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Agents of Edgewatch S3|24: Are You Not Entertained?

The Agents are about to face certain death on multiple fronts, it will take a miracle for them to come out of this unscathed.

Roll For Combat, Agents of Edgewatch Podcast is a playthrough of the Pathfinder Adventure Path, Agents of Edgewatch, and the third book, All or Nothing.

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The Sideshow S3|33: Touching Me Touching You

Jason recaps the events from Three Ring Adventure S3|33: Hulk Smash!

First things first… literally. What do we think of the “cold open”?

I’m going to give it a few weeks before I render a FINAL verdict, but my knee-jerk, first-listen reaction was that I missed having an intro. First is simply the abruptness of it: here’s the theme music… and now we’re rolling dice. I kinda like having that minute or two to “settle in” before the action starts. If I’m being honest, I also sometimes forget exactly where we were, and having that brief recap before we jump right in can be handy. (Especially if it’s Vanessa doing it in her carnival barker/40s radio announcer voice.) I also have to say Steve’s show notes were often interesting as a player who doesn’t always think about how things look on the other side of the screen. And on a purely self-interested level, the show notes have sometimes given me something to write about when I was spinning my wheels on the episode itself.

But I can certainly see the other side of the coin too. I don’t want this to come across as throwing shade at Steve, but sometimes the pre-show got a little long and meandering, or the shownotes would sometimes be something he’s already talked about several times before. Three or four minutes of pre-game? Sure. But I’ve seen a couple hit the 10-minute mark, and that seems a little excessive. And… OK… I haven’t done any polling, but it’s possible there are listeners who are here for the podcast and the Battlezoo stuff may not be a huge priority to them. (Again, not throwing shade at Battlezoo as a product line, but I feel like you could get that information in other places – now including Steve and Mark’s new YouTube shows — and one wouldn’t necessarily listen to a loosely-related podcast JUST to get that info.)

So I guess we’ll try this out and see how it goes, but my instant reaction is that I miss having that bit of a buffer zone at the start of the show.

This week, we’re back at it with the fight against the probable boss encounter, and one thing that immediately struck me about this episode is it’s a much more defensive/tactical fight than I’m used to seeing from this group. It’s not that they don’t practice tactics in other fights, but it was particularly noticeable this time. I think it was two rounds before they actually made an attack, because they were dealing with buffs and debuffs, and trying to get Alhara out of the big guy’s grab. Usually SOMEONE is taking the offensive earlier than that.

Speaking of the grab, we got an interesting quirk of the rules this week, with the interactions between grapple and reach. Specifically, we had a case where Alhara was grabbed, but couldn’t attack the creature grabbing her because the xulgath had a reach advantage over her.  Now… on some basic intuitive level that seems wrong: if something’s grabbing you, that implies there ought to be some piece of it you can attack. But I guess this is one of those places where you have to use roleplaying flavor to fill in the gaps in math: the dice deal with hits and misses, but somewhere in your brain, you can chalk it up as “yeah, you can attack the limb that’s holding you but you don’t have the leverage to do any meaningful damage”.

Now, there are SOME creatures – the roper leaps to mind, since we fought one in the Edgewatch game – that solve this problem by making appendages have their own armor class and hit points. That’s a good solution for specific non-humanoid cases, but I’m not sure you’d want to make that a general rule for ANY creature that can grab, or it makes things REALLY complicated in the long haul. Do we want to have separate attack profiles for any enemy before and after it’s had limbs chopped off? And even if we wanted to create such a system for enemies, wouldn’t fairness dictate that such a system apply equally to the players? It might be “realistic” but it feels like it’d be a mess for playability.

And OK, I’m not sure “game where you can hack off people’s limbs in the name of pseudo-realistic combat” is the sort of thing you want on the marketing brochure if you’re trying to reach a general audience.

So Alhara remains grabbed, and gets smashed into the floor a few times. (CHOKESLAM. I’m assuming this ability name means there’s a fellow wrestling afficionado somewhere in the bowels of Paizo.) So things aren’t looking great for Alhara for a little while. However, the good news is, as hard as this guy hits, he’s got the curse of bigguns everywhere, insofar as he has a low armor class, making crits a little easier to attain. And sure enough, the party is able to wear him down pretty quickly and turn it into a one-on-four (five if you count Riley) against the boss.

At least, I’m assuming it’s the boss. She’s certainly hitting like a boss, since between all of her extra damage sources, she does something like 40, 50 points on a normal hit. There’s a little discrepancy, insofar as the Tarren Mill folk described her as a “white-eyed dwarf” but now Steve describes her as more like a gnome. On the other hand, looking at the artwork… definitely white eyes, so… there can’t be two, can there? So maybe the Tarren Mill people are just country bumpkins who can’t tell the difference between a dwarf and a gnome. Though also to be fair, between the white eyes and greenish skin, she’s not a normal… whatever she is. (OK, I cheated and read the stat block. Dero. So… neither.)

It’s funny… once it’s a single-target fight, things seem a lot more under control. When the big fella was knocking the stuffing out of Alhara, I thought we might have a potential party wipe on our hands. Especially with Darius disadvantaged by the hover effect that meant he couldn’t take mountain stance. But once the big guy was down, everything kinda slowed down a little and it never felt like our team was in danger after that.

Speaking of that hover effect, I also find myself thinking about the moment she cancelled the gravity effect and fell. I find myself wondering whether that was something the baddie put in place, or whether it was an environmental effect that was already there, but she happened to have figured out how to use it to her advantage. At a meta level, she doesn’t seem like a caster build, so it feels like the latter explanation is closer to the mark. Which also means this may be a puzzle the players will have to work through after the fight is over. And we still have to figure out how this brain-scraping weirdo factors into the xulgaths’ larger plans.

I guess we’ll find that out next time, though. The battle is won, time to move on and claim the aeon stone. Hopefully. 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|33: Hulk Smash!

In today’s episode, the headless xulgath plays the role of the hammer and Alhara plays the role of the nail.

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|23: Cloudy With a Chance of Lethal

Jason recaps the events from Agents of Edgewatch S3|23: The Bomb Squad.

OK, so welcome to the REAL final boss fight. We thought that was what the last two weeks were, but nope… it’s Oggvurm The Merciless.

This is an interesting fight because it absolutely earns its difficulty rating in some respects, and is atypical in other ways.

The boss himself is tough, and the fact that melees have to enter a really nasty poison cloud to engage with him is certainly tough on its own. The poison being virulent doesn’t help matters either – two saves to reduce the level is rough. The boss also has two supports, but those guys weren’t that bad in prior combats: they feel like they’re there mostly to enable flanking opportunities. I don’t know if the overall challenge rating also includes the fact that we’re hitting this encounter at the end of a full day when our resources are somewhat depleted, but that’s also going to make this fight tricky.

And above and beyond all of that, there’s still the device to disable. Do you try and destroy it? Disable it? And whichever direction you go with it, do you do that WHILE fighting, or get the boss down first and THEN do it while he’s still pounding on us?

On the other hand, we’ve got a few things in our favor as well. First and foremost is the boss’ armor class: after feeling it out for a round or two, it looks like 24 is the magic number. Which means we ALMOST can’t miss (beyond the concealment flat check) and even have a decent chance to crit. (I don’t know the whole party’s attack bonuses, but just to throw a number at it, a +20 would mean we can crit on a 14 or higher). We’re also a lot faster than him in terms of base foot speed, and we have vertical mobility (flight) that he lacks.

The X-factor here is the giant, Brave Buckshuck. He’s supposed to be Oggvurm’s opponent, so on paper he could be an ally. And immediately, I’m seeing him as an opportunity to attack the device, if we can get him on our side. Bet he could smash through a lot of hardness. However, he may also think this is just some three-way fight and think we’re another set of opponents that got thrown in at the last minute. Especially since our whole cover is that we’re a fellow team of gladiatiors.

So all of that sets the stage as combat kicks off.

My first impression is that air bubble, or something like it, would’ve been enormously useful. I will admit, I was thinking it was more of a contact poison than a breathable, but maybe we should’ve seen this one coming a little better than we did.

I also wanted to mention: the spray isn’t a constant thing where it leaves a trail; it actually ticks at the end of each round so there’s a cloud at the first place he stops, a cloud at the second place he stops, etc. Now, when Oggvurm stays in one place for a full round, the diameter of the current cloud gets bigger, but in the early rounds, there are gaps in the cloud… it’s not a continuous wall of poison. Thought I should mention that.

Round 1 is mostly about positioning, though we get our first hints that Oggvurm isn’t that hard to hit, as I think I land a 26 or 27. I don’t know about the rest of the party, but that immediately adjusts my personal tactics. I’m already not likely to do much damage to the device itself (since I lose crits and precision) so I might as well try to slow the big guy down. Best case, if I can land a crit with Devise a Stratagem, that could be 50, 60 damage in one hit, and if I get a crit, I can add mental damage too.

On the other hand, I make a mistake here which is infuriating on re-listen: I forget to do my reaction to share my stratagem. It’s forgivable this round because nobody was really in melee range anyway, but I do it next round too when I don’t have that excuse to fall back on. Can’t afford unforced errors at a time like this.

Things start to get a little more serious in round 2, as everyone gets within melee range. At this point, Oggvurm is still going for the crowd and ignoring us, so we just pile on another batch of damage. On the other hand, Tree Boy decides to be a pain in the ass and swing indiscriminately at everyone, so he’s not going to be the easy ally we hoped he’d be, and we may have to fight him down to unconsciousness.

But then things get really messy, as we do enough damage for Oggvurm to take notice of us, and he immediately unloads both barrels on Dougie, knocking him out in one round. Damn! As Steve would say, “that’s not good”. We’ve halted his progress toward the crowd, but one round of attacks took out a quarter of our party. And as I said earlier, staying in one place means the cloud in that area starts to grow.

And here’s why that’s a problem. It dawns on me that one way to approach this fight would be hit-and-run tactics. It’s a bit meta-gamey, but if the cloud is still small, you can run in and take one shot (maybe two with haste or other special abilities), and then get back out of the cloud and not be affected by the poison at all. But if the cloud keeps growing, it will eventually reach a point where stick-and-move won’t work anymore and the melees will HAVE to stay in the cloud to fight him. AND to stop the device, when we get to that point.

And oh by the way, Oggvurm also heals for an unknown amount. So however many hit points he has… he’s getting some of them back. Possibly each turn if it’s a constant effect and not a one-off.

The fight continues. Oggvurm takes it easy on us by moving for a round, during which Lo Mang and I load damage on him while Gomez gets Dougie back in the fight. (Oddly… over his protests.) Another round ticks, and we FINALLY get him down, though the giant fails his save and gets poisoned while all that is going on.

So now all we have to do is clear the adds, maybe deal with the giant, and disable the device, and we’ve saved the city again. Should be easy, right? Right?

I guess we’ll find out how easy 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 back here next week.