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

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Agents of Edgewatch S2|05: They Never Miss…

The agents continue their exploration of the smuggler’s lair, and Dougie gets a new friend.

Roll For Combat, Agents of Edgewatch Podcast is a playthrough of the Pathfinder Adventure Path, Agents of Edgewatch, and the second book, Sixty Feet Under.

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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The Sideshow S2|20: Magic is in the Air

Jason recaps the events from Three Ring Adventure S2|20: Lizard Wizard!

I suppose the big development of this week’s episode is that Mistress Dusklight just graduated from lower-case “evil” to “Evil With A Capital E”. I mean, don’t get me wrong… she was always kind of an asshole and a recurring thorn in the collective paw of our group, but our major revelation of the week is that Mistress Dusklight was not only at the temple but was even working in league with the xulgaths. I mean… dude… they’re doing sacrifice rituals and infesting the pool with gibbering mouthers, and she’s breaking out the damn Chex Mix and playing cards with them.

The missing link – at least for the moment – is how deep this possible alliance runs. Is she literally working with the xulgaths insofar as she also wants to sabotage the protective stones? Or was she pursuing some other goal and working with the xulgaths happened to align with her short-term goals? Based on Givzib’s statement that she “tricked” the xulgaths, it doesn’t sound like they’re truly arm-in-arm, so was it something as banal as raising extra money? Or maybe the artifacts she took from the temple had some OTHER relevance that we have yet to figure out.

It’s a lot to think about. Meanwhile, we still have a couple of fights to plow through in this episode. First up, we have the rare caster opponent, with one of the brutes from the previous xulgath battle serving as a bodyguard and a quasit doing… well… nothing, really. This fight ends up being fairly easy for everyone except poor Hap (HAP GOES ZAP!): a crit on a 5d12 lightning bolt coupled with Hap’s own status as a squishy caster-type provides for a close call with a one-shot. (Feel free to imagine Hap’s skeleton lighting up like in a classic Warner Bros cartoon.) So Hap’s gotta play it safe for a while, but the rest of the team is still in good enough shape to go beat the tar out of the remaining enemies.

At the end of the fight, the quasit sees which way the wind is blowing and surrenders. First, we learn its name is Givzib. Repeatedly. It’s got the annoying habit of referring to itself in the third person. Givzib then provides us with the revelation about Mistress Dusklight – that she provided the xulgaths with humanoids for their demon-summoning. Toward the end of the exchange, we raise the possibility that Givzib may also end up as part of the circus act, and we go on a bit of a deep-dive on the evils of capitalism. (Mark Givzib down for the $15 minimum wage, clearly.)

We also have a new entry from our Department of Bespoke Magical Items… the Ringmaster Staff. Basically, it’s a staff where the spells have a common theme of showmanship. Its passive effect is to amplify the user’s voice, but it also has spells like dancing lights and feather fall that can be used as a budget CGI kit for enhancing circus performances. The spell mix isn’t exactly A-list for combat – no direct damage – but the schedule so far hasn’t really suggested that’ll be a problem. Attune to the Ringmaster Staff on performance day; attune to your combat staff other days.

(As an aside: I assume the voice effect can be turned off and on, right? It would really suck if it always amplified the user’s voice and monsters 300 feet away could hear Ateran whispering tactical plans. GET READY, TEAM, WE’LL KICK OPEN THIS DOOR AND SURPRISE THEM!)

After this brief interlude and some Handwave Healing, the party resumes their search of the temple and finds the second fight of the session. Four xulgaths: three grunts and a caster type, and Givzib’s inability to shut up costs them any chance at surprise. This time, the overall challenge was a little rougher, and it was Alhara’s turn in the grinder since most of the early attacks focused on her. You didn’t get a sense of fear exactly, but our heroes did get pretty loose with the hero points and even broke out a few big-gun spells, so it wasn’t exactly a walk in the park either.

That does have its benefits, though. I suppose part of what made this fight fun is it wasn’t just another direct-damage beatdown: we saw some stuff we either hadn’t seen at all before or hadn’t seen in a while. This batch of xulgaths have an added ability where they can inject their stink as a poison, Ateran shows us what a heightened cast of magic missile can accomplish, both sides try to slip some blindness into the mix, and we get a (re)-appearance the old Karvasilon family favorite, Spiritual Weapon. It’s good to see the challenges growing and evolving, as opposed to fighting the same cannon-fodder for four levels, only now they get green helmets.

We also get an uncomfortably detailed description of Darius’ thighs, for some reason. HENCEFORTH ALL SHALL KNOW HIM AS THE THIGHMASTER. Beyond that, let us never speak of it again.

So the party emerges from the second fight fairly unscathed and gets a little more treasure and a little more lore dump. On the good side, we get another bespoke circus-themed magic item: a handkerchief that can transform into an invisible safety net. OK… circus aside, that one’s kinda cool. If Basil didn’t already have wings, I’d have to pick me up one of those. On the more ominous side, there was a human sacrifice in the room that had some sort of mark on it that dissipated on death, but it suggests that it was in the process of transforming into something worse. So the captain will be turning on the THAT CAN’T BE GOOD sign for the remainder of the temple exploration.

Next week… it seemed like there’s still more temple complex to explore, and Givzib’s headcount suggests there are still more xulgaths to find as well. And those spiders he mentioned. But I guess we’ll tackle all of that next time. As always, feel free to stop 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|20: Lizard Wizard!

The only thing worse than xulgath… is a demon-worshiping spell-casting xulgath!

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 S2|04: Spray And Pray

Jason recaps the events from Agents of Edgewatch S2|04: Crit-O-Matic.

I suppose I have to start this week with a mild apology for the delays of the last few weeks. Last week was a bit of a technical glitch – I thought I had sent the column in but something went haywire and it didn’t send. So I spent all day thinking I sent it, and Steve was too polite to nag me. This week, it’s vaccine-related: I got my second vaccine last Thursday which slapped me around for a couple of days and then spent Sunday and Monday playing catchup on multiple fronts. (Though I did think about antagonizing Steve by claiming I was at the Mets game.) So… unless I disturbed some ancient burial grounds and this is a permanent state of affairs, hopefully we’ll get things back to normal in the coming weeks.

This week’s episode is one of my favorites: the Chaotic Running Battle, and as I go back and listen to this, what strikes me about this fight is the way in which Second Edition shines as opposed to First Edition. Remember how much Attacks of Opportunity just DOMINATED the conversation in First Edition? You have this big battlefield… characters with mobility feats… and in First Edition it all goes to waste because neither side wants to give up free attacks. So the two teams line up face to face – melees up front, casters in the back – and plink away until someone drops. If you’re lucky, MAYBE one or two characters slowly make their way around the edges of the fight to threaten the flanks, but not too often.

Meanwhile, put this same fight into Second Edition it’s just… glorious chaos. Bad guys fleeing in and out of different exits as they start taking damage, Lo Mang using all his leaping feats… it’s both sides are operating in “find someone and punch ‘em” bar-room brawl mode. Even as I’m focusing on ranged damage in this fight, with (likely) no Attacks of Opportunity to disrupt me, I can wander the battlefield finding better firing positions in a way I wouldn’t previously have done. In First Edition, the golden rule would ALWAYS have been to keep a meat shield between me and the bad guys.

It’s true that, yes, we’re entering the levels where Attacks Of Opportunity are starting to come into play of our opponents, but I remember doing a skim of one of the Bestiary books, and AoOs seem to operate similarly for monsters as they do for player characters. At level 6, it becomes a LITTLE more common, but still mostly for characters that were “tanky” and melee-forward. So when it comes to humanoids (or putting it in terms of this fight), the boss or sub-boss might have access to an Attack of Opportunity, but an archer or caster humanoid probably still won’t have them.

As the fight unfolds, the good news there’s still a distinct power advantage over the grunts: they’re getting lucky with their damage (particularly on Dougie), but even that’s just letting them keep things close; they’re not really in any danger of winning. Eventually, the dice luck starts to even out, and we clear the first room in pretty good shape.

So we decide to go for the next, larger room, and things get more interesting as the boss and his bugbear bodyguard join the fray. If you’re following the action, Dougie is basically toe-to-toe with Overseer Kepse, Lo Mang is basically dealing with goblin adds, and the boss is off to the north… at first, not doing THAT much beyond the initial smokestick. Speaking of which, the other issue is that between that smokestick and the shape of the room (with extensions that go off to the east and north), Gomez and I have to manage sightline issues to stay relevant in the fight. It never takes us out of the fight entirely but there were rounds where we didn’t have a lot of choices in terms of how we could help out.

Results are mixed at first. On the good side, Lo Mang is taking care of the adds pretty easily, and they’re not putting much damage on him. On the flip side, Dougie not only gets dropped, but then I arguably play it too cautious and fail a flat check to apply Battle Medicine to him. We’re at a point where things could go either way: if we can get Dougie up, it mostly becomes a 4-v-1 pinata party, but if the bugbear can get into us squishies, we may need to send someone running for the theoretical cavalry waiting outside.

And then, I finally get a big round where all my tricks come together, and it almost singlehandedly takes Kepse out of the fight. My first ever cast of Color Spray puts Kepse on her heels (stunned and blind), and then a successful fight and a dose of spider venom applies a d10 of damage every round.. above-and-beyond making her flat-footed to everyone for the foreseeable future. Which is… however long it takes Dougie to get back onto his feet and smack her out of the fight for good.

At this point, the momentum swings for good. We go through another round of combat… and when the wheel comes back to me… I don’t know if it’s meta-gamey, or just acknowledging the swing in the action – consider that he just missed me three times and then I critted him —  but since Kepse was described in our mission briefing as the “bodyguard”, I figured maybe this “boss” isn’t that great a fighter and might surrender if we offer him the chance. So… offer made… and after a final encouraging zap from Gomez, he accepts. Victory!

That doesn’t mean the overall is totally over. There are several rooms that haven’t been explored yet, and this guy isn’t the named boss (Pierson Droan) with the “interesting globe” in his office. Nor have we found any proof of the smuggling that’s going on… if you want to get technical. But this fight was at least taxing enough we’ll take a real short rest before tackling the rest of the complex. Gotta at least slap some duct tape on Dougie’s wounds.

And I guess that’s where we’ll pick it up next week. As always, feel free to drop by our Discord channel and let us know what you think of the show. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next week.

Agents of Edgewatch S2|04: Crit-O-Matic

The agents somehow get cursed in real life as they can’t seem to roll anything decent while their enemies can’t roll anything except critical hits.

Roll For Combat, Agents of Edgewatch Podcast is a playthrough of the Pathfinder Adventure Path, Agents of Edgewatch, and the second book, Sixty Feet Under.

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|19: You Can’t Handle The Krooth!

Jason recaps the events from Three Ring Adventure S2|19: Puff the Magic Krooth.

OK, I’m gonna start this Talking with a note of personal bragging. By the time you read this (like, literally… my appointment is today), I should probably have a second dose of Moderna in my arm. One step closer to whatever normal looks like, right? I suppose it’s at least show-related in the sense that it’s a step closer to getting back to in-person conventions and maybe restarting my in-person home game and all that goodness. I don’t know. Progress feels good and I’m excited, so I hope you aren’t rolling your eyes too much that I feel like shouting it from the rooftops a little.

While we’re talking about in-person conventions, the president of GenCon posted an update regarding how they’re planning to handle things so far. With the caveat “there’s still five months for things to change”, you can read it here. Cliff’s Notes: capped attendance, more spaces between exhibits, halls closed for 24-hour gaming so they can do overnight cleaning, but still planning on holding it. Also, they lose the Lucas Oil Stadium space just because moving to September conflicts with football season.

I’m going to actually start with the end of the episode because it was mentioned FIRST in the show notes, and Loren’s been low-key fretting in our group chat about what my reaction is likely to be… the “fight”. We’re calling that a fight? Really? I mean, if one person doesn’t threaten to quit, it hardly even counts, does it?

First, as Steve alluded to in the show notes, “our” group (the original Dead Suns/Edgewatch group) has had MUCH bigger blow-ups than that. Now, I tend to not be the center of many of our dust-ups – I’m the quiet Beatle, after all – but even I have gotten salty once or twice. I’ll just say my big personal red-line is people being too aggressive about telling me what to do. I don’t mind a suggestion like “delay until after me so I can buff” but if you’re basically playing my character for me, that’s when I get a little ornery.

When it comes to the Bag of Holding “fight”, I think there were two different arguments here, but the first was mostly just a rules clarification. At one point it SOUNDED like Steve was saying some spells cast into the bag affected everyone and other spells only affected one pocket dimension, but that wasn’t really what he was saying. First, at least when it came to the fireballs, I think he was just generally joking. But even for the other spells, it was more like “if you buff yourself before you enter, yeah, that buff stays with you, but if you cast a spell on someone already inside, it’s a crapshoot whether you can actually target them”. So I think that one cleared itself up once Steve explained it better.

The more big-picture question is whether the idea of using the bag as transportation itself was tactically sound or cheesy. Setting aside the “Did That Ever Happen On T.J. Hooker?” test, I can see why Loren felt it was sketchy, but I do ultimately side with Steve.

The game has a pretty rich history of using extra-dimensional space in weird ways. It was only a month ago Ateran made a magical freakin’ candy house, and we didn’t hear any complaints about that. Heck, for a more apples-to-apples comparison, I’d point to the spell Rope Trick. It’s a 4th level spell (2nd-level back in First Edition) that creates an extradimensional space at the top of a rope. You climb up the rope and there’s a little space you can hang out in and take your long rest in safety. So other than the fact that the bag of holding is a smaller space, there’s ample precedent that people can live in extra-dimensional space for short periods of time. If the GM wants to say there’s only a certain amount of air, so you can’t stay in there for long, that’s fair. But the tactic as a whole seems sound.

That said, when I was listening, my concerns were more related to the inconsistent definition of bulk. On one hand, the “general” rules on bulk start by saying one unit of bulk is 5-10 pounds. So that would put a 200-pound human at 20 bulk. On the other hand, there’s a later table that specifies that a Medium creature (aka most humanoids) are explicitly listed as 6 bulk. That’s a pretty large difference. And the bag’s capacity is 25 bulk.

So you see the problem. If you use the “humanoid = Medium creature = 6 Bulk” definition, it’s tight but everyone fits. If you use the “1 Bulk = 10lb” definition, there’s no way all three of those characters fit at the same time. Alhara and Ateran are each probably 1-something, and Darius is built like an NFL linebacker, and those guys are north of 200 pounds/20 Bulk. So it’s either a flat 18 bulk or “anywhere from 40-50”, depending on how you interpret the rule. So I can at least see why it might’ve made Loren’s Spider-Sense go off. Of course, you could also get around that by making multiple trips, but nobody mentioned that option at the time.

And OK… maybe the size of the aperture matters too. Is the Bag Of Holding a big ol’ potato sack, or is it more like a designer backpack? If the former… yeah, jump on in. If the latter… good luck entering and exiting through an aperture that’s probably narrower than the average set of humanoid shoulders.

I think at the end of the day, I’m OK with this as a tactic, as long as it doesn’t turn into a Get Out Of Circumstances Free card… that there’s SOME sort of cost or risk associated with it. If you’re putting your team in the bag and throwing them past hazards willy-nilly, yeah, it does start to get a little stupid. Which is why there should be SOME sort of downside to keep it in check. In this case, the cost was that Hap had to use a fairly powerful magical resource (the flight spell) to make the tactic work. If you’re going to put your friends in a bag and throw it to the other side of an uncrossable chasm, there ought to be a chance (even if it’s small) you short the throw and they fall in. Or maybe the consequence is that there’s an N percent chance the bag can’t handle the strain and permanently breaks. Things like that. I think it only becomes a problem if it becomes an “I Win” button with zero drawbacks or consequences.

Circling back around to the beginning of the episode, that fight with the krooth was kind of interesting for a couple of reasons.

First, I was a LITTLE surprised they bailed on the fight SO quickly. I thought they’d give it a few rounds before retreating. But to be fair, I guess it wasn’t so much a full Sir Robin “Run Away!” retreat as it was luring it to a place where the fight would be on more even terms, and then they happened to switch over to blocking the door when it was proving to be a nastier customer than expected. It’s totally valid that they wouldn’t don’t want to deal with the krooth and the effects of the extra-planar gas at the same time.

The other thing I wrestled with a little is “was it too meta-gamey on their part to let the summon spell expire”? And I’m going to say no for two reasons. First, they seemed relieved and surprised it worked. So either they didn’t realize it was going to expire and it was a surprise to them anyway, or they had the idea but weren’t quite sure it was going to work. In either case, it didn’t seem like they built their entire plan around surviving 10 rounds; they just lucked out. I’ll also give it to them BECAUSE you’ve got two casters in the party, and didn’t Hap used to have a summon spell at one point? (I seem to recall her summoning some useless creature that immediately got one-shotted.) It seems legit that if you can use something, you’d recognize it when it’s used against you.

The other major moving part in this episode is the guardian statue and the door. Based on another campaign with a similar puzzle, I kind of half-expected that one could disarm the statue by posing as a follower of Aroden. So other than some damage from unfortunate turn order, that part of the puzzle is solved. But how do they get past the door? Based on the broken door pieces scattered throughout the room, it looks like somehow breaking the door is the answer, but how do you do that without pissing off the statue again? Giving the statue a command to open the door didn’t seem to accomplish much, but maybe it’s a matter of having the right command. Or… to borrow from video games… is this a thing where you have to make the statue mad, stand in front of the door and taunt the statue, and then dodge the punch so he breaks the door for you? X, X, Triangle, Circle… win!

I guess we’ll find out the answer to all these questions next week, won’t we? 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 S2|19: Puff the Magic Krooth

This week it’s out of the frying pan into the fryer as running through traps isn’t always the best idea.

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 S2|03: Basil Takes A Bow

Jason recaps the events from Agents of Edgewatch S2|03: Yak Shaving.

So I guess Basil’s an archer now! That’s… unexpected.

It’s not that I have anything against archery – beyond maybe a little bit of concern about encumbrance given Basil’s low strength – but there were two dynamics at work that made me a little hesitant to step up and claim it at first.

The first is I didn’t want to be greedy within the party. Basil just got Pratchett’s sword-cane, which was the single best piece of loot from the last adventure… a potency AND a striking rune, plus the ability to apply poison. Now we have a second magic weapon, and I’m going to take that too? It felt like a little bit much. Doubly so when I already have multiple (ammo-free) ranged options from magic: I’ve got Ray of Frost as my Wizard cantrip, Electric Arc as an ancestry ability, and Produce Flame as long as I have a hand free to use the Staff of Fire. That’s already a fair number of ammo-free options available to me.

(And OK… less altruistically, if an armor rune or a property rune for the sword-cane comes up later, it would be nice to be able to say “well, I haven’t gotten any new loot since the sword cane”. Always keep an eye on the long game.)

The other thing – and this is where we get into the more meta-conversation of the week – is it wasn’t particularly part of The Plan for Basil. When I see Basil in my brain, I see much closer to a brain-based swashbuckler, bobbing in and out of melee range, stabbing things with his sword cane, and that was going to be 90% of his job. Honestly, I’m not sure I really planned for a ranged attack beyond that Electric Arc I got from my ancestry feat. Even choosing to archetype into Wizard was a reluctant concession to the idea that we didn’t have much flexibility with three melee-dominant characters and only poor Gomez doing all the caster duties.

Thinking about my modus operandi in past gaming systems (First Edition, 5E, etc.), I don’t hard-plan every feat I’m going to take, but I do have a “mind’s eye” idea of the destination, and that tends to inform the choices en route. Now, rumor has it Chris Beemer will sometimes build his character from 1-20 before the adventure even starts, and I don’t go THAT far. But I do tend to “build backwards” from what I think the Level 20 character is “supposed” to look like. Endgame Basil wasn’t shooting arrows at people, so a bow didn’t seem “right” at first glance here at Level 5.

But I don’t know if it’s a function of Second Edition or I’m just changing as a gamer, but I’ve found myself to be far more flexible when it comes to 2E character builds. Back in Plaguestone, I was sure Brixley was going to go with the divine weapon option because it was the most immediately useful (free property rune…? Yes, please!) but then the adventure handed me the perfect steed in Ember (as long as I could handle the flames). Here… I didn’t think Basil would be shooting arrows at people, but the more I started thinking about it, it’s another damage option, and I am kind of the logical one to use it: Dougie and Lo Mang are supposed to be up front in melee and Gomez has slotted in as the healer and utility caster. That makes me DPS Guy, so how I apply that damage is kinda up to me. So I’ll at least take it for now; if it’s not helping, we can always transfer the rune and sell the bow.

The one other reason I decided to give it a try is that there are different types of ammo that can apply different statuses. They’re kind of expensive, and the DCs aren’t great, but keeping a few different “special” arrows in the quiver might be a way to pick up some added flexibility; think of them like scrolls that you don’t have to stop attacking to use. No giant boxing-glove arrow, though. Leave that one for the comics.

Now, skipping ahead to the end of the episode, I do realize we botch the rules on Devise A Stratagem at first. Basically, I stopped reading the text in parentheses a little too early. I got as far as “which must be agile or finesse”, got pouty, and didn’t finish reading out to “if it’s a melee weapon with the thrown trait”. So if you’re shooting a ranged weapon with ammo, Devise A Stratagem is fine (Bard v. Smaug is upheld); if you’re using something like a throwing axe or javelin, the weapon has to be agile/finesse. Don’t worry, though: if I remember out-of-game events correctly, I stew about it between sessions, re-read the passage, realize my mistake, whine at Steve, and we get it right going forward next week. (Spoilers!)

Meanwhile, more happened than JUST me getting a cool piece of loot. Honest.

The xill attack turns out to be a fairly easy fight just because we’ve got numbers. He doesn’t particularly have much in the way of special abilities, so it’s a slugfest, and while the xill’s attacks are no joke, Dougie’s maul tends to win those. The main takeaway of this fight is that we start to realize that this bank is PROBABLY not the one to get hit. If they have magical wards strong enough to keep extra-planar creatures from getting out of their vault, they’ve probably other equally nasty wards to take care of more pedestrian threats. It’s still a hunch for now, but we’re moving it down the list compared to the other two.

Our next task is tracking down the non-bank leads, starting with the (cue the Big Yellow Highlighter) WASTE OF TIME. And as we investigate, we get the “or so it seems” moment, where the fire was really designed to distract from the theft of a mechanical lift that was part of a float being stored there. (Said lift being too heavy for one person to move, which further rules out the ex.) It certainly sounds like such a lift COULD be incorporated into a bank heist, though it’s a little fuzzy exactly how it would work. Getting over the outer hedges at the second bank? An attack from the roof?

Now, the rest of the party seemed disinterested in sorting out the domestic situation and getting the husband to forgive his ex-wife, but that feels like Doing the Job instead of just playing Adventurers Who Are Also Cops. To me, convincing this guy to stop dumping his emotional baggage on his ex and local law enforcement seems like part of our responsibility, even if it doesn’t directly impact catching the bank robbers, whereas the others were mostly “got the info, let’s move on”. But we finally talk the guy down, he accepts that his ex didn’t REALLY burn down his barn, and we can move along.

The rest of the episode… Steve describes this as “Yak Shaving”. My analogy of choice is the Star Trek DS9 episode where Jake and Nog attempt to sell a case of self-sealing stembolts: they have to trade it to person A, but person A really wants something person B has, who really wants something person C has and so on. In this case, Chadaxa the money-lender is willing to help us out if we clear up some of her legal woes, but her legal woes are controlled by the same guard captain who needs our help with the smuggling ring (which was also Task #6 on our list anyway). So if we clear out the smuggler’s den, she’ll clear Chadaxa to operate during the festival, who will sort through our leads and give us some clearer guidance (we hope). It’s also another example of “all roads lead to Rome” by the game designers: if you somehow skipped Chadaxa and dealt with the smugglers first, you’d help disperse the smuggling ring, at which point the captain would owe you a favor; then when you went to Chadaxa, you’d already have the favor in-pocket and just need to call it in.

So of course we’re gonna go fight some smugglers. Even though “bugbear bodyguard” is one of those phrases you’d rather not hear in a mission brief. But hey… this is what we do. Only now one of us does it with arrows!

And that’s where we pick it up 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.

Agents of Edgewatch S2|03: Yak Shaving

It’s a trip down the rabbit hole this week as the RFC agents need to perform a near-endless series of tasks to learn the information they need.

Roll For Combat, Agents of Edgewatch Podcast is a playthrough of the Pathfinder Adventure Path, Agents of Edgewatch, and the second book, Sixty Feet Under.

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|18: What if God Was One of Us?

Jason recaps the events from Three Ring Adventure S2|18: Ateran’s Pantheon.

Well… we got a whole truckload of lore on the loading docks this week, and we now have a sketch of the main conflict underlying the whole adventure path. Aroden “stole” the xulgaths’ magic rocks (according to them… though even the sages corroborate parts of that story) and gave them to the surface-dwellers, and the xulgaths are now using Aroden’s absence to extract some revenge. Which means the meta-adventure (when our crew is not circus-ing) will be to find the remaining towers and protect the aeon-stones-on-steroids.

First, the whole thing is just such a jarring change coming so close on the heels of Hamlin’s Hots. Let’s just put that out there. I mean, a week ago, and even briefly at the start of this episode, we were joking around about business models so preposterously rigid and family relationships so dysfunctional that no sane person would ever eat at ANY of these restaurants; this week, we’re talking about everyone’s favorite god possibly being kind of a dick and betraying underworld creatures for the benefit of humans and other surface-dwellers.

In fact, that’s one of the single most interesting dynamics of this week’s episode: the opportunity to consider things from the monsters’ perspective is a pretty rare thing. We tend to fall into the mode where adventurers represent good and monsters represent evil, and ne’er the twain shall meet. SOME adventure paths traffic in moral ambiguity, but not many. Certainly in the Edgewatch game, we didn’t stop to consider WHY the hotel manager was murdering his patrons; we just put a stop to it. And that’s USUALLY the default mode these games operate in.

In this case, we have to consider the possibility that “our” side might be in the wrong. If you think about Aroden, two important things to remember are that a) he was/is a man elevated to the status of godhood by his contact with the Starstone, so humanity is his “home team” and b) per alignment, he’s Lawful Neutral… so he’s not automatically “good”. So of course he’s going to use his powers for the benefit of his people and it’s entirely possible that grinding a bunch of under-dwellers between the gears is just part of the cost of doing business to him. So there may be more than a little truth to the xulgaths’ side of the story.

To quote Mitchell and Ness… “are we the baddies?” And if so, how will our party navigate those waters when they get there?

The other thing that set me off down a bit of a rabbit hole was something Hap said when she questioned the purpose of the gods. I realize this is deeper waters than I usually swim in, but it got me thinking about “faith” in the context of these sorts of games. What role does “faith” play when evidence of “miracles” is everywhere around you… possibly even commonplace?

In many religions, there’s this concept of the “leap of faith”. Your logical brain can’t prove something is true, but you give yourself over to it and believe it anyway. But here in Golarion, the most faithful adherents of a faith have almost godlike powers, and the gods themselves (in some cases) walk the mortal world. There’s nothing to “believe” because it’s self-evident. I mean, if we woke up tomorrow here in the real world and Catholic priests could fling fireballs at people… I suspect a lot of people would convert to Catholicism, but then would it be “faith” anymore or just accepting what is evident?

But then again, flip that argument back around on itself. Yeah, the agents of your faith can perform these amazing “miracles”, but then again, so can a lot of other people that DON’T believe in the same god you do. As can dumb monsters that don’t believe in anything. Or you can buy a “miracle” at a store in wand or scroll form. Or have a bunch of people come over and cast a ritual like you were calling a plumber. What sort of effects would that have on people’s faith? What’s the value-add there? “You’re telling me I spent 20 years living this life, and a guy can go buy a freakin’ STICK that can do the same things I can? I’m outta here… at least Cayden Cailean will let me have a beer.”

It’s almost a different flavor of Clarke’s Third Law. Of course, Clarke’s Third Law was (paraphrasing) that advanced technology would appear to be magic to people who didn’t have that level of technology. Similarly, the proof that something is “divine” is their ability to do things that mortals can’t, so how much does their divinity diminish when mortals CAN do the same sorts of things they can? Is there some point at which “gods” risk becoming just the next most powerful listing in the Bestiary? WHAT USE DOES GOD HAVE FOR A STARSHIP?

And, OK, flipping all of that around and coming back to our story, wouldn’t the REAL faithful be the people who are still sticking with Aroden even through his diminishment? In the background lore, Aroden’s power is fading, many of his clerics have lost their ability to use magic, and a lot of his followers have defected to other gods (Iomedae being the main beneficiary). In that context, isn’t that where a true “act of faith” comes in? Sticking with the god whose existence you can no longer prove seems like a braver act than “I’m going with these guys because their Searing Light spells do an extra d6”.

Speaking of which: no, I am not volunteering to play a de-powered cleric of Aroden. At least not as a native class. MAYBE a melee class who USED to be a disciple of Aroden and learned to fight when his magical skills diminished, but a divine caster without spells to cast? Ummm… no. It might be tremendously interesting to roleplay, but the math in Second Edition is just too unforgiving for such a character to be viable. Might as well roll two characters… the low-wattage Aroden worshipper and the character you’ll be playing after that character gets pancaked.

I don’t know. Maybe it’s too deep a rabbit hole to venture into based on one throwaway comment, or maybe I’ll come back to it if PA ever legalizes weed (kidding, kidding… don’t do drugs, kids). But it’s interesting that I found myself thinking about these things that honestly, I’d never really reflected on before.

Or maybe we just need to get back to Hamlin’s Hots. Speaking of which… I’m with Rob. The bit only works if the brothers are 100% committed to the absurdity of their horrible business plans and dysfunctional family dynamics. The minute it becomes a marketing gimmick, it doesn’t have legs anymore, and it’s time to cut to the Terry Gilliam animation.

Anyway, sorry if this week’s entry was a little too esoteric. Next week we’ll get back to our ordinary shenanigans. In the meantime, 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.