June 2021 - Page 2 of 2 - Roll For Combat: Paizo's Official Pathfinder & Starfinder Actual Play Podcasts

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Agents of Edgewatch S2|11: Ol’ Jack Always Says… What the Hell?

Who knew that the easiest way to infiltrate the Copper Hand Gang was to simply walk through the front door?

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|26: The Charmed Arm Does Great Harm

Jason recaps the events from Three Ring Adventure S2|26: Can You Smell What The Vrock Is Cooking?!

Sorry we’re running a little late here this week at Talking Combat. I’m getting ready to go on vacation Saturday, so between getting work tied down and packing, I’ve had a lot of stuff percolating.

As Steve mentioned in the show notes, I have an interesting relationship with spoilers on this show. I think I’ve mentioned before that I do TRY to avoid spoilers so I can have a close-to-pristine listening experience. I generally want to be as surprised as all of you. But that tends to be a goal that’s never going to be 100% reachable. For one thing, while each show has its own Discord channel for the game itself, the Patreon chat has a single channel that’s shared across all the shows. So sometimes I see the last few lines of what the Patreons were talking about the previous night: 90 percent of the time, it’s general chat, but every once in a while, there’ll be a plot point. Or, I’ll have to go look up an NPC name or reference a map, so I will duck my head into “their” channel. In which case, you try to put the blinders on and mind your business but it doesn’t always work. Or sometimes in a burst of general excitement stuff just slips out.

So I’ve known for a month or two that SOMETHING sinister and not-entirely-normal happens to Darius at some future point, and this incident feels like it might be the thing I heard about. The comments I saw basically hinted that Darius was going to end up turning evil and becoming the big bad of the whole story; I thought maybe he’d died and been brought back by some unnatural means (because there were also hints at a character death, but Steve teases that all the time). But this thing with Darius’ glowing rune certainly fits… it’s not Evil-With-A-Capital-E, but it certainly doesn’t seem as benevolent as it did before, did it? The vrock was DEFINITELY not afraid of Darius and Alhara’s mom; I’m pretty sure of that.

I will say that whole thing made for great radio, though. You’ve got this vrock which… I wouldn’t want to say it was a no-win, but it definitely felt like a fight that was going to push the party to its limits. Heck, you had Loren at least debating how soon it would be fair to run away without being meta-gamey. And then BOOM, the whole tone of the fight shifts as Darius breaks out a brand-new rune power. And the fear was a nice cherry on the sundae… Doubly impressive since the whole thing with the rune and Darius’ powers is stuff Steve’s adding on the side.

Loren’s question was an interesting one, by the way. On one hand, player characters shouldn’t be stupid or suicidal, and even a Level 1 adventurer has theoretically Seen Some Shit. They’d probably have SOME sense of how hard a fight is going to be, and even that if they misjudged and it’s harder, they should probably run away. On the other hand, when you start getting into things like “well, it’s +20 to hit so it’s going to crit something like 35 or 40 percent of the time”… that’s stuff your characters would have no way of knowing and you really shouldn’t be basing your “fight or run” decisions on.

Well, there is one exception: the equation becomes a little different if you’ve faced the creature before because in that case, the previous fight(s) become part of your standing knowledge of the creature. Over in the Edgewatch campaign we’ve run across multiple members of the ooze family – knowing that they’re resistant to precision damage, that some oozes split when hit with piercing or slashing, that they tend to be slow and really EASY to hit, but you lose almost every source of extra damage. Yeah, those are game mechanics, but if you’ve already seen them in action, they become the laws of the world you’re part of.

The other thing that stuck out for me is this: how is it they’re making WWE wrestling jokes and I’m not involved? As I texted to the group: “I expect this behavior from me. I don’t expect it from you.” Avatar The Last Airbender, yes. WWE, no. I’m not a huge wrestling fan or anything – never been to a live event or bought a pay-per-view, but I will admit I had phases where it was on my radar. Particularly when I was a road-warrior consultant during a different life and Monday nights were kinda dead anyway. I may have watched more of Hulk Hogan’s heel turn on WCW than I’m comfortable admitting publicly. (“Oh my God, it’s STING! Doing the same thing he’s done for the last seven weeks, but I’m still VERY SURPRISED BY THIS!”)

Sorry, where was I?

Ah yes, the vrock is eventually defeated, but not without the scare of Darius dropping and Hap eating an attack of opportunity getting her last spell off. I briefly thought this was going to be a two-episode fight because the thing seemed surprisingly healthy with 4 or 5 minutes left, until Hap came through with the finisher. Speaking of Darius dropping… we really need to refine our terminology for “party members dropping that represent a serious threat of a TPK” vs. “party members dropping where it’s just part of the cost of doing business”. Much like we came up with “Handwave Heal” to summarize using Treat Wounds and other out-of-combat healing; we need “Drop” and “Low-Calorie Drop” or something like that, to reflect those two different circumstances. “Drop” and “Drop Zero”?

And now we come to the “unanswered questions” portion of the show.

First, is that it or is there still more? The vrock feels like the big bad, and the caster xulgath that was with it was PROBABLY the person that summoned/controlled it, but is there still anyone else in here? What about Mistress Dusklight? When will the reckoning happen?

You kind of wonder what was the goal of the vrock? Was it to just run roughshod over the town? Was it designed to keep the players from learning about the role of the towers and Aroden’s mountain retreat? Was it just fairly random “these players are after us, let’s summon some muscle”? Though that one seems unlikely… it seems like the xulgaths have been here a lot longer than the players have been in town, so I don’t feel like the vrock was summoned JUST to deal with them. I could be wrong though.

Also, what’s with Darius and his uneasy feelings? Compared to rebooting the towers and saving the world, it’s probably small potatoes, but why does he feel like releasing the rune’s power the way he did make him feel disappointed and unworthy? You’d think a GOOD rune would be pleased as punch to smite a creature like the vrock, but evidently not. At some point we’ll have to unravel that as well.

For now, though, I’m off to do beachy things. 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|26: Can You Smell What The Vrock Is Cooking?!

After the dump of lore from last week, it’s back to exploring the lower moonstone hall and nearly dying!

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|10: Plan A and Plan… A?

Jason recaps the events from Agents of Edgewatch S2|10: Who is Doguieman?

We start this week with a recap of Steve’s announcement for the show as a whole, although since you’re reading this on Monday, it’s moved from the future tense to the present tense. The Plaguestone crew is indeed back. The Three-Ring Adventure show had some scheduling conflicts mostly centered around Rob P. – not to point a finger at the guy; more to explain how the show can have scheduling conflicts while three of the four players and the GM are still available for another game – so we decided to use that window to bring the Plaguestone Four out of semi-retirement. We even recorded our first episode(s) last night, so it’s formally moved from theoretical to actual! We’re just not yet sure when it will air, for a variety of reasons mostly on Steve’s side, so stay tuned for that.

I won’t bend your ear too much about a show that won’t even air for weeks, maybe months, except to say it was fun to slip Brixley’s boots back on, and I’m already excited to see where we go with it. The only thing I’ll mention is length, to set an expectation on that front – it’s a single-book adventure (we’re playing Malevolence, but with a few tweaks to incorporate Celes’ backstory), so it should be of a similar length to Plaguestone. Maybe shorter since it takes place in the middle of nowhere and there’s not as much “infrastructure” (NPCs, shopping, etc.) to interact with. No three-episode filler arc where the characters go on dates, and Hamlin’s Hots hasn’t opened a franchise there. As far as we know.

Turning back to THIS show, it’s a bit of a transition week, so not a lot actually happens. We get our next breadcrumb for tracking down the Copper Hand gang and spend an inordinately long amount of time planning our next move. And Gomez wants to pretend he’s Barack Obama, for some reason? Did I get that right?

First I briefly wanted to jump the fence and talk about an interesting set of Tweets from the Pathfinder Papa himself, Jason Bulmahn:

I wanted to jump in on this because it’s something I’d personally like to explore more in my characters going forward. Not necessarily loading your characters down with “flaws” exactly, but having a character’s backstory be more of an unfinished story than a destination. I think sometimes we see backstory as The Reason I Became A Level One Adventurer, and from there, it’s just time to start cracking whatever skulls the adventures put in front of us and forget about it. I really like the idea of having one’s characters continue an ongoing journey of personal development that pre-dates their life as an adventurer, and that they’ll fill in those blanks as well as leveling up and getting cooler spells.

Currently, I’m not as far along with this as Jason is, though I do like to have a broad personal motivation for my characters beyond getting rich and famous. Only the criminally insane engage in lethal combat against monsters for fun, and money only carries you so far as a motivation, so what’s driving the character when you peel that back? Sometimes I’ll share it with Steve; more often, I’ll just keep it under my hat, but use it as a compass to guide how my character would react in certain situations.

With Tuttle Blacktail (Dead Suns), it was discovering new knowledge that would get people to take him more seriously as a scientist. We only had one or two Starfinder Society games, but Nala Trienzi was a juvenile delinquent who recognized her current path was a dead-end, so she wanted to find a more productive path, but without sacrificing her sense of “fun”, and having the Starfinder Society pay her to explore sounded like a good option. In the case of Brixley Silverthorn (Plaguestone), I think there’s a sense that he KNOWS deep down he’s a bit of an “all hat, no cattle” lightweight going into Level 1, and wants to accomplish things that make him worthy of the external swagger he clothes himself in. Lastly, in the case of Basil Blackfeather, it’s finding the life that’s been laid out for him unsatisfying and wanting to do something that makes more of a direct difference in people’s lives. And heck, maybe that’s why I never really clicked with Nella Amberleaf (my druid from Pathfinder Society) – I never really got in her head and figured out WHY she was doing what she was doing. She was just… there because druid seemed like a cool class to try next.

Something to think about while we go over the plan for the THIRD time this episode, I guess.

Seriously. I got a little frustrated on this one, and I think the predominant issue is that Seth really sunk his teeth into the idea of using a disguise and just couldn’t let it go. The central choice was “pretend to be members of the Copper Hand” or “do initial recon as generic adventurers”, and I listened carefully… at some point, EVERY other member of the group says “let’s just be adventurers” and Seth just wouldn’t let it go.

And look… I get it. It’s fun when the planets align and that skill you never got to use before suddenly becomes useful. You want to Do The Thing because it may be your only chance ever. (See also: Tuttle saving the day with his teleportation puck in Dead Suns.) It’s human nature and I don’t really fault Seth for feeling that way. Especially when he built Gomez almost ENTIRELY around weird edge cases like that. (Let’s remember this is the same man who paid 50 gp for an anchor feather token on a dry-land adventure). I don’t even mind having the disguise kit as a plan B. If we fail to infiltrate as “adventurers”, our next step might have to be sending someone in as a member of the gang, and then… yeah, let’s do it. But he did get so locked in on it that it kind of sent the conversation around in circles a bit.

In other news, we gain a new level, and the big news for me is that Basil gets his first level 2 spells. Hooray! Basically, the multiclass archetypes lag the actual classes by three levels; so if a “real” wizard gets Level 2 spells at character Level 3, a Pocket Wizard gets them at Level 6. And it’s still only one slot per level, though there are some ways to raise that.

And yes, I fully admit I looked at Loren’s test paper and copied what Hap did with regards to Longstrider. Look… I get ONE spell at each level, so it’s all about bang for the buck. I might as well get something that has some duration. A 10-foot bonus to movement that lasts 8 hours… especially now that I’m screwing around with archery and might need to tweak my range… seems more useful than a lot of other things I could take.

Though for the record, I took Comprehend Languages and Invisibility as my free spells. With Comprehend Languages, I actually took it more with an eye for the heightened Level 3 version that lets you converse in other languages. I suspect we can take writings back to the lair to decipher them, but I want to be able to TALK to nasty creatures if necessary. Invisibility is invisibility. Its uses are obvious.

I also took Snare Crafting as a skill feat, though I’m already getting a feeling that may have been a case of “spending resources to solve the previous problem”. Here’s the thing: when we were preparing for the bank robbery, snares seemed so useful, and it was something nobody else in the party could do. But as I’m thinking about it, snares are FAR more useful when defending a fixed position, and our role as police officers almost always puts us in the role of aggressor, kicking down doors and invading bad guys’ spaces. Guarding the bank was the exception, not the rule. So I’m already feeling like Snare Crafting MIGHT not have been a good choice, and I may yet retrain out of it later.

In terms of actual plot development, our next lead takes us to the Foreign Quarter, where Captain Melipdra of the Sleepless Suns has our next lead. He’s got a rowhouse that serves as Copper Hand base, but he can’t infiltrate it because the local gang members know his guards too well, so he needs some outsiders to do it. So we shut down the gang, funnel some of the collars to him (“collars”… LOOK AT ME USING COP LINGO), and it’s a win-win. And he teaches Lo Mang to be a better monk.

(Aside: this is one of the cooler things about 2E we see occasionally: NPCs that can teach feats or even, in this case, entire archetypes that aren’t otherwise available. We saw one or two of these in our Society games, but I’d like to see more of them included going forward. The idea of learning from wizened experts is a pretty cool one.)

So join us next week when we… pose as adventurers? Let Gomez do his disguise? Hell, I don’t know anymore. However, we go about it, we’ll be looking for the Copper Hand gang so we can put a stop to their shenanigans. 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|10: Who is Doguieman?

The Penny & Sphinx is saved, but the gang responsible for the robbery is still at large. It’s time to infiltrate the Copper Hand Gang!

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|25: Take a Look, It’s in a Book

Jason recaps the events from Three Ring Adventure S2|25: Wonderous Feather Healing.

First things first: that’s right. We’re putting the Plaguestone band back together. I figure since that show includes three-fourths of this group (plus me), it’s more relevant to talk about here than in the Edgewatch column.

I don’t remember the exact genesis of the idea, though I know the first murmurings about doing a new show were a joking suggestion about doing an April Fool’s show with really goofy characters. (I was kicking around a pixie barbarian with anger management issues.) That didn’t really come together because it reached a point where we would’ve had to put the whole thing together on three days’ notice on a weekend where Steve had travel plans. But the idea of doing something else percolated for a little while, and over the course of another few weeks, coalesced around a return to the Plaguestone crew. I think from there, it was a question of Steve finding an adventure that would work and finding some time in the schedule. The story part I’ll leave for when the show starts airing, but the schedule part came together with Extinction Curse having to take a few weeks off anyway. Seemed like a good time to start recording.

I won’t say much about the show itself because I want most of it to be a surprise when it airs, but I’ll set the general expectation that it’ll be along the lines of a single adventure (30, 40 episodes maybe?) rather than another 6-book adventure path. When will it air? Not exactly sure… that’s probably more on Steve’s side… how fast we can put episodes in the can, how fast he can edit, is he going to bother with new artwork, and other logistical stuff like that.

Meanwhile, back in the world of Extinction Curse, we have a fairly straightforward combat, followed by a lore-gathering session in the Moonstone Temple’s library. Or at least what’s left of it after the xulgath caster sets off a fireball in the middle of it.

The first thing that jumped out at me about the combat is that it wasn’t that long ago that a babau was a spine-tingling threat; now, it’s basically a speed-bump. I suppose some of that comes from leveling up and being a little stronger, but also, part of it was being able to cut loose because it was the first fight of a new day and they had full resources. It seemed like Hap and Ateran, in particular, went right to their bigger guns early in the fight, including Ateran’s Enervation spell that I don’t think we’ve ever seen before.

I do find myself wondering a little bit about that fireball. Is there a chance the xulgath was trying to destroy evidence or was it just about putting as much damage on the party as possible? I think it’s the latter, if for no other reason than if there was a breadcrumb that was needed to progress in the story, I doubt the writers of the adventure path would let it be anything that would be easily destroyed. “Well… sorry, Books 3 through 6 are canceled because a trash mob destroyed the map! I guess the world’s going to end.” Also… it’s a xulgath… it’s probably arrogant and thinks it can kill any surface-dweller. It probably wouldn’t worry about destroying evidence because it thinks it would win anyway.

The combat isn’t really the big thing this week, though. The big fish here is Ateran’s research.

To summarize, even the own accounts say that yeah, Aroden took the stones from the under-dwellers. (I’ll hold back on using the word “stole” for now. Three sides to every story – two sides, and the truth, which is usually something in the middle.) He did leave ONE stone in the underworld, as his show of mercy, but he spread the other five out around the land and infused them with his own power, which is part of what makes the land thrive. The book also reveals a mountain sanctuary Aroden ran the show from. And in terms of driving the story from here, the party can reset the stones by gathering the reflections, going to the mountain temple, and forming Voltron. (The one with the lions, not the one with all the cars and trucks.)

My glib thought is that each side has a base, and there are towers spread out around the country, so we’ve walked into a RP-heavy League of Legends game. Darius top, Ateran mid, Hap and Riley bot lane, and Alhara jungling!

My other thought is that the xulgaths may have figured out a way to do the evil Bizarro version of that same process. Maybe if THEY get the aspects and go to the temple, they can corrupt the stones, or something like that. The fine details remain to be worked out, but it kinda works out to two sides pursuing the same MacGuffin with opposite goals for it if they get it.

I did think it was a nice roleplaying touch that Hap still wanted to use this library to look up information on her elemental ancestry while all this was going on. Ateran’s already on the case for saving the world; why not do your own side research while you have all these books at your disposal? Of course, as a natural caster rather than a “book-learning” caster, it’s not necessarily up her alley… and asking Darius to help is probably about as useful as asking Riley, but it’s the thought that counts. But in the end, she does find Alternate Planes For Dummies, so that’s something to build upon.

Then we have the spell scrolls. Spell immunity is kind of nice, but it’s the rare spells that intrigue me most because they’ve both got circus applications. First, we have favorable review, which forces people to say nice things about a performance. The trick there would be to find the RIGHT people to cast it on; I doubt you can cast it on enough Joe/Jane Citizens to singlehandedly get the crowd to go nuts, but does Golarion have Instagram influencers? The pyrotechnics spell seems like it would be circus-useful as well, because it adds “flair” (for lack of a better word) to an existing fire act… can adding fireworks to Hap’s act or the Flambonis squeeze a few extra points out?

I assume there’s still a room or two to be cleared since Uthadar is still whining about how the temple isn’t cleansed yet, but I admit I’m a little fuzzy on the map at this point. The map is available on the Discord channel, and I can piece together what SOME of the rooms are – I THINK the upper right corner of the map is the part they haven’t visited yet – but getting fully re-oriented would involve going back and re-listening to the entire Moonstone Temple arc focusing almost entirely on compass directions, which… let’s be honest, sounds like a drag. At some point, this is a blog, not a research paper; I’ll just be comfortable with my wrongness.

So next week, we get back to the fighting, and one of these times they’ll finally clear this place out. Maybe it’ll be next time, maybe it won’t, but I guess we’ll find out together. 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|25: Wonderous Feather Healing

After nearly a year and a half of adventuring, it’s time for the big lore dump episode! Find out what the heck is going on and learn the main storyline of the entire adventure path this week!

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!