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Three Ring Adventure S3|37: We Can Be Heroes

It’s time to finally meet Ateran’s long-lost mother, and this isn’t going to be a pleasant reunion.

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!

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Agents of Edgewatch S4|03: Now You See Me

The Agents are desperately trying to exit this abandoned church, but there is one last horrific monstrosity standing between them and freedom.

Roll For Combat, Agents of Edgewatch Podcast is a playthrough of the Pathfinder Adventure Path, Agents of Edgewatch, and the fourth book, Assault on Hunting Lodge Seven.

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!

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Three Ring Adventure S3|36: Bring Me a Shrubbery!

This week we travel back in time to the shadowy Uskwood and peek into the life of a young Ateran.

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!

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Agents of Edgewatch S4|02: It’s BurgerTime!

The Agents started Chapter 4 with a fight, and they don’t even know who or why they are fighting! Hopefully, they live long enough to find out.

Roll For Combat, Agents of Edgewatch Podcast is a playthrough of the Pathfinder Adventure Path, Agents of Edgewatch, and the fourth book, Assault on Hunting Lodge Seven.

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!

Three Ring Adventure S3|35: MonkHub

What do you do when you need to fight a night hag who can plane shift and teleport at will? Shopping montage!

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 S3|25: Double Your Treasure, Double Your Fun

Jason recaps the events from Agents of Edgewatch S4|01: Would You Like the Rest on a Gift Certificate?.

This week’s episode is really two episodes in one, but I can understand Steve combining them to squeeze a full show out of it. In particular, the shopping piece isn’t QUITE long enough to carry an episode on its own. But then if you put the shopping and the WHOLE combat together, we’re breaking that two-hour mark that you listeners have said you’re not crazy about.

So half-shopping, half-fighting it shall be.

Interestingly, the shopping half generated some interesting discussions on our Discord channel because we made a few mistakes along the way.

The first was an incorrect interpretation of the rules. Steve was actually incorrect when he said you have to have the same tier of potency and striking (or potency and resilience for armor) before you can go to the next tier of potency. There’s a table that IMPLIES that that’s the natural order of things, but it’s not actually required. It’s just that the costs and level restrictions of the various runes (and presumably the runes being given out as loot) drive it that direction pretty strongly. If you think about it, the jump from a +1 weapon to a +2 weapon is 900 gold, but that striking rune is only 65g. So there’s a pretty strong “why not take an extra die of damage while you’re waiting?” vibe going on there. (It’s similar with armor and resilience runes, though the price points are different.) But if you somehow make it to 900 gold and the right level (10) for a +2 potency rune, and don’t have your striking rune yet, you can still apply the +2 and you just have a +2 weapon that might not do enough damage to get past the damage resistance all the creatures at this level seem to have. Good luck with that.

The other error was not a rules interpretation, but more of a mental lapse on our part. As a couple of our listeners pointed out, Dougie basically wasted 900g by bumping both his weapons to +2 because we still have the doubling rings. If you remember, doubling rings take the fundamental runes from one weapon and copy them to a second weapon: perfect for a dual-wielder. Dougie didn’t bother with it at the time we got it because both his weapons were already +1 striking, but we did keep it and put it in storage. So now that he’s graduating to +2 potency and greater striking, he really should’ve just saved his money and started equipping the doubling rings instead.

(Note: there’s two versions of the doubling rings. The lesser version that we have just duplicates the fundamental runes. The more expensive/higher-level version also transfers the property runes as well. That’s if they’re appropriate: for example, wounding is slashing/piercing only, so you can’t transfer it to a bludgeoning weapon.)

So… definite mistake on Dougie’s part for not remembering he had those. Is it a mistake on Steve’s part, though? On one hand, it’s not his job to remember everything about our characters for us. On the other hand, everything is so tight in PF2 that 900g is a lot of money to waste; maybe a hint would’ve been in order. But back on the first hand… it also wasn’t Steve’s job to stop Gomez from buying every feather token or Lo Mang to invest in consumables. Sometimes you gotta just let people do what they’re gonna do. If one forced me to play arbiter in this situation, I’d say it’s not Steve’s responsibility to know what’s in Dougie’s inventory. Having said that, it’s the sort of thing that individual GMs might choose a path of forgiveness on to avoid tension or hurt feelings later when the player eventually figures it out.

Of course, the even hotter take is that Dougie wasting 900g is just karma coming back at him for cheating at the casino. The universe decided to reclaim ill-gotten gains.

And OK, there’s a third mistake I made, but I caught mine in real-time and it was fairly easy to fix. In my eagerness to deploy my +2 rune, I decided to put it on my bow, since I’ve been using that more often lately. However, when it came time to add ghost touch, I forgot that a) that I’d put the +2 on the bow and the sword-cane already has a wounding rune, as well as b) ghost touch also can’t go on a ranged weapon. So my two choices were either to move the +2 to the sword-cane or just tuck the ghost touch rune into the backpack for now and wait until I can afford another +2. Or another one drops, of course. In the short term, I believe I moved the +2 to the sword-cane to resolve the issue.

I noticed we didn’t really talk about our Level 12 builds, and I guess that’s OK. My memory is we never really came back to it, so I’ll do a quick version of it now. One big change, two small ones for Basil.

The big one is that as an archetype caster, Expert Spellcasting gives me my first Level 4 spells — well… “spell” since I only get one slot — and gain an additional Level 2 slot from Arcane Breadth. My starting choices for Level 4 were Stoneskin (protect the melees) and Blink (protect myself): remember that as an archetype caster with fewer slots to work with, I tend to choose spells that offer multi-round bang for the buck rather than big splashy damage spells. While we’re talking magic, I also went back and got scrolls so I could learn air bubble and Chris Beemer’s favorite, mirror image.

For the smaller changes, first we have the Quick Unlock feat, so I can pick locks with a single action instead of two. I feel like it might come in handy. The class feat I took is Foresee Danger, which lets me use my Perception DC instead of my AC as a reaction to an attack – it’s an edge case, but I think the big benefit would be to nullify the -2 for flanking (though it doesn’t nullify the flat-footed condition itself, just the -2 for that attack). It’s kinda like Assurance that way: it’s more for mitigating a bad situation by defusing a minus than a positive benefit.

So with all of that accomplished, we start book four… with a COLD OPEN. Surprise. Welcome to the session, roll for initiative. OK, there’s a LITTLE bit of a backstory. This was an informant who was going to point us toward the next member of the Twilight Four, Father Infector, until he caught a crossbow bolt in the neck. Was this guy followed? Did someone infiltrate the Starwatch? Both good questions… but right now, we fight.

You don’t see a lot of this, and I wouldn’t want to start EVERY session this way, but I have to admit it was a welcome change. You get into patterns with this stuff, so when you start a new book, you’re thinking either “low-stakes warm-up encounter designed to refresh your memory on how to play your character” or “20 minutes of background before you do anything of consequence”.

With this, we avoid both those pitfalls. We’re jumping right into the action; and it’s a real, legit fight, not some warm-up. The grunts are grunts, but their use of poison makes them at least somewhat formidable and they seem to have a frustratingly large supply of hit points. And flying demons that shoot bees out of their mouths are self-explanatory in their awesomeness. (Don’t come at me with your “they’re flies, not bees”… I’m adding an extra pinch of awesome in my head-canon.)

Having said that, the episode winds down right when things are starting to get good. So I suspect we’ll talk more about the fight when we’re back here 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.

Agents of Edgewatch S4|01: Would You Like the Rest on a Gift Certificate?

The Agents finally upgrade their equipment and learn how much easier fights are now they are properly equipped for their level!

Roll For Combat, Agents of Edgewatch Podcast is a playthrough of the Pathfinder Adventure Path, Agents of Edgewatch, and the fourth book, Assault on Hunting Lodge Seven.

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|34: You Dropped a Mom On Me

Jason recaps the events from Three Ring Adventure S3|34: A Hairy Male

OK, so this is kinda turning out to be a wild ride as we come down the final stretch of this third book.

First, it’s got more false endings than Return of the King. Thessekka felt like the final boss, and it seemed like it was time to break out the party hats when she was defeated. Then there was the dero (Ginjana) that seemed like maybe SHE was the final boss. This time, after killing Ginjana, our group even manages to check the box of visiting the stone and getting the inspiration, so… we’re REALLY done now, right? But then, at the last minute, Ateran goes through Ginjana’s notes and realizes that there’s a THIRD entity – the night hag — unrelated to the xulgaths and Ginjana, and she’s been behind the deaths Opper Vandy originally wanted the group’s help with.

Among other wrinkles, it comes as a bit of a left turn because it SEEMED like the mysteries were starting to converge into a single entity. The room with the brain jars in particular suggested that it was all related: it seemed like the xulgaths are just modifying their tactics or moving into a new phase where they’re attacking civilians in addition to just taking the towers, and they allied themselves with the dero to do that. But now it’s all diverged again, and it turns out we actually have COMPETING serial killers running around here. Ginjana is killing people to further her goal of finding a way to withstand sunlight, and the night hag is doing her own thing, and we’re back to the two mysteries not being related at all.

And we didn’t even get into the possibility that the night hag might be Ateran’s mom! I assume this was just a retcon by Steve: my assumption is that a night hag was always the big bad of this book, and since Ateran is a witch anyway, they decided to make the story a little more personal by folding Ateran’s backstory into it. The only thing I don’t know is where the creative balance lies between Steve, Rob, or a collaboration of the two. I mean, I guess unless Rob P. cheated and read ahead in the adventure, it probably had to start with Steve, but based on how he’s run our other games, I doubt he would’ve made a change like that without SOME level of input from Rob.

Philosophically I like that they went that way with it. You can be cynical and say “well, that’s just too much of a coincidence” or complain about how it’s not what the original writers intended, but this is ultimately supposed to be YOUR (GM and players) story. I feel like it’s setting a nice balance of still respecting the work the original writers did, while still making it your own and personalizing it in ways that put your characters more at the heart of it. If anything, that’s part of what makes a tabletop RPG more dynamic than a static video game. If we all play a Final Fantasy game, we’re all having the same basic experience, though maybe there’s that one weirdo who really LOVES blitzball. In a TTRPG, we can each have our own version of the story that can be dramatically different, and comparing the notes about how we did it differently is part of the fun. And not just the players, the GMs should be allowed to savor the twists they added to THEIR version of the story too.

If you disagree, just think of it as a multiverse. Since I’ve just seen both Everything Everywhere All At Once AND Doctor Strange: Multiverse Of Madness in consecutive weekends, I’ve got multiverses on the brain right now. Just think of Roll For Combat as Golarion-616, where the night hag terrorizing the good people of the Swardlands HAPPENS to be Ateran’s mom. In your Golarion-3210, it can be Generic Night Hag Who’s Not Related To Anyone. Heck, in Golarion-1284, it’s not a night hag at all, it’s actually a hairy male running around killing people.

Sorry, Vanessa… “hail mary”, “hairy male” is gonna stick around for a while.

There was some other action in between. First, we had another new variant of xulgaths. It’s getting to the point where it’s like different flavors of Mountain Dew… how many do you really need?  This fight wasn’t too rough overall, though it got a little messy once one of the xulgaths got into the backline and put a whuppin’ on Hap. Doubly so when she tried to stand back up and got hit with an attack of opportunity and dropped again. But our crew pushed through and ultimately prevailed.

Next up, our team got to visit the aeon stone and formally check the blessing box, though this time, they’re rewarded with arguably the most useful boon yet. Full-time darkvision is already a huge win. Darkvision with COLOR is even better: the one drawback of darkvision is that it’s black and white, so one might be losing some finer details in some situations. This feels like best of both worlds. And if that wasn’t enough… they get a CYCLOPS BLAST as the daily power. Stoneskin was a pretty good one. Raising and lowering the level of ambient water in an area… meh overall, but I have a suspicion there’s gonna be some Lara Croft puzzle later that requires it. But FACE FULL OF DEATH RAY excites me to no end, even if it is just once a day. Just as long as it doesn’t come with Scott Summers’ dickish personality too.

Then our team goes back down for a somewhat frustrating encounter with the golem in the vegetation-clogged passage. First, trying to burn off the vegetation sets off explosions, which is actually kinda cool… a little trap action to mix things up is always welcome. But then they’re facing off against a golem when a) they gave back the water flask, so they lose their best damage source against golems, and b) the golem decides to play the long game and force the party to come to it. (Or, perhaps it’s just defending the area it’s been assigned to, and won’t go outside a boundary.) Unfortunately, the situation settles into a stalemate, and given their depleted resources, the party decides to leave the situation alone and call it a day.

Now, I’m not going to criticize the decision to not go in. Close quarters, difficult terrain, depleted resources: that’s a lot of negatives for what feels like a fairly optional encounter. But I can’t help but feel a little bit curious about what have been on the other side of the golem, ESPECIALLY if it was actually assigned to guard something. Vegetation doesn’t really fit any of the themes: it’s nothing I’d associate with the xulgaths or with Ginjana, so I’ve got some natural curiosity what’s behind that door. But not enough that I’d want them to wipe the party finding out.

So next week, I imagine the team has to return to Kerrick and fight the night hag. The good news is they’ll be able to rest up and tackle it with full resources. The bad news is… well… pretty much everything else. It’s a big bad (does it really have Level 9 spells?), it will probably have a nightmare as a pet, and if it turns out to be Ater-Mom, there may a layer of weird emotional baggage on top of everything else going on. If this is FINALLY the real end of the book, it’s gonna be a doozy.

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|34: A Hairy Male

Don’t you hate it when you kill the big bad boss, and then find out what you defeated wasn’t the big bad boss?

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 S3|24: Bad To The Last Drop

Jason recaps the events from Agents of Edgewatch S3|24: Are You Not Entertained?.

Well, we made it to the finish line in one piece, even if it got a little hairy there for a minute.

As I go back and listen, the boss was never a huge worry to me once he went down the first time. He’s easy to hit, and even if he’s got fast healing, we can PROBABLY outdamage it. To borrow from Chumbawumba (remember them?) “I get knocked down… but I get up again… until I reach Dying 4”. I felt pretty confident we would ultimately get him down in a way where he’d stay down. Just might take a few tries.

It was all the other stuff that worried me. The two adds. Whatever amount of time it would take to destroy or disable the device. The cloud growing every turn (soon rendering it impossible to avoid). Even Brave Buckshuck was a bit of a wildcard: yeah, he was running away, but if the confusion component of the poison triggered, we could find ourselves getting thumped by a giant. It’s like… we can SEE the finish line, but getting there may be a bit of a challenge.

However, Oggvurm’s regeneration briefly threw a wrench into the plans. That’s right, regeneration is not just fast healing, but it literally means you can’t go past Dying 3 while it’s active. I still trust our ability to put him down every round (going back and looking at the stat block, the healing component was 20 points, which we can power through), but the real cost is in actions spent. (And OK, he can still hit hard if he’s up long enough to get an attack off.)

Fortunately however, fire is pretty much the great regeneration disabler, and it works in this case, and Oggvurm stays down the second time we knock him out. That’s one problem dealt with. And with Oggvurm dealt with, the sidekicks aren’t even that difficult. Their biggest utility was creating flanking; with Oggvurm gone, they’re no worse than the guys we made quick work of in the bathhouse. A few timely crits, and they’re off the board too.

I do feel a LITTLE bad that Brave Buckshuck came to an unfortunate end, but there are limits to that. At the point he died, he had already run halfway across the arena to get away from the cloud, and ignored all our attempts to work together. So… yes, I wish it had gone differently, but how far to you go to save one person compared to saving hundreds or thousands? Staying on the device was the right call… sorry buddy.

So we (though primarily Dougie) go to work on the device. The good news is that a couple of rounds into that, we finally get the thing turned off. If you think about it, that’s the point at which The Day Is Saved and whoever survives gets to go onto Book 4. The bad news is that three out of the four of us are now poisoned with Blackfinger Blight. I’ll fully admit Basil is in the least danger of the three: I took almost no damage during the fight itself, so honestly, I probably could’ve powered through even if I’d failed some saves. And sure enough, I make both my saves and get rid of it before it’s much of an issue.

Dougie and Lo Mang are in a bit of danger, though. They’ve both taken a beating, and Dougie in particular has already dropped once. So if he drops again, he starts at Dying 2… and I think he was out of hero points, so if he gets to Dying 4, there’s no escape hatch waiting. This puts us into a position where we can’t just hand-wave the aftermath like we sometimes do, we really have to get into it round-by-round. (Also keep in mind, I listen to both shows, so what happened to Darius was fairly fresh in my mind when this was happening.)

So I spring into action and it’s one of those things where I made the right choice, but not necessarily for the right reasons. I was mostly responding to Dougie being further on the wounded/dying track, but the real special sauce is that Lo Mang has a BIG advantage in this situation. His monkish fortitude bonus makes it so that all successes on fortitude saves automatically become critical successes. In other words, the whole virulent thing isn’t NEARLY as big an issue for him because any successful save will drop the severity of the poison by a step. So Dougie was definitely the right person to give assistance to, even though I didn’t quite put two and two together in the moment.

That certainly doesn’t make the situation easy, though. It’s a situation where we have to try and help treat the poison (the item bonus from the antidote and the circumstance bonus from Treat Poison stack, so we can get a +6 or even +8 total), but we also can’t let up on healing him because one set of “good” damage rolls could put him down again. And we’re also out of our big heals for the day, so we’re reduced to chaining together little heals and hoping it’s enough. I know there was an easy-going vibe to the whole thing because we’d basically won, but still… scratch the surface just a little bit, and there’s some real danger there.

But then the one thing we didn’t count on bails us out: the poison hits its six-round duration and expires. Dougie is saved, and we can OFFICIALLY declare victory. Granted, Pendantic Me wonders why the poison didn’t expire on the zoo animals back in the first encounter, but you can create a rationale for that if you need to: maybe the ingested form was more concentrated than the airborne version, or the zoo animals had been eating it for a longer period of time and were more deeply affected.

So… we win. The gamesmaster gives us our own little Star Wars medal ceremony, we hear some vague promises about Starwatch doing some interrogations which will presumably set up Book 4, and we’re officially putting this chapter of the adventure to bed. And oh yeah, we’ll also get to level up to 12 for next time.

WERE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?

So next week, I guess we see what our fellow lawmen turn up for our next lead, and we meet the new Level 12 versions of the party. 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.