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The Sideshow S3|02: Jinkies! Looks Like We’ve Got Another Mystery on Our Hands

Jason recaps the events from Three Ring Adventure S3|02: So, Come Up to the Lab, and See What’s on the Slab!

First, a brief confession. I almost accused Steve unjustly. I thought the name of this area was the “Swordlands” and Steve was doing some obnoxious “Whil Wheaton” thing with his pronunciation. I was prepared to jump all over him for mispronouncing words again… and then I saw the map, and it’s actually “Swardlands”. A “sward” being an expanse of grass. So… OK. The mildest of mental apologies for the false accusation I JUST stopped myself from making.

This is one of those transitional episodes that’s a little hard to write about. It’s nobody’s fault, and it’s not even a bad episode. It’s just all transition… we’ve got to tee up a bunch of stuff that’s going to be important to the plot moving forward, and there’s no other way to do that except to have the characters grind through a bunch of talk-y stuff that takes as long as it takes to make their rolls.

It’s still entertaining, but it’s held together almost entirely by the banter between the players, and that can be tough to really comment on. It’s one thing to bring back one funny line that stood out. It’s another thing to just regurgitate 10 or 12 of them and have that be the whole column.

So as we join the episode, we learn that YES, Opper Vandy has ulterior motives for being so outgoing with our heroes, but it’s not as dire as we might have imagined. He’s not evil (as far as we know) and he doesn’t have a basement full of zombies we need to clear out (again, as far as we know)… he’s just been haunted by a ghost for the past 14 months and there’s been a string of… maybe-mysterious deaths? One might argue that hauntings would be an occupational hazard for a mortician, and maybe he’d be a little more prepared for weird undead shenanigans, but whatever… Vandy wants our crew’s help.

(For the record, a chunk of our Discord channel STILL thinks Opper Vandy is the Big Bad Evil Guy. For the moment, I’m cautiously disagreeing – he feels like a catalyst character that gets the plot going and then steps off to the side. But I’m emotionally prepared to be wrong on this one.)

I also couldn’t help notice that the Scooby-Doo parallels are thickening by the minute. I forget the exact context, but I mentioned that comparison back when Riley first joined the party, but now we’re doubling down on it. We already had our four-person crew plus a dog, now we’re going to have an actual haunted manor house to investigate. I suppose we just need to figure out who the fantasy equivalent is for Old Man Weatherby, who wants to knock the funeral parlor down to build condominiums. Slap an ascot on Darius, and we’re halfway to a cease-and-desist letter from Warner Brothers. Or a visit from the Harlem Globetrotters.

And OK, Gibzip can be the Scrappy Doo character that they put in the show to appeal to small children, but everyone not-so-secretly hates.

While we’re on this, can Ateran summon a magical conveyance? A machine that carries our team to their investigation of mysteries, perhaps? We might even call it a [REDACTED BY WARNER BROS LEGAL COUNSEL].

The team’s investigations don’t really offer up a smoking gun. There’s no horrific story of a young girl who fell down Vandy’s well and died and he’s been drinking lemonade from her corpse-water or something like that. After a bunch of digging, the best we came up with was investigating the death that marked the FIRST appearance of the ghost – a farmer named Currew, who lived up the coast to the northeast. Coincidentally, this is ALSO in the direction of the first tower AND an area of stronger corruption. So there might be a two-fer involved here. Knock out a tower AND solve Opper Vandy’s problems for him.

I guess the other clue is Ateran finding the receipt for Vandy’s FIRST funeral. Off the top of my head, I don’t see how that fits the puzzle since the haunting came WAY later, but it’s also hard to totally ignore because Paizo tends to stick to things that are plot-relevant; they don’t tend to include a LOT of extraneous stuff. Especially if you have to do a search to find it. And OK… it’s hard to imaging a guy JUST starting his business in a new town and giving a funeral away for free.

As the team looks at the clues and decides how to proceed, there’s a bit of a dilemma in how to sequence things. Because oh right, there’s still the circus to tend to. Does our team want to have a show first, or do we want to get right into the investigation? Particularly when it comes to doing the advertising, which has a shelf life – if you don’t do the show within a week of promoting it, that effort goes to waste. For the moment the team goes with a few days of investigating, which totally makes sense… might as well get a sense of the scope of the problem before committing in any particular direction. But they ultimately decide to head on up to Matten Cleave (only 8-10 miles away) and see what’s what.

(As an aside: now that they absorbed a bunch of extra acts from the Celestial Menagerie, would they have the option of just designating other performers to do all the other acts and just put the circus in passive mode? I’m not saying they SHOULD do it that way, but COULD they? Kind of a “we got promoted to management” thing.)

Now… regarding travel distance. I don’t want to be too nitpicky, but I was briefly into running, and some of this sits in my craw a little. Even something like 3mph is a fairly casual pace… I could walk 3 mph and not even break a sweat. Even 4 or 4.5 mph is still more of a fast walk than a run, and I’d say jogging starts around 5mph. Now, OK, maybe our team moves a LITTLE slower if they’ve got to carry gear, but the point is STILL that they should be able to make it there in a few hours; it really shouldn’t be an all-day thing. And we didn’t even get into hiring a coach or having Ateran summoning the [REDACTED].

Though as an aside, the idea of Darius and Alhara giving Hap and Ateran a ten-mile piggyback ride is pretty hilarious and I’m all for it. Honestly, I’m making that canon, whether they actually go through with it or not. Hap would probably get a kick out of it, but I suspect Ateran would probably find the whole thing undignified and awkward.

But we’ll actually get around to DOING that next week. This week, it’s just milling around the town collecting rumors. Something about… a circus being in town and crop yields being disappointing?

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 S3|02: So, Come Up to the Lab, and See What’s on the Slab!

The heroes receive a warm welcome to Kerrick Grange and are promptly introduced to a terrifying ghost story!

Roll For Combat, Three Ring Adventure Podcast is a playthrough of the Pathfinder Adventure Path, Extinction Curse, and the third book, Life’s Long Shadows.

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|26: Cultists, Cultists Everywhere

Jason recaps the events from Agents of Edgewatch S2|26: Do You Want Ants? Because That’s How You Get Ants

Well… that was inevitable. We managed to pull half the dungeon down on our heads.

Not that this is new territory for us. We’ve got a bit of a nasty habit of opening one more door, or “retreating” into a new room while an existing fight was going on. But a lot of that was directly attributable to Mister Peepers’ lack of impulse control, and we were trying to be on our best behavior this time… I swear.

Now, if you have access to our Discord channel, this is a lot easier to follow: the map is posted to the “edgewatch-images” channel. After we start the episode screwing around with the iron maiden (EXCELLENT!) and looting, we move from the “Torture Chamber” to the “Bloodletting Hall”.

If this were a mall, the Bloodletting Hall would be the food court – it’s at the center of everything. It’s got doors and passages breaking off in almost EVERY direction. If you don’t have Discord, let’s treat the map as a clock face – we came in at 4 o’clock, and there are exits at 6 (Armory), 7:30 (Hangout), 9 (Sleeping Area), 11 (Screaming Cell), 12 (doesn’t DIRECTLY connect to anything goes to another T passage), and 1:30 (Processing). Worse, many of those exits are just open passages – a few are blocked by doors, but the majority offer free access to the next room.

So the long and short of it is that this was ALWAYS a situation ripe for bleeding encounters. We just arguably pushed it over the edge by getting a little greedy.

I don’t want it to get lost in the shuffle how CREEPY this place is turning out to be. We kinda ho-hummed a corridor full of body parts earlier, but here we’ve got a room where victims are literally drained of their blood which is flowing into a pool below. It’s official – I think we’ve finally passed the Murder Hotel for the horror factor.

After exploring the room, we had to decide which direction to proceed in next, and this is a bit of good news/bad news thing. We could hear noises coming from the “Hangout”, but it’s also one of the most open-ended rooms. If you look at something like the Sleeping Area, it’s a single room. But the “Hangout” continues on into the distance – out of visual distance even for the people with darkvision – and eventually meets up with the front porch area where the golem and the ceustodaemons are.

Can’t imagine why I’d be mentioning that little factoid.

So the “safe” move probably would’ve been to tackle the smaller, finite rooms first before going toward the big sprawling area. Pick off the close-ended fights first, MAYBE even retreat and rest depending on how those go. But I think we got a little too enamored with the idea of getting the drop on a large number of guys with area attacks, so instead of playing it by the book, we decide to chuck a couple of fireballs down the hall to get the fight off to a good start. Though because of the lighting and fog of war, we don’t REALLY know what’s down there. Hey, as long as it’s flammable… am I right?

And that’s the beginning of all hell breaking loose. And look… spoiler alert… this is NOT going to be a single-episode fight. It may not even be done in two.

At first, this doesn’t really look too bad for us. The minions are minions. These ones are a little more hardy than usual and have a few extra hit points, but at least they’re not sewing pieces of cloth to us. Shouldn’t be too tough. Now, the Skinstiches SHOULD be similar to the one we fought at the bank, and that wasn’t that tough of a fight either. Especially since we already know they’re vulnerable to fire.

But then things get interesting. First, THESE Skinstitches have been enhanced with special Pinata Powers. That’s right… when you kill these guys, they bust open and become a swarm of ants. Ants that apply a bleed effect to you that lingers even after you’ve left the square.

Lovely.

As an aside, my general frustration with swarms is they have a lot of the advantages of oozes (immunity to all sorts of “extra” damage, take up extra space, etc.) but their “swarminess” is represented by a decent armor class, so they’re still hard to hit and put damage on. At least with an ooze, every attack hits and it’s just a sprint to kill it before it kills you. Having said all that, swarms still aren’t as bad as in First Edition, where if you didn’t have AoE you were REALLY screwed, but they’re still pretty unpleasant.

Where things REALLY go sideways is that at least one of the cultists DOESN’T just charge mindlessly to his doom, but hangs back out of combat range and sounds an alarm. So who KNOWS what’s going to happen with that? One would assume they wouldn’t have installed an alarm that no one else in the complex can hear, and we can’t possibly have gotten so lucky that it ONLY goes to the rooms we already cleared. Cliff’s Notes: assume we’re on the clock for more guys showing up.

So I think we can assume this is going to get worse before it gets better. And at the tail end of the episode, it does EXACTLY that, as the first batch of reinforcements arrives. Still just grunts, but we’re in the thick of it now. The good news is we haven’t used a lot of resources, and there’s still no ONE enemy that poses a serious threat. But of course, with all those guys, it doesn’t take more than a crit or two and we’re on our heels. And even that assumes those reinforcements are the end of it. Not sure what happens if there’s more beyond that.

Oh, who am I kidding… of COURSE there’s more beyond that. But we’ll get into all of that 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 (and hey, you can check out the map). Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next week.

Agents of Edgewatch S2|26: Do You Want Ants? Because That’s How You Get Ants

The Agents delve deep into the cultist’s lair and promptly bleed the entire dungeon!

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 S3|01: It’s Hard To Find Good Help

Jason recaps the events from Three Ring Adventure S3|01: Temperature Is Not My Mistress.

I wanted to start this week with a brief re-visit of last week’s column, to provide a little bit of “yes, but…” clarification.

In last week’s column, I mentioned that I found the “post-game” of the Mistress Dusklight fight a bit rushed. And it turned out (per texts from Steve) there was a good reason for that. This was actually the very last session before people left on vacation and they weren’t going to be able to play for over a month, and it was the tail end of an already longer-than-usual session so they could go on vacation at a clean breakpoint. So… like I said… “yes, but…” Wanted to mention it to provide that added context.

So this week, we start a whole new book, travel to a whole new location, with… okay, not whole new characters, but slightly different characters, thanks to a level-up and the retroactive addition of the Free Archetype variant rule.

I won’t go over the rule again in any great detail: it is what it sounds like. You get a free archetype, and enough extra feats to level it and develop it fully. Like Loren, I love this rule, and for much the same reasons. It’s not so much that it makes your character that much more POWERFUL – the three-action economy keeps things from ever getting too crazy – but it does make your character more FLEXIBLE by giving you more choices at any given level. And it’s also a great way to further develop the “story” of your character because you already start at Level 1 with some sort of wrinkle you wouldn’t have otherwise had. The ABCs of Ancestry, Background, and Class now get… D(amn, I Got A Free Archetype!) so that your Level 1 character is even more of a unique creation right out of the gates. That’s pretty cool.

My one personal quirk is that I prefer to NOT use it for a multi-class archetype. Don’t get me wrong: the rule absolutely says you can; it’s just my personal vibe that if you’re gonna add a whole second class to your build, you should have to work for that one. I prefer that the free archetype be more about general flavor. But that’s just me and is not meant as a criticism of anyone else’s choices.

I try to stick to the show at hand with these columns, but I will mention that we added free archetypes to our Plaguestone/Malevolence characters, so you’ll see that in action when that show starts airing. As far as Edgewatch… we kinda caught an in-between hop on that one: we had JUST leveled to 9 when Steve decided to add free archetypes to the mix, so we’ll probably get ours at Level 10 instead. (And yes, I realize that’s a mild spoiler that we’re still alive and some of us have reached Level 9, but the devil’s in the details, isn’t it? And hey, it doesn’t necessarily mean we’re playing the same characters, does it?)

But back in the present… in THIS show, it’s time to bid farewell to Escadar and move on. We start with a little farewell levity to both Hamlin’s Hots and Darius’ whirlwind not-quite-a-romance with Kat. I hate to say it, but Steve actually made a fairly compelling case for Larry’s Lukewarms as the preferred food of ocean-going travelers; on the other hand, Hamlin makes a good point that being stuck at sea with days upon days of lettuce wraps sounds like a dreary existence. We’ll call that one a tie. As far as Kat, I love that Darius is literally fleeing to a new landmass to get away from this woman. There’s also something amusing about how much the rest of the party hates Kat since… you know… THEY originally role-played her during the date episode.

The real question this episode leaves us with is: who’s the bigger stalker – Hamlin or Kat? Kat followed Darius to the docks and bought a big floppy hat for the occasion, and probably would’ve boarded the ship if allowed, but she did ultimately let Darius go. Meanwhile, Hamlin is the one leaving passive-aggressive notes INSIDE a bag of holding. Who’s the real stalker here?

Our intrepid team arrives at their new digs on the Isle of Cortos, in the port town of Kerrick. The island hosts three of the remaining aeon towers, and there are several small villages scattered around the island, so the likely gameplan is to circus their way around the island (yes, I made “circus” into a verb… deal with it) and visit the towers along the way.

And they’re immediately greeted by a WAY-too-enthusiastic gravedigger by the name of Opper Vandy. Look, I appreciate that the guy shops at the same tailor Basil does, and even that his artwork looks a little like Doctor Strange, but come on… NOBODY is THIS enthusiastic about a circus coming to their town. Something’s up with this dude.

For the moment though, Vandy is a big help, inviting our crew to dinner at his home, which doubles as the town’s funeral home. Makes the after-dinner drinks in the parlor awkward when there’s a freakin’ corpse in the room, but hey… they do things differently out here. Vandy gives them a bit of a “lay of the land” briefing *geography, history, etc.) before asking them to help him with a “problem of a personal nature” right as the episode ends. Now MAYBE he wants their help in forming a flash mob so he can ask his girlfriend to prom, but since the dude’s a mortician and there’s a dead body one room over, I’m putting my 20 bucks on something to do with the undead.

So next week, we’ll have the formalities out of the way and we’ll get back to adventuring. And let’s be honest; fighting something would not be a huge surprise either – they usually toss a warm-up fight into the beginning of a book just so you can shake the rust off early. So see you back here next week for that. 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 S3|01: Temperature Is Not My Mistress

ATTENTION NEW LISTENERS: We here at Roll For Combat recognize that jumping into an existing podcast can be a daunting task, especially one like this that involves an unfolding story. To help newer listeners out, we’ve prepared a brief synopsis at the start of this episode that will catch you up on the story so far. Give it a listen, and you’ll be ready to join us, all caught up ready to jump right into the podcast and start season three. Enjoy the show!

After putting down Mistress Dusklight and the Celestial Menagerie once and for all, it’s time for the heroes to travel to new lands and new adventures. It’s off to the coastal town of Kerrick to find new audiences… and new xulgaths!

Roll For Combat, Three Ring Adventure Podcast is a playthrough of the Pathfinder Adventure Path, Extinction Curse, and the third book, Life’s Long Shadows.

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|25: A Sew-Sew First Fight

Jason recaps the events from Agents of Edgewatch S2|25: So This Is Paradise?

Well, it took a while, but we finally found the cultist lair toward the end of last week’s episode. This week, we actually get to fight our first cultists.

But first, we actually get to level up to Level 8. It’s not a huge level for Basil, but there are a couple of nice little additions.

First, we have an expansion of our spells. With normal casters, you get your new spell levels at the odd character levels; with multiclass archetype casters, you get your spells at the even levels. So at Level 8, I get my first Level 3 spell, and it’s a fun one… Invisibility Sphere. Again, I’m sticking with utility spells as my primary focus: I’m not saying I’ll NEVER take an offensive spell, but for now, I’m sticking with “bang for the buck”. I had considered taking single-target invisibility at Level 2, but this is much better since it targets the whole group. It doesn’t really specify a maximum move speed; it basically works out to “when in explore mode, you can move as a party and stay inside the sphere; in combat, you have to manage it more carefully.

The other get here is Arcane Breadth, which is more of a long-term play, since it will add spell slots as I level. It’s basically a second slot for whatever your N-2 spell level is. So for now, it’s just a second Level 1 spell, but it’ll grow along with me all the way to Level 20, so that’ll be nice. Add in staffs and wands, and I may actually be able to become a reasonable approximation of a caster before this is all over.

The one I stumbled into by accident was the six-second magic item identification. I took Quick Identification just because it seemed handier than anything else I could take from the list of skill feats, but also taking Arcana as my master-level skill made it so Identity now takes three actions (aka six seconds). So that ended up being a nice little bonus.

Of course, Dougie probably gets the most combat-useful ability, with his reaction-based attack. It’s not immediately obvious at low levels, but as you gain levels and move into more powerful abilities, it’s becoming clear that reactions are a real game-changer in 2nd Edition. When three actions are all you get, anything you can do to squeeze out extra actions is great. Especially if you can mitigate damage to yourself or (even better) do damage on the enemy’s turn. It’s also dawning on me that using my Shared Stratagem with Dougie’s reaction could be a deadly combination.

Now, at the end of the last episode, we were talking about taking on Tyrroicese and rescuing the Graycloak captain, but I think enthusiasm for that plan faded between episodes. I don’t think anyone came right out and said it, but I think once we found the cultist lair and reached the parts of the map Dannicus gave us, I think we wanted to dig into that sooner rather than later, rather than risk losing another day to what was likely to be a tough encounter. Also (this I did mention), there was a little bit of a sensation that maybe exploring the cultist lair would open up some opportunity or tool for dealing with Tyrroicese. At the risk of meta-gaming, sometimes Paizo’s adventure authors do put the solution to the problem somewhere else in the dungeon. So if the thing is vulnerable to good damage, maybe there’s a source of good damage somewhere in the cultist rooms or something.

So into the lair we go. We have two basic choices. If we go west from the safe room, we end up on the front porch with the two daemons and the flesh golem. We’d be dealing with some serious enemies right off the bat… boss-level, even… but the upside is it would likely be a self-contained fight since they’re basically outside the main complex. If we go north and/or east, we’re heading into the heart of the complex. The upside there is we’re likely to be dealing with normal cultists instead of big-bads, and the first few rooms (“lookout”, “torture room”) seem like they’ll be populated with grunt-level cultists. The downside is the rooms are packed together with lots of connections between rooms, and some of them don’t even have doors. So it MIGHT be a challenge to take one room at a time without bleeding encounters. If there’s a tiebreaker, it’s that it also feels like MAYBE the rank-and-file cultists would be more likely to fall for our disguises, so maybe we can infiltrate without fighting. I’m almost SURE the daemons would probably “smell good on us” or something and attack right away.

So north we go, into the area marked as “Lookout”. But first, we send Dougie climbing along the outside wall to do a little recon and get a little element of surprise by coming in through the lookout “window”. The rest of us take the door, and for the moment, it’s a fight against a single cultist. That’s a positive start, right? It doesn’t last, as a few reinforcements come down from the north (labeled as “Torture Chamber”), but the fight itself is still manageable because these guys just aren’t that tough. Also, we do catch a break because the rooms in this area are sound-proofed, so at least the fight shouldn’t spill too far beyond these two rooms. So OK, it’s a warm-up fight. Cool.

We do get a reminder of the nastiness and horror themes at play with the appearance of the Seamers, literally SEWING THINGS TO DOUGIE’S FACE while they’re fighting. And the fact that they’re torturing people for jollies. OK, maybe it’s not bad-bad like some of the heaviest stuff that was going on in the murder hotel (redcap, anyone?), but it’s still a little creepy around the edges. And OK, if we’re already getting into stuff like this in the first room, one wonders what’s waiting for us further in.

I suppose we’ll find out more next week as we continue our exploration of the cultist lair and find some more cultists to kill. 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|25: So This Is Paradise?

The Agents finally manage to infiltrate the Cult’s secret headquarters and learn all about the wonderful world of haberdashery.

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|40: It’s Hard To Find Good Help

Jason recaps the events from Three Ring Adventure S2|40: The Circus of Wayward Blunders.

Well, it’s finally time. Mistress Dusklight FINALLY gets the comeuppance she’s earned over the last two books. I’ve been looking forward to this for some time: certainly ever since they killed Bardolph, probably even going back to the point where we found out she was in league with the xulgaths.

Only when it finally arrived, it was a little underwhelming. Sort of.

Allow me to clarify. I think it was a fine ending in a narrative sense. There was something compelling about having all of Mistress Dusklight’s cruelty come back to haunt her in the form of underlings who wouldn’t stand and fight for her. A superficially powerful villain who turns out to be a paper tiger because she’s fostered no real loyalty… that’s actually pretty solid storytelling, and even makes for a nice break from bloodthirsty cultists or mindless undead who will fight to the last man. Heck, it was an especially nice twist of the knife to have the Tin Can Boy Toy™ back away from her at the end as well.

(Though… as an aside, there’s at least two cases where someone said “Mazael” and I thought I heard “Basil”, and I was thinking “don’t go dragging me into this”. May need to schedule an appointment with an ear doctor.)

But when it comes to the X’s and O’s of combat… I guess I was expecting a little more from the final boss of an entire book. Usually, final boss encounters break out the big guns… spells and abilities that make you go digging into the deep back pages of the rules, because you haven’t seen anything like that recently. In short, win or lose, one expects to See Some Shit.

Only in this fight… we really didn’t get to see much of that. Maybe some of that was a byproduct of the bodyguard deciding to sit out the final battle, but even so, Dusklight’s kit was pretty pedestrian. Though OK, making Ateran think they were a bird was pretty funny.

That’s not to say there was NO depth to the fight, but it was more in the “mind games” side of the house than the dice-rolling. First, she reveals she has Papa Varus as a hostage (not actually true, but good enough to inject some drama into the pre-fight banter), and then she tries to sow a little unrest within the Varuses by revealing that Papa Varus was actually ALSO a Red Mantis… and in fact, was their mother’s instructor. So he may have been an even bigger deal within the Mantises than their mom was. Furthermore, Dusklight also lays down the suggestion that their combat training was part of preparing them to go into the family business, rather than to groom them as circus performers.

Of course, some of this is in a gray area… how much of this is true, and how much of this was performative… either just to mess with our heroes, or laying down her backstory for Mazael’s benefit? Because her next move is to call for help from her bodyguard, the (neutral good) champion Mazael, claiming that our group are bloodthirsty assassins there to kill her and destroy her law-abiding business.

Now… I do have to admit… my realism hackles were raised a little bit by all of this, simply because how blind does this dude have to be to keep company with Mistress Dusklight for weeks/months and never notice how she treats the people around her? But you know what they say… love is blind.

Fortunately, Mazael’s arrival presents another opportunity for diplomacy to win the day, and the team comes up big. After a false start on the first roll, Darius finally breaks through and convinces Mazael to sit out the fight, and now Dusklight is on her own to face her fate. And in a finish that would make the Edgewatch proud, they even manage to take her alive. Without the special badges, even!

With Dusklight dealt with, it’s basically the end of the second book, though there’s a bit of aftermath to deal with. I don’t want to get too whiny, but I thought some of this end-of-book stuff went by a LITTLE quickly. Steve gave the conversation with Papa Varus (Marcel… Enzo… whatever his name is now) a little time to breathe, but some of the other things felt a little rushed. The Aroden scholars, finalizing the temple, Darricus’ betrayal, a walkthrough cameo by Kalkek, and a bunch of other stuff just kinda got jammed into the final five minutes or so.

I’ll carve out one exception to all of this because I assume it will be the topic of a future episode – what happens to the circus from here? The first question is “will the circus continue or will that fall by the wayside and our team will just be adventurers from here on out?”. I feel like the metagame answer to that is that the circus will continue to serve a purpose: they wouldn’t give us a bunch of new acts just in time to shelve the circus premise. And realistically, our heroes would need traveling money to go from aeon tower to aeon tower, which the circus performances would provide.

Assuming the circus continues, I do want to walk through the future of the show in greater depth though. Which acts from the Celestial Menagerie will formally be joining? Is there an upper limit on the number of performers… in which case, will they have to cut any acts? The circus system has always focused on revenue, but never really dealt with expenses out: are these new acts going to cost more money, in which case does the circus have to draw bigger crowds to turn a profit? These are all things I’m ASSUMING we’ll get into once Book 3 formally starts.

And of course, next time, our heroes will level up to Level 9. That should be an interesting one – you get an ancestry feat, casters get their next spell level… at the risk of a mild spoiler, we had some impressive changes when Edgewatch did our Level 9 level-up, so I’ll be interested to see what happens there. (I’ve also heard there’s an additional treat, but I’ll let that be revealed when it actually happens.)

So… two books, 80 episodes, and our heroes are FINALLY the best circus in the land. Now they just have to go save the world so there’s a land left to perform for. And that’s where we’ll pick it up next week. As always, feel free to drop by our Discord channel or other social media and let us know what you think of the show. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next week.

Three Ring Adventure S2|40: The Circus of Wayward Blunders

After working their way through a maze of mirrors the gang finally confronts Mistress Dusklight once and for all!

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.

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