June 2020 - Page 2 of 2 - Roll For Combat: Paizo's Official Pathfinder & Starfinder Actual Play Podcasts

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The Black Lodge Tale 3, Chapter 4: Klaatu Barada Nikto

Glowing runes on the floor of a creepy hallway never ends well for the PCs. It sure would be a shame if a monster ran across that glowing floor….

Roll For Combat, Tales from the Black Lodge Tale #3 is a playthrough of the Pathfinder Society Scenario #1-11 Flames of Rebellion. Our guest-star is Vanessa Hoskins.

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|14: Whose Initiative Is It Anyway?

Jason recaps the events from Three Ring Adventure S1|14: Spiders and Wine.

I have to start this week with a mild self-correction – I misunderstood a piece of the action last week. I thought it was clergy from the church that was being held in the barn and not the farmers. Somewhere in there, the action switched from talking to the farmer to talking to the priest, and I missed the change-over. Or maybe I thought “Hawfton” was some sort of obscure religious title. So if I sounded a little confused last week… well, I suppose I was. Don’t worry. Steve slapped me around a little and I’m back on the same page.

On to this week.

As I was listening to this week’s episode, I got a very “letting their hair down” vibe from it. (Except Rob T., who unless he’s really let things go during social distancing, doesn’t have hair at all.) What I mean is that this group commits to the roleplaying so well, that it’s odd (but enjoyable) when they just kinda goof off and act like a more casual party. And I have to admit I kinda liked it.

The most notable instance was everyone coming up with ways to deny Loren/Hap the magic item that would be perfect for her character (the dancing scarf thingy). That’s the sort of razzing that was old hat for our Black Lodge group but we haven’t heard nearly as much of on this side of the house. Particularly the extra twist of the knife of giving it to the bear; that was pretty inspired.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I DISLIKE the roleplay or that I want this show to turn into Open Mic Night at H.P. McChuckles. What they’re doing is great and I’m enjoying it a lot. But it’s still nice to step outside the characters every once in a while and enjoy the people behind them and their senses of humor as well. Even in a more RP-heavy setting, that’s an integral part of what this hobby offers… that camaraderie of the gaming table. Perhaps sometimes on the Black Lodge side, we’re a little TOO much the class clowns, but it’s good to keep that part somewhere in the picture.

I assume Steve’s “GM/PC tip about NPCs not just going along with player requests” was mostly regarding Alhara’s attempt to get the gang of town ruffians to join in her exercise regimen. I don’t GM a lot, but I’ll throw my two cents in on this one anyway. (Blame Steve for giving me a column.) It’s an interesting push-pull at work. On one hand, one wants to encourage player participation, and saying “yes” to their ideas is a good way to do that. On the other hand, one of the ingredients in building an immersive setting is creating NPCs that feel like real people and react in reasonable ways. I suppose it also matters logistically how far “off course” saying yes would take you – indulging someone for 5 or 10 minutes is a different thing than derailing an entire session. Adjacent to that, there’s also inter-party dynamics to consider – is there a way to keep the entire party engaged, or is it one player’s personal joyride?

I know you’ll get people who subscribe to that whole “yes, and…” school of improv thought; that you should basically err on the side of agreeing to requests no matter how “out there”. For the most part, I’m not of that school. YES, sometimes being the GM means sidelining the main story for a few minutes to let the players indulge a little, but sometimes it’s also about knowing when to NOT do that. Sometimes the more satisfying state for the party as a whole is to stay on the main story and get to The Next Thing. The one exception was my Dads-N-Kids game (currently suspended because of social distancing) – when we were teaching the kids the game, we tended to say yes to most of their ideas, even if they would be questionable in a more by-the-book campaign. (But we also said yes to killing off their characters if they did something REALLY stupid, because if not… how will you learn?)

Having said all that, I would’ve said yes to Vanessa’s plan, but combined the obstacle course/exercise and the drinking. Have everyone do shots and then go run Alhara’s obstacle course loaded: make the DC checks get progressively harder… possibly taking some non-lethal damage in the process… A GOOD TIME WAS HAD BY ALL.

Eventually, we finally get back to the main investigation and head out to the Hawfton Mill where we have a battle with spiders in the garden. Two main things stand out to me. First, was Loren making the interesting roleplaying choice to have Hap friendly-fire Alhara with Burning Hands. Maybe it’s because our other group tends to play things “by the book (Mr. Saavik)” but I always get a kick out of people making suboptimal tactical choices because it would fit their character better. Sometimes I wish we could even take it a step further – have people occasionally misjudge the distance on their spells and not know where to perfectly lay down the burst heal or the cone damage – but that might make the game unplayable if you took it too far. The math is pretty delicately calibrated even before you throw in possible self-sabotage. The other thing that stood out to me was the party FINALLY getting some good luck on a saving throw with regards to the spider venom. Seriously, our band of adventurers has had such craptastic luck with status effects, I was assuming Rob would fail his save and they’d have to burn the antidote, so it was a nice surprise for that not to happen.

After some out-of-character dithering about whether to keep going or rest, the team continues their investigation into the mill building itself. We see some normal size wasps, which… after another bit of soul-searching about whether to retreat, burn them out with fire, or just see what happens… leads to our favorite BEEP-BEEP-BEEP noise and the end of the episode.

And that’s where we’ll pick it up next week. As always 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.

Three Ring Adventure S1|14: Spiders and Wine

Remember that scene in Ghostbusters where they try to capture Slimer and end up destroying the hotel ballroom? That happens.

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 3, Chapter 3, Koboldly Go Where No One Has Gone Before

Jason recaps the events from The Black Lodge Tale 3, Chapter 3: Sewer Dragons.

It’s going to be a bit of a tough one to write this week because once again, we have an episode that’s basically one battle and a fairly easy one at that. I mean… it’s kobolds, which are pretty much THE definitive cannon-fodder RPG race. Especially now that Paizo went and made goblins into good guys. (grumble grumble)

So much like last week, this is a fight that looked like it might be tough for two seconds based on numbers (there were five or six of them), but once we started swinging weapons in earnest, they could rarely hit us and they didn’t have much in the way of hit points, so it never really felt like we were in much danger. Unless they got lucky with a crit, of course. Arguably Seth and John dragged it out longer with their varying brands of silliness – Seth trying to intimidate rather than trying to kill, and Peepers Being Peepers and almost falling into a pit in the process.

Speaking of which, I was glad we slowed down and got that ruling right on Grab An Edge because it seems like it would be a fairly useless action otherwise. Yeah, it also mitigates 20 feet of a longer fall, but the real value is not falling at all. Of course, you fall 80 or 100 feet before Grabbing an Edge, you’re probably still going to die (see also: Dirk The Daring on the falling platform area in Dragon’s Lair). The thing I found interesting is that you don’t technically have to have a hand free – you can use a weapon or other suitable object to stop your fall. (Also note, on a Critical fail, you take all the normal falling damage you would’ve taken AND also take additional bludgeoning damage – I guess in trying to grab the edge, you get hit by other rocks and outcroppings or something.)

I’ll admit it was also kind of funny that John failed the roll to climb back out and had to hero point it. It’s not exactly that I laugh at his misfortune… more like “it makes the battlefield more interesting when things like that happen”. Though OK, maybe just a little bit of schadenfreude based on the natural consequence of his playing Peepers the way he does – if he had just advanced on the kobolds instead of screwing around in the opposite corner of the room, that wouldn’t have happened in the first place. PEEPERS!

As long as we’re on rules clarifications: somehow we made it all through Plaguestone without explicitly realizing that Detect Magic can exclude magic on the party members, so that’s a good thing to know too. I think we always kinda suspected it, but since we didn’t have a lot of magic items in that campaign (other than potions), it never explicitly came up. Note that this doesn’t change the dynamics of the “Celes Maneuver” – Detect Magic still doesn’t pinpoint the magic item and you still have to search the area, so creeping up on it in 5-foot increments is still a valid way to narrow things down. But the silliness of having to move your party-mates to the other side of the room can go away.

Unless, of course, your party-mates are holding out and carrying magic items on them that they’re not disclosing to the rest of the party. Note to self: for anything-goes paranoid campaigns, use Detect Magic on the rogue periodically – if they stole something you don’t know about, it would set off the spell. Theoretically. (Of course, in Society play, nobody should be doing that anyway because people can’t play evil characters and you don’t get to keep magic loot anyway.)

The other thing that stands out about this episode is the Clerks-reminiscent digression about whether the traditional RPG adventure party can truly call themselves “good guys” when they invade other creatures’ homes, kill them, and steal all their stuff. Now, at least for adventure paths, Paizo usually gets around this by having some prior evil act read into the record to set the stage. (Usually the murder of a dwarf.) So that by investigating the Bad Thing, you are already adopting the role of the Good Guys, and everything else just follows from that. On the other hand, a lot of these Society games tend to be for smaller stakes, so they don’t have that big Call To Action that establishes moral clarity. In this case… the skeletons are fair game because you always kill undead, but there’s no real evidence the kobolds are harming townsfolk – they’re just squatting on a piece of property that doesn’t belong to them. There aren’t that many fantasy blockbusters that revolve around landlord-tenant disputes. (Begins writing first-draft manuscript for Harry Potter And The Malevolent Homeowners’ Association.)

The one combat note here is we finally got our first real taste of the new, more powerful Level 2 Millicent and her Katana of Doom. The first battle went by a little quick, so we didn’t really get to see her shine. This time, we got Attacks of Opportunity, crazy damage – just a buzzsaw of death and destruction. I’m not gonna lie – it’s at least put it in the back of my brain to have Nella dip into fighter so she could also be a katana-wielding badass. Though doing a quick scan of the archetype rules, it looks like I wouldn’t be able to get Attacks of Opportunity until Level 4. And you can’t apply Shillelagh to a katana… so, maybe not.

The exploration continues, we make our way up to the next level of the tower, and we draw to a close facing a bit of a puzzle chamber – magic runes of different colors all over the floor leading up to the next level. I mean… “don’t step on the runes” seems like a fairly obvious plan, doesn’t it? NOTHING GOOD EVER HAPPENS WHEN YOU STEP ON MAGIC RUNES. But we’ll have to wait until next week to see how that all unfolds. While waiting for next week, feel free to drop by Discord 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 3, Chapter 3: Sewer Dragons

Breaking into an ancient keep and killing all of the kobold inhabitants … clearing the world of evil creatures or home invasion? You decide.

Roll For Combat, Tales from the Black Lodge Tale #3 is a playthrough of the Pathfinder Society Scenario #1-11 Flames of Rebellion. Our guest-star is Vanessa Hoskins.

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|13: Makin’ Bacon

Jason recaps the events from Three Ring Adventure S1|13: This Little Piggy Became Roast Beef.

We pick up this week’s episode in the aftermath of the fight against the mephits, and we’re going to finally learn the identity of the voice that was calling for help. Turns out it’s the family from the mill – they’re a little worse for wear, but not life-threatening condition… mostly just tired, hungry, and dehydrated.

And then things get weird with an oddly involved session of Golarion Theology 101, as the priests decide to get up in Ateran’s face about their faith, and Hap doubles down by asking about other gods that might work for her.

I have to admit, I would’ve been eaten alive by this roleplay. In the intro, Steve talks about having to think on his feet because the players know the lore better than him, but he would NOT have had that issue with me. If I’m being honest, I’ve always been fairly indifferent toward the theology side of Pathfinder. For me, the gods are the mechanism that makes divine casters go, but I have to admit I don’t really dig deep on the lore. I know Cayden Cailean is a fairly easy god to live with because he likes to party, I think I end up choosing Desna a lot because “travelers” and “adventurers” sound like similar concepts and because Neutral Good doesn’t box me in as much, I know generally which ones are good gods and bad gods, but that’s pretty much it for me. Heck, playing a Gorum-worshiper in Iron Gods was a big step forward for me, though even for that, I borrowed aggressively from Klingons in figuring out how to play Ezrik. If there’s ever a test on this stuff, I’m screwed.

Don’t get me wrong. The players roleplayed all of this well… I’m just saying I would’ve been lost. It’s like that one Jeopardy! category you wouldn’t possibly stand a chance in.

Next, we get into some transitional activities – searching the barn, healing up (with the help of the clergy), and such. The bedroll with rat droppings clearly locks this down as Rat-Head’s base of operations. The big revelation here is the additional two skin-suits. They seem like a couple of worshipers of Gozreh, or at least what’s left of them, but their holy symbols are a little “off”, whatever significance that has. So are the druids working WITH Rat-Head or against Rat-Head? Are the skins victims of someone trying to STOP Rat-Head, or were there accomplices using the skins to do some sort of infiltration of the druidic order? Still more questions than answers at this point. (Though there were storms moving through the area while I was listening, so there were places where I wasn’t hearing well – if there’s something glaringly obvious I missed… mea culpa.)

I did like the trick of sneaking the rescued family holy water to make sure they weren’t bad guys in waiting. That kinda cracked me up. Do we know if holy water is supposed to taste any different in the Pathfinder universe? Does it have a hint of citrus? Minty freshness? It’s probably somewhere in Gods and Magic… THIS IS WHAT I GET FOR NOT STUDYING.

After the party digs around, the adventure continues into the apple orchard, where we find the family of boars. It’s a fairly straightforward fight, so rather than a blow-by-blow, I’m mostly left with random impressions.

First, maybe I’m tuned into it because I’m playing a druid in Black Lodge, but boy a druid would’ve been handy for this encounter. Wild Empathy! It would’ve given them an immediate chance to make the boars less aggressive. Would that have been enough to get around the fight? Not sure, but it would’ve been nice to try. But then again, to poke holes in my own argument: Wild Empathy isn’t THAT great because it’s keyed to both a skill (Diplomacy) and an ability score (Charisma) that druids aren’t likely to feature heavily in their builds. So maybe it’s not THAT game-changing.

There’s also the silly but obvious question… where exactly WOULD one want to get gored by a boar? The phrase “wouldn’t want to get gored there” implies there’s an ideal location for being impaled. I’ll open the floor for discussion.

The other thing I noticed… this is the second game where we’ve had a wild boar that led to a post-game pig roast (Plaguestone also had one). I’m sure it’s just coincidence, but one I found amusing. I guess the folks at Paizo like their BBQ or something. Still not as bad as their propensity to murder dwarves to serve as an inciting event, but methinks someone at Paizo has a thing for ribs.

And of course, there’s a return of Ferocity, which is fast becoming one of the Most Annoying Skills All-Stars. Though this time, whether by luck or better tactics, the team was able to manage their attacks in such a way that they still had attacks left even after the boars burned their reaction for the round. The weakness of Ferocity is that it only matters if the creature survives until their next turn. In Plaguestone, the orcs tended to drop on the last attack of the round, so they’d get another round out of it; this time around, the players got pretty good luck on that front.

So the boars are beaten, we find another dead body – this time a gnome with a little bit of treasure on him – and it’s time to wrap things up for the day. Hap burns through some healing spells, and the group carries their well-earned ribfest back to camp. We have a brief Theology Redux conversation between Hap and “Dad” – though I actually thought Hap expressing doubts about the whole adventurer’s life was a nice roleplay touch on Loren’s part — and it’s time to call it a session.

Will the great investigation continue or will it finally be time to get back to circus work? I guess we’ll find out next time. In the meantime, feel free to drop by Discord or other social media and let us know what you think of the show. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next week.

 

Three Ring Adventure S1|13: This Little Piggy Became Roast Beef

The RFC Crew learns more about the night of the circus attack and Darius will go to incredible lengths to get his hands on some fresh bacon.

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 3, Chapter 2, Hit It And Quit It

Jason recaps the events from The Black Lodge Tale 3, Chapter 2: Green Light Kid!

Sorry this is a little late but I’ve just been out of it the last few days because of the state of the country and all the protests going on and it was hard to get psyched up to write about what felt (comparatively) like a silly little make-believe session. And it still is a little. The session we recorded last night… spoiler alert: in a few weeks, when you hear it, you’re going to get a fairly zombified version of Nella because I didn’t want to cancel once everything had been scheduled, but I was definitely not feeling it knowing protesters and cops were going at it 10 minutes from my house.

Look, I’m not particularly wired for Delivering An Important Message. That’s not who I am. Or at least if I AM going to do that, I’m going to do that in my own way and using my own platform. On the other hand, I feel like not acknowledging it at all would be ignoring the elephant in the room. So, I’m not gonna give you the 3000-words version, but I’ll just say that I’m firmly on the side of the protesters and of African-Americans getting better justice than they’ve been getting in this country, and you can take that as you will.

Elephant in the room addressed. On to our episode.

I have to admit that after a few straight really long shows (if we’re lumping in Extinction Curse, some of those cracked the 2-hour mark), it was nice to get a fairly short show in this time around. I’ve probably mentioned this before but I’m more an hour, 90-minutes-at-the-max kind of listener. And we also had a bare minimum of endless bickering about pointless minutiae, which represents progress for this group. On the other hand, the trade-off is that the actual game action this week is a little sparse: it’s basically a single battle that looked initially scary, but really ended up being a walk in the park. Ultimately, the skeletons didn’t have a lot of hitpoints and couldn’t hit most of our armor classes (except maybe Nixnox, but he was hiding most of the fight anyway). Nella has an 18, Thorgrim is a 20, Mama Millicent… I don’t remember her exact number, but it’s up there too.

Having said that, the fight looked like it might be tough when it first started, just based on numbers – I forget whether it was 7 or 8 total skeletons, but they definitely had numbers on us. I did wrestle with some internal debate whether I really needed to use Shillelagh, but decided to go ahead with the thinking that it was going to take us a few days to reach our destination, so I’d probably get a chance to recharge before we hit Diggen’s Rest and the real fighting started. Heck, even if we got there the same day, we could probably rest overnight and start exploring the following morning – I didn’t get a sense there’s a time constraint on this one like there was with our other adventures.

By the end of the fight, I felt kinda silly for burning the spell though. They couldn’t hit us, they dropped fairly easily… WASTED RESOURCES. I suppose that I also argued against using my Hero Point to re-roll that final attack, but at that point I just wanted the fight done. And then Steve figured out the thing with the blindness, so I got it back anyway. I wasn’t expecting that, but a nice little bonus.

After the fight, we got to have another segment of Fun With Treat Wounds. I love the mechanic… in both directions. I like that it’s an extra source of healing that (almost) anyone has access to – it’s a handy little mechanic. I equally love that you can screw it up and actually make things worse. Which… in this case, Mama Millicent actually does to Mister Peepers, who was somehow the one member of the party that managed to take some significant damage in the fight. Luckily, Thorgrim is able to step in with Lay On Hands and bail Millicent out, but it provided a little moment of levity.

Lastly, we have a treasure and lore dump. The archaic wayfinder is kind of a neat item – being able to slot an aeon stone without using your head slot is of fairly obvious use, but I’m still trying to figure out what the optimal use of the cantrip slot would be. If you cast one of your own cantrips… duh, you already have access to those anyway. So… you maybe have someone else cast a cantrip onto it, as Chris (I think) suggested, to diversify your spell list? Or give it to a non-caster, so they have at least one spell they can cast in a pinch. I guess that’s the way to go with it.

I’m in a weird mood, so I can’t believe I’m going to go on this digression, but a few more words about Voyagers! (not Travelers). I suspect it’s probably one of those things that didn’t age well, and if I go back and re-watch it, I feel like I’ll be disappointed. (See also: Hill Street Blues). But at the time it was quite the fun little show. Half Quantum Leap (fixing history), half Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure (run-ins with famous historical figures). I feel like I should clarify that the actor (Jon-Erik Hexum) died while shooting his NEXT show (Cover Up, about CIA agents who were undercover as fashion models) – that wasn’t the reason Voyagers! got canceled. Voyagers! just got an unceremonious cancellation after one season. And because I’ve gone too far down this black hole, he also was dating E.G. Daily at the time, who was a singer who was a staple of second-tier 80s movies and also went on to voice the main character in Rugrats.

Wait. How did we end up here?

Whatever, that’s as good a place to wrap it up for this week. Next week, we’ll formally begin the investigation of Diggen’s Rest, and hopefully get into more fights, since the last adventure left us itching for a scrap. As always, feel free to drop by Discord or other social media, and let us know what you think of the show. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next week.