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

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Talking Circus S1|23: Kitchen Nightmares

Jason recaps the events from Three Ring Adventure S1|23: Flurry of Flames.

Before we get into this week’s show, I wanted to take a brief detour to last week’s Talking. Vanessa Hoskins pointed out that I got a little sloppy in my use of pronouns with regards to Ateran last week. (Steve has since fixed it on the site, so you won’t see the mistakes if you go there now, but I went back to the original Word doc, and… yeah, she’s correct). It was certainly unintentional, but I did want to acknowledge the mistake and apologize. The frustrating thing is that I usually make an effort to double-check when it comes to Ateran – especially when context-switching between Rob (the player) and Ateran (the character) – but clearly I neglected to do it this time around. So… sorry for that; I’ll try to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

We pick up in the middle of a short downtime after the battle against Smiler, The Ghast That Got Away. Healing, looting, and even time to fit in a few character moments.

First up, we have poor Hap. She’s already been questioning the whole adventurer lifestyle, but now she’s got a potentially lethal sickness, and most of the team’s attempts to help are just making her feel worse. And when it comes to Alhara, there’s an added layer where she feels like Big Sis should’ve done more to protect her. Ateran digs their self a deeper hole through their overly clinical explanation of the disease and relative lack of a bedside manner. Then Alhara attempts to wade in with “push through it, and it’ll get better” optimism combined with what I’m sure she intended as light-hearted teasing to lighten the mood, which totally backfires. So now Hap’s in a pretty dark place. Strong roleplay by Loren here – Hap as a freaked-out teenager being confronted with her own mortality out of the blue was good stuff. I also liked that she was able to roleplay frustration at a tactical decision in a way that didn’t break immersion and get into game mechanics. “WHY DIDN’T YOU MOVE ONE SQUARE TO THE LEFT, ALHARA?”

Fortunately, Darius is there to save the day, with a moment that manages to be genuinely wholesome and touching. And… when it comes to Rob’s riff on Stone Chicken Disease, funny as well. I mean… that’s kind of been Darius’ role in the party – the big-hearted goof who lifts everyone else’s spirits – but he really works overtime here.

I will admit it was a little weird because the group has been letting the collective hair down the past few episodes, going out of character a bit, and getting silly. Honestly, they’ve almost sounded more like our Black Lodge group the last few episodes. Getting back to serious roleplay relatively out of the blue caught me a little off-guard. Or maybe I’m just naturally grouchy and cynical, and warmth and authenticity are just weird to me. Darius manages to figure out that the key to talking Hap down from the ledge (at least for now) is to remind her of all the good she can do to help others with her powers, and he’s able to get Hap moving forward again.

Next, we have at least a short-term resolution of The Ateran Situation, as Alhara has it out with them about killing the evil priestess. Part of this went as expected: Ateran got to make the case that the priestess was planning to continue the fight, but only they could detect it because of the nature of their magic. But then Rob pulled something that surprised me – the idea that Ateran did it because Darius and Hap were thinking of getting THEIR hands dirty and they (Ateran) didn’t want that to happen. For all the talk about how Ateran is an outsider and doesn’t always get the other members of the party, this was a nice sign of growth, that they would want to save Hap (in particular) the struggle of having to take another life… even one as deranged as the priestess appeared to be. You also wonder if there are hooks in Ateran’s backstory that shed light on that choice, that we’ll learn about later…. maybe Ateran had to take a life and regretted it later?

I don’t think this situation is totally resolved; at least Vanessa was not playing it as such. It didn’t seem like she was totally buying Ateran’s explanation, though she got enough to keep moving forward and not dissolve the party on the spot. So… stay tuned to see if Ateran can dig their self the rest of the way out of the doghouse, or if this has just changed the party dynamics for good.

With everyone’s personal issues at least temporarily dealt with, exploration of the dungeon resumes, and the party stumbles across a dining hall. (Who puts a dining hall this close to the dead bodies? Even for a medieval fantasy world, that’s gotta be some kind of health code violation.) A bunch of quasits… probably not a big deal, our gang has dealt with them before… and a humanoid with a cleaver who is serving as a cook. The cook looks like she might be tough for all of one round, but then everyone pretty much lands their attacks and it’s all over – Vanessa trips the cook, Darius fires a Stunning Fist, flaming birds, elemental toss, and there’s a smoking crater where she used to be. By the end, it’s almost to the point of showing off, when Vanessa is grappling and shoving quasits into pots instead of just stabbing them.

Things show signs of getting a LITTLE interesting when the quasit under the pot a) turns into a wolf and b) heals up. Do we finally have a fight on our hands? Ummm… never mind. Ateran throws another chair, and the wolf crumples as well. Fight over, and a fairly easy one at that. Really the only downside is we didn’t get to see what Alhara’s brand-new magical trident does. Guess that’s going to be a mystery for another day.

After a bit of top-up healing, the exploration continues. There’s a pantry with a bunch of snacks, so if the party wants to just quit the circus and live here, they’ve got options. Then they come to a room with tons of doors, but one of them has been ripped off the hinges and there are noises coming from that direction. So Alhara decides to take a shot at stealthing… something we haven’t really seen her do much of. And she may never get a chance to do it again, as she critically fails right in front of TWO of the same demons where ONE almost wiped the party back at the church. (Granted, they’ve leveled since then, but still…) So this episode was easy, but next week is shaping up as a bit of an ordeal.

While you’re waiting for next week, feel free to drop by our Discord channel and let us know what you think of the show. And this week, maybe send some thoughts and prayers to Alhara, because it sounds like she might need ‘em. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next week.

Three Ring Adventure S1|23: Flurry of Flames

After an exhausting game of ghoul hide and seek, it’s time to raid the kitchen for a late-night snack!

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!

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Talking Tales: Tale 6, Chapter 1, The Ultimate Fixer-Upper

Jason recaps the events from The Black Lodge Tale 6, Chapter 1: This Old Fort.

Well, the Erik Mona/Vortaris Live Episode Sojourn is over, and it’s back to “normal” episodes. Also, we return this week from Questing to full-length adventures.

This time out, our special guest is Jefferson Thacker (aka Perram) from Know Direction. I know Steve has done a lot of stuff with Perram in other venues – they did a live event that wasn’t recorded, Steve appeared on KD’s show, etc. – but I don’t think he’s ever been featured on one of our games before. And personally, my only first-hand interaction with Perram was when he served as the moderator/master-of-ceremonies for our PaizoCon live event back in 2018. So… been a while.

Perram’s character is Ducker Nightshade… he’s definitely a halfling, I’m pretty sure I heard him say he was a champion, but of course, the thing that really sticks out is the accent Perram has chosen: he’s gone full “up the holler” Appalachian with him. Which is… unusual… for a fantasy setting, you have to admit. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I disliked it, but it did catch me off guard a little.

Now, I’m just going to come right out and say it: you’ll notice I don’t talk a lot this episode. There are two main reasons for that: one intentional, one not.

The intentional part is that when we have a new guest, particularly one we’ve never played with before, I usually like to give them some space to see how they’re going to play. I’m deferential that way. When it’s someone we already know like Vanessa Hoskins or Rob Trimarco… OK, jump right in. Since it was our first time playing with Perram, I was more inclined to let him have the floor.

The other reason is that I wasn’t feeling all that well when we recorded this session. Frankly, it was one of those things where I faded fast after dinner, but I didn’t want to call off at the last minute and screw up everyone’s schedules. So I tried to tough it out and probably shouldn’t have. 20-20 hindsight, I guess.

We start… yet again… on a ship, only this time it’s really just transportation from Point A to Point B. OK, there’s a little bit of interaction with the other passengers, but we don’t get attacked and no gambling mini-games. The refugees from Lastwall seem like really obvious candidates to be our first workers, but despite being chased out of their home by the Whispering Tyrant, they seem strangely reluctant to accept the offer of a job and a place to live. For the moment, we won’t worry about that.

Then we reach port and have to deal with the guards, and now we’re at a point where the situation with the family reaches critical mass and we have to do something. Unfortunately, the harbor guards are going to sell off the kid to the Razmiri priesthood unless we can vouch for them. Which leads to this week’s episode of Adventures in Crappy Skill Rolls! Chris fails Diplomacy. Perram fails an attempt to Intimidate. I fail TWICE, burning my hero point in the process. All this for two workers and two kids who aren’t likely to do us any good. But FINALLY, Seth gets a decent roll, and we’re able to get them past the guards and into town at a cost of three gold. Hard to say whether that’s going to be a little or a lot until we get a better sense of the overall budget. (And whether there will be opportunities to earn money elsewhere.)

Next up we get our mission briefing from Mask Narsen (all sorts of COVID jokes I’m just gonna leave on the table there), who actually seems to be a reasonable guy for a worshipper of an evil deity. It’s funny because I now understand some of this better having read the Lost Omens Legends book for my review. Razmir is a really powerful (evil) wizard who’s been masquerading as a god and has built up a following. However, Razmir views the Whispering Tyrant as probably the single biggest threat to his power, so at least on that specific front, he’s capable of cooperating with good people to preserve his power. So, not to guess too much into the motives of someone who calls themselves “the Living God”, but Razmir probably feels like having Pathfinders manning the fort would serve as a first line of defense if Tar-Baphon ever gets frisky and decides to attack.

(BTW, bonus points to Chris for his passive-aggressive pissing contest with Mask Narsen. I had forgotten about that, but it was a pretty funny moment.)

We also get an introduction to the town, but this seems like it’s going to mostly come into play later. I think the big takeaway, for now, is getting a sense of where the skilled craftsmen are when we get past grunt labor and need to hire specialists. For now, put a pin in it.

So now we go visit the fort, and we start to get an idea of the full scope of the project. Which is… basically… everything. The walls have holes in them. The main keep is in disrepair. The roof is shot, but you can’t even get up to the top level to fix the roof because there are no stairs. The well is damage, so there’s no supply of water. And ohbytheway, we also have an evil shrine to contend with and may have monsters living somewhere in or around the fort.

So the main thrust of this adventure looks like it’s going to be base-building rather than traditional combat. We have a certain amount of time (currently not specified), a finite amount of money, and we can either hire labor or do it ourselves in cases where we have the right skills. In addition to whatever labor we have to hire out, there are also potential costs for materials, and for lodging up to the point where we can get the fort into a livable condition. Unknown is whether there will be opportunities to add to our budget by… essentially… doing side quests.

At the very end of the episode, Steve presents us with a full task list. I mostly want to save that for next week because – mild spoiler – John taps into his Game Designer Kung-Fu and spends the week between sessions putting it into a more coherent “flowchart” format that makes it easier to discuss. For now, I can give you a first glance assessment: there are something like 180 or 190 work units, so we’re clearly going to have to do SOME of the work ourselves or find some alternate sources of income because our 147 gold isn’t going to totally cover it. And that’s even before any materials or lodging at the inn.

So that’s where we’ll pick it up next week – we’ll break the task list down in more detail and get to work. 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. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next week.

The Black Lodge Tale 6, Chapter 1: This Old Fort

The Black Lodge gang takes a break from slaying monsters to branch out into professional castle repair.

Roll For Combat, Tales from the Black Lodge Tale #6 is a playthrough of the Pathfinder Society Scenario #1-18 Lodge of the Living God. Our guest-star is Jefferson Jay Thacker (aka Perram).

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!

The Sideshow S1|22: Turn Off The Dark

Jason recaps the events from Three Ring Adventure S1|22: The Rule of Ghoul.

This has to be one of the weirdest episodes of Roll For Combat ever. Although we got a few ghouls for an appetizer, the main combat of the episode went basically unresolved and the big bad ghast (I assume that was the point of Steve describing the one attack as “ghastly”) got away. In fact, most of the action came from just navigating the environment – falling rocks, no light, etc. – and dealing with the sickness. And we end the game with a little light violation of the Geneva Convention as Ateran murders a captive prisoner, the boss from the previous episode that they had previously tied up. Then again, we all know how Ateran has been on edge because of their feelings about druids, and the session did start with Hap joking about slitting her throat, so maybe the signs were always there that this was going to end badly.

Hmmm… maybe murdering prisoners is how the evil clown from the other circus got his start…

On to the game. First and foremost, it was good to get that reminder about “Learn a Spell”. Loren was just doing a regular Identify, but it’s good to get into that stuff. “Learn A Spell” is kind of a compromise between the First Edition poles of either “you get access to every spell on the list” free-for-all and the overly restrictive “you get these five spells and that’s all you can EVER do”. As a general skill, any caster class can do it. One of the interesting features is that you can either learn the spell from a scroll or spellbook OR you can have someone teach you the spell through conversation. So theoretically, one way to learn new spells is just to study with NPC casters, if the GM allows it. The thing that’s a bit risky is that if you fail the check on Learn a Spell, you can’t try again until next level. Oof.

Another thing I found interesting was Loren was going back to the First Edition version of Produce Flame, and I was a little surprised Steve let her do that. If you’re new to Pathfinder with Second Edition, Produce Flame used to be kind of a hybrid between a light spell and a combat spell. You basically got a blob of fire on your hand that lasted for 1 minute per level, which you could either use as a light source, or you could use as a ranged attack, with each shot consuming one minute’s worth of fire. Looking at the plain text of the rules, Second Edition took away the secondary usage and just made it a combat spell, but I guess Steve let it slide a little.

I will say, lighting has not traditionally been this big of a problem in our adventures. I can probably count on one hand the number of times we’ve had major issues with lack of light source. I think the biggest thing is that a lot of fights tend to be in rooms that are either already lit, or are at least fairly open spaces where all of the party’s (and enemies’) light sources can combine to make lighting mostly a non-issue. Even most “dungeon” crawls are usually something semi-civilized like a castle or a tavern or something, so there’s some type of human activity. Also, at least in our other group, we tend to be fond of darkvision races, which gets around the problem entirely. And more as a personal choice, if I’m any flavor of caster, I’m taking Light as one of my cantrips anyway.

The one notable recent exception to “no light, no problem” that I can remember was Emerald Spire – not only was there an entire level that was dark narrow passages like this, but most of it was also difficult terrain. And did the enemies have darkvision? Of course they did! That was a freakin’ nightmare.

On the other hand, all of this business with the light sources did give us the moment of the night: Loren discovering AFTER all the dust had settled… “Oh, I do have light!”. That’s just fantastic.

At the end of the episode, we have the somewhat shocking (but maybe not) resolution with the evil priestess from the previous session. I think it was inevitable that some sort of renewed fight would break out – she seemed to be stone-cold crazy, so I don’t think she would’ve just let herself be walked back to town. On the other hand, it was a little surprising to see Ateran lose it and just off her like that. They are usually so calm and collected; if there was going to be an emotional outburst, I would’ve put my money on Hap.

It’ll also be interesting to see how they roleplay this going forward. Both Vanessa and Loren were both showing various levels of disappointment (bordering on disgust in Alhara’s case) and Ateran’s still getting over the hump on being the outsider of the group. One hopes this doesn’t set them back too far in their personal relationships.

I think what’s messing with me as we end the episode is the ambiguous note it ends on. Generally, Steve tends to end either on a natural stopping point in the story, or at least on a fairly well-defined cliffhanger – i.e. combat is about to start and that’s where we’ll pick it up next week. So the idea that there’s still this undead Super-Ghoul running around, they don’t know where it is, and we don’t really know if it’s going to attack them five minutes into next week’s show or we won’t get a resolution for 2 or 3 more weeks… that’s a little weird and atypical, and I’m still processing how I feel about that.

But… my feelings aside, that IS where we’re ending this week. Next week, I guess we’ll see what happens with their battle against the undead. While you’re waiting, 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|22: The Rule of Ghoul

Remember kids, always bring a light source with you when you’re fighting ghouls in a pitch-black underground crypt!

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 5, Chapter 2, Why Did It Have To Be Snakes?

Jason recaps the events from The Black Lodge Tale 5, Chapter 2: Sea Monster Sushi.

Welcome to Part 2 of the PaizoCon special episode. There’s a certain serendipity – planned or not – in running our previous “convention” episode at the same time GenCon is also going on. Though it’s also a little confusing and I fully admit I started typing “GenCon” and changed it to “PaizoCon” as I was writing the intro.

For the record, I’m not ignoring Steve’s announcement about the new adventure… I just figured I’d wait until there’s more to report. Also, because of scheduling snafus, we haven’t actually started playing it yet, so there isn’t even much to drop vague hints about yet. To quote Mister Incredible: WE’LL GET THERE WHEN WE GET THERE.

We resume action in the aftermath of stepping on to the sunken ship and into the waiting pseudo-pods of the mold – though I managed to avoid that particular fiasco by hanging back. I knew SOMETHING was going to happen, but I assumed it would be a more conventional ambush, rather than mold. So everyone else gets to deal with the virtual ConCrud, while I gingerly clear the decks with fire. (Lest I be portrayed as a coward, I’m pretty sure one of either Vortaris or Nixnox didn’t go on the enemy ship at all, but I can’t remember which one.)

Once that’s all subsided, we do a little search of the ship looking for the gorget and figure out it’s below decks. Which are… (wait for it)… UNDER WATER. Of course they are. Needless to say, John is ecstatic that his underwater combat feat might prove to be useful, while Nixnox’s already-evident frustration at another water-based adventure escalates to full-fledged panic. Our strong swimmers investigate, and the corpse we need turns out to be wedged in the jaws of a sea beastie.

Again, here’s where I expected an ambush. Part of it is that Pathfinder Quests are short, so you expect something to happen quickly, but I fully expected that the creature was going to be the fight… that it was just taking a nap or had gotten stuck when the ship went down and was going to conveniently wake up when we started tugging the corpse loose. Well, it turns out the folks at Paizo aren’t QUITE that devious – it’s just a skill challenge to get the body out before you drown. But still, that’s an effective little challenge as is – Thorgrim is the only officially “strong” person in the party, and holding one’s breath underwater got a lot harder between editions.

Quick rules digression, which we sort of explained but sort of didn’t: In First Edition, you could hold your breath underwater for a number of rounds equal to your Constitution SCORE. Now it’s 5 rounds plus your Con MODIFIER. So it went from something that’s likely to be well over a minute even for an average person to “over 30 seconds is pretty exceptional”. Arguably that’s more realistic: it’s actually pretty hard to hold your breath in deep water, especially if you’re thrashing around exerting yourself. But still, it’s a bit of an adjustment. It’ll especially be interesting to see how that plays out in underwater combat situations, if (when) those ever arise.

Who am I kidding? We’ve had water adventures almost every time. Of course, we’ll have to deal with that at some point.

Now here’s where being Level 3 would’ve been enormously useful. If I was Level 3, I’d have the upgrade to the Level 2 version of Wild Shape, which gives me “real” forms including a shark form. At that point, I could’ve Wild Shaped into a shark and either tugged at the corpse or eaten away at the creature (gross… yes… but possibly effective) until the sailor’s remains broke free. But since I’m still on the starter version, I can only turn into small creatures, which didn’t really offer much help here. Level 1 Wild Shape is mostly for roleplay flavor, maybe a little bit of recon work (though even that’s limited by the fairly short duration).

So Peepers and Thorgrim get the actual job of freeing our target, and Nella and her unimpressive strength are mostly there for moral support and casting Light. At first, it looks like we might end up with some drowning victims, but they finally get the body free and we’re able to drag it back to the dry part of the ship.

And then, as we’re bringing our spoils back… THAT’S when all hell breaks loose.

I have to admit, at first, I was still thinking it was going to be a BIG sea serpent – perhaps the one in the basement of the wreckage had a sibling. Or my other thought was kraken-esque tentacles – that we’d never see the actual creature, just fight off a few Grabby Boys Of The Deep. But I suppose either of those would’ve been creatures WAY outside our challenge level, so what we actually got were more ordinary-sized sea serpents. Now, they weren’t trivial – they had a charge attack, and they could also use the water to move around and attack from unexpected angles. Basically, as the front-line fighters charged all the way over to the port-side rail, one of the serpents went underneath the ship and came up in the middle of our back line. Oops. I suppose we could quibble about animal-level creatures using advanced tactics, but whatever. Made for a more exciting encounter.

Fortunately, the snakes were not that tough in terms of defenses – nothing special on armor class or hit points – and we were able to make fairly quick work of them and secure victory. And Vortaris even got the death blow and some sweet lovin’ from the captain of the ship. Good for you, Vortaris! Hope that doesn’t mean he just recruited an admiral for his eventual Fleet of the Damned when he goes full lich…

And hey, we finished on time! See we can do it when we put our minds to it.

So that’s our PaizoCon romp in a nutshell. As usual, Erik Mona was lots of fun to play with: Vortaris continues to crack me up as a character, and I hope we get to see him again down the road. But it’s also fun having the live audience to interact with – we get a little bit of that with our Patreon subscriber channel, but nowhere near to the scale of a convention appearance. It’s gratifying to see hundreds of people listening in and following along live… even if they do mostly vote for Mr. Peepers and continue to encourage his impulsive streaks. Makes for good listening, I suppose.

Next week, we return with a new adventure (back in “the studio”) with a new special guest, so I hope you’ll join us for that. I won’t spoiler anything, except to say it’s going to be an actual adventure and not a quest, so expect it to unfold on more of a 4-6 episode timeline. As always, 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 back here next week.