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Three Ring Adventure S2|38: My Anaconda Don’t Want None

As the gang continues to explore Mistress Dusklight’s final stronghold they venture from above the clouds to deep in the jungle.

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|22: He’s a Fungi to Hang Around With

Jason recaps the events from Agents of Edgewatch S2|22: We Call That “A Lo Mang”.

First things first: I LOVE Steve trying to wrap pseudo-intellectual trappings around his love of poop jokes. “It’s relatable, it’s like doing a day of yardwork”… ummm, no. You just like throwing your players into poop as often as you can. It’s almost become part of the show’s appeal like we were some fantasy RPG version of Dirty Jobs.

On the other hand, I do think I’ve wrapped my brain around why this natural cavern system needs to exist… it introduces variety into a dungeon that otherwise doesn’t actually have that much of it.

When it comes to dungeon design, there’s a trade-off to be managed. You generally don’t want your environments to just be some random collection of creatures; you want there to be a theme that reinforces the story you’re telling. On the other hand, if all the monsters are TOO similar, it’s like playing on a treadmill and things get old fast. (See also: the Extinction Curse campaign where… OK… sometimes there’s a few too many xulgaths for my tastes.)

Looking at THIS dungeon through that lens, there’s basically two main pieces of this dungeon system. You’ve got the corrupted temple level, which is full of undead and undead-adjacent stuff. And then you’ve got the cultists, so… humanoids and THEY also play around with undead constructs. If you don’t throw something else in it runs the risk of getting bogged down in sameness and get kinda boring. So this underground cavern system adds a bit of a new biome and allows for some “natural” creatures to make an appearance. Allowing Steve to cover us in poop is just an added bonus, I guess.

So we start with the otyughs. Looking at the stat block for these guys, they’re really not that challenging. They’re CR 4 monsters, they only have 70 hit points, they’re slow and fairly easy to hit. It’s almost like they have a lot of the worst qualities of oozes, but without the positives of being immune to all that “extra” damage like oozes are. Granted, when the fight first starts and we don’t know how weak they are, it looks a little scary when they rush us; but once we get going and actually start landing blows, it’s a fairly easy fight.

In the aftermath, we don’t get anything in the way of treasure, but we do get a sense that the Graycloaks came through here and lost at least one of their members. It’s at least some encouragement that we’re on the right path. Seeing that, following the path to the north seems like a good bet. However, there’s a couple of problems with that plan. First… at the end of the path is the roper, so if we go up there, we’re in the same position we were in 4 or 5 episodes ago. But then we also find the mushroom men and the nook they’re… for a lack of a better word… worshipping. Only the object of their worship is a skitterstich – that’s right, a giant spider made out of corpse parts.

This fight… it’s a LITTLE tougher than the previous one, but still more of a warmup than a real challenge. On one hand, it’s a single enemy, so it’s one against four. On the other hand, it’s a higher-level challenge – hits harder, has a few special abilities, and so on. The other thing is… at least early on… it’s hard to get a read on how the mushroom men are going to react to us attacking the skitterstitch. On one hand, they treat it almost like an object of worship; on the other hand, they also seem to like Gomez a lot as well.

The other good news is that it’s just as susceptible to fire as the regular skinstitch we faced back at the bank. So we’ve got that going for us.

So we chip, chip, chip away… and we eventually get it down. It spawns a swarm when it dies, but a critical hit from the necklace of fireballs takes care of that in one shot. Also… somewhere along the line, Gomez became King Of The Mushroom Men. I’m still not quite sure I understand how that came to pass, but OK. You know having an army of followers is just going to go to his head, right?

The other outcome of defeating the skitterstitch is that we find what almost has to be the missing headpiece to the statue that the Elven Ghost Girl was watching over. I don’t know if this is going to be a recurring theme, or just a one-time phenomenon, but this would imply they’re using magic items from the temple to power their constructs. But finding this one means we can go ahead and take that back and put it back on the statue… which, for the moment, we’re going to assume somehow releases the spirit. (Extra credit: does this imply they did something similar with the dullahan’s chain?). And collect experience for it.

Now, I have to admit the end gets just a little too metagamey for my touch, as we spend five or ten minutes grilling Steve about where we could get enough experience to level up. Now, sometimes it’s a necessary evil because if we level up and don’t have our N+1 characters ready, we could have to halt mid-session and end up wasting part of a session. So sometimes, the logistics of the show demand that Steve give us a hint that we should prep our next characters. So… I don’t mind if we DISCUSS it, but it starts feeling a little uncomfortable if/when we start talking about which specific encounter(s) we can fight to push us over the top.

Looking forward, the presence of the roper makes this particular route a dead end, so next time we’ll have to retrace our steps and choose one of the other paths we didn’t take. That will almost certainly lead us past Elf-Ghost, so I guess we’ll cross that off as well. And then it’s on to Cultist-Land! 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|22: We Call That “A Lo Mang”

When the Agents decide to muck around the sewers they really “step in it”, both literally and figuratively.

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|37: Fascination Street

Jason recaps the events from Three Ring Adventure S2|37: Irritable Alhara Syndrome.

Call back the search planes, take my face off the milk cartons… I’m still here. I just had a double-whammy back-to-school week (my job is in higher-ed, and I also have a high-school senior to deal with at home) that included being at work until midnight at least one night, so my brain turned to mush and I crashed hard when it was over. Sorry about that.

We pick things up at the oubliette with the big reveal… OK, maybe more of a medium reveal. It’s none of the big game-changers I hypothesized about at the end of last week’s column, but it is a potential new act for the show… Ufi the Aquakineticist. He’s an Azerketi with water-based powers, and he doesn’t even need any convincing to switch teams because… well… Mistress Dusklight keeps him locked in an oubliette and tortures him as part of the show. So yeah… he wants out. And just as an “ohbytheway” observation, he bears more than a passing resemblance from Namor from Marvel comics.

This also gives us our second entry in the Bizarro Party: Bizarro Hap. (I can’t be the only one thinking of the “Bizarro Jerry” episode of Seinfeld where Elaine meets a new group of friends who are more well-adjusted doppelgangers of Jerry, George, and Kramer… right?) Last week we met our replacement Darius (Evora the orc) and now we get more of a Reverse Hap. And that’s really the only problem: we haven’t established a consistent theme here. Our little team of hypothetical replacements can’t decide whether it wants to be Similar-But-With-A-Twist or polar opposites. We’re going to need to sort all this out so we can know whether to look for ANOTHER broody goth or a refugee from My Little Pony as our spare Ateran. (Waitasec… maybe when the dryad cheers up, she’ll have a festive floral thing going! Maybe we ALREADY met our Bizarro Ateran and just didn’t know it yet!)

Needless to say, Replacement Alhara will also be a swashbuckler, but an enormously cautious one who insists other people go through the door first. And doesn’t really like working out.

With the oubliette dealt with, it’s time to get back to the main search path. On our next stop, we find the Stockholm Syndrome Sideshow… it’s a collection of sideshow acts who want to leave but are also SO afraid of Mistress Dusklight they won’t even leave until our heroes prove Dusklight has been eliminated. At least Carmine has a semi-logical reason… she won’t leave until she gets her stuff back… but the rest are just dug in until this gets resolved one way or another. So… neutralize Dusklight and bring her whip back to free everyone. For now, put a pin in it.

Next up, we’re up for Round Two with the Wheel of Doom. After Steve steps all over Vanessa’s Daenerys Targaryen joke (twice), “Happenstance Margaret Johnson” (THIS IS CANON NOW) decides to take a new approach, coming at the wheel from above and behind. Not only does she dodge the wheel’s effects and retrieve a magic item, but she also teaches us a little something new about the rulebook. It turns out that although Mage Hand is the spell of choice for moving things around, you can also use Prestidigitation to lift items of light bulk. Learn something new every day.

With the wheel FORMALLY bypassed, it’s back to the “main” path toward Mistress Dusklight, which means passing through the cloud-filled tent. And here’s where we end up filling our combat quota for the session. We meet a creature that initially appears to be a lillend, which is a chaotic good celestial. But nope, she’s “just” a lamia matriarch with some fake wings stapled on her… and she’s got a buddy hiding in the clouds, and they go on the attack. Fun, fun, fun.

Now… I guess this is the “big argument” we were told to expect in the show notes, and I dunno… maybe it’s because I’m used to Edgewatch standards of disagreeing with the GM, but that felt a little underwhelming. I mean, where I come from, it’s not really a disagreement unless three or four curse words have been deployed and someone goes dark and walks away from the session for at least 10 minutes.

As to the meat of the debate… I think Steve may have misread the rule a little. The second stanza of the fascinated condition is:

You can’t use actions with the concentrate trait unless they or their intended consequences are related to the subject of your fascination (as determined by the GM).

Now at the end of the day, the “as determined by the GM” overrules everything else and makes Steve correct, because it was ultimately his interpretation. But just to be contrarian and go with a “plain-text” reading of the rules, the text of the condition contains no real value judgment about positive or negative actions, it JUST means the fascinated person locks their attention on the… fascinatee? I’ll grant that the word “fascinated” has a positive connotation in real life which IMPLIES you wouldn’t attack such a person, but by letter of the rule, the ONLY thing fascinated does is draw someone’s attention away from others and to that person.

I went looking for some additional references to try and understand the rule better, and stumbled on the creature statblock for the K’nonna, from The Mwangi Expanse. One of their quirks is that if you offer a K’nonna a gift of more than 50gp value, they can become fascinated until the end of the next turn and cannot attack while fascinated (emphasis mine). If the fascinated condition INNATELY ruled out hostile actions against the caster, there would be no reason to state that second part; it would be redundant. I think that means that fascinate is ONLY drawing attention – making the fascinated creature oblivious to other dangers in the area.

But like I said, that’s one where the GM literally gets the final call, so… continue.

What the lamia matriarchs DO with their free time is double down on concealment. First, they pull out the old Chris Beemer Special and cast Mirror Image. (He hasn’t played a caster in a while, but Mirror Image was almost always the first spell he cast in any combat.) Then they follow that up with Blur, which makes the concealment apply even when they’re not in the clouds.

However, Darius in particular has a trick up his sleeve. ACHAKAEK POWERS… ACTIVATE! He breaks out his first use of True Strike, which negates ALL vision-modifying effects, including seeing through the mirror images and hitting the authentic target. Piggyback that with ki strike, and “boom goes the dynamite”, as the Young People say.

So the one fighting Darius is almost completely removed from the fight with one shot and soon finished off by Riley getting another kill-shot – he does seem to have a bit of a knack for that. He’s turning into the Big Shot Bob of the group. (Sorry… sports reference. Robert Horry… aka “Big Shot Bob”… was a basketball player who had an uncanny knack for making clutch shots in the late seconds of playoff games.) The second lamia hangs around a little longer but eventually decides Mistress Dusklight isn’t worth getting killed over and gets out of Dodge.

And that’s where we’ll pick it up next time. NOW do we get to fight the big boss? Come back next week and find out. 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|37: Irritable Alhara Syndrome

The gang begins their final descent into the Celestial Menagerie’s stronghold, but soon get lost in the clouds.

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|21: Always Spay or Neuter Your Rogue

Jason recaps the events from Agents of Edgewatch S2|21: Dug in Like an Alabama Tick.

DAMN IT. I was right in the middle of writing this week’s column and the first trailer for the new Spider-Man came out, and every thought just rushed right out of my head. Quick pause to recollect my thoughts.

So, let’s talk about this map. I’m not sure I even totally understand it… but we’re going to discuss it.

Let’s start with some basics. I think what we have is the temple/burial crypt level, a living quarters level, and a layer of natural caverns sandwiched between the two, almost like a mezzanine level. I think there are a few DIRECT paths from the temple to the living quarters (the locked spiral stairs behind the roper, somehow getting past Tyrroicese) but otherwise, you have to snake through the natural cavern system between the two.

A little piece of me wonders about the nature of the cultists’ lair. At first glance, I would think it’s living quarters for Aroden’s acolytes that got overrun and corrupted. But then you see rooms like “blood pit” and realize it’s been 100+ years since Aroden disappeared; could the Skinsaws have been here long enough to build their own headquarters? But that doesn’t jibe with the Skinner’s backstory; she killed a tax collector and started her crime wave… semi-recently… certainly within a humanoid lifespan. And I don’t get a sense construction projects were high on her list. So for the moment, I go back to “it’s the living quarters of the Aroden priests and they added the blood pit to increase the resale value.”

So then we have the issue of the map itself. For our first several sessions, the original map was just the temple level, but now that we’re infiltrating the underground passages, the (new) map we’re looking at has the temple and caverns layers superimposed on each other. Whoever created the map TRIED to make the rooms overlap as little as possible, but passages (and the underground stream) are another story… those are bumping into things all the time. So you’ll be in a room, and there will be a path that’s not REALLY there but is actually above (or below) the room you’re in. Or maybe even the stream. So we’re dealing with at least a little bit of confusion here, and we need to adjust our thinking for three dimensions, much like Khan in the Mutara Nebula.

So… the bad news is that last week’s combat was pretty much humiliating. We were WAY outgunned, and we had to run away. The only silver lining is that it was the first encounter of the new day, and we made the decision to call it so quickly that we really didn’t burn much in the way of resources. So a little bit of Handwave Healing and we’re still pretty well-positioned to explore. However, this time we decide to quit screwing around and follow the path left by the cultists.

Truth told I think there’s a little self-preservation at work here: if we go the way the cultists went, presumably they would have killed or otherwise dealt with any obstacles in their way… right?

OK, maybe not. As we’re almost immediately set upon by giant ticks.

This week’s fight isn’t so much humiliating as it is frustrating, because we’re dealing with swarms, one of those things we just don’t have a great answer in our toolkit for. I’ll grant that swarms are a LITTLE easier than in First Edition; in First Edition, if you didn’t have area damage, you were basically screwed. Here in Second Edition, you can still damage swarms without area damage, but it’s like oozes where you lose a lot of the “extra” damages. Can’t flank, can’t crit, no precision damage… all that annoying stuff. And unlike oozes which you can hit like the broad side of a barn, swarms are actually reasonably hard to hit – lots of open space between creatures I guess. The only saving grace is swarms generally don’t hit all that hard: death of a thousand paper cuts. The disease is where they get you.

As is often the case, this battle turns into another argument about tactics, and more specifically, Lo Mang’s decision to run away. I’m torn. On one hand, I’ve been an ardent supporter of hit-and-run tactics. This isn’t 1E… standing around trading blows is usually a losing proposition. On the other hand, tactics don’t operate in a vacuum: there is still room for battlefield awareness. And having the guy with the largest hit point pool AND best armor class run away and leave squishier people to take hits may not be the optimal game plan.

In this case, it mostly doesn’t matter as we make quick work of the ticks, though Dougie picks up a touch of disease for his trouble… and a bunch of jokes about fitting him with the Cone of Shame that probably annoys him more than the disease does.

So we continue our exploration and find our next side quest: a grave that’s been desecrated by having the headpiece of its statue removed, which causes the ghost of the occupant – the daughter of the guy who carved the statue — unrest. OK, so we need to find the headpiece/gem, and restore it to the statue, and that probably sets her free, I guess? For the moment, I’ll assume the cultists have it and it’ll come up as a natural consequence of storming the hideout. I guess the real question is what happens when we get it: do we just put it back or do we have to do something crafting-wise to repair it? I have Crafting, but does that make me a qualified stonemason?

And OK, I still think it’s hilarious that we met an elf who died of pollen allergies. Isn’t the outdoors supposed to be their whole thing? It’s like Aquaman drowning.

We do a little more exploring and accidentally hit a dead end (of sorts), arriving back at the balcony/overhang where we met Dannicus. So that path makes a big loop back into the temple area through the room with the two black puddings. That still left a path to the southwest into new territory.

Following that leads us into a room that’s basically a garbage dump, and shortly after entering, it’s Otyugh Time. Four of them, no less. I’m HOPING that more of them means they’re lower level, but I guess we’ll find out next time. 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|21: Dug in Like an Alabama Tick

The Agents decide to go to the lower level of the dungeon, it doesn’t go well.

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|36: A Wheely Bad Time

Jason recaps the events from Three Ring Adventure S2|36: Wheel of Misfortune.

I’m going to start this week’s column with confession time. In a fit of silliness while listening to this episode, SOMEONE… I won’t mention who… went and registered the domain name for “tentacle-grabass.com”. You know… just in case we ever need some nefarious “RFC After Dark” shadow site. Or, more realistically, just for the sheer joy of forcing such a domain name to exist in the world. “Some men just want to watch the world burn.”

(Though, note to self: set up a Siri reminder for early August of 2022 to cancel the auto-renewal. Five bucks for a sophomoric joke is fine; $20 to renew it starts to get a little skeevy and probably lands me on some sort of watch list.)

So we still don’t QUITE get to the boss encounter this week, but we’re making progress. I’m not meaning to fixate on Mistress Dusklight SO much, but I REALLY want to see her get what she deserves. I’m a little surprised at how invested I am, honestly. I know on some gaming level it’s just “OK, she’s the final boss encounter for this book”, but some combination of Steve (since I know he ad-libbed some things) and the writers have made her a genuinely horrible person and a solid adversary for this story.

This week, though, it’s the WHEEL OF DOOM. It’s a pain-in-the-ass hazard that basically just throws out a different magical effect every round. Nothing TOO heinous, but a giant waste of both time and resources. On the other hand, it’s a wonderful chance to roleplay… particularly for Vanessa, who first got struck with “incoherent babbling” and then by being made aggressively hostile. Now, this is one of those times where I appreciate this show and acknowledge they bring something different to the table than we do. For us Edgewatch folks, it’s all rules – OK, that’s the status effect, -1 to hit, moving on. But acting it out, and interacting with other characters in that altered state proved to be a lot of fun.

Though I have to admit: there were times where it felt like a FINE line between roleplaying and using the excuse of the curse to unpack some shit. Particularly as it pertains to Alhara charging into rooms and getting smacked around by people. Some of that banter felt like Vanessa getting shit off her chest. Didn’t expect her to get so salty with Ateran, though. They’re doing their job and keeping those heals coming; it’s not their fault the dice rolls suck.

One thing that struck me is that this is the first week I really FELT the knowledge gap between me and the Patreons who watch live. I don’t listen to the shows live – mostly, I want to preserve the pristine listener experience, but also, Sunday nights are usually my free night to do other stuff. And usually, I’m able to ignore the “extra” Patreon chat. But this week, I saw a few people giddy with excitement that we had reached the Wheel of Death, and I’m sitting here in my cluelessness wondering why. Since I’m a player in all the other games, I’m used to being the one who knows things, not the one who has to wonder. I AM THE ONE WHO KNOCKS.

The other that struck me… and let me preface by saying that I KNOW it might be a stupid idea… is why didn’t they make more of an effort to attack the wheel itself. I think the answer is it’s probably got all sorts of hardness and magic resistance and would be a waste of time, but had I been in that scenario, I would’ve wasted a round of attacks trying it out. It was noticeable enough that I found myself yelling JUST HIT THE WHEEL at one point. Even magic stuff breaks if you hit it hard enough.

So our team eventually overcomes the wheel. Sorta. More like they decide to stop messing with it and go a different way, through the main tent. And that leads to our second main encounter of the session, as we meet Evora and Gigi.

Not to be too jaded, but the minute Steve said Evora was a new hire the gang didn’t know, I assumed that meant there was a chance to peel her away as a new performer. You figure the only ones who are going down with the Dusklight ship are the lifers; most people would either be happy to be rid of her, or at least would just see which way the wind was blowing and join with the up-and-comers. So despite Evora’s tough talk when they first entered the tent, I strongly suspected this wasn’t going to make it to combat.

Which is kind of a shame, because it would’ve been interesting to see Darius and Evora square off in hot monk-on-monk action. DAMN IT, NOW MY MIND IS IN THE GUTTER TOO. I blame Rob T. for all his jokes about “mountin’ stance” and “sparring and sparring”. The good news is that if y’all start writing creepy fanfics, we now have a place to put them – tentacle-grabass.com!

I also went on a bit of a journey when it came to Gigi the mammoth. At first, I was actually getting annoyed at the gushing praise from our party members. IF YOU LIKE THE MAMMOTH SO MUCH, GET A GODDAMN ROOM. I think when Hap speculated about her fire powers igniting the mammoth fur, I mentally started to make a joke about the rack of mastodon ribs from the credits of The Flintstones. But then I looked at the artwork, and OK… it’s legitimately adorable. If you’re going to have a mammoth act in your circus, OF COURSE she should have little pink bows in her mammoth fur. THIS IS THE WAY.

So… crisis defused, and the Circus of Wayward Wonders has added TWO new performers (maybe three if the sprite comes along with the pegasus) to the mix. I’m even starting to wonder if this is all prelude for leaving the circus motif behind in Books 3-6 and having our characters just become straight-up adventurers the rest of the way. Do a thing where “with all these new acts, and Papa Varus running the show, we can make do without you… go save the world.” I guess we’ll see about that further down the road.

So after adding Evora and stealing some spotlights, our gang heads toward the final confrontation… but make one last stop along the way: the oubliette. It turns out it’s actually an attraction, so presumably whatever’s in there will be something horrible and shocking. Predictions (in no particular order):

  1. Mistress Dusklight somehow recaptured Kalkek.
  2. She threw Papa Varus in there.
  3. More tentacles.

I guess we’ll find out which one it is next week.

As always, feel free to drop by our Discord channel or other social media and let us know what you think of the show. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next time.

Three Ring Adventure S2|36: Wheel of Misfortune

The gang continues to explore the Celestial Menagerie but are stymied by renegade carnival games!

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|20: Know When to Walk Away, Know When to Run

Jason recaps the events from Agents of Edgewatch S2|20: Tactical Retreat Experts.

On the surface, this week’s episode is a bit awkward. After all, we have a rich and long-standing tradition of making fun of Chris Beemer’s cowardice, and this week… we pretty much all turned tail and ran from the one creature Dannicus forgot to mention in his otherwise thorough briefing.

Of course, it’s not necessarily an apples-to-apples comparison. When Chris gets his worst bouts of teasing, it’s usually those cases when he starts retreating even before the monster’s thrown a punch. AT LEAST TAKE A HIT OR TWO! On the other hand, when the monster hits you with a 40-something and crits for two-thirds of your hit points in one shot… well, then you’ve got some legitimate empirical evidence that maybe we shouldn’t be fighting this creature right now. That’s like… the scientific method at work.

(That’s pretty much “hits on everything except a natural 1” territory, and even a crit is “only” in the 12-14 range depending on which of us it’s targeting. Yeah… this thing’s bad news.)

It reaches the point where this Tyrroicese thing (not sure if that’s a proper name, or the creature type) feels like it’s SO far above our pay-grade that you start to metagame WHY it’s so impossible… that either the person writing the adventure made a SERIOUS mistake in encounter design, or there’s some sort of “trick” involved. Maybe the key to defeating it is somewhere else in the dungeon, or that when you defeat the person who summoned it, it disappears. Maybe it’s not meant to be fought; maybe its function is more like traffic control and it’s just here to steer the party down one of the other paths to the cultist lair.

On the opposite side of the ledger, the fact that it’s absorbed one of the Graycloaks DOES suggest it has to be dealt with eventually. That’s LITERALLY on our list of side quests, and it doesn’t feel like a satisfying resolution to go tell Runewolf “yeah, your captain is trapped in some nasty eldritch thing, sucks to be them, can I have my money?”. So maybe the real message here is that we avoid it for now and come back when we’re higher level. After all, there are still two or three other ways to get into the cultist lair, including the entrance we discovered all the way back in the first episode.

And ohbytheway, on top of the fact that it can knock us into next week, it’s got ridiculous reach and can summon more oozes. Lovely. And yet… that was almost a bit motivational: it accidentally gave us a window into how far we’ve grown as party. Remember when Hendrid Pratchett’s ochre jelly was something to be avoided at all costs? And now we’re taking them down fairly efficiently, even with Dougie briefly getting enveloped. We really ARE getting the hang of this thing, aren’t we?

I realize I’m dealing with things out of order here, but our cowardly retreat did kinda seem like the big moment of the episode, so I figured I’d tackle it first.

Meanwhile, we do have other things going in this episode… that wounding rune went on an interesting ride before finally ending up on Basil’s increasingly epic sword-cane. If you remember, at the end of the last episode, we’d pretty much decided Dougie was going to get the rune. But for whatever reason, he didn’t want it… not sure I understand the logic there, but whatever. I was quite willing to give it to Lo Mang, but handwraps do blunt damage and a wounding rune requires piercing or slashing. So then I thought I’d put it on my bow, but while reading up on it a little further, I noticed it has to be put on a MELEE weapon. So… OK… bleed damage for Basil! (And yes, I’m going to be AGGRESSIVELY on the lookout for a chance to stack bleed and poison on the same target.)

One unintended side effect of ending up with the rune is that it made me feel just a little guilty around the edges, because between that, the chain shirt, and the fireball necklace, it was one of those days where the loot felt a little lopsided in my favor. Logically, I know things even out over the long haul, but in the short term, I always feel like there’s a “HEY LOOK AT THIS GREEDY M.F.er” sign turned on over my head.

Regarding Dannicus’ briefing, I already covered the level of detail… it really is almost like having a cheat code. I specifically wanted to reflect on a couple of the underlings he mentioned. (We know the bosses are gonna suck.)

Now… I don’t know if it was fighting the skinstichers in the bank numbed me, or if I’m just dense, but somehow I didn’t find the golem to be THAT intimidating. (And yes, I realize the golem and the skinstitchers aren’t EXACTLY the same thing, but there are some similarities.) I think knowledge is the key with golems: if you run into one blind and don’t know what magic to use, golems can be a pain because they’re vulnerable to ONE type of damage and ignore anything else. (And golems are even healed by the wrong magic.) But if you know what you need in advance, it’s not SO bad. In this case, both Gomez and I have fire attacks in our arsenal, and we can always go buy more.

Now those ceustodaemons on the other hand… THOSE sound like a formidable challenge. I already assume they’re generally tough and hit hard. But it’s the special abilities that sound truly daunting. The dimension door innate power is gonna make it really hard to control the battlefield – setting up flanking, keeping the backline (well… Gomez) safe. And breath weapon equals area damage, which means you have to be more careful about engaging and leave yourself room to spread out. And I’m not sure what to make about the super-special wounds that require extra healing. (And for the moment I’m not going to look it up… feels like cheating.)

So jumping forward back in the present, we beat the ochre jelly, we retreat to lick our wounds (OK, mostly Lo Mang and Dougie’s wounds) and bruised egos, and I guess we’re going to use one of the safer paths down into the dungeon next week. You know… like we probably should’ve done all along. 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.