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Talking Combat 118: Hack The Planet!

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 118: Undead of Unusual Size.

This week’s column is going to be a bit of a rush job, as I had an unexpected childhood friend come to town and lost more of my weekend to frivolity than I planned. Also, I may or may not be in self-imposed shame exile because “Undead of Unusual Size” was originally my joke (from last week’s Talking) and I forgot that ellicoths aren’t actually undead, thus nullifying the entire premise. SHAME! SHAME! (rings bell)

The battle itself turns out to not be that big of a deal… and that’s kind of been a recurring theme for Starfinder. Things that JUST have a lot of hit points and nothing else going for them have not traditionally been that hard for us. Mo lands a crit or two, Bob’s Get ‘Em usually means we can do full attacks against them and still stand a chance of hitting both attacks, and we can usually chop ‘em down fairly quickly. The fact that they had reach was a little bit of a nuisance at first, but once the first one dropped we pretty much had enough room to move safely. Either that or Mo could afford to eat the first attack of opportunity and let the rest of us move freely.

The radiation could have been a problem in a different setting. If we’d run across an ellicoth on Castrovel, when we were sometimes not wearing our armor to save on the total days of cooling, that could’ve gotten messy fast. (Or if someone had gotten behind the upgrade curve and still had level 5 or 6 armor.) But in a scenario where you’re already wearing a de facto Hazmat suit… it’s kind of shrugworthy. I don’t know if this was bad creature design, or just pairing them with an encounter where people are already going to be geared for it is the issue.

I kinda retroactively liked Steve’s idea of having a couple of support troops with them. Not only might have that been a way to spice up the encounter a little and mix in some different dynamics, but it does seem kind of odd you’d leave (essentially) farm animals to guard a train station with no humanoid supervision. But whatever… big beasties it is. I guess I leave my dogs to guard the house when I go to the grocery store; maybe this is the same concept. Except I apparently need to make stilts for my dogs to get the full ellicoth effect.

I’ll have to admit I got a little frustrated toward the end when Seth was trying to lawyer Steve into a roll on re-routing the guards once they had already been called. I have some sympathy that on a storytelling/improv level you want to say yes to players rather than just shutting them down cold – it’s that whole “spirit of cooperation” vibe. But at the same time, there are limits to that. Some things in life are just flat “no”s, and I’m not sure the GM is required to give out a roll on an impossibility just to humor the party. I mean, where does that logic end… if I proclaim that Tuttle learned how to breathe fire, how many Nat-20s do I have to roll before Steve has to let me do that? Or is it on us as players to SOMETIMES accept that X, Y, and Z are just impossible in this story and work with that?

I’m gonna stick with this for a second and go a little more granular. I’m an IT guy, and this scenario is mostly a computer problem, so it’s kind of in my wheelhouse. I would say there are probably five broad classifications of things I run across in my day job. I would call it easy, easy with dependencies, hard, long-term projects, and impossible.

The first three are a kind of classic problem resolution with increasing levels of difficulty. You know what you have to do, you might even have all the knowledge and tools you need to fix it, but it will take some non-zero amount of time to accomplish. And in the middle case, it’s a conceptually easy fix, but there are binary failure conditions where if you don’t have the right password/cable/tool, it becomes a harder or impossible problem. The long-term project stuff is something where articulating the problem on a theoretical level is easy, you might even have a sense of what you have to do to fix it, but there’s no realistic way you could do that quickly – it’s an hours/days/weeks effort. And then there’s impossible, like getting an air-gapped computer to talk on the Internet or retrieving usable data from a single disk pulled out of a RAID array. You can want to solve those problems all you want, but you’re not going to succeed.

OK, so how does all of this tie back to Seth’s request? Well, going back in time a few episodes, installing and using TombRobber was probably an “easy with dependencies” situation. Once Tuttle got access to the right computer system, running TombRobber was just like running any other program. The idea Seth had in the previous episode with re-routing the trains or crashing them on purpose was more like a long-term project – if Tuttle could’ve studied the system for a few hours or days, he might have been able to re-write the system, but it hardly seems like the sort of thing he could’ve done in five minutes. But the fact that the captain or the admiral (I presume) saw their ellicoths dying and had already called troops to come back… I mean, that’s not really even a computer problem anymore. The message already went out. That’s a “the captain of the ship has ordered guys to Hangar Bay 23, we’re in Hangar Bay 23, we need to not be here when they get here” problem. I’m no military expert, but I don’t even think recalling the order would work as a matter of protocol: if your captain orders you to return to the bridge and then some computer says “never mind”, you probably still come to the bridge.

At any rate, we win the battle, we’ve got a foothold on the command level, but the clock is running. Whoever is on the bridge is at least generally aware we’re on our way even if they can’t see us on the security scans, and reinforcements are on the way. The sprint to the finish begins now.

And that’s where we’ll pick it up. Feel free to drop by our Discord channel and let us know what you think of the action and join in the ongoing merry-making. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next week!

Talking Combat 117: Jumping Someone Else’s Train

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 117: The Taking of Blackwind 123.

Welcome to a new year of the Dead Suns podcast, and we’re rolling toward the finish line of the adventure path. This week is mostly a transitional week, as we spend most of it riding the train to what we hope is the final destination. Oh, and we pause to level up, so that’s nice if a little anti-climactic.

First, turning to the world of pop culture, I have to confess, as the non-New Yorker, I don’t have the same affinity for The Taking Of Pelham 123 that the others do. Actually, I don’t even think I’ve seen it, so I guess I’ll have to join the rest of you in renting it. On the other hand, as a Pittsburgh native, the mall in the original 1978 Dawn Of The Dead was the one I used to go to all the time, so that’s pretty cool… (For the record, it still exists, but the skating rink is long gone.)

I’ve never played an extended session with Seth, so I’m on the dividing line between “crazy like a fox” and “needlessly overcomplicating things”. Maybe a little of both. I do kind of get where he’s coming from – if we only get one use of the Tomb Robber computer virus, maybe we could create ourselves a second distraction with the train car itself. So I get why he was pushing the Pelham 123 plan. On the other hand, this is one of those times where you could see the rails just a little – after a certain point, it really felt like the Tomb Robber was the MacGuffin to get to the train station on the command deck, at which point we’d have to fight it out the rest of the way. At least that’s the way it seemed to me.

As a brief aside, it’s always been a little fuzzy to me how much these trains are truly independent vehicles, and how much they’re point-to-point, like a glorified elevator, but on a massive scale. Sometimes it seems like we should have fairly granular control; other times, it seems like you just push a button and end up somewhere. At the end of the day… whatever gets us where the plot needs us to be.

Steve does have a point about players needlessly complicating situations sometimes. Over the holiday break, we had just such an occasion in my home game. One of our characters… OK, fine, me; low-level monks are squishy… died and the party didn’t have enough money for the raise dead ritual. The church offered the remaining party a reduced rate if they’d steal a rival evil cult’s holy symbol from their temple. The cult HQ had an alleyway with a window and a locked door… so, have the stealthiest character sneak in and steal the symbol. Easy enough, right? Instead, we had the most morally ambiguous party member (my son) decide to use Charisma, tell the evil cult the plan and suggest they make us a fake holy symbol to let us use instead. (This was after our supposedly good-aligned characters floated the idea of paying town drunks a few silver to have a bum fight in front of the cult’s hideout to serve as a distraction.) My son’s plan got surprisingly further than I thought it would because he rolled a nat 20 on his initial persuasion check, but UN-surprisingly, the plan unraveled and ended in combat, and just short of a TPK.

Luckily, we have no such problems with our computer and engineering checks, and it’s fairly smooth sailing. Though, to be fair, part of that smooth sailing was Steve taking out a fight that was supposed to happen on the moving trains. Which… not gonna lie, as a spectacle, it sounds GREAT – particularly if there would be jumping back and forth between the trains – but I’m just as happy to not do it because of the resource crunch we’re up against. It feels like we have either zero or MAYBE one long rest left (depends how much command deck there is), so burning a bunch of resources before we even reach the command deck would’ve been a little frustrating.

In between, we level up to 12, and I think this is one of those places where it’s underwhelming because the metagame tends to restrict choices. The thing is: we know we’re getting toward the end and that a final battle is coming, so optimizing for combat tends to dominate the conversation at this point. It’s hard to imagine a non-combat ability that would be much of a game-changer, but a lot of the combat options are underwhelming. Energy Shield, which was my selection, is basically worth about one hit, and that was probably the best choice I could make. Now, if the campaign was continuing, Energy Shield would lead to Improved Energy Shield, and that would at least be something, but I don’t see there being another two levels of progression either. So… one free hit it shall be, I suppose.

So we reach the destination station. The good news is that Tomb Robber did its work and most of the enemy forces have left. The bad news is they didn’t leave the place totally undefended. Which… OK, doing so would be pretty stupid, if we’re being honest. Instead, it’s not one but four of… well… something. Larger than humanoid, that’s all I’ll say for now.

I’m going to wrap things up for now – it’s been a little bit of a hectic week, getting back into the post-holiday routine. Hopefully, you’ll join us next week when we begin our assault on the command deck and fight the Undead of Unusual Size… after all, if you’ve been with us for two years, might as well stick around and see how it all turns out. In the meantime, feel free to stop by Discord or other social media and let us know what you think of the show; we’ve been a little absent over the holidays, but we’re starting to find our collective way back. Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you back here next week.

Talking Combat 116: Ghast In Translation

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 116: Whip It Good.

Welcome to the last Talking Combat of the decade! I have nothing special planned to mark the occasion, I just want to milk the phrase “of the decade” while I can. You only get to do this once every 10 years, might as well make it count.

This week at least, it’s mostly Talking Coup de Grace, though, as Rusty getting paralyzed and critted to the brink of oblivion is probably the main moment of today’s episode.

But first, French 101. I’d like to point out a) I went all the way to French V in high school, b) I realize that public-school French V probably still sounds like French Forrest Gump to an actual native speaker and c) I’ve forgotten most of it, and mostly say nonsense things like je mange le bibliotheque. Full disclosure. But I AM at least qualified to Photoshop a beret, black turtleneck, and cigarette onto that Willem Dafoe meme and proclaim that “I’m something of a Frenchman myself”.

So with that understood, this turns out to be unintentionally interesting as I’ve been saying it wrong for years according to the dictionary. The “p” on “coup” is definitely silent and I got that part right – if you pronounce it like (chicken) “coop” I’m honor-bound to drive to your location and beat you with a baguette. But the “grace” is the tricky part – I have to admit I’ve been pronouncing it like “graw”, when the dictionary has the soft-c/”s” sound at the end. And I have to admit I’ve heard it (and said it) the incorrect way a lot over the years – I don’t know if maybe people confused it with “coup d’etat” and let the “s” sound drop over time or what, but now you know. Zut alors!

OK, French lesson over. Now that we’ve cleared up the pronunciation, let’s talk about the ability itself. Especially since Steve mis-explained it the first time and had to re-explain it on the fly. It’s on page 248 of the Core Rulebook, if you want to follow along.

As I hinted at last week, it is performed on “an adjacent creature” so while it doesn’t specify whether it’s a ranged or melee attack (see also: the Hollywood trope of shooting someone in the forehead to finish them off), you do have to be in melee range to perform it. So the first time we got paralyzed, it wasn’t as much of an emergency because the bad guys weren’t close enough to capitalize. From there, it’s an automatic hit and crit, and then a Fort save to not die. Which means in certain circumstances, it could be a two-fer because it could kill you on the massive damage rules OR the coup-de-grace rules. If Mo critted someone, the free crit could do it alone. Rusty’s crit? Not so much. Rusty luckily made his save, but that’s pretty nasty stuff.

I was selfishly comforted to learn (more for future reference, since we won this fight) that creatures that are immune to crits (hello, Aeon Tuttle) are also immune to the effects of coup de grace. So if I had been the one paralyzed and targeted, I would’ve actually shrugged the death save and the critical damage off, though I still would’ve taken the damage of a normal attack.

I’m still just a little bit grouchy about the prior boss fight(s) where we asked Steve if it was possible to coup de grace an enemy and he said no. This definitely happened with the final fight on Istamak because that’s when we finally caught this and addressed it, but maybe the Castrovel boss too. But to be fair to Steve, I should say a) it was a new system overall and there was going to be some learning curve, and b) we players have copies of the rules and we didn’t find it at the time, either. It’s not ALL on Steve to know the rules and dispense his wisdom on us. Still… being an entitled whiner and complaining to the GM because of your own lack of rules knowledge is a time-honored tradition. This is the way.

The other continuing dynamic of this episode is Chris watching Seth get to enjoy “his” character in a way he was never able to. I know it sounds like I’m enjoying Chris’ frustration, and… yeah a little, but it’s also more complicated than that.

I can’t lie that Chris is very competitive about getting the most out of his characters and talks a lot of shit when his character outshines everyone else and has the big hero moments. So he does invite a certain level of schadenfreude when he comes up short. I’d never actually root for his character to die, but a little low-grade comeuppance every now and then serves to bring balance to the Force.

But I do honestly sympathize with the fact that he wasn’t enjoying the Hirogi character… at the end of the day, this is supposed to be fun, and a two-year slog where you’re not enjoying the character you’re playing for WHATEVER reason is a tough thing to ask of someone. For all Chris’ attitude and trash-talk, he’s no less deserving of a fun, satisfying game experience.

And he’s not wrong on the math – to get the most out of an Operative, you basically have to hit your attack twice. If you land the Trick Attack, you hit like Mo; if you don’t, you hit like Rusty. And the basic probability isn’t too kind to that model – if you have to hit two 35% chances, your real chance of success is actually only about 12%. Having said that, I also think Chris had some craptastic luck on his dice rolls and you can make an argument he gave up too quickly and Seth just got to reap the benefits of the RNG Gods finally coming around.

The other thing is that switching to Akiro WORKED. OK, we mock him a little bit for always casting Mirror Image or teleporting out of trouble, but that’s just us doing what we do. As friends hoping to have a good gaming experience together, Chris does seem like he’s re-energized and having a lot of fun playing Akiro and that’s what’s important.

And on that group-hug moment, I’m going to call it a week, a year, and a decade. Next week we’ll hopefully be allowed to get on the train and get ourselves to the bridge. Though I’m doubting it’s going to be THAT easy – that’d be like the DC Metro putting a stop outside the Situation Room of the White House. There’s almost certainly more plot twists yet to come. Thanks for listening, have a safe and happy New Year’s, and we’ll see you back here next… time.

Talking Combat 115: The Paralyzer Express

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 115: I Bite My Thumb At You!

Ah, the holidays. The time of year to reconnect with friends and family, rest and recharge, recite lines along Die Hard like it was The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and answer eternal questions such as “where does it say in the Bible that you CAN’T wear sweatpants to Christmas dinner?” and “which video game can I buy my son which would be the least obvious I’m really buying for myself?”. Hey, we all celebrate differently.

In all seriousness, I hope you’re all having some good times with friends and family, and I’m weirdly honored you’d spend a little morsel of that time with us. That said, this is going to be kind of a short post: both because it IS the holidays and – more “rubber meets the road” — because combat episodes without resolution tend to be some of the toughest to write. To quote Messrs. Itchy And Scratchy… we fight and fight and fight. Boss fights become a little more interesting because the boss usually has nasty powers we haven’t seen before. Grunts? Not quite so much.

I did want to lay out the battlefield a little bit, just in case it was confusing. Start with the general concept of a train station. On the north side, it’s bounded by the train tracks. Then you have an open area with what look like benches/seating area on the east and west sides, and a central kiosk in the middle of that. Our door opened pretty much into the eastern benches. Below that to the south is a little bit more of an open area, and some additional doors leaving the area. (But we don’t care about those – we want to get on the train.) There’s also a raised catwalk around the perimeter of the room with a few ladders that serve as access points to those without alternate transport (flying, teleport, etc.). As the fight starts, there were either one or two guys out front, one sniper up top (we didn’t see him at the start of the fight, but he became apparent), and then additional grunts in the information booth.

Hey, remember when I just said grunts don’t have new mechanics? Guess I lied about that, as we get our first introduction to paralysis… and let me tell you, it sucks. Now, a lot of status effects in Starfinder have been harsher than their Pathfinder First Edition counterparts (and don’t even get me started about Second Edition), but most of them have still been in the realm of tolerable. Minus two to this? 50% miss chance? Ehhhh… rub some dirt in it and walk it off. Paralysis is an ass-kicker – can’t move at all, and open to coup de grace attacks. For the moment, we’re saved by the fact that CdG is done at melee range, and almost all the bad guys were halfway across the room, but still. That has the potential to be a SERIOUS problem.

The other problem is that as the fight develops, with us pinned against the east wall, they’re starting to catch us in a pincer move. We lose Hirogi to his Enemy At The Gates re-enactment: he’s off hunting the enemy sniper up on the catwalk. The baykok is holding most of the party in place up by the train tracks to the north; the ones who aren’t paralyzed outright still have to stay put to avoid attacks of opportunity. But that leaves grunts rolling up along the southern edge of the benches where there’s nothing but… well… me to hold the line, 20th Maine style. I had backed off to the south to spread out the AoE damage, but I’d left CHDRR behind to help out with the baykok, since he can’t be paralyzed. Unfortunately, that leaves me on a bit of an island with enemies headed my way. Eek! If there’s a silver lining to the position, it’s that the “benches” should provide some partial cover, at least for a few rounds.

My meta-feeling on this battle is it’s manageable IF we can make the paralysis saves. The baykok is tough, but the grunts are just grunts. And even with the baykok, the base damage doesn’t seem so horrible, unless the status effects make it worse (and the occasional crit, of course).

I have to close with something I found amusing, maybe you will too. I went and looked up “I bite my thumb at you” with the full intention of roasting Steve some more, and I actually think I owe him a partial apology. Not that Romeo And Juliet itself is “obscure” – anyone who’s had a junior-high English class in the United States has been exposed (figuratively and literally, since let’s be honest, most high school boys remember that the Zefferelli movie had naked breasts in it for like two seconds). But the actual line and the character that says it probably ARE a little more obscure. It’s from the first scene before ANY of the main characters enter – anonymous Montague and Capulet guardsmen are shit-taking each other and “Sampson” bites his thumb in the general direction of “Abraham”. Unless you actually PLAYED one of those parts in your high school production, I’m willing to allow that those are “obscure”. I’m not sure anything that happens pre-Benvolio even counts.

So anyway, I apologize that we’re a little light this week. Welcome to the holidays! Hopefully next week will be a little more eventful. In the meantime, instead of encouraging you to visit our Discord channel, I’ll just wish you a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, or whatever else you might celebrate. Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next week.

Talking Combat 114: The Council of Hirogi

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 114: Mo Them Down.

“One does not simply walk onto the bridge of a Corpse Fleet capital ship.”

This feels like the “Council of Elrond” episode of our show. We’ve got to sit down and decide on a course of action where we’ve got a fairly limited number of choices, all of which sound like a suicide mission. And our team includes Rusty, who TOTALLY wants to take the Stellar Degenerator to Gondor.

One of the interesting dynamics was letting Seth kinda serve as Gandalf (I know… I’m stretching the analogy here) and lead the discussion. In a different set of circumstances, I might actually be annoyed that “The New Guy” was coming in and monopolizing the conversation, but I think there are mitigating factors here.

First, he’s a “new guy” who has a longer total tenure in the group than I do – while he’s new to this show, he’s been playing with the group for a long time, as evidenced by the ease with which he mimics Chris’ mannerisms. So… you respect that and roll with it. But I think the more important dynamic is that walking through the options was also part of his mental catch-up process – he’s missed two years of the plot, so letting him be the one to lead that conversation was a way of helping him get up to speed. Processing information, asking questions about who has what abilities, and so on. I think if the “original four” had just steamrolled through that conversation, it might have been harder for Seth to get on board with what was going on. And in a related vein, it made him feel more like a full member of the group, rather than the four of us deciding what to do and he’s Noob-Noob pushing the mop around. (I feel like this is a Rick and Morty-friendly crowd.)

On a personal level, part of it’s as simple as I don’t feel a need to be the leader in this campaign; that’s not my character’s role. Tuttle is well-established in his niche as The Tech Guy, as evidenced in our hack of the Level 10 computer. I don’t know everyone else’s character sheets, but I think Tuttle is LITERALLY the only one who could make that roll. I know Chris talks a good game about Akiro being Tuttle’s equal, but if he’s a +21 or +22 in Computers, he’s not making that roll. My sheet isn’t here in front of me at the moment, but I’m at something like +25 or +26 in Computers, so I can get into the 50s with assists. But I think I’m the only one, and even then I think it took something like an 18 or better to get there.

Because I’m honest that way, I should also mention there were a couple non-outcome-altering fails that Steve cut for time. I’ll put it this way – it was boring for me as a player to keep re-rolling, so I suspect it would’ve been equally boring for you as a listener. These were rolls that weren’t low enough to set off a countermeasure, but not high enough (or people failed their assists) to get us over the hump. And we couldn’t just Take-10/Take-20 because of the possibility of countermeasures. I didn’t want you thinking Tuttle was too much of a technical genius.

So we get into the computer and we find pieces of varying usefulness. Obviously a map will be handy regardless. The two viruses are also extremely useful – especially the one that erases us from the security systems. The main thing I’d been dreading is accidentally stumbling through another one of those anti-life rays, and now we basically don’t have to worry about those. The one that creates the false alert? I suspect that will be useful at some future point, and I’m even willing to meta-game and feel like the plot will tell us when to deploy it.

The one that’s a little cryptic is the personal log about the plans for mutiny. Is that just “color” to give some depth to the NPC we just fought, or does that imply we might be able to get some support from her fellow mutineers in some way, or there are some pieces of her plan we could use? Probably not direct assistance: it sounds like this lady was even MORE extreme than the average Corpse Fleeter, and didn’t think the captain was doing ENOUGH to eradicate the living. So… if those are her views, it’s hard to see her disciples taking our side. But if there’s a mutiny plan we could activate without revealing it’s been co-opted by the living or pieces of the logistics (weapons caches, escape routes, access to systems)? That could still be helpful. For the moment, file it in the back pocket.

As far as our plan, I think we’re still settled on – for lack of a less aggressive terminology – a decapitation strike. Take over the bridge, somehow convince the thousands of rank-and-file soldiers we’re still issuing legitimate orders, and then somehow use this ship to destroy the Stellar Degenerator.

Let’s take the elements of that plan in order.

“Take over the bridge” is sounding like a boss fight, possibly with some adds. The real question is whether the bridge of such a ship is like the Enterprise (8-10 people), the BATTLE BRIDGE of the Enterprise (even better… like, three people) or an Imperial Star Destroyer where there are dozens of dudes hanging around. I feel like that’s where you set off the diversion virus – set off the virus to divert “extra” security away, then try to run in, beat the bad guys, and lock yourself in. Arguably the most straightforward part of all of this.

“Legitimate orders”. A lot depends on the technology. Do they have voice or video, or do commands just come in and out on a screen? Heck, maybe they went full steampunk and have old-school pneumatic tubes shooting canisters to the engine room! If it’s voice or video, can Tuttle fake an overloaded Chambers coil that’s interfering with communications, or can Rusty just fake it with charm?

“Destroy the Stellar Degenerator”. Again, there’s a little knowledge gap we have here with regards to how dependent systems work. If we order the guns to start shooting the Stellar Degenerator, are they manned by a live person at a cross-hairs, or just fired as blips on a screen. Similarly, ramming: if we set a course to ram the Stellar Degenerator, will one of those 1500 engineers notice we’re aimed right at a small planetoid, or is it just a vector and some thrust to them and they’re relying on the bridge to steer? And again, is this somewhere Tuttle can chip in – rewire the guidance or weapon targeting so they think they’re doing something benign while they’re actually blowing up their prize (and saving the universe).

The Charisma/Rusty solution here is to come up with a reason why the Stellar Degenerator now represents a threat to the Corpse Fleet and THEY need to change their objective from securing it to destroying it. Then we could use the remnants of the fleet itself to finish the job. But would they buy it, and even so, do we really want to put our entire plan in Rusty’s hands?

And then there’s one more elephant in the room we haven’t even discussed yet. We have NO, ZIP, ZERO, NADA information on an escape plan. OK, let’s say all of this works and the universe is saved. If we’re ramming, that’s a pretty direct path to death. But even shooting the Stellar Degenerator leaves us in a position where the thousands of crew now know the bridge is compromised and we, the only living creatures on board, have to get off the ship. And… what about getting back to Pact Worlds space – do escape pods have Drift engines, or are we going to float around like Ripley at the end of Alien?

Whatever. Heroes don’t sweat the little shit. Let’s do this! Join us back here next week when we decide to move forward with whatever plan we’ve come up with. In the meantime, drop by our Discord channel or other social media and let us know what you think of the show, and remember to enter the contest. Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next week.

Talking Combat 113: A Fistful of Akiros

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 113: Akiro By Committee.

Welcome to Talking Combat. Come for the Starfinder action, stay for the review of Shakespeare In Cleveland, the straight-to-video sequel to Shakespeare In Love.

This week, we finally get to see the newly-enlarged party in combat for the first time, and it’s kind of awesome. Hirogi, in particular, is much more effective than I remember – I don’t know how much of it is upgrades from leveling and how much of it was that Chris used to roll like crap, but Hirogi is a newly minted killing machine. I remember Chris CONSTANTLY complaining that the Operative class was broken and he could “never” get Trick Attack to work properly, and now Seth is landing shots for 40, 50 points of damage. I suspect Chris is secretly dying inside to see it happen.

Then again, maybe it’s no secret at all. Maybe Chris sabotaged his own computer so he wouldn’t have to listen to Hirogi thrive without him. Well, that’s what I’m choosing to believe, anyway.

I will say Seth is doing a good job picking this stuff up on the fly. It is true Steve edited out SOME of the learning curve (I do believe it reached a point where I snuck in a quick game of Overwatch), but Seth’s instincts have been pretty good overall. I’d put it this way – he comes in with the right ideas of HOW to use the character; he just needs a little bit with the nuts and bolts of HOW to do what he’s thinking about doing. Better that than just running around like a schmuck and getting him killed in two sessions. (Well… as far as you know… this is only our first combat session. Did I just give you a spoiler?)

Speaking of picking stuff up on the fly, thanks to Chris’ computer problems, I got to take Akiro for a test drive this week. That was an interesting change of pace. I have to admit that my grand total of experience with a technomancer was a single Level 1 society game at PaizoCon… back in 2018. Needless to say, a Level 11 character has a few more moving parts than that guy did. But I figure I could fake my way through with a mish-mash of watching Chris do his thing and whatever lessons I could port over from playing a cloth caster in sword-and-sorcery games.

As an aside: I generally agree I was probably the best choice to run Chris’ character. Seth was still learning the system, Bob and Chris have a weird competitive thing going on, and John just kinda gets in a groove with Mo. So almost by default, it was probably best to give me the call from the bullpen.

Now in general, running another person’s character isn’t that big a deal to me. In fact, it’s actually a fairly common occurrence in our Dads-N-Kids 5E game. This just in: teenagers are mercurial and sometimes decide to skip a session because there’s something cooler to do than play D&D with your dad. This is the way.

And yet, even so, I have to admit I was still a little nervous.

Certainly, the most immediate concern was not getting Chris’ character killed. Maybe it’s Pathfinder Second Edition rubbing off on me, but lately, I’ve been walking around on pins and needles feeling like I’m one hit away from an ugly death. If that HAD happened, having to explain that to Chris would’ve not been fun at all. Pretty sure coming back from technical difficulties to find out someone killed your character is “stop talking to that person for a couple of months” territory. But you know what? Akiro DID take a crit, and even 60ish points barely got into meat damage. So I guess I didn’t need to get THAT concerned about things.

In a similar vein, I was also cautious about not wanting to do anything that could mess up the 2-year investment we’ve got in this story. Logically, I can wrap my brain around the idea that a TPK was out at the really skinny end of the bell curve, but how would that suck if I somehow screwed up the sprint to the finish of this whole endeavor? “Sorry McDonald just torched the last two years of your listening life bumbling around with a character he doesn’t understand. Sucks to be you. YOU’VE BEEN LISTENING TO ROLL FOR COMBAT…”

The more immediate and realistic concern for me was resource management. Not just for this battle (if Chris happened to come back while the fight was in progress) but there’s also the fact that we don’t know when we’re going to get a chance to take a long rest. I was really cognizant of using the wrong resources and leaving him in a bad position: spells, resolve points, whatever. I didn’t want Chris coming back and feeling like I’d caused more problems than I’d solved.

So you’ll note I did play things fairly conservatively. First-round, I had mirror images left to play with, so I decided to hang in the pocket and cast a spell – magic missile, specifically. In the second round, the boss and one of the other minions were kind of running a pincer maneuver and were about to get flanking on Akiro AND he was either out of mirror images or maybe had one left. So spending a resolve point to teleport away seemed like the right call there. By round three, the fight began to wind down, so it felt safe to just have Akiro shoot his gun for the rest of the fight. I did consider the ultimate Akiro move and doing a second cast of Holographic Clone when the first ran out… which, given that crit, might have been not such a bad idea.

Chris’ technical issues and my trial-by-fire notwithstanding, we were able to finally dispatch the boss and track down the last runner. It feels like that was the big area boss and we should be able to move on, but I guess we’ll see about that next week. Until then, feel free to drop by our Discord channel or other social media and let us know what you think of the show and join the general merriment. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next week.

P.S. May you find peace in the Great Link, Constable.

Talking Combat 112: Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes?

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 112: Nice Planet You Got There…

I’m going to go a little off the beaten path this week.

The adventure itself is Part 2 of “Seth Introduces Himself”. It’s fun and all, but there’s not a lot to write about the action itself. We poked a few more rooms with a stick. Huzzah!

What is slightly more interesting is the potential upcoming moral dilemma Tuttle and I find myself in at this point. As I was listening to this week’s show, I was struck by the fact that we’ve now had THREE of the five party members make some sort of joke about keeping the Stellar Degenerator for ourselves. And I’m not totally sure how I should feel about that – both as a player and a character.

Well, that’s not true. Jason the Player thinks that’s a bad idea. When it comes to these games, I like being one of “The Good Guys”. I’m not a big fan of moral ambiguity. I think the most “bad” character I ever played had a mild thievery streak from growing up poor on the streets (particularly with regards to food items). As an aside, I’m equally terrible at this in video games. When I play the “bad” option in games like Mass Effect, I actually feel guilty for being rude to what amounts to a computer-driven story point. DID I HURT YOUR NON-EXISTENT FEELINGS, LINES OF CODE? (pats console on what I imagine to be its head)

So OK… Jason the Player definitely doesn’t want the party to go rogue. I’m a softie at heart. We’ve established that.

But how would Tuttle respond to that? That’s the real question. Alignment-wise he’s Lawful Neutral, so he doesn’t have the +1 Yoke of Goody-Two-Shoes around his neck, but he does subscribe to some general sense of law-based ethics. I do think if he wanted to keep the Stellar Degenerator, it would be to study the science behind it rather than to turn a profit, but the lawful side of him might fall more in the “there are some things man wasn’t meant to know” camp. WHY DOES GOD NEED A STARSHIP?

Also, let’s remember that there are other ways for Tuttle to scratch that itch. The “Foundry” building back on Istamak had TONS of data modules that we didn’t really look at because we were trying to find our specific bread-crumb. But an entire library of artifacts of a civilization arguably more advanced than the Pact Worlds? Even without a working Stellar Degenerator, that’s Tuttle’s wildest dream come true. Tuttle could destroy the Stellar Degenerator, go lead a research team back to Istamak, and STILL flood the academic airwaves with papers for years based on the contents of that building. For that matter, the remnants of the defense systems – depending on how thoroughly the battle with the Corpse Fleet destroyed them – could possibly also be mined for science without having to release a planet-destroying superweapon into the wild.

(And hey, maybe he could get a date with the female ysoki we pretty much forgot about and abandoned in a locked room back on Moon Six. You know… assuming she’s still alive. And also not as crazy as her brother.)

Now we get to the other question… how much should I treat their jokes as in-game vs. out-of-game? We’ve had at least three people (Rusty, Akiro, Hirogi) express SOME sort of interest in keeping the Stellar Degenerator for ourselves.

BUT.

The nature of this episode (and last week’s) walked a little bit of a fuzzy line on whether it was the players or the characters talking. If it was Seth and Chris joking about extracting ransom from planets… then Tuttle may or may not know his teammates are planning on a heel turn. (He may think they’re untrustworthy for other reasons, but those particular statements would be inadmissible in Roleplaying Court.) Also, maybe it really is just joking and they’re going to do the right thing when the time comes. But if it was Akiro and Hirogi saying it… then I have to decide what my plan is going to be in response to that.

And that doesn’t even take Rusty into account. With Rusty, there’s the added dimension of his persuasive powers. How does that play? If Akiro or Hirogi talk about it… they don’t have a lot of guile to them, so Tuttle would know not to trust them. But Rusty is another matter. Is Tuttle even aware enough to know that Rusty can’t be trusted? In which case, maybe I should plan a failsafe that Rusty can’t talk him out of. Or is Rusty just that good and Tuttle doesn’t suspect a thing? We have also seen Rusty lie to OTHER people, so we can’t be so naïve as to think he couldn’t do that to us… could we?

And then, let’s say all of this comes to pass and Tuttle decides his teammates are truly thinking of using the Stellar Degenerator for their own malfeasance? What do I actually do about that? Certainly, I can’t outfight the rest of the party, though maybe if Mo was on my side…. Since I’m good with computers and engineering, could I rig something to destroy the Stellar Degenerator that they couldn’t counter? And then that steps back out of the game and gets into player agency – if I do something like that, am I hogging the story and trying to make the ending all about me? (But if they’re talking about stealing a planet-killer, aren’t they already making the story about them?)

The funny thing is: as I’m reading this, I realize I sound TOTALLY paranoid, and you’re probably imagining me sitting at some murder-board with pictures and strings connecting them. And to an extent that’s true, but it’s in a good roleplaying way. None of this is directed at Bob or Chris or Seth as people. It’s all directed at their characters and “thinking out loud” how my character should respond to their moves. If I can throw on my pretentious scarf and beret… “creative process”. So I think it’s a good thing for the game as a whole. Must be the Plaguestone rubbing off on me.

So that’s basically it for this week. Not much happened in the game itself, and I spent the week whipping myself into a frenzy thinking about how the endgame might play out. Not quite 14,000,003 possibilities, but quite a few. Next week I promise we get introductions out of the way and get back to the adventure at hand. While you’re waiting, feel free to drop by our Discord channel and let us know what you think of the show and join the merriment in general. Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next week.

Talking Combat 111: Getting The Band Back Together

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 111: Who’s That Knocking On My Door?

So now you know!

I have to admit, I’ve been excited, and even a little relieved, to finally reach the Big Reveal. The relief is that I didn’t slip up and tip off the return of Hirogi in some way – either here or over in Talking Plaguestone. I’m not oblivious enough to mention Seth by name, but a “five” party members instead of “four” or a “Hirogi” instead of “Akiro” could’ve slipped past the copy editors. (Which… when I turn my column in at 11 pm on the night it’s due, basically amounts to “running it through a spell-checker”. Maybe.)

I do feel like I should be honest and admit something: if we’re being totally honest, I got a little bit of accidental advance warning, though I didn’t recognize it as such at the time. A few nights earlier, we were playing Plaguestone, and I had logged in a little early. While waiting for that game to start, I saw Seth’s user handle (which I happen to recognize from Facebook) and Steve talking in a separate channel. So I actually knew Steve was doing something that was going to involve Seth. BUT… given we were about to play Plaguestone, I assumed he was going to be a Plaguestone NPC. And when he didn’t show up, I just assumed either we didn’t hit that part of the story yet and either filed it away for the following week, or I just forgot about it entirely. Little of both, probably. It never dawned on me that he could be getting Seth ready for a Dead Suns appearance, so in that sense, I was as surprised as everyone else.

But I suppose I should’ve been a little more prepared. In general, Steve has been teasing big things as we finish up the adventure path, so new guests and/or a return of Hirogi (or at least finding out his fate) should’ve both been somewhere in the list of possibilities. I know one of you listeners suggested doing a bottle episode with Hirogi and that always appealed to Steve; it was just a matter of logistics not coming together to write something and play it. And yes, Steve HAD been priming us for a return of Meats and Lasko (the Jay and Silent Bob of our entourage) – seven schedules get hard to coordinate, so he has to pull back the curtain a bit on stuff like that. But this was definitely not on the radar.

As Steve mentioned, I don’t personally know Seth… mostly just through the gaming anecdotes, the other guys have told about him. I used to travel for work, and sometimes when in NYC, I would join these guys for D&D. So while yes, I can technically claim I’d gamed with Seth a non-zero number of times before this, I’d be lying if I said I know him prior to this.

That’s OK though because I know Chris, and Seth’s doing an EXCELLENT job of replicating Chris, isn’t he? Almost a little scary. As Steve is going back and giving you all the history of this, and I’m hearing how little advance prep Seth did… I’m even more amazed that Seth is pretty much playing Hirogi almost exactly as Chris would’ve played him. Greedy… arrogant… self-preservation streak… that’s our boy! I find myself wondering if I could replicate anyone in the party that well. Maybe Mo… just get impatient and start opening doors and running into rooms, and then complain when all the creatures in those rooms attack me and I start taking damage.

(Kidding. Sorta.)

Moving forward, I’ll admit I’m a little curious how this will affect the party dynamic. First, you’ve got Seth playing a character that used to belong to Chris. Is that going to stoke any rivalry between the two? (Oh who are we kidding… of course, it will.) Is Seth going to rub Chris’ nose in his success after Chris grew frustrated with the character? Is Chris going to still try to take credit for anything good Hirogi does? How will that play out?

More generally – as Steve alluded to with his “poor Jason” comment — it’s another layer of pre-existing relationships being thrown into the mix. I want to be careful not to overstate it I don’t feel “left out”, I don’t resent Seth’s presence… none of that clique-y teenage drama. The next five Talkings aren’t going to be me writing bad, pouty poetry. But it is true that I’m already the George (Harrison, not Costanza) of the group, and now we have another extrovert rules-lawyer joining the fray, and one with a bunch of pre-existing history and in-jokes with everyone else but me. It’s all positive and I look forward to it, but I do think I might have to up my game and play my character a little more aggressively to keep up as we bring this adventure path to its conclusion.

I also feel like mentioning that at this point, I REALLY don’t care about sharing loot or anything that mundane. Right now, I want to finish the story. If an extra body gets us to the finish line alive, the more the merrier. I’m a little worried we may have another member of Team “Sell The Stellar Degenerator For A Profit” which may turn the endgame into a Mexican standoff within our own party, but we’ll jump off that cliff when we come to it.

Of course, lost in all of this was a fairly perfunctory combat session before our rescue. Four on one, no particular special abilities; between Bob handing us a surprise round and Mo rolling well on damage rolls, it was an express-aisle butt-whipping. Not much to be said about it except “nice hammer for Mo”. As a flavor thing, I love the idea of the suffocation chamber.

Hirogi’s rescue kind of swallowed up the rest of the episode, so next week we pick it facing roughly the same predicament we were facing last time. I think we’ve established we need to get to the command deck to do whatever it is we’re going to do, but we still need to figure out how to get there and still need to get some better degree of computer access so we can access maps, remove countermeasures, and such. But now we’ve got one more guy to help us do it! Feel free to drop by the Discord channel or other social media and let us know what you think of all of this, and we’ll see you back here next week. Thanks for listening!

Talking Combat 110: They Locked That Door For A Reason

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 110: Tuttle Mnemonic.

Under the heading of “be careful what you wish for, you just might get it”, we are now on the enemy flagship. You know, the battle cruiser the size of Manhattan, potentially manned by hundreds, if not thousands of undead troops. Our assets? Tuttle’s brains, Mo’s strength, and Akiro’s steel. With CHDRR as playing the part of a really complicated wheelbarrow. THE DREAD PIRATE RUSTY IS HERE FOR YOUR SOULS! (Except undead don’t really have souls, so… so much for that analogy.)

I fully admit I don’t know where we go from here. I think our only real chance is to do some sort of decapitation strike on the bridge. With capital ships, the guns and engine room are manned by dozens or hundreds of people, so taking over an individual system seems like a losing proposition. But if we can get to the bridge or the captain’s cabin, perhaps we can take control and give fake orders that will be taken seriously because they’re coming from the bridge. Or something. Still figuring it all out. Though even the bridge on the Enterprise (TNG) had a dozen or so crew if you count those stations scattered along the perimeter.

The first part of our plan actually goes better than expected, as Rusty actually uses all those fancy bluff tricks on someone other than his own teammates, and cons that hangar guard into letting us pass. I know Steve said in the show notes that there was supposed to be a vehicle fight in there, but I’m just as content to not do it. Having said that, if we DID have to fight it, I probably would’ve just fired up my jetpack and gone vertical. It is a big hangar, after all, so… high ceilings. I thought my Disguise roll (I think I rolled an 8 and it bumped up into the teens) was going to leave us hung out to dry, but a) maybe Steve used Rusty’s roll or an average of the group and b) if I was playing the role of a prisoner perhaps my disguise didn’t have to be all that good anyway.

Our initial checks provide us with bread crumbs on where to go next (in the form of conveniently unscannable rooms on the area map), but not much else. This led to our first minor strategy quarrel – John and Chris were definitely in sweep-and-clear mode, but I was trying to prioritize our limited resources. Based on things Steve said back on Moon 2 and en route, it sounds like we MAYBE get one or two long rests, so we simply can’t be taking EVERY fight, and rooms like “gravel pit” don’t seem like they get us anywhere productive. (Unless it’s special experience-doubling gravel? Magic gravel? STAR GRAVEL!) Better to prioritize those high-security areas that are more likely to have tools we need to reach the command center, which still feels like the ultimate play for now.

Also – and this gets more into metagaming – sweep-and-clear tends to be good for the parts of the campaign where leveling and loot matter more. At this point, we’re on final approach. We’re pretty much done leveling (MAYBE we get one or two more before the endgame, but I’m not counting on it) and it’s hard to imagine a loot-drop that’s going to be a difference-maker. So how much do we want to put ourselves out and expend resources for… an extra d4 of damage on our guns or a +2 to EAC?

Some of it is as simple as admitting that John gets a little impatient as a player because he wants to keep things moving. John is all about making things happen, and the combat engine is the most interesting part of the game to him; I don’t think I’m giving away any state secret by saying that. In fact, he gushed about that Pathfinder quest one-shot because there was a minimum of screwing around – it got right into the action. That’s where he’s happiest. So some of it was John wanted to open a door because John wanted to open a door, and the door to the slime cell a) was closer and b) didn’t involve any sort of fancy-man computer check to open.

I did see a comment on the Discord boards that we’re not really taking advantage of our X-ray vision resources, and that’s a fair criticism. Tuttle has the Stinkeye, and I think Akiro had an X-ray vision helmet (unless I’m thinking of Hirogi and that item went poof back on Istamak). I can’t speak for Chris, but I’ll break that into equal parts “I kinda forgot about the Stinkeye because it had been a while between sessions” and “I’ve been assuming starship bulkheads are made of thick enough metal or have energy shielding such that it’s gonna get blocked anyway”. So… yeah, guilty as charged. Moving forward, I’ll try to remember to use that a little more, but in the short term, I’m going to miss a few opportunities.

The next bit of fun is the death… errrr… anti-life ray we stumble across as we attempt to leave the hangar and enter the secure area. Ow. If we don’t come up with a solution for detecting or deactivating that, this adventure’s going to come to an end a long time before we reach the bridge. Our best hope is that maybe it’s only for sensitive areas of the ship, and we’ll only have to deal with it one or two more times. Or that there’s a way to turn it off in one of the red rooms on the map.

Though it did send me off on a whole mental digression while re-listening: what do they do if they’re taking on living passengers for some legit diplomatic reason? (Same with the lack of atmosphere, now that I think about it…) Do they have more of a “diplomatic quarters” area the living can stay in that doesn’t have, well, DEATH RAYS? Do they have an entirely different ship? (Yes, now I’m imagining an undead equivalent of a Royal Caribbean cruise liner, with Zo! Providing nightly entertainment.) Then again, it’s worth remembering this is a Corpse Fleet vessel, not the main Eoxian fleet — yes, they’re related, but these guys probably run lean and mean on purpose. Diplomatic missions probably aren’t a high priority to a separatist faction that wants to kill eradicate the living.

OK… end of digression. Moving along.

As we return to action, I finally win the argument about which room to open, but it may not be the “win” I thought it was: what we’re looking at is some sort of execution or interrogation chamber, with a sub-boss guy who is clearly NOT buying our supposed disguise. So… shoulda gone with the gravel pit, right? I guess we’ll find that out next week. While you’re waiting, duck by our Discord channel and let us know what you think of the show. Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next week.

Talking Combat 109: Stinker, Traitor, Soldier, Spy

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 109: I’m The Captain Now.

So wait… we have a SPY in our midst?

Or… there’s a 25 percent chance I AM the spy, in which case… MUAHAHAHA!

I’m not going to comment any further about the “spy” itself. My thoughts are more about the general concept of the GM “steering” the campaign. On some level, this happens all the time; it’s more of a question of how heavy a thumb the GM is going to put on the scale. NPC’s will have really specific knowledge about the path they want you to pursue and really vague information about anything else. The door they don’t want you to open will resist all skill checks to open it, while the door they want you going through will have a surprisingly low DC. Sometimes I’ve even been in campaigns where the GM will have an NPC of their own join the party to nudge the game in a certain direction or fill in skills the team needs to get to the next story point. I’ll admit enlisting a fellow player as part of an inside job is a little more heavy-handed than usual, but it’s also not unheard of.

Out at the extreme ends of the spectrum, this method of controlling the game can suck. Too much control, and the players are just glorified NPCs in the GM’s story and you start to wonder why you’re playing. Too little control, and the plot gets lost entirely and the game devolves into the players fighting each other for control of the story.

Also, as we discussed a few episodes back with regards to setting the game up for a guest, the logistics of running a podcast also add a necessary layer of game management. There’s letting the players have the agency to do cool and unexpected things, and there’s letting players wandering aimlessly for five or six episodes – with an audience listening – because they don’t know where to go next. (As someone who would’ve had to write five or six Talking Combats where nothing happens, I can sympathize.) This situation, in particular, feels like it had a high probability of going off into the weeds because it’s a big problem with a lot of unknowns, and some of the failures just could’ve gotten us anti-climactically killed. (Imagine a scenario where we just decided to fight a capital ship in the Sunrise Maiden. SHIP GOES BOOM.) So if Steve wanted to put a light thumb on the scale to make a tighter show… up to a point, that’s not some horrible breach of trust.

Next, we have a bit of a light-hearted moment with Tuttle’s newest mutation – the X-Ray Eye. (Do we go ahead and call it the Stinkeye? Perhaps.) We had a few critical fails on the lesser Stitch Spider, but this might be our first failure with the greater one, and even if it’s not the first, it’s certainly the most memorable one. So now I have Sense Through vision, but I have to keep the eye covered when not using it for that purpose.

The first question that leaps to mind is: is this permanent or not? I know with the lesser Stitch Spider, any negative effects only lasted until the next long rest. I guess there’s a chance this is going to be permanent, but I’m feeling like the answer is no. But… even if it’s a couple of days, that means I’ll at least have it for the duration of the campaign.

The second question is how effective is it really going to be? Reading some of the rules on Sense Through, it seems like it’s more useful for personal gear (seeing what someone has under armor, in safes and briefcases, etc.); a lot of building materials block it anyway. A foot of common metal or six inches of starmetal will block it. So unless the Corpse Fleet made their capital ship of wood, the bulkheads are probably going to be impervious anyway. But you never know.

But to summarize, Tuttle’s list of modifications since Level 1 now includes: climbing suckers, regenerative blood, a datajack that comes out of his head so he can plug himself directly into computers, aeon status (mostly just a soft glow), and now the Stinkeye. Tuttle has really undergone a pretty drastic transformation since we started out on this. And to think I almost went for one of the corpse grafts back on Eox too. (The hand that had the necrotic touch attack piqued my interest.)

As a little bit of a cherry on the sundae, I got to provide the name for our new ship, even though it’s probably just a loaner and I don’t expect us to have it for very long. I don’t want to act like “Midnight Maiden” was some great burst of inspiration; it just seemed like our first ship at the start of the game was “Sunrise” and this is the end and likely to be the last ship we have, so my first thought was “Sunset Maiden”. (Anyone else humming Sunrise, Sunset from Fiddler On The Roof, or is that just me?) But then “Midnight Maiden” jumped into my brain because alliteration is always fun, and OK… it sounded a little more gothy, which fit better with an undead ship.

So if we get a new ship when we get back to Absalom, is that the Morning-After Maiden? Ohhhh Myyyyyy! (I’ll be here all week, please tip your waitstaff.)

And then there’s the control system for the ship itself. Obviously our first cultural comparison was from the episode of Battlestar Galactica where Starbuck hotwires a Cylon fighter; the other comparison that was rolling around my brain was the “Johnny Cab” from Total Recall. I have to admit I’m surprised the Computers roll was as high as it was – I mean, I’ve been putting points into Computers EVERY level, and I still needed a 19 or 20, plus an assist from multiple teammates to make the roll. I mean, if this thing IS supposed to be on rails, why make the desired outcome that difficult? It’s… strange.

But whatever… we’re off the ground, we have a ship, and we’re headed for the undead capital ship where we’re going to… OK, still haven’t figured that part out yet. But come back next week and see what we come up with. In the meantime, 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.