able to finesse their way out of this? While you’re waiting for next week to bring the answer to that question, feel free to drop by the 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.