February 2021 - Roll For Combat: Paizo's Official Pathfinder & Starfinder Actual Play Podcasts

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Agents of Edgewatch S1|24: You’ve Got A Friend On Me

It’s time to level up and enter the basement of the Murder Hotel, but with the help of an unlikely new friend.

Roll For Combat, Agents of Edgewatch Podcast is a playthrough of the Pathfinder Adventure Path, Agents of Edgewatch starting with the first book, Devil at the Dreaming Palace.

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!

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The Sideshow S2|11: A New Circus Performer Emerges!

Jason recaps the events from Three Ring Adventure S2|11: They Blinded Me With Science!

Well that was a bit of a tone shift, wasn’t it?

At the end of the last episode, I was worried for our merry band. I did have a sense that the battle would stop short of lethal damage because, at the end of the day, the Celestial Menagerie has a good thing going and doesn’t want to get run out of town by committing multiple homicides in front of a full tent of witnesses. But even with that mental safety net, our team was in kind of a worrisome place and I thought they might be facing the prospect of having to rebuild from a place of utter humiliation. I mean, come on… they had only gotten ONE hit on Delamar up to the point where the previous episode ended, and the third guy, Aives, hadn’t really even joined the battle yet.

But what a difference a week makes. A little bit of outside-the-box thinking later, and we’ve got a Zoolander walk-off (“Old school rules. First model walks. Second model duplicates, then elaborates.”), a fan club for Darius, and a surprising defection that turns the tide of the fight and ends up delivering a smashingly good show.

This particular episode is more of a “moments” episode. Sometimes, there’s one big moment or rules question I like to deep-dive on and that pretty much takes up the entire column; other times, it’s just an episode that fills my head with a lot of little stuff. This one’s the latter. So I’ll be bouncing around a bit… stay with me.

First, there’s Ateran. Maybe I’m easily amused but I thought it was kinda funny that they were kinda slow on the uptake – while Darius and Alhara had already shifted to “pretend it’s all part of the act” mode, Ateran’s still firing off Blistering Invective and ranting about killing people. But they get it together in the end and get to use their original act by the time it’s all over.

The Darius fan club is funny in the short term but prompts some interesting questions. There’s this whole interesting idea of exploring the idea of celebrity within an RPG context, and which party members are equipped for it and which ones aren’t. Big picture, that could lead to some interesting roleplay material. Darius and Hap seem like they’re wired to roll with it: I think Darius will be fine as long as bacon is part of the perks package, and Hap will think it’s all great fun as long as she has some sort of safe place to decompress when she has to. Alhara has conflicting elements in her personality… she’s a bit of a showoff and an extrovert, but I feel like she still likes that to be on her terms where SHE chooses the degree of extraversion and FORCED fame might rub her the wrong way. And Ateran… I suspect they’d much rather hide in Kalkek’s cave than be “famous”. So it’ll be interesting to see what might come of that.

Most immediately, I’m just worried about people taking Prestidigitation to places it was never meant to go. Yes, folks. The Darius Beefcake Firefighter Calendar is now officially in play.

Speaking of fandom: don’t be mocking science fandom, people, or we’re gonna fight. Easy to see who did and didn’t have kids who were into Bill Nye growing up. BILL! BILL! BILL! BILL! (Yes, that included a DAoC character named “Bilnai Silentsky” where not NEARLY enough people got the joke of saying it out loud.)

The next thing that stuck out for me as funny when Steve basically just said “screw it” and threw out the nat-1 and re-rolled Aives’ skill check. Look, he’s the GM, he can do what he wants, but just do it behind the screen and lie about it, man! Overall though, I thought the “face turn” by Aives was well done, even if it was a bit reminiscent of wrestling. The only thing that would’ve been better would be to have Aives hit Delamar with a steel folding chair and then tear off a Celestial Menagerie T-shirt to reveal a Wayward Wonders T-shirt underneath.

The most immediate concern in the aftermath is the fate of Jellico Bounce-Bounce. How much of his performing ability was him, and how much was the ghost? Is he even going to BE an act any more, or did his skill disappear with the ghost’s demise? (In which case, maybe that’s a meta-game reason for swapping Aives out for him. One-for-one trade so the players don’t cry foul.) Of course, Dark Cynical Me mentally joked that no one’s considered the possibility that the “real” Jellico was actually a serial killer in his pre-ghost life. Perhaps the spirit is the only thing that kept him distracted from killing MORE people by channeling it into performance.

Our second most immediate concern was that Hap would go get herself eaten by Kalkek by rushing up to rescue Riley without any backup and that we’d never see her Level 6 character. But for the moment, Kalkek honored his deal and things are good if still lacking an ultimate resolution, on that front.

Now, about those Level 6 characters… Ateran gets a CAR at Level 6? (Wads up current character, starts rolling a Witch.)

OK, maybe not. It sounds like we’ll be going through most of that next episode, so I won’t say too much about it for now. The only thing that stands out at this point is a personal note that Darius seems to be taking the same basic package of healing feats my character in Edgewatch is taking; just in a different order. I took Ward Medic first, Continual Recovery at Level 4, and was looking at Assurance at Level 6. But we’ll get into it deeper next week.

Back in the wrap-up, the circus performance makes a nice chunk of change (93g, even after-tax), and we get a stern-but-fair warning that the law is watching both sides, so there hopefully won’t be any overt shenanigans from the Celestial Menagerie crew going forward. So we actually end this week’s show on a fairly positive note… money in the bank, new level one night’s sleep away, all is well. The overall beef with the Menagerie needs to be squashed, the Varus kids still need to meet their father, and our troupe may be doing their next performance for free because of all the comps the CM may have handed out, but that’s just life in show business, right?

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.

Pathfinder Lost Omens Ancestry Guide Review: You’re Gonna Need A Bigger Character Binder

Make sure to read Jason’s review of the Pathfinder Second Edition Core Rulebook, as well as his review of the Pathfinder Advanced Player’s Guide, Pathfinder Lost Omens: Legends, Pathfinder World Guide, Character Guide, Gods & Magic, Gamemastery Guide, and Bestiary 2.

If you enjoyed this review make sure to check out our Pathfinder Adventure Path: Agents of Edgewatch Podcast and our Tales from the Black Lodge Podcast.

I’ll start this review with a personal confession: I am an alt-aholic.

Yes, I leveled one of every class to max level in World of Warcraft. I may have even done so for Alliance and Horde.

Yes, I have an entire SuperFriends-level roster of standard character builds I make in pretty much every game system I encounter. If you run across a (usually-human) mage named “Jerryx” or a dwarf named “Gryzba” in any random system, even money says it’s me. Full disclosure: Gryz has been known to be a fighter or a paladin, depending on my mood.

So when it came time to sit down with the Lost Omens Ancestry Guide, it’s really kind of a slam dunk: the question isn’t whether I’ll like it, but how much I’ll like it, and which things I’ll turn into character concepts first. Because this is one of Paizo’s most straightforward supplements in that it’s just new ancestry and heritage options to use when building characters. Cover to cover.

First, let’s do a brief rules primer on the difference between “ancestry” and “heritage”, just in case you’ve stumbled onto this review while missing some of the intervening books. An ancestry is a core group of people; a heritage represents more of a subtype of people. In the Core Rulebook, most heritages were fairly minor flavor tweaks – to pick an example, a cavern elf would get darkvision while a woodland elf could climb (trees) faster. The one interesting exception was that half-elves and half-orcs were considered human heritages rather than full ancestries, and could take ancestry feats from either of their core ancestries. (Although when Second Edition first came out, the “orc” ancestry wasn’t yet a separate entity.)

It turns out the half-elf and half-orc were a sneak preview of bigger, better things to come for heritages. Paizo expanded on them in later rulebooks with the concept of the “versatile heritage”. Versatile heritages were much more well-defined variants that offered almost as many choices as full ancestries and weren’t restricted to a particular ancestry the way half-elves and half-orcs were. At the risk of oversimplifying, a versatile heritage was a way of representing “half-X” where the other half of the X could be ANYTHING, not just human. So to use a real example from our Edgewatch campaign, Chris Beemer plays an orc (ancestry) tiefling (demonic heritage).

Crossing genres, another way to look at it would be the difference between Data and the Borg. On the surface, they both represent people with technological components, right? Data (or more generically, a “Soong-type android”) would represent an ancestry. He was designed from the ground up as a synthetic lifeform; it’s what he is. The Borg, on the other hand, would be more like a heritage. Borg come from a lot of different underlying species, but the Borgification process adds the common technological elements that make them a people. But under the hood, you could have a Klingon Borg or a Romulan Borg.

So that’s ancestries and heritages in a nutshell. I wanted to make sure everyone has the terminology down before we continue. Now let’s take a look at the Lost Omens Ancestry Guide in more detail.

At a high level, the book has two major sections that are about the same size. The first section presents expanded choices for the ancestries and heritages that have already been added since the Core Rulebook: primarily the Advanced Players’ Guide, but there are other sources as well. The second half of the book presents 14 new ancestries and heritages that are completely new to Second Edition. There’s also a VERY small section of ancestral gear, but it’s literally just two pages.

Now…. I’m going to cheat a little and go out of order and do the new stuff first. Why? Because new stuff is more fun, of course! And there’s generally more to say about them. That’s not to say that it’s not fun to speculate about duck-based tengus, which are now A Thing, but let’s embrace the new, shall we? Within that, I’ll probably talk about ancestries first and heritages second, so we’re staying in general areas.

We have six new ancestries to unpack here:

First, we have Androids, which are half-organic, half-machine beings introduced to Golarion by the crash of a starship back in the First Edition timeline. As a physical “look” thing, they tend to have circuitry patterns on their skin that resemble tattoos. They tend to be fairly flexible people, as their technological components can confer various physical or mental benefits. Most have a reduced understanding of humanoid emotions, which is reflected by Charisma being their flaw stat. (Also, I’ll say it… if you’ve been playing any Starfinder, you’ll see some similarities to the Starfinder Android here.)

Fetchlings are creatures from the Shadow Plane whose feats revolve around manipulating shadows. To pick a few sample feats, Clever Shadow lets you interact with objects using your shadow (like opening a door) while Hefting Shadow lets you store up to 2 bulk of gear in your shadow as if it were a container. Also… their look is about as goth as it gets.

Fleshwarps are the result of magical mutation and are probably the most unusual ancestry in the book. The specific origin can be anything from a magical accident to deliberate torture (the drow are reportedly fond of turning captured enemies into fleshwarps), but the general theme is “magic does weird crap to your body”. The feats tend to be a grab bag of limb alterations and augmentation of senses. And yes, at higher levels, tentacles are in play.

Kitsune are shapechanging fox-people who tend to have two forms: a fox form and a humanoid form. They can be in either form indefinitely, but the fox form counts as their true form and the humanoid form is considered a disguise in social situations. Kitsune feats tend to revolve around animal attacks, limited magical abilities, or an emphasis on disguises (using their own AND seeing through others’) and navigating social situations.

Sprites give us something we’ve never had in Second Edition. A TINY character ancestry. That’s right, your gear scales down, and you use the combat rules for Tiny creatures, which means your weapons have zero reach and you have to enter the same square as an enemy to attack them. And needless to say, Strength is ABSOLUTELY your flaw stat. On the bright side, you can use your fellow PCs as a mount, or – in the statement that will launch a thousand pieces of adorable fan-art – take a feat to ride a corgi mount. (Technically, you can take the Pixie heritage and remain Small-sized, but why on earth would you spoil the moment like that? DID I NOT MENTION THE BATTLE CORGI?)

And lastly, we have the Strix. I tend to think of them as the inverse of tengu… tengu are avian humanoids who are mostly bird; strix are avian humanoids who are mostly human, though they tend to have bird-claw feet and wings. A lot of their feats tend to revolve around using their wings more effectively; they start using their wings to leap more effectively but can add attacks and other status effects, and eventually gain full flight.

On the heritage side, there are basically eight, but five of them are the geniekin, which share a lot of common elements (pun semi-intended).

The aphorite (law) and ganzi (chaos) are entities of law and chaos the same way aasimars and tieflings represent good and evil. Aphorites have a metallic complexion, and a lot of their feats increase skills or make combat more effective by “understanding the workings of the universe”. Ganzi go the opposite direction and emphasize their uniqueness… many have distinct coloration patterns or feathers, some even have tails or vestigial wings. One of the interesting features of a ganzi is energy resistance which is determined randomly at the start of each day, so one day it might be fire and the next day it might be acid.

The beastkin are humanoids who had a werecreature somewhere in their family tree, so they have a mix of their original ancestry and beast traits. They usually have a “normal” humanoid form and a hybrid form that is still humanoid but the beast features become more prominent. The really interesting thing here is the choice of “inherent animal” (i.e. the animal you’re crossed with) is pretty much up to the player – the rules recommend six or seven forms, but they’re just examples. So if you want your inherent animal to be a poodle or a giant ant or a panda… it’s all good. (Also, it dawns on me that since this is a heritage, you could apply it over top of a catfolk or tengu, so you could have an animal that turns into a different animal. It’s a furry’s paradise!)

Now we get to the geniekin, which are humanoids with some sort of elemental ancestry. We have the Ifrit (fire), Oread (earth), Slyph (air), and Undine (water), and then there’s the Suli, a geniekin that has a mix of all four elements (which I’m dubbing the “Quad-Core Geniekin”). There are a few common feats available to all geniekin (darkvision, familiarity with geniekin weapons, a tail), and then each “flavor” of geniekin has specific feats that tie into their source element. Well, most of them do. The Suli, by being a mix of all four, get powers that are less about raw power and more about flexibility. For example, “Elemental Bulwark”… it’s “only” DR5 protection, but it can be ANY of the four primary elements and can be declared when the attack is made. An Ifrit might get a more powerful equivalent ability, but it’s ONLY good for fire.

I’ve tended to focus on what sort of cool tricks these new options offer, but I should mention that it’s not all focused on combat. As with previous books, there’s also a fair chunk of world-building for each ancestry or heritage, explaining things like what parts of Golarion they live in, how they structure their societies, their interactions with other various humanoids, and things like that. I know I get lost in “look at the cool toys” mode at times, but I did want to acknowledge and appreciate the level of detail that Paizo puts into making these various new people part of the larger world.

On the pre-existing side, I’ll probably not dive as deep, but just give some of the highlights. On the ancestry side, we get new options for the azerketi, catfolk, hobgoblin, kobold, leshy, lizardfolk, orc, ratfolk, and tengu. On the heritage side, it covers the aasimar, changeling, dhampir, duskwalker, and tiefling.

Now there’s one oddball here. I’m not looking to kick anyone in the jimmies, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out something that could be confusing in the short term. You’ll note that one of the “expanded” ancestries is the azerketi, an aquatic people with ties to the Azlanti empire. They’ve got kind of the full Aquaman feat package – water-based spells, water movement and combat feats, communication with sea beasties… all that good stuff. The problem is, they were supposed to debut in the Absalom, City of Lost Omens sourcebook… which isn’t out yet. So the “good” news is that they feel more like a new ancestry than an “updated” one, BUT as I’m reviewing this, their base information (hit points, bonus and flaw attributes, etc.) doesn’t exist anywhere. We reached out to Paizo, and they will be making that content available on the web, but I wanted to be honest about it in case readers find it confusing. Not a show-stopper, but it’s something you might need to be aware of.

Looking at the updated content, I’m just going to skim a few favorites. Since I’m already playing a tengu, I’m excited about the fact that tengu get a chain of feats that involve creating a magical tengu feather fan out of their own feathers. They can then imbue it with magic consisting of progressively more powerful storm-themed spells. Similarly, orcs gain a similar feat chain built around the concept of a “warmask” that can provide various combat and a few non-combat benefits. But it’s orcs so… let’s be honest… mostly combat. One of my favorites that I want to run out and try is a new leshy heritage… the Fruit Leshy. It’s a leshy that creates some sort of berry or other fruit every day that can be plucked and eaten to serve as a healing potion based on the character’s level. (The fruit only lasts for a day, so no, you can’t store them up.) The dhampir gain an undead companion option (yes… I’m singing “My Little Zombie” to the “My Little Pony” theme song), and as I hinted at earlier, tengu can now be waterfowl-based. (The endgame here inevitably being a Darkwing Duck build. Just Sayin’.) There’s lots of interesting little things here, but I figure you can discover those at your own pace.

As I mentioned, there’s a very short gear section, but it’s mostly just weapons for the new ancestries and heritages contained in this book. They do also have an interesting mechanism for a “resonant” weapon trait. If you have a resonant weapon and can also cast spells or take other actions with elemental typing, you can use a reaction to channel a little bit of that energy into your weapon as bonus damage. From there, there’s also a “Conducting” rune that can take that small bit of damage and make it a full damage die of typed damage. This feels like it’s tailor-made for the quad-core geniekin (the Suli)… give your weapon typed damage, on the fly!… but could be useful to other character builds as well.

In closing, if you’re someone who loves playing around with new characters like I do, you’re going to want to make a Kool-Aid man-sized hole in the wall of your gaming shop grabbing this book. It offers TONS of new character ideas to play around with. I probably started rolling four or five new alts in my head just during the process of writing this review. Obviously, everyone’s got different tastes of what their favorite might be, and maybe there’s even the odd build or two you just don’t care about, but taken as a whole, there’s so much in here that I feel pretty confident saying “there’s something for everyone”.  So there it is… the Lost Omens Ancestry Guide. Please Alt Responsibly.

Three Ring Adventure S2|11: They Blinded Me With Science!

The Celestial Menagerie is making fools of the Circus of Wayward Wonders in front of a packed audience. It’s time for some unconventional thinking.

Roll For Combat, Three Ring Adventure Podcast is a playthrough of the Pathfinder Adventure Path, Extinction Curse, and the second book, Legacy of the Lost God.

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!

The Bird’s Eye View S1|23: Grab My Sister And Whisper, “Yo, This One’s Dead”

Jason recaps the events from Agents of Edgewatch S1|23: Kill It With Fire!

How’s that for cutting it close?

This week we have to deal with the continuing dilemma of how far to push ourselves. We begin the episode with Ralso trapped in the attic as far as we know. I guess she could be a rogue and be an expert climber, but at first glance, it didn’t seem there were any windows up in that attic. In fact, I thought there was some discussion of piling furniture in front of the door and just leaving her there. Maybe I’m remembering it wrong, or maybe Steve cut that bit for time, but I could’ve sworn it came up as an idea.

But basically, we’re ALMOST out of healing. Even going into the battle, Seth had no spells left and was down to one or two scrolls. I’ll admit I don’t remember who had or hadn’t used their badge at that point – I think I used mine, and I kinda remember Lo Mang using his. There are still a few uses of Battle Medicine left, but that can be unreliable especially if you’re trying to patch up someone who’s already unconscious. You do more damage to someone who’s already out, you apply another level of Dying.

But we decided to go for it anyway. I think there are a few things at play. Part of it is that we already let Ralso out of our grasp once before; we don’t want to lose track of her again. But also, this room literally represents the LAST above-ground room – if we clear this, then the basement is all that’s left. And as I discussed last week that situation feels less volatile: if there’s an exit through the basement, “they” (presumably Pratchett, maybe some henchmen?) have now had a couple of hours to escape. If there’s no basement exit, we now seem to control the only access. One way or the other, we reach a point where the situation can be compartmentalized and we can plan our next move. Also, nobody articulates it, but I think we’re thinking that we blew through her dolls pretty quick; no one SAYS it, but we’re all kinda hoping Skeleton Girl can be dispatched similarly quickly.

Though before we do, we decide to recon the room for treasure. And we find Ralso’s diary which sheds some light on her role in the crimes, and also provides an unexpectedly bleak and kinda sad “origin” story. Curse you Paizo, for making me feel sympathy toward a sub-boss!

Turns out that while Ralso was never a fully upstanding member of society, there was a point at which she was trying to walk a fairly straight path until she was taken advantage of by worse people. From there, her sister died (the animated skeleton in the attic), and her life fell apart from there. It’s unclear how many murders she personally committed, but she surely can’t feign innocence, and the peepholes were primarily for her benefit. So… definitely enough of an active accessory to give her whatever Absalom’s harshest penalty is, whether that’s death or life in the Underwater Swamp Prison.

As an aside: I wonder what the proportions are between “Ralso wanted to pretend her sister was still alive at all costs” vs. “Pratchett did this to use her own guilt and sorrow to control her even further”. Later on during the fight, we hear the skeleton telling Ralso “it’s your fault I died”, so it doesn’t seem like a particularly benevolent relationship. I mean, Ralso still deserves to fry given the sheer number of people they’re likely to have offed, but are there some mitigating circumstances here?

We also find a note about a bank robbery planned for next week that Ralso was offered a chance to participate in, but declined because the other people involved were too crazy even for her. That seems like a WONDERFUL breadcrumb for our next case… but we have to survive this one first, don’t we? For the moment, tuck it in the pocket and keep moving.

Finally, after almost an hour of subpar healing rolls, we’re ready to resume the attack. Huzzah!

The battle ends up being a bit of a mixed bag. Actually, the skeleton sister isn’t THAT tough once you get past her aura, partly because Gomez still has a few “harm undead” tricks left in his bag. But what is concerning is that we’re having a heck of a time actually hitting Ralso herself. I don’t know if the cramped quarters of the attic are causing issues, or it was always difficult to hit her and we just didn’t notice it while we were still downstairs. But we’re struggling to put damage on her, and she… well… isn’t having the same problem. In fact, she’s critting quite a bit. Dougie and I both take turns on the ground as the fight progresses, and Lo Mang is pretty low as well. Heck, at one point, I get revived just in time to get knocked out a second time. Now, I still have my Hero Point if the worst should happen, but we’re still one… MAYBE two turns away from disaster when we finally get Ralso down and win the fight.

And that’s where we end the week. “This house is clean”! Well… the above-ground portion anyway. We still have to tackle the basement, and are faced with the same problem we had taking on Ralso, only now we’re completely out of healing SCROLLS too, and (meta-gamey) I assume Pratchett, the boss, is likely to be nastier than his lieutenant. And there’s that ochre jelly too.

Now, this is a conversation that’s going to continue into next week’s episode, so I don’t want to get too far into it here, but the gist of it is this. The roleplaying of a “hot pursuit” doesn’t play nice with the “long rest” model of Pathfinder. The writers of this AP did the best they could trying to make it fit, but at some point, you’re pretty much FORCED to take a long rest, which you don’t usually get to do when you’re hot on the trail of a mass-murderer. (As a lesser aspect of this, the “right” answer for the last 3-4 episodes has been “call for backup; have every Edgewatch agent in the city swarm the place”, but that doesn’t square with us being the heroes of the story.) And I think we’re pretty much at that point now, so how do we proceed in a way that feels like the game mechanics aren’t eating the story for lunch?

So 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.

Agents of Edgewatch S1|23: Kill It With Fire!

The good news, the Agents have found the innkeeper Ralso! The bad news, they also found the innkeeper’s undead sister!

Roll For Combat, Agents of Edgewatch Podcast is a playthrough of the Pathfinder Adventure Path, Agents of Edgewatch starting with the first book, Devil at the Dreaming Palace.

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!

The Sideshow S2|10: Two Circuses Enter, One Circus Leaves

Jason recaps the events from Three Ring Adventure S2|10: The Laugh Factory.

OK, I have to admit this week’s episode genuinely caught me off guard.

When I saw Steve’s episode writeup about things “going from bad to worse”, I was just assuming the circus would be having a “death by 1000 paper cuts” performance… like we’d be seeing a bunch of natural 1s on rolls or something, the sick animals would vomit on someone, something like that. Or… OK… 1% chance of the situation with Kalkek somehow going nuclear during the show. (I guess that could still happen… the show’s not over yet. Jinx.)

I did NOT expect a full-out attack from the Celestial Menagerie mid-performance. I thought the pre-show sabotage was as far as they were going to take it for now and we’d deal with them between performances.

Before we get into that, I have to give Loren credit for coming up with an entire act for the ysoki siblings to do, though I did flat out accuse her of using cheese-related puns to try and curry favor with me to get a good review. (I did create CHDRR back in the Starfinder days, after all.) Well… it worked. It was edam fine performance. Then we had an average performance by Team Varus (though I enjoyed Darius’ Hulkamania reference) before things really kicked into high gear.

For half a second, when Jellico first took the stage uninvited, I thought he was playing the long game and had been a double agent this whole time; now that the Wayward Wonders crew had reached Escadar, it was time to spring the trap. I figured he was going to attack the crowd, or even just offend and scare them so that no one would ever come back. Back when he joined up, it did seem a little suspicious he wanted to go to a LESS prominent circus. Though if you think about it, the presence of the spirit would explain that – if it created a compulsion to perform and the Celestial Menagerie was not giving him enough of a spotlight, maybe he would take less money to go somewhere where he was one of the starring acts.

But whatever his reason for taking the stage, it does seem clear the Celestial Menagerie people knew about the Muse Phantom and knew how to trigger it, as they blanketed the stage in darkness and let the creature’s own need for attention take care of the rest.

First, cool monster that Steve came up with. Though it seems a little situational, given that you’d have to write some sort of performer into your backstory to make it relevant. But it was neat, it had good flavor, and I thought the notion that it could apply either comedic or dramatic effects was a nice touch.

I also felt bad for poor Alhara, trying for the big hero pounce and basically turning into Wyle E. Coyote splattering on the ground right next to the Roadrunner. And then getting put under the effect of demonic laughter for the rest of the fight for good measure. And to think she went through all of this for Jellico… a character she basically hates to begin with.

Now, I think Steve actually mentioned this LAST week, but technically the Muse Phantom should’ve stuck around a little longer. When you use a heal spell to harm undead creatures, you don’t get the “plus” damage… that’s ONLY for using healing as healing. So that heal-bomb that went off for 41 damage really only should’ve done about half of that. Then again, the way the fight went, that probably only would’ve let it stick around for one more round, so I don’t think we missed out on too much there.

But then, the minute one problem is solved, the next one emerges, as Delamar and his crew launch their attack from the wings. In general, I like a good party fight. So much of Pathfinder is made up of fights against either a single “big bad” or a gang of identical faceless minions that it’s nice when a group goes up against an enemy with a diversity of skills. It adds an interesting layer of tactics that are usually lacking. Instead of “I’ll hit the one that’s taken the most damage” you start thinking in terms of “who’s the caster?” or “can we get this guy down before the healer can heal them”? It’s a much more dynamic battlefield. And in this case, the combatants even come with some personality sprinkled in, which you usually don’t get from Xulgath #4.

My first impression of the fight was that the whole thing reminded me of the old Peter O’Toole movie My Favorite Year, where (skimming the relevant portion of the plot) the mob attacks a sketch comedy show that had been making fun of the mob boss, and the audience laughs along because they think it’s all part of the show. My second thought that it was actually kinda clever for our team to try and turn this into a marketing opportunity. I mean, if Team Wayward Wonders wins this brawl, it kinda gives them a shot of instant credibility with the audience, right?

Except… the other group seems to be doing the same thing. And they might be better at it. In fact, Delamar is confident enough to start tossing around comp tickets to the Celestial Menagerie WHILE FIGHTING, and what’s worse, he can get away with it because it’s turning out to be REALLY hard to hit him. And his buddy Ruanna stole Chris Beemer’s trick and made a bunch of mirror images of herself, only unlike Chris, she didn’t roll a 1 like he always did. After a round or two of fighting, our team is kinda flailing, and that’s with one of the three intruders (Aives) not even fully engaged yet. (Though he did get a heartwarming lecture about changing his ways from Hap.)

I briefly found myself worried about whether they’re fighting with lethal or non-lethal damage, but I ASSUME they’re doing non-lethal. First, if they want to lure acts back to their circus, those acts have to still be alive. But if they want to still have a circus, it would also negatively impact their business model to be on the run for murder. Having a muse phantom “accident” kill someone is one thing; having your performers show up and straight-up murder-hobo your competitor’s performers… I’m not an expert on Golarion’s laws, but… seems like they’d get put out of business for that. So I’m assuming we’re fighting more for pride than lives here.

Still… hope our team wins.

Unfortunately, we won’t get the resolution to that question until next week. 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.

Three Ring Adventure S2|10: The Laugh Factory

The Circus of Wayward Wonders finally gets to perform for the residents of Escadar, but then things go from bad, to worse, to horrible. And then things get really bad.

Roll For Combat, Three Ring Adventure Podcast is a playthrough of the Pathfinder Adventure Path, Extinction Curse, and the second book, Legacy of the Lost God.

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!

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The Bird’s Eye View S1|22: More Red, Less Cap

Jason recaps the events from Agents of Edgewatch S1|22: Crit Fishing.

This week on The Bird’s Eye View, it’s REDCAP 2: MORE RED, LESS CAP. And we finally find Ralso, the orc from the front desk, playing with her dolls. Which isn’t nearly as heartwarming as it sounds.

Since this whole exploration of the Dreaming Palace has been one long dungeon slog, we begin this week’s episode already in mid-combat, though hopefully, the tide of the battle has turned. If you remember, at the tail end of last week, Lo Mang stole the little bastard’s hat, which turns off his fast healing and saps away a bit of his damage. So from here on out, it’s pretty much a straight race to zero hit points. (Unless he gets the hat back, of course.)

The real trick is managing the redcap’s attacks. Without the hat, the redcap has a tolerable number of hit points (60… I cheated and read the stat block for this write-up), but even with the reduced damage from stealing his hat, he still hits hard and his crits could still create serious problems. And the fact that he can kick on the move gives him an action efficiency that reduces the effectiveness of “spread out and make him come to us” as a tactic.

The real answer here lies in Gomez and I getting more involved and maybe eating an attack or two to get him off Dougie and Lo Mang, but that’s a double-edged… scythe. Gomez is (best I remember) unharmed, and I took one kick early in the fight but am otherwise fresh. So if we could get him to attack us once or twice, that might keep the fight going long enough for the heavy hitters to drop him. But, we also tend to have lower armor classes and fewer hit points, so if he crits us, there’s a real possibility of a one-shot. And if Gomez in particular drops, there go our heals.

And ohbytheway, even if I were to try and backfill by pulling scrolls out of Gomez’s bandolier while he’s down; as an arcane caster, I technically can’t use healing scrolls since they’re divine/primal. I’d need something like the Trick Magic Item feat for that. So all of Gomez’s scroll-based healing… which is to say most of it… would do me no good.

So Gomez hangs back, but I see what I can do to get in there and make myself a bit more of a target. My two goals were either to provide flanking or if an opportunity presented itself to block the hall and keep the redcap from advancing at all, I’d take it and serve as a human speed bump. It’s a bit meta-gamey, but I’ve got my badge, I’ve got a hero point to stave off permadeath, so worst-case, maybe it can waste a round killing me while Dougie and Lo Mang regroup. If he doesn’t crit, MAYBE I even hold out for two rounds! However, the opportunity to block the hall entirely never comes together because of the various hard corners – the best I can do is stay close and offer flanking to others.

On the other hand, the net of all of this is that I do get the unlikely kill shot after everyone else does the hard work of whittling him down. Yay me!

We do a little healing, some handwaved and some not. I figure once you hit this level, after-heals are easy enough that the only time you shouldn’t hand-wave it is if the patient’s hit points are low enough that a botched heal could actually drop them. (Or if time is EXPLICITLY important to the story – you have two hours to explore a building, so every 10-minute rest becomes relevant.) Otherwise… you’re probably going to succeed eventually, so might as well just say “OK, a half-hour passes and everyone’s healed.

Now… I have a confession to make that might be a little awkward, but this is supposed to be an honest, uncensored reaction to the show. I have to admit the guys (but John in particular) making jokes about Basil eating the pinkie fingers bothered me just a bit. Both as we were playing, and even listening to it now, I have to admit I felt this wave of “you guys are kinda being dicks”. Not enough to stop the game or even say anything… but it was there. And I’m not even sure I can totally articulate why.

I mean, I can see the joke sitting there. “Birds eat worms, fingers look like worms”. It’s pretty low-hanging fruit, comedically, and in a different scenario, it might have been ME making that joke. To pick a different example, I still laugh whenever Legolas offers Gimli a box to stand on at Helm’s Deep. It’s also not like I should be able to take teasing about a fictional character personally – I’m not Basil; Basil’s not me, so why would I care? But even with all of that, there was a brief flicker both feeling attacked, and of cringey discomfort, like “boy, I hope our listeners will understand we’re just being racist within fictional boundaries.”

I think some of it is just our different personalities. I have a thinner skin and quieter disposition than “The New Yorkers” (yeah, I call them New Yorkers even though John and Bob now live in Ohio). On the good side, it sometimes lets me play peacemaker within the group, but it sometimes manifests as “The Quiet Beatle” where they’re on a roll and I go 30 minutes without saying anything. But the point is that these guys really pour it on each other at times in a way that’s beyond my normal way of interacting. Even earlier in the episode, you hear John and Seth YELLING at each other, and then 30 seconds later it’s totally forgotten. So maybe part of my reaction is as simple as I hadn’t been in the crosshairs of their mockery in a while and forgot what it felt like.

But I also find myself thinking about these things in the larger context of our hobby, and people who feel like they aren’t welcome at the gaming table. Here in this game, I take that joke and let it roll off my back because I’ve known these guys for years, but does someone else make that joke at a different table where the players don’t know each other as well and someone quits the game because they’re being made to feel unwelcome? I don’t know.

Look, I know it’s rambly and I’m not even sure what I’m trying to say but the feeling was there, and there was a flicker of time where I felt a little picked on and it was unpleasant, and then it passed. But I believe exploring feelings like that are part of why I write this column.

Back to the slog. We’ve finally got the second floor narrowed down to the last few rooms. The Zon Kuthon room is all bark and no bite (or maybe we had disabled the bite and didn’t realize it). And then we find the final room on the floor, where our old pal Ralso is waiting, with a pair of creepy animated Golarion Girl dolls. Who can cast spells. Lovely.

At first, we struggle a little, at least partly due to the Heal/Harm mistake Steve mentions in the show notes. Since they were using Harm as a damage spell, the two-action version doesn’t get the “extra” damage – only when healing undead. But the fight quickly turns, as Dougie is able to box Ralso into a corner (or, in hindsight, maybe she was protecting the door she eventually escaped through), and the dolls turn out to be pretty weak once you get into melee range – they don’t have many hit points, and their melee attacks suck. We get rid of the adds, and then start whittling Ralso down, at which point she escapes through the door and up the stairs.

And that’s basically where we’re going to leave it after Basil takes a quick peek up the stairs to see what we might be facing. It’s Ralso and an additional skeleton, and there seems to be some general fear effect on the whole area. So Basil retreats down the stairs and we have a decision to make – charge up immediately, or do some more healing first, even though that might also give Ralso more time to get ready?

And that is where we 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.

Agents of Edgewatch S1|22: Crit Fishing

The agents are running out of rooms to explore, and they still haven’t found where the innkeepers are hiding… yet.

Roll For Combat, Agents of Edgewatch Podcast is a playthrough of the Pathfinder Adventure Path, Agents of Edgewatch starting with the first book, Devil at the Dreaming Palace.

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!