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The Bird’s Eye View S2|09: The Safe is Safe

Jason recaps the events from Agents of Edgewatch S2|09: A Penny Saved.

Welcome back to the conclusion of the great bank heist on Roll For Combat. We spent at least a month running down leads, and it finally comes down to beating down a droid…. errrrr… construct.

The first question I ask myself when playing through, and when going back and listening, is… why did this feel so (comparatively) unsatisfying? It’s like… we spent over a month figuring out the logistics of the bank robbery, we finally shut it down, and I still felt like it was kind of anticlimactic.

To answer my own question, I have two reasons.

First, not to get all Bernie Sanders on y’all, but there’s something that hits different about defending a bank vs. stopping a completely demented serial killer operating a murder hotel. I will grant that the banks of Absalom are not FDIC-insured, so a robbery could literally ruin the Penny and Sphinx, but protecting people’s lives will always feel more heroic than protecting people’s money. And the only lives at risk were arguably the customers that we put in danger by attacking before fully assessing the situation. So the Heroism Needle for this particular engagement dropped from a good solid 8 or 9 to maybe a 4 or a 5? If that makes sense.

The other thing is, these guys had some tech that was above their paygrade that made them a tough fight, but they weren’t the masterminds. The Big Bads of the Copper Hand gang AND the Skinsaw Cult are still out there. Yes, the skinstitcher and the construct were formidable opponents, but they were in the hands of a relatively minor threat… a few minions on par with the guys we beat at the docks, and the banker’s stepson. So while we beat the threat in front of us, the larger threat remains, and knowing that makes the whole thing feel like unfinished business, even as this part of the adventure draws to a close. Say what you will about the Pratchett encounter; tossing a guy into an ochre jelly definitely provides closure.

One thing I found myself struck by as we began this episode is that we probably made a bigger deal out of the caltrops than we needed to. It’s a 5-foot penalty to movement and ONE whopping point of bleed damage. That’s not going to kill anyone. And yet, here we are at the top of the steps in Tactical Analysis mode for… well, FAR longer than the threat really dictated.

Though in my case, I also wanted to clarify the rule for future use. My ancestral ability essentially works like Feather Fall: I can use my wings to fall slowly, with no real restriction on the vertical distance. But it was worth knowing whether my ability worked with a horizontal component – could I glide or just drop, but slowly? Physics 101 would suggest I should get a little bit of horizontal movement as I fell. But in this case, the fact that it was a set of stairs imposed additional considerations on the vertical side: if I fell too fast, I’d still land in caltrops, but if I fell too slowly, I’d smack my head against the descending ceiling above the stairs. (Heck, if you want to get technical, would there be enough room to fully extend my wings in a staircase?) So all in all, I think Steve’s ruling was fair – give a reflex save to account for those shifting conditions, but otherwise, give me the horizontal movement I would’ve gotten from a leap (plus maybe a little extra for the glide path).

So we get everyone downstairs, and we reveal the construct in all its glory. As expected, it hits HARD, and the ability to hold people down and drill into them is a nice cherry on the sundae. On the other hand, I guess I was a little surprised its defenses weren’t more formidable. I’d expect a construct made of metal to have some damage resistances, but no resistances and fairly easy to hit as well. The two sidekick rogues were easy pickings, and even Kolo wasn’t that tough once we got rid of some of the “noise” and were able to focus on him.

With all of the combat resolved, a picture of the full heist emerges. The crew upstairs were mostly diversionary, designed to stall any Token Guard that showed up later. The Skinstitcher held the stairs to the vault, while the machine took care of opening the vault. You figure if we hadn’t been there, either help wouldn’t have arrived at all, or it at least would’ve taken a WHILE to get there – someone would have to escape the bank and go get the Token Guard, come back, navigating through the float wreckage in both directions, and dealing with the guys upstairs.

There are still unanswered questions. First, what role did Kolo play? Is he actually a cultist, or just someone’s greedy Useful Idiot? I think it’s the latter, but you never know. I do wonder which attackers were cultists and which were Copper Hand, though that’s mostly about vindicating our handling of the upstairs. If they were Copper Hand, maybe we could’ve negotiated with them. If they were Skinsaw Cultists, they would’ve started killing as soon as they had what they needed anyway, so we just cut to the chase. And of course, the big question… who’s behind it all, and how do we find them?

As the post-game starts to unfold, one thing happens that I have to comment on: Seth paying 55 gp for a single feather token that PROBABLY has zero practical use… the anchor. It’s one thing to spend a little money trying out different gear (particularly consumables); I did so myself with a couple of magic arrows. But those were only 10 gp a pop, and you could immediately see how they’d be combat-relevant. To spend 55 gp on a boat anchor, when there’s absolutely NOTHING to suggest we’ll even be leaving Absalom, much less on a boat… I’m not sure whether he’s insane or just the most dedicated roleplayer I’ve ever seen. Maybe a bit of both.

Watch, I probably just reverse-jinxed it and the Skinsaw Cult has their own boat that they’ll use as a getaway craft. Make me eat my words.

So next week… it’s hard to say what happens. We level up, so that’s always nice, but in terms of the larger story, unless we can get something from the guys we captured during the heist, I’m not sure what the next move is. Maybe Kolo saw or heard something to point us in the right direction? Maybe the wreckage of the construct contains clues? (Do those things come with a “black box”?) I guess we’ll find out next time.

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|09: A Penny Saved

The hostages are saved, but the bank vault is another matter. And it’s covered by a carpet of caltrops!

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|24: You Sit on a Throne of Lies

Jason recaps the events from Three Ring Adventure S2|24: Death By Healing.

Sorry, this week’s Talking is a little late. Real-life intrudes in the form of… well, take your pick: a teenage son who’s a little behind on his assignments in school and needs a little help getting across the finish line, or sitting in a dark room pouting because my hometown hockey team’s been eliminated from the playoffs. Perhaps a bit of both.

Also, I have to admit I needed multiple listens to figure out exactly what was going on with the Hap and Darius “wish” scene at the end of the episode. I kept getting interrupted by other things and Loren was being a little cagey and leaning into the roleplay in her descriptions, so I couldn’t quite piece together what was happening at first. Just that it was weird and silly and… ok, maybe a little disturbing when Darius cradles Hap like a baby when making his wish.

I think I managed to piece it together, though. Both Vanessa and Loren mention using a 4th-level spell slot on this project, whatever it is. (The “nah, you don’t need that for healing” joke.) Going through the spell list, the spell creation, which creates a temporary object from eldritch energy, fits the bill. If you need some supporting evidence, I’d point out that since it’s on the primal spell list, the created object must be of vegetable matter – which would explain the detail of the plate being made of wood and the fact that it didn’t really taste like bacon.

Which misses the forest for the trees a bit. The hidden scandal of the episode. Hap tried to foist VEGAN BACON on Darius. That’s just wrong. Friendships have ended over less. If Darius defects to the Celestial Menagerie at some future point… this is the moment time travelers from the future will have to go back and undo.

COME BACK WHEN YOU CAN MAKE REAL BACON FROM A PIG, GENIE-GIRL.

But OK… all of this is me dancing around an uncomfortable conversation. For one of the few times ever for this space, I’m going to put on my Poindexter glasses, go full Rules Lawyer, and blow out the central premise of this week’s episode.

Ateran should not have been in any danger of being killed by their own healing spell.

Sorry. It brings me no joy to say it because it was “great radio” in the moment. As I write this, I feel like I’m telling a bunch of 10-year-olds Santa doesn’t exist. But the rules are pretty clear, and I guess I’m a little surprised both Steve and Vanessa missed it since they both usually know this stuff inside and out. Reading the text of Spirit Link, it’s right there in the last sentence: “You can Dismiss this spell, and if you’re ever at 0 Hit Points, spirit link ends automatically”. “You” in this case, is the caster.

That’s not the least bit ambiguous. It’s true that Spirit Link is a fire-and-forget, rather than a sustain. (Can you imagine if Ateran had to give up one of their actions every turn to let people heal?) But Spirit Link does end if/when the caster gets knocked out. So yeah… there it is, me peeing in the punchbowl. Feel free to boo. Internally, I’m booing myself.

Don’t get me wrong, it was still an exciting fight. It’s good to see the party tested, and anytime someone reaches Dying 3 and has to seriously think about breaking out the Hero Points, it’s an important moment. Personally, I also liked the synergy of going from one babau in the first fight to two babaus the second time around, and now three in the finale (even though one of those was the runner from the previous fight). But I’m afraid the dark-comedy self-inflicted demise underpinning the whole thing was a mistake.

Of course, one side effect of Ateran’s brush with death, however it came about, is that it cuts the exploration a little bit short for the day. We still have unexplored rooms to clear, and the mysteries connected to Ulthadar remain to be untangled for at least another episode. Also, I had to go back and check, but there was that handwritten note that I BET contains a whole lot of plot dump; in the aftermath of making sure Ateran didn’t die, the party forgot to really look at that. Since xulgaths aren’t known for their beautiful penmanship and I’d think anything “original” would’ve been destroyed by age or the xulgaths trashing the place… I’m actually going to put $5 that Mistress Dusklight is either the author or the recipient and it explains more about her role in all of this. That’s my thinking for now, and I stand ready to be proven wrong next episode, or whenever they get back to looking at it.

So yeah… kind of a “short” episode this week – yeah, still an hour-forty, but when you spend most of it fighting, it doesn’t leave as much to write about. I assume the gang will return tomorrow to take another swing at the pinata since we haven’t really heard anything circus-related recently and since this seems to be the main plot focus.

Speaking of which, I thought it was an interesting point Steve made about having the circus itself exist as a ready-made pool of party members ready to go if someone DOES die. The snake-lady could be upgraded to a druid or ranger, you could make a rogue out of a member of the Feather Fall Five or the Dwarven Throwers; we don’t know what the “real” Jellico can do, but maybe he turns out to be a much better mage than he was a clown or something. And then there’s the new characters who just joined – the ysoki alchemist and Aives, the guy who defected from the Celestial Menagerie mid-fight. Of course, one could write in a brand-new character pretty easily – traveler hears about the newly successful circus and wants to join up and use their talents – but they don’t come with the pre-existing awareness of the backstory that those other characters do. Heck, with the new Lost Omens Ancestry Guide, maybe Riley can get a field promotion to Beastkin.

Just not Gibzip. If Gibzip ever joins the party permanently, I’m outta here. (And based on her reaction, I suspect Vanessa would be too. She seems to share my loathing.)

But that’s all speculation. For this week, rest, relax, and… I’m assuming… get ready to go back in 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.

Three Ring Adventure S2|24: Death By Healing

There are a lot of ways to die during an adventure, but death by healing has to be a new one.

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|08: You No Take Hostage!

Jason recaps the events from Agents of Edgewatch S2|08: All Right, Everybody Be Cool, This Is a Robbery!

Before we launch into the first part of the great bank heist, I figured I’d talk a little bit about the Role of the Mole.

So yeah, Steve will sometimes use one of us players to very lightly nudge things in the direction the plot needs things to go. He won’t give spoilers, and the FINAL decision is always up to us – if we WANT to dick around and waste three hours chasing things that don’t matter, he’d probably capitulate and let us. But we’re old and we want to be in our beds by midnight so we usually go along with it.

I think if there’s one thing that drives it more than anything, it’s that we’re all in our 50s and we can only get together for three hours once a week. If you’ve got the time to play an all-night session, bumbling around in the dark for an hour can be part of the merriment and make success all that much sweeter when you finally move forward. If you’ve only got three hours to play and have to get up for work the next morning, spending a third of it fumbling in the dark looking for the plot’s light switch sucks. I’d even add the online interface to the stew; it’s one thing to lose the plot a little when you’re at a table together BS-ing about other stuff while you do it; when you’re staring at a screen at people hundreds of miles away, that time starts to feel longer and yes… starts to feel a little wasted.

Anyhow, on to the bank heist. First, as a movie reference, this whole setup reminded me of the train station scene in The Untouchables. We know someone’s coming (in the case of the movie, they were trying to stop Al Capone’s bookkeeper from leaving town), but we don’t know when and we don’t know how many, and we have to stop them when they arrive. I mean, that, and the first five minutes of Speed where Dennis Hopper gets away because Keanu Reeves won’t shoot his partner in the leg. POP QUIZ, HOTSHOT.

We feel reasonably confident we have the right bank, we definitely know the day… so how do we deploy our forces?

First, let me set the stage using a clock face. Let’s put the main doors at 12. The employee entrance is at about 2 pm, but facing the front of the building. The “airlock” to the teller area is around 4:30 or 5, and the teller space goes across the bottom to about 7:30 or 8 where the stairs to the basement vault are.

One thought was to just wait in the vault room for them. “We know where they’re headed; wait for them there”. But that’s got a couple of problems. First, it ignores the potential risk to the rest of the bank and the innocent bystanders in the building. Working back from the solution, if these guys had taken hostages and started killing them while we sat in the basement playing cards, wouldn’t we have felt stupid? But it also negates the architecture of the bank as a tactical advantage… if we wait in the basement and confront them OK Corral-style when they come down the steps, that’s a BAD tactical situation for us. Imagine the initial band of robbers, the skinstitcher, and whoever’s in the basement drilling ALL coming at us at once, and they’re also between us and the only exit. That’s a recipe for disaster. On the other hand, by dispersing throughout the bank, we can use the features of the building to separate them and deal with them in pieces.

Which is roughly what happened, but it was a bit of a bumpy road getting there.

First, we get to see what happened to the missing lift that got stolen from the tannery. In this case, it elevates our “boarding party” so they can use the “accident” with the float to reach the door quickly, and in a manner that wouldn’t have attracted undue suspicion. If you think about it, if we weren’t there, any people outside would just assume it was an accident and make sure everyone in the courtyard was OK, and probably ignore the bank entirely.

Inside the bank, I have to admit, I thought we were going to take a round or two and assess our opponents before wading in – numbers, weaponry, etc. That’s actually why my first move was to retreat into the office I was using as a stakeout position. I didn’t think we’d immediately start attacking the minute they grabbed hostages, and frankly was a little caught off guard that we did so. Heck, maybe we the guys mixing in with the customers by lying on the ground wouldn’t have surprised us if we’d waited.

So now we attack and they respond by stabbing hostages and it’s on like Donkey Kong. And this is one of those fights where you can SAY “well, everyone lived” but it doesn’t feel like a huge success to me. I mean… three or four civilians got stabbed which I’m sure was really freakin’ traumatic even if they didn’t technically die. If this is an 80s cop movie, our protagonist’s captain will get called to the mayor’s office for a good chewing-out over that one.

But I say this fully admitting I don’t have a great idea what we should’ve done instead. It’s a month later, and I still can’t come up with a truly flawless Plan B. Also, I’m probably just frustrated because I was SO close to knocking that number down a couple if my sleep arrow had landed. I believe the one I shot was “the bloodthirsty one”, DC was 17, and that’s exactly what they rolled… So close. That’s where you need the reverse Hero Point where you can make an enemy re-roll, I suppose.

(Though, as I’m reading the spell, Level 1 sleep isn’t THAT great in combat, because the noise of combat allows the sleep-ee to make a Perception check to wake up, and it’s only at a -1 penalty. The Level 4 heightened version of sleep doesn’t allow for the Perception checks. So… maybe that’s kinda garbage.)

The good news is that Gomez does a FANTASTIC job keeping people alive. I give Seth a huge amount of credit for hanging in there and keeping civilians safe. The bad news is that to do so, he has to stand right out in the middle of the battlefield with a big neon STAB ME sign pointing right at him. And sure enough, the bandits take advantage of the situation and grind him down while we’re taking them out.

We finally get the first situation under control, when part two of the fight begins. We hear the drilling begin in the basement, start heading that way to investigate, and a Skinstitcher busts through the wall. Now, this feels ominous at first – it’s just a nasty looking undead abomination – but actually turns out to be a comparative pushover. First, it’s vulnerable to fire, so Gomez and I can just sit back and chuck fire at it and be fairly effective without burning (pun intended) any spell slots. Second, we generally get good dice luck, and being large, it’s fairly easy to hit, so we get a few crits to make it go down faster. So yes, it hits hard for the very brief time it exists, but we just pile the damage on and make quick work of it.

So now we’ve got noise in the basement, but we are a little roughed up, and Lo Mang discovers caltrops on the stairs. So as the session ends, we’re still in combat rounds and figuring out how we want to manage this. The good side is that the situation I described earlier has reversed itself – unless they have teleportation magic, we’re between them and the exit, so they gotta get through us to escape. But how much do we want to let them mess around down in the vault vs. getting down there and shutting this business down once and for all?

And that’s where we leave it. Next week we go down to the basement – though I’ll leave the specifics for then – and see if we can put a stop to this nonsense. 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 S2|08: All Right, Everybody Be Cool, This Is a Robbery!

After weeks of investigation, it’s time for the bank robbery! But are the agents at the correct bank?

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|23: Ride the Lightning

Jason recaps the events from Three Ring Adventure S2|23: The Darius 5.

Sorry the column is running a little late this week. NHL playoffs are happening, Mass Effect Legendary came out, and we actually played Edgewatch this Wednesday, which is when I usually write. Sorry about that.

For once, I have to admit I’ve been a little turned around the last few episodes. I thought the temple was pretty much done… that maybe there were one or two more rooms. I completely forgot about the big door with the statue guarding it, and, of course, we find out this week that behind that door is a whole new wing to explore. So I guess our dungeon delve is going to continue for another few weeks. Not a complaint… the fights have been exciting and the action has been moving the story forward as well, so it’s a win-win.

But before we really get into that, it’s time for a brief visit to city hall to meet with the head of the town guard and write another chapter of Darius’ on-again, off-again romance with Kat… this time played by Rob P. (As an aside, it’s almost a little unsettling to hear Rob P. without Ateran’s accent.)

Now, look. The logical part of me wants to quibble and say it hasn’t been THAT many days since their date so Kat shouldn’t be getting that mad. But it’s probably best not to delve too deeply there. First, it would involve going back and doing math, and that’s more work than I want to put in. But also, if you start deconstructing everything that’s illogical or grounded in modern conceptions you eventually have to admit that Hamlin’s Hots and Muscle Fancy magazine don’t make any sense either. If your fancy logic is going to take the fun out of something like Hamlin’s Hots… I don’t want to live in that world. So… OK… we’ll fudge the dates and let Kat be upset. Hey, she got a coupon book out of it.

The conversation with the guard captain was a little weird for me because it almost felt like we’d crossed the streams and wandered into the Edgewatch show. Circumstantial evidence? Not enough to prosecute? Lt. Ollo… is that you? Though… in this case, the plot conceit of having the adventuring party perform the investigation is even more jarring than it is in our game. At least in Edgewatch, our characters are part of the law enforcement; it’s only questionable whether you’d send fresh cadets or more experienced officers. Here we have the fantasy RPG equivalent of a SWAT team situation, and they’re sending in… random circus performers who rolled into town a week ago? I must’ve missed that lesson in police procedure.

(Then again… Commissioner Gordon had Batman; these guys have the Darius 5.)

Our party returns to Moonstone Hall and bypasses the door. While I like Hap’s idea of just blowing out the lock with the fireball and would’ve liked to see that play out, I guess I do have a question: who locked the door behind the people on the inside? Mistress Dusklight, maybe? Did they lock it from the inside? Granted, this may all be overthinking it – Paizo may have just included a locked door to let people use skills – but it’s a little odd that they would take such care to seal themselves in.

Before we get back to the fighting, we have the encounter with the restless spirit, Ulthadar. It’s hard to know what to make of him. I guess if he’s a servant of Aroden, he’s one of the good guys overall, but there’s something that doesn’t add up about him just letting the xulgaths and Mistress Dusklight waltz on in. Especially when it seemed like he was going to go nuclear when he found out Aroden was dead-I-mean-missing. You’d think defilers would get merit more of a reaction. And what was the deal with the trio of ghostly sidekick ladies that disappeared? Put a cautionary fiver on “maybe he’s really been corrupted and is actually evil and is going to attack the party later.” As part of that encounter, I do have to give Vanessa credit for firing off her Aroden blessing to draw the ghost back from the brink of a meltdown. Of course, it would suck if she needed that healing later, wouldn’t it?

So the party resumes their exploration and finds another batch of enemies. And this time, it’s a bit of a greatest-hits of previous fights, as we’ve got a babau, a xulgath caster, and a random powered-up stegosaurus. (OK, he’s new.)

My first reaction was “what a difference a level makes” as it seemed like the babau alone was a tough fight just a few episodes back, and now it’s just another piece of cannon-fodder. And it seemed like the party was rolling along, until the bad guys landed a one-two punch to even the odds a little. The stegosaurus charge was impressive, but the big story here was the caster’s lightning bolt… and Alhara’s heroic decision to take the hit for Hap.

Among other things, this is one of those moments that struck me as a “Rule of Cool” moment. I don’t know if it’s strictly legal to jump in front of a magic spell that was targeted at someone else. I mean… lightning moves REALLY fast and follows magnetic charge; I’m not sure dodging lightning is a thing you can actually do. But as a storytelling thing… heroic moments like that are the backbone of good storytelling, so if Alhara wants to do that, you figure out a way to let her do that. Though I think part of what makes it work is the difference between “moving the badness around” vs. “getting out of the badness entirely”. I think if the party is trying to do something that offers an appropriate TRADE of risk and reward, that’s one thing – in this case, SOMEONE was going to take some damage, it was just a question of who. I think if a party is trying to use “Rule of Cool” to get out consequences entirely (or if it’s a trade, but the motivations are transparently metagamey), then the GM would be right to shut it down.

Since neither was the case here… good job Alhara. Though I’m sure Vanessa felt a twinge of regret when the damage turned out to be 80 points. Ouch.

Luckily, the party used that act of heroism as a bit of a rallying point and managed to finish off the fight, and the day is saved. They’re pretty beat up at the moment, and Ateran blew heals on both Darius and Alhara, so we’re back to wondering how their resources are holding up, but since they JUST went back in, they’ve got to have a FEW more rooms in them, right?

Guess we’ll find out 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.

Three Ring Adventure S2|23: The Darius 5

It’s time to return to moonstone hall and begin exploring the lower level where the stink of xulgath is stronger than ever.

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|07: Not Rules, More Like Guidelines

Jason recaps the events from Agents of Edgewatch S2|07: You Never Know When You Need a Boat.

I’m actually going to start this week with a comment from our Discord channel because it ties nicely into the start of this week’s episode. User “MartinG” left us the following comment:

“After listening to the last episode and reading Jason’s bird’s eye view on it, I wanted to say that I really liked the situation the PCs are put in in the last episode with the banker’s son, but also with the young goblins. Not that it is very complex or anything. But it’s one of the first time I remember where they have to take a moral decision that is not “railroaded” by the badge. I get why Stephen put the badge in place (IIUC that it is his idea and it was not in the AP), but I see the little moments when they are out of that umbrella as more revealing of the PC’s different take on their job.”

The interesting thing here is that I actually agree. There are times when, if we’re being honest, the law enforcement angle of this adventure path is a fairly thin veneer. When you have a serial killer offing hotel guests, the distinction between “cops” and “dungeon crawlers” is mostly one of semantics: it still boils down to “go room to room looking for the Big Bad, and then stop him”… only it’s been determined that we’ve got Nerf Swords so it doesn’t count as lethal damage. (I mean… unless you shove him into a pit with an ochre jelly… but who’s keeping track?)

But with something like this… these are the questions where you’re really flying without a net. In this situation, it’s unclear that the son even broke a law – being reckless with money and going to a loan shark to fix the problem is not, strictly speaking, illegal. But it’s resulted in a cascading sequence of events where laws (even if they’re misdemeanors rather than felonies) have been broken, and one can see a path where having a financially corrupted bank employee could be a gateway to future criminality if the son gets in deeper with Chadaxa.

All of which is prelude to admitting I – since I kind of fell into the role of lead investigator on this one – think I made a mistake. I think this is one of those cases where we made the right call per the letter of the law, but maybe missed the mark on the spirit of the law.

The thing that rankles me after the fact is that we never took the time to get the son’s side of the story or offer him a chance to clean up his mess. We never went and asked him WHY a guy who works for a reputable bank got into a situation where he goes to a loan shark for aid. I mean, maybe the answer is he’s a deadbeat who lives outside his means and blows his money on whatever the Absalom equivalent of cryptocurrency is or something. Entirely possible. But what if he borrowed the money to pay for someone’s resurrection or something? That’s the part we never bothered to understand. For that matter, maybe our collective Spider-Sense should’ve gone off about the fact that the son couldn’t just go to his dad… Ovingott’s supposedly a community leader and a big-wig who funds entire mercenary companies; I’m pretty sure the original 25g would’ve been a drop in his bucket. Maybe that should’ve given us a hint that there was friction between the father and son that we weren’t seeing and that we should at least tread cautiously.

And OK, let’s be honest. Some of this was just impatience imposed by the main story. Part of what was going on is that we were on the eve of the main bank heist we’ve been building toward, and this was the last thing on the to-do list before we could get into that. So we had tunnel vision toward our main goal and didn’t really give this situation its proper due. I think that’s at least part of the math here as well.

Letter of the law, our final choice was technically correct and even fairly defensible. You really don’t want a guy with financial problems working at a bank, and at the end of the day, we were working for the dad in this investigation. His relationship with his son isn’t REALLY our problem; we’re not family therapists. I’ll also go a step further and say that if we HAD gone to the son and he’d been unwilling to resolve the situation, I would’ve gone to the dad with a clear conscience because, at that point, the SON would have been equally guilty of abandoning his family responsibilities. At that point, family is out of the equation and it’s telling a bank owner who hired us that he has an employee with financial difficulties handling customers’ funds: he would need to know that. But with full 20/20 hindsight, I’m disappointed we didn’t at least hear the son out first.

On the other hand, we got a cool rune out of it. It’s not one Basil personally needs – I can just leave the sheath on the sword cane if I want to switch to bludgeoning – but it’s nice to be able to switch typed damage. Much as I love Dougie’s Hot Maul Action, Dougie’s Hot Greatsword Action would be equally entertaining and the crits would be just as massive.

Meanwhile, despite all that time I spent on the B-plot, we’ve got a robbery to plan for. A lot of the nuts-and-bolts of how we’ll set up will be in next week’s show, but the one thing that’s sticking out for me is we’re missing SOMETHING about the role the lift is going to be playing. It’s becoming clear that a direct attack through the roof would be pointless; so it’s not about getting the bad guys onto the roof. So what is it then?

Maybe opening the vault? The four keys are spread wide apart and some of them are off the floor. Could they be using the lift to reach all four keyholes at the same time? Maybe, but that would require bringing the lift hardware INTO the bank during the robbery, and it’s not like you can just sneak it in. So that feels like it would require a full-frontal assault by a LARGE group.

Or maybe the lift isn’t part of this at all? Maybe it’s a red herring after all.

You’ll also note I spend a lot of time reflecting on snares. I’m just thinking, there are four of us, at least two entrances to cover (and that’s assuming they don’t somehow make their own), and lots of building features that impede sightlines. I’m feeling like we can’t possibly monitor every inch of the bank, so snares would be a bit of an equalizer here. We don’t necessarily have to do big damage with them, but if we can use them to let us know if there are unseen enemies around, maybe apply some side effects that slow them down a little… that would be a big help.

However, snares require the specific feat of Snare Crafting, and none of us have that. I think kobolds get it as an ancestry perk, though I don’t remember if it’s automatic or one of their ancestry feats, and I’m pretty sure rangers can get it fairly easily as well. But for tomorrow, we’re out of luck unless we find a magic item that does the same basic thing.

The same thought process went into my arrow purchases. 10+ gold for a magic arrow is a bit steep, but the Sleep Arrow and Vine Arrow both have the capability to take an opponent almost completely out of the fight if they get bad luck on the save, so maybe it’s worth the spend. If you think of them as scrolls a non-caster can use, the price point makes a LITTLE more sense, but I’m not sure magic arrows will ever be more than situationally useful. Better to just beat them down with direct damage.

So next week, we should do our final planning, and the great heist will begin. As always, feel free to drop by our Discord channel or other social media and let us know what you think of the show (as you can see above, we do see your comments!). Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next week.

Agents of Edgewatch S2|07: You Never Know When You Need a Boat

All the leads have been followed and suspects interviewed, all that is left is to plan for the upcoming bank heist.

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.

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