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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.

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|24: Four More Years!

Jason recaps the events from Agents of Edgewatch S2|24: Leeroy Jenkins!

Since it was kind of a slow episode this week, I have a little time to indulge in a bit of a historical milestone. September 13, 2017, was the air date of the very first episode of Roll For Combat. That’s right… four years of listening to us goof off for your listening pleasure. We’ve officially been at this longer than several US Presidents held office, and longer than it takes the majority of college students to graduate. (Don’t come at me with your fancy triple-major with a certificate in archaeology that took six years to finish; I said majority.)

It’s funny… when I look back on it, I was skeptical that we’d even stick with it for four months, much less four years. We were trying a brand-new game system (Starfinder) and the logistics of having people actually listen to our reindeer games was a little daunting… honestly, it took me a while to get past thinking we were going to peak at 10 listeners and quietly fold up shop with our collective tail between our legs. But not only is our little podcast still going strong, but we’ve expanded to two-and-a-half shows and we (Steve at least) added a publishing arm to our little enterprise. How did that happen?

In fact, if you want to stretch the definition of anniversaries, we’re also within the same week of passing one year of the Edgewatch podcast. The actual airdate for Episode 1 was either the 17th or 18th (depending on if you count episode 0 as the “first” episode), but by next week we’ll have passed it and I don’t want to milk this two weeks running, so figure I’d mention that too. (Also, as I said, it’s a slow episode in the show.) It’s funny… I was a big supporter of the Black Lodge format (Society adventures, guest stars, all that stuff), but once we got into it and started doing it, I kinda missed all the “connective tissue” a larger adventure path entails. So I’m glad we decided to change course and give Edgewatch a shot.

This week though, we got caught “in-between hops”, to use a bit of baseball terminology. We finally reached the cultist lair, but we did so out at the end of our resources for the day, so we ended up having to turn around and head back right when we found what we were looking for. Oops. I think the deciding factor was how many rooms there were in close proximity; it looked from the map like once you started this thing, you could easily have to fight your way through multiple rooms. If there had been a way to cleanly pull one fight, maybe we could’ve continued on, but with everything jam-packed, retreat seemed like the best option.

We also found the missing Graycloaks, so there’s also an element of “let’s get those guys out before we get too crazy”. At a meta-game level, collect the experience, but it even feels like the right thing to do from a roleplay standpoint. You’ve got these guys who are on their literal last legs, lost half their team… you don’t want to make them sit around while you clear a few more rooms. Rescue becomes the priority at that point. The experience points are just a bonus.

Recapping their adventures, it seems like they ran into most of the same challenges we did, except that they followed the poop river up north and ran into some nasty super-otyugh further north. Among other things, probably explains the source of the contamination, though I’m not sure how much value there is to going and dealing with it. But as far as the Graycloaks, they split up, half their guys got eaten by the otyughs, and the rest (this group) had to flee from Tyrroicese, but their captain didn’t get as lucky as we did.

One thing that stands out is that doing the math, it does seem like this room is relatively safe. The cultists don’t go the other way because they don’t want to deal with Tyrroicese either, and they don’t know about the secret door on the other side, so this room MIGHT be a safe base of operations. The real X-factor here is how much of Gomez’s healing runs on consumables. It’s one thing to rest up and get spells back, but if we’ve got to go back to town and replenish… at that point, let’s sleep in our own beds and have a Sharky-approved breakfast.

After a little bit of kicking around different ideas for getting the Graycloaks out, we decide to just make a run for it past the Tyrroicese, basically, the way we originally came in. (Only now with a working door.) This time things go a lot smoother, it barely gets time to turn its head (do oozes have heads?) and we’re gone. Graycloaks rescued. Good vibes received.

Back at the ranch, we get two major bits of news that help us going forward. First, we do a little research into Tyrroicese and find out that it’s susceptible to good damage. That’s not an EASY thing to find, as the runes are out of our price range, but there are a few options. At first glance, if I put Aligned Oil on my bow, I can get three attacks per round with an extra… 5, 10… damage each time. That’ll add up. Granted, it would cost 140g to do that, but it’s the beginnings of a plan.

Speaking of which, sorry if I was being a bit pedantic about the idea of putting holy water in the sword-cane, but it seemed like there were some practical questions to be resolved because it’s not usually used internally. Usually, you splash it, it does damage once, and you’re done. If you inject it, does that even work, or would it be too diluted to be effective? Even if it does work, how long does it last? Essentially, I was looking for some rules to poison-ify holy water.

The other good news is we’re going to be Level 8! Nice. Granted, Level 8 isn’t (normally) the most exciting level, but because I took the wizard archetype, that means I get access to Level 3 spells. OK… “spell”, singular. So I guess we’ll unveil that next week.

So hey… thanks for a great four years, and here’s to the next (gulp) four. But in the short term, we’ll see you back here next week when we enter the cultist lair for realsies. 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|24: Leeroy Jenkins!

The Agents managed to find their way into a secret section of the Catacombs, but getting out is a whole different story.

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|39: Tree Strikes, You’re Out

Jason recaps the events from Three Ring Adventure S2|39: The Hills Are Alive With the Sound of Giants.

I wanted to start off with a little fun with math this week. It was Steve’s remark about the 40-episode synergy that got me started. It’s always been kind of this anecdotal thing that we in the Edgewatch show move at a faster pace without the random birthday parties and visits to Hamlin’s Hots. But now we actually have a bit of hard data to play around with.

So we have Three-Ring Adventure checking in at 80 episodes for two books. Now, looking over at Edgewatch, we’re still in the middle of Book 2, but our next episode will be Episode 52 (at least according to the numbering of my columns). Now… we’re not all the way to the end, but we’re getting there. Without spoiling too much… I’d say maybe 5-7 episodes left? There are a couple of big fights, one of which might even have to be cut into multiple episodes, but at the same time, we are into the cultist lair, so we’re approaching a final resolution. So, even if you aim on the high side AND aim for a round number, 8 more episodes would be 60, for 30 per book. So we finally have some numbers to play around with that suggest the circus crew’s roleplaying adds a 25% overhead.

Of course, the real champion here was the original Dead Suns podcast. With that one, we were doing 22-25 episodes per book. Granted, you’re adding in a different game system with that one, so it’s not exactly apples to apples, but Dead Suns moved almost twice as fast as the circus crew.

Either that or Bob Markee keeps us lean and mean and playing efficiently, and we’ve turned into slackers without his positive influence.

In other news, I didn’t mean to touch off some big THING with last week’s column, but here we are. Just to clarify, if I’m feeling impatient, it’s in a positive direction, not a negative one. I want to see how this ends, and specifically, I want to see Mistress Dusklight receive the ass-kicking she so richly deserves. It’s not that I’m bored with the in-between encounters; it’s just that I’m ready for the main event to start. I will add that I really like how they’ve incorporated the carnival funhouse theme into the various encounters; it’s a nice little touch that takes it beyond the realm of “lather, rinse, repeat” combat.

This week, we actually start with a bit of a breather, as the team encounters a little ball of cuteness known as a “moon mole”, because “zuipnyrn” is tough to spell. (Although it would be worth a lot of points in Scrabble.) And OK… it is on the shortlist for “the strangest thing you’ve ever seen”, so Steve wasn’t lying when he set up that cliffhanger last week. The artwork on these guys is a little evocative of the aliens from old-school Sesame Street, if you remember them. Not an EXACT match, but something in my brain tripped the comparison. The good news is they’re comically easy to fight if one were to go that route. 35 hit points? A crit could literally one-shot it. Really, it’s most useful as a distraction.

Ateran actually had the same thought I did… could they actually roll the cage into later rooms and use the moon mole to distract future opponents? First of all, would it work logistically or would the creatures just be able to ignore it? Second, how would that play ethically… “I’m going to take this sentient creature and use it as a meat shield, charging into danger hoping it distracts my opponent”. Probably have to have a sit-down with your deity of choice after pulling a stunt like that. But it would have been fun to try.

Instead, they just cover up the cage and move on to the next room. And then we’re back to Bizarro Violent Sideshow Acts, as we have hill giant clowns throwing paint cans at each other, and a gnome/halfling on a trapeze. (THE ARISTOCRATS!) Far be it for me to question the entertainment value of the Celestial Menagerie, but… people pay money to watch this? Compared to the other acts, this one stands out as somewhat less sophisticated.

The combat starts with Alhara getting critted (must be a day ending in “Y”), and it’s a slugfest from there. Our team prevails, but it gets a little messy, and not just because of the abundance of orange paint. If there’s one thing that stood out to me about this fight, I was a little surprised Trapeze Girl didn’t really engage in the battle as much as I thought she would. But then again, maybe she’s another one of Dusklight’s quasi-hostages who’s only offering enough resistance to say she tried. Could she be another recruit for Wayward Wonders 2.0? Probably need to get to the bottom of those fangs before offering her a gig.

Next up… last up, maybe?… we have the mirror maze. Half-fight, half-trap, and a very confusing little interlude. I have to admit, I thought it was hilarious when Alhara used the tree feather token to take the whole thing out in one swing of the bat. Reminiscent of John McClane using the entire brick of C-4 on the Nakatomi Building. (We, also, are covered in glass down here.)

As the mirror maze resolves, we’re presented with a quandary. One of Dusklight’s guards is tied up, and one of the town guard higher-ups claims to have taken Mistress Dusklight into custody. I have to admit my Spider-Sense went off at the same time Loren/Hap’s did, and for much the same reasons: how did a single town guard get by all the stuff our team just had to fight through?

Sure enough, after some back and forth, the guard decides the ruse isn’t working, and it’s time to fight. And that’s where we’ll pick it up next week. For what Steve is promising us is FINALLY the end of book two.

I’M HOLDING YOU TO THAT.

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.