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The Bird’s Eye View S2|29: Flank Me? No, Flank You

Jason recaps the events from Agents of Edgewatch S2|29: Violetta, You’re Turning Violet!

Well, this week on Roll For Combat, we’re done with the Big Fight, but not done fighting. That’s right, we decide to take one more room, and it’s almost the death of us.

I will say, even going back and listening weeks later, the decision to continue feels defensible. On multiple levels.

The first is that there’s someone screaming and we’re cops, and if we retreat to rest, that person may be dead by the time we get back. (And even if not, they spend 8 more hours enduring pretty horrible suffering.) At the end of the day, helping people is part of the gig, and if someone’s in need, we should act. And OK, it’s not one of the Graycloaks because they’re all accounted for at this point, but should we pass on helping someone because it doesn’t check a box on the quest list? I don’t think so.

The second reason, as I briefly mention, is a feeling that if there were enemies to the north, they would’ve come down and joined the Big Fight. Now, as one of those 20/20 hindsight things, maybe we should’ve factored in the possibility that the screams drowned out the alarm and the bad guys in there didn’t hear it. (Later on in the fight, we notice they’re wearing moss earplugs, so there’s your answer.) But let’s be honest: we were thinking that since nobody came out of that room during the fight, this would just be cleanup and freeing a prisoner or two.

And that’s the other thing: we also know from Dannicus’ map that the room with the screams is basically all that’s left on this floor. I think if we clear this room there’s ONE other room we hadn’t visited, and it seemed fairly unimportant (the room marked “Processing” if you have access to our Discord and look at the map he gave us). So we knock this out, that’s an entire level cleared. (I’m also not counting going “up-river” and dealing with whatever is polluting the stream.) Is that just a touch metagamey in assuming that everyone stays in their rooms and doesn’t wander around and that nobody from the lower level would ever visit the upper level to see what’s going on? OK, maybe just a touch. But it did seem like finishing the level would represent a good solid place to end the infiltration for the day.

However, the one thing we DIDN’T count on was that the person in this room was one of the sub-bosses. To be fair, there was nothing on the map that would’ve given it away in advance – it wasn’t labeled “Violetta’s Lab” or something handy like that. But once the battle-map was revealed, the name of the NPC and the creature chained to the wall gave it away, because Dannicus had described Violetta as a) the second-in-command, and b) the person in charge of making the weird flayed creatures.

So yay. Our “stretch goal” fight is against a sub-boss. That’s fun.

Now, I notice one of the single biggest things that determined the flow of the fight was who controlled flanking at any given time. Lo Mang got himself up into the far north-east corner of the room, so he was the one person who could never be flanked, but the dice turned him into a non-factor: he didn’t hit much, but he didn’t get hit much.

Now here’s where it gets problematic. The “safe” place for Dougie would’ve been up against the north wall on the other side of Violetta. However, that’s right where the monstrosity was chained up to the wall, and nobody really wanted to risk standing right next to it. So instead of taking the straight flank along the wall, he took the diagonal flank; however, that left him exposed out in the middle of the room. So one of the two cultists was able to get in flanking on him. In my case, the room was too small for my bow to be very effective; I would’ve been eating a -2 unless I positioned myself WAY down in the far corner and ONLY shot at Violetta no matter what the adds were doing. So I tried to position myself between the two adds, so that if I missed Strategem on one, I could just switch targets to the other one.

So the early flow of the fight is that Lo Mang and the boss mostly missed each other, and while Dougie and I did beat down one of the cultists, Dougie took a beating that then dropped him. I moved up to take his place and keep the flank alive, but then that put me in the Flanking Box as well, and pretty much the same thing happened to me – only we didn’t put nearly as much (well… ANY) damage on the second cultist in the meantime. So Dougie is still JUST getting back on his feet and I drop.

And keep in mind, as a meta-game interlude, I think I had JUST listened to the Three-Ring Adventure show where Darius had momentarily died. So I was REALLY nervous about going down WITH persistent damage ticking on me because that’s ultimately what “killed” Rob. Unlike Darius, I still had my Hero Point, so I did have a do-over he didn’t have, but it was still a tense situation because that was all still in the back of my mind. And I believe I might have even started discussing what my next character should be with the Patreon chat.

And then a funny thing happened… in the form of a giant mushroom summoned by Gomez. This REALLY shouldn’t have worked, but it did… marvelously so. First, and most immediately, it reset the flanking dynamics – it provided an extra source of flanking for us, and took up the square that would be most useful for them to flank anyone. But then – the REALLY unexpected thing – it actually managed to crit Violetta, which… I don’t know how what percentage of her damage it did, but emotionally, it changed the tone of the fight and made it feel winnable again.

And from there, the corner was turned. The mushroom blocker bought us the time we needed to re-orient and heal up (a little), and we were able to grind down both the remaining cultist and Violetta fairly shortly after that. And FINALLY, this level of the dungeon is clear. All that’s left is to dispose of the poor monstrosity on the wall; I wished there was something we could have done for it, but it was one of those situations where Steve USUALLY tries to say yes, so if he’s giving you flat “no, that won’t work” answers, you know it’s not meant to be.

So that’s the upper level of the cultist lair. I don’t feel like I’m revealing any great state secret by admitting that we’re DEFINITELY getting out of here and resting up. We’re basically out of resources, and to do ANYTHING more would mean going down to the lower level where the big boss is. In the words of Simon Cowell, “that’s a no from me”. So next week, we rest, regroup, and hit it again.

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.

The Bird’s Eye View S2|28: Bring Me Everyone!

Jason recaps the events from Agents of Edgewatch S2|28: Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better

It’s Week 3 of Fightageddon, and the big boys have finally come out to play. That’s right: the ceustodaemons and the golem from the front porch finally arrive.

It does dawn on me that in terms of time, we probably could’ve packed this fight into two episodes, but I do think in this case, the editing and the shorter episodes flow better. If you think about it, Steve managed to break this into three distinct phases – main room, reinforcements from the sleeping quarters, and now the guys from the porch. If he’d tried to make two longer episodes, it probably would’ve been hard to make the episode break fall at a convenient place. It probably would’ve dropped right in the middle of the round or something.

As always, when dealing with golems, you have to be careful with your magic. With all golems, one damage type is extra-effective, one damage type heals it, and a third usually slows it – it’s just a question of which is which for any particular golem. In this case, those are fire, electricity, and cold respectively. I’d also add to the pattern that there’s usually one other individual spell (in this case, flesh to stone) that can be used fairly normally as well. They’re immune to every other form of magic and highly resistant to most melee damage.

The ceustodaemons? They’re tough customers, but they’re built for offense; nothing special about their defenses, not even their armor class. Their big thing is a fire breath weapon, but it turns out (reading the stat block after the fact) that it has a recharge timer, so they can only use it every 1d4 rounds.

As for the fight, the first ceustodaemon busts in, but then… don’t look now, we’re doing tactics! Lo Mang moves forward and locks the door, and then I’m able to get a fortunate crit on the last remaining cultist who tries to open the door. The gist of it is that the locked door buys us a few rounds to work on the first guy before his buddies arrive. I have to admit, if we ever had a virtual highlight reel for this show, that shot would probably go on my personal one.

And here’s where the tactics kick into high gear. One thing I’ve noticed is that we don’t have a conventional attack of opportunity in our party, but we have stuff that’s almost as good. Lo Mang has his crane flutter (aka the Chicken Dance) where he can counter-attack when an enemy misses him. That’s pretty handy. But now Dougie has opportune backstab, which basically lets him add a free attack when one of us hits.

Now, if there’s a drawback to that opportune backstab ability, it’s that it doesn’t confer flat-footed on its own. This means Dougie doesn’t automatically get that bonus damage and that free attack isn’t quite as effective. BUT… everyone welcomes Basil’s shared stratagem to the party! Now I can give one person (cough-Dougie-cough) flat-footed for their next attack. Now, strictly speaking, the opportune backstab has to chain off a melee attack, so my bow attacks can’t directly chain into it, but I can either a) set it up with my sword-cane or b) I can at least prime the pump and then let Lo Mang’s attacks set it off at a later date or just let him use it on his own turn: it’s good until the start of MY next turn, not his.

Of course, there’s also the simple solution: Dougie and Lo Mang just stay together and “Parkour Pals” the creature down by staying in flanking as much as possible. That way they can both chain their abilities off each other and either any damage I add is just gravy, or I can concentrate on secondary targets.

Now we do briefly get in some hot water here, courtesy of the ceustodaemon’s at-will dimension door ability. We had a good defensive perimeter set up, and then the big boy just leaps behind them and hits me and Gomez with the breath weapon. It’s not terrible for me, but poor Gomez ends up with a slight pan-sear for his trouble.

On the other hand, we return the favor when it comes to the golem: we’ve got all our flame spells locked and loaded, so the minute he shows his ugly mug, we just KILL IT WITH FIRE. The classics never truly go out of style.

And finally, with both daemons and the golem dealt with… the end of combat sound is played. Whew.

One thing I noticed… everyone except Basil had a brush with death at SOME point during this fight, but we were able to spread it out enough to keep going. Lo Mang took an early beating, but retreated back to Gomez and healed while Dougie held the line. Then the second round opened up, and Dougie took some hits dealing with the remnants of the first wave while Lo Mang was holding off the reinforcements from the west. Eventually, Dougie was able to maneuver his way out of the fight for a bit and potion up. Even Gomez took some late hits when the ceustodaemons warped into the back-line, and OK, the fight was over before he healed, but he was able to get himself out of danger before it really reached emergency status. Basil didn’t escape unscathed, but I do think I only got down to about half health before badging up, so I’m not going to pretend I had an equally hairy time. The flower in my lapel might have been dislodged; that’s about it.

The real question is do we even DARE to press on? On one hand, those screams sound bad and sound like something we should deal with. I don’t know that any of the remaining prisoners are VIPs/quest targets (I guess maybe Gubs is still around here somewhere?), but we’re still the cops: rescuing citizens is part of the job description. And OK, looking at the map Dannicus gave us, cleaning out the scream room would PRETTY MUCH clear this floor… there would MAYBE be one or two more rooms after that. On the other hand, we did just have one HELL of a fight, and our resources are a little tapped. Let’s be honest: it would be a real shame if we got through the last three episodes and then dropped to something comparatively wimpy trying to stretch one room too far.

But it would make for quite a story.

I guess we’ll find out what decision we make next week. While you’re waiting, 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.

The Bird’s Eye View S2|27: They’re Everywhere, Man!

Jason recaps the events from Agents of Edgewatch S2|27: Whenever I Think of You I Touch Myself

Welcome to Dungeon Pull 2: The Gomez Show. I say that because the focus of this week’s portion of the battle seems to be our resident sorcerer: both getting some solid use out of his existing spells but also breaking out a new one that probably knocked a round or two off the fight all by itself.

Before we get into that, I wanted to revisit Steve’s show notes, and the idea of Steve “helping” us by managing the flow of the fight a little. I’ve probably at least touched on this in other columns, but I actually think this is the way GM’ing SHOULD be done, and that more GMs should view their role this way.

Sometimes I think the word “game” in “roleplaying game” should come with sarcastic finger quotes because it implies a more adversarial relationship between player and GM than should really exist. I know there’s inertia in that direction: the GM controls the bad guys, which pushes them into a position of opposition to the players at times, so it certainly can feel at times like the GM is “against us”. (And OK, Steve has a knack for leaning into that when he gets aggressively happy about critting us twice in a row. Just Sayin’.)

But if that’s the relationship you want… play RISK or something, I don’t know. Everyone turns into a bastard when they play RISK.

What we’re REALLY doing here is telling a story, and in some ways, the true purpose served by the game elements is to create a random influence on the story that NEITHER side can totally control. And that gets to one of the “dirty little secrets” of this hobby: most GMs (at least the good ones) like to deal with surprises just as much as players do. For a good GM, part of the fun is to have random things happen that they DIDN’T expect, and to have to figure out how to deal with them in real-time. Sometimes that’s the actions of the players; other times, it’s a lucky (or unlucky) roll of the dice that alters the trajectory the story was previously on.

Seen through that light, “killing the players” should not be the primary goal of the GM. Telling a story that sits right in that sweet spot between success and failure and makes the choices of BOTH “sides” interesting feels like the better goal to shoot for. If that means massaging the flow of a fight to make the action a little more “theatrical” and exciting, maybe that’s what it SHOULD be.

Having said that, I also don’t think it’s a GM’s job to keep players alive until the end of the story either. I think it’s one of those “partial credit for showing your work” things. If the players are being aggressively stupid or not communicating well as a party*, failure up to and including a TPK can be a price for that failure. But if the players are engaging with the story, they’re making reasonable decisions, and their actions are moving the story in a compelling direction, it’s not the worst thing in the world to use the GM’s powers to keep the good times rolling.

*I meant this statement at the encounter/tactical level. At an overall “gaming table” level, I do think a GM can mediate communication issues between party members who are at odds: in that case, they can serve as a neutral party who wants the game to succeed and wants both players to enjoy the game. But within the tactics of a session, if your players are getting their asses kicked because the players are playing dysfunctionally and not sharing toys with the other children… that’s not the GM’s job to fix, and a near-TPK ass-kicking can actually be a pretty good teacher in that respect.

And OK, Steve also makes a point which I’ll amplify. When it takes a full 2-3 hour session to run a combat, it’s easy to forget that a round is supposed to represent six seconds of fighting, so even a LONG combat is supposed to represent… a minute? two minutes?… of real-time. Applying that to this fight, it means that from the moment the cultist sets off the alarm, we’re actually talking about it taking 20 or 30 seconds for the cultists to get their shit together and launch Maverick on Alert-5. That actually doesn’t seem unreasonable. If anything, having reinforcements POUR into the room 12 seconds after the fight started would be the unrealistic play.

And that circles us back to this week’s live-action. To take up Steve’s point about ebb and flow… this week is the valley between the two peaks. Last week started fast – we didn’t look where we were throwing our fireballs and pulled six or seven bad guys on us, TWO of whom were the Skinstiches that were also full of bugs. (Can’t believe I forgot to give kudos to the Oogie Boogie reference!) So that came out of the gates flying.

As we enter this episode, we had gotten the cultists down to a manageable number and even had one of the two swarms dealt with. So… lull in the action. Among other things, we finally get to put Gomez’s touch-heal to use. It’s not the FIRST time we’ve ever taken advantage of it, but it’s arguably the BEST use we’ve made of it. Once we’ve done some healing, we’re left with a fairly straightforward fight (except for the remaining swarm) against a bunch of melees with no particular extra talents.

We’ve got this, right?

And then that’s when Steve deploys the next wave of baddies. Again, these guys aren’t tough, but there are a lot of them, and they’re also coming from a COMPLETELY different direction: if not for Lo Mang coming up at the right point in the initiative and “putting the cork in the bottle”, they could’ve easily swarmed me and Gomez in the back ranks. And that WOULD have made things pretty hairy. But even then, that leaves Dougie kind of out on an island against the remnants of the first wave because we’re all up top dealing with the new threat.

At least until Gomez deploys hydraulic torrent. Here we see a line-effect spell at its most beautiful. When enemies are able to come at you from multiple directions, it pales in comparison to a cone or area effect, which lets you be a little more loosey-goosey. Line effects require some precision to get full value. But when you get that rare moment where four guys are forced to charge at you through a straight corridor and funnel themselves into the killbox for you? DAAAAAAMMMN. (Even moreso when two of the four crit-fail their saves.)

So Gomez’s spell ALMOST singlehandedly rips apart Wave 2, and Lo Mang and Basil clean up the remnants.

NOW we’ve got this, right?

And then the door far to the southwest opens. At the risk of offering a mild spoiler, the door to the front porch where the big uglies were hanging out. Wave 3, locked and loaded for next week. If you’ve stuck around for the cannon fodder, I assume you’re gonna want to see how it goes against the big guns.

As always, feel free to drop by our Discord channel and let us know what you think of the show. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next week.

The Bird’s Eye View S2|26: Cultists, Cultists Everywhere

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Oh, who am I kidding… of COURSE there’s more beyond that. But we’ll get into all of that next week. As always, feel free to drop by our Discord channel or other social media and let us know what you think of the show (and hey, you can check out the map). Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next week.

The Bird’s Eye View S2|25: A Sew-Sew First Fight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I suppose we’ll find out more next week as we continue our exploration of the cultist lair and find some more cultists to kill. As always feel free to drop by our Discord channel or other social media and let us know what you think of the show. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next week.

The Bird’s Eye View S2|24: Four More Years!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So hey… thanks for a great four years, and here’s to the next (gulp) four. But in the short term, we’ll see you back here next week when we enter the cultist lair for realsies. As always, feel free to drop by our Discord channel or other social media and let us know what you think of the show. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next week.

The Bird’s Eye View S2|23: Welcome to the Cultist Clubhouse

Jason recaps the events from Agents of Edgewatch S2|23: DMing in the Dark.

This week feels like an important one on Edgewatch because it feels like we’ve passed the peak of the mountain in terms of information acquisition and are headed down the other side toward the conclusion.

I don’t know if it’s like this for every adventure, but there’s a cycle here. You start each adventure, or each section of the adventure, with a simple set of marching orders. Find this person. Solve the mystery of XYZ. In this case, it’s “the Skinsaw Cult are in the catacombs… go get ‘em”. As you start to explore, there’s a certain amount of the adventure that actually opens up new side quests and creates NEW questions, and maybe challenges what you think you knew going in. In this case, we’ve got the horseman and his missing chain, we’ve got the missing Graycloaks, we stumble across general corruption within the catacombs (including that big Tyrroicese thing we ran from), and we get a POSSIBLE assist from Dannicus, though when we first got the information, it was unclear how much we could trust him. The point being… up to a certain point, it’s easy to end up more confused than you started because the game is lobbing new information at you faster than you can clear the old stuff off the board.

But then the new revelations begin to slow down, and you actually start resolving some of the open items, and THIS feels like the week we finally hit that point in the adventure. At a high level, without getting into the blow-by-blow action, we cross off the side quest with the ghostly daughter and her fountain, we find out what happened to (most of) the Graycloaks, and most importantly, we FINALLY have our entry point into the cultist lair. Though it would be better if we could avoid sneaking past that big nasty every time.

That doesn’t mean the combat is going to get easier; if anything, the fights are likely to get harder. Dannicus identified the Skinner and at least two sub-bosses, there’s those daemons and the golem on the upper entry point, and it wouldn’t surprise me if we still have to fight Tyrroicese for real at some point. (Also… what’s fouling up the underground stream?) But in terms of information gathering and story complexity, it feels like we’re past the peak and heading down the other side of the mountain. It won’t be too much longer before we’re back into “find the cultists, kill the cultists” territory.

Of course, to get there, we had to do a little more subterranean wandering, through the ONE part of the complex not covered by Dannicus’ map. Basically, Dannicus gave us the upper and lower cultist layers, but all the little extra tunnels that snake in between… we’re on our own for that, with only a few geographical hints – we know all the stuff to the west eventually terminates where we met Dannicus, the one passage to the far east that almost HAS to correspond with the rubble-filled passage to the far east of the catacombs level. So it’s a LITTLE confusing, but we can roughly find our way.

We start by crossing off the side quest with the stonemason’s daughter. It turns out the missing gem powers a simulated “holographic” (though we’re in the wrong game system for that technology) garden, which lets her experience nature and be set free. This also destroys the statue, providing us with two magic staves, but the bad news is neither of them is arcane-friendly. But it’s OK… Gomez can use the Healing staff, so more heals are really a win for all of us. The nature staff… meh. Feels like a bunch of situational stuff, and even the movement-impairing spells probably have fairly low DCs to them. It might be useless to SOMEONE, but for our group, that’s probably a sell item.

We explore a little further and find a few signs of a trail being marked. The real question is: is it the cultists marking the CORRECT way to go, or the Graycloaks marking off ways they SHOULDN’T go? Kind of an important distinction. As we do our wandering, we reach what appears to be our destination – the door on the far side of the gap and the lookout alcove BOTH bear resemblance to Dannicus’ map, so if we get over to the other side, we’re in.

But of course, that means sneaking past Tyrroicese. And this time, there’s no gate protecting us if we can’t get through the door on the other side. So we decide to sneak someone over and I draw the short straw, because I’m unexpectedly good at Stealth, AND I’m not that bad at Thievery either.

The bad news is the door isn’t just locked, but physically barred from the other side, so we aren’t going to get it open any time soon. And on the way back across, of course, I roll a crit-fail. Walking and chewing gum is now beyond my capabilities. Sigh.

So now Tyrroicese knows we’re here, but the silver lining to this cloud is that is we have a round to act before it can really do anything to us. I decide to just jump over the edge, but with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, I probably should’ve done what Lo Mang and Dougie did and try to jump the gap to the open hallway. After all, if I failed, my feather fall STILL would’ve kicked in, but if I’d succeeded, I wouldn’t have gotten dunked in the River of Awfulness. Heck, even if I’d fallen, if I’d put some horizontal motion into it, I might have landed on the BANKS of the Poo River, rather than falling directly into it.

So OK… low-key humiliation endured, but the good news is that Tyrrroicese doesn’t follow us. So… maybe it just guards that room or something? I eventually get pulled up to the main level and we are IN the cultist layer, where our map kicks in.

As we plan our exploration, 90% of the map is to the north of us, except for a U-shaped section that goes west, doubles back (with an exit to the “porch” where the daemons and the golem are), and then comes back to the east and ends up at that door. (Now, skipping ahead, the map reveals the secret door, so that seems like a bit of a mild spoiler, but whatever… it wouldn’t have been THAT tough to piece together that 50-ish feet of hallway was missing.) So… if the two main choices are figuring out that door and securing a more graceful insertion point, or immediately rushing into the more heavily populated parts of the cultist lair with the Tyrroicese stalking our retreat path… yeah, I think we should at LEAST clear that door first.

So we take the lower route, and run into the alcove with the not-that-subtle secret door. I thought it was going to require some fancy manipulation of stones or using some magic, but apparently, a basic T-pose is good enough to get it done. Revealing a room beyond.

The good news… the Graycloaks are in here. Now, this is good news, and not JUST because they’re alive, because depending on how long they’ve been here, it means the cultists haven’t been able to get into this room either. That might even mean we could rest in this room if we had to (though that wouldn’t do anything about replenishing consumables).

The bad news… we’re still dressed like cultists, so they prepare to give us whatever fight they’ve got left in them as the episode ends. I guess next week starts with some Gomez Diplomacy. 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.

The Bird’s Eye View S2|22: He’s a Fungi to Hang Around With

Jason recaps the events from Agents of Edgewatch S2|22: We Call That “A Lo Mang”.

First things first: I LOVE Steve trying to wrap pseudo-intellectual trappings around his love of poop jokes. “It’s relatable, it’s like doing a day of yardwork”… ummm, no. You just like throwing your players into poop as often as you can. It’s almost become part of the show’s appeal like we were some fantasy RPG version of Dirty Jobs.

On the other hand, I do think I’ve wrapped my brain around why this natural cavern system needs to exist… it introduces variety into a dungeon that otherwise doesn’t actually have that much of it.

When it comes to dungeon design, there’s a trade-off to be managed. You generally don’t want your environments to just be some random collection of creatures; you want there to be a theme that reinforces the story you’re telling. On the other hand, if all the monsters are TOO similar, it’s like playing on a treadmill and things get old fast. (See also: the Extinction Curse campaign where… OK… sometimes there’s a few too many xulgaths for my tastes.)

Looking at THIS dungeon through that lens, there’s basically two main pieces of this dungeon system. You’ve got the corrupted temple level, which is full of undead and undead-adjacent stuff. And then you’ve got the cultists, so… humanoids and THEY also play around with undead constructs. If you don’t throw something else in it runs the risk of getting bogged down in sameness and get kinda boring. So this underground cavern system adds a bit of a new biome and allows for some “natural” creatures to make an appearance. Allowing Steve to cover us in poop is just an added bonus, I guess.

So we start with the otyughs. Looking at the stat block for these guys, they’re really not that challenging. They’re CR 4 monsters, they only have 70 hit points, they’re slow and fairly easy to hit. It’s almost like they have a lot of the worst qualities of oozes, but without the positives of being immune to all that “extra” damage like oozes are. Granted, when the fight first starts and we don’t know how weak they are, it looks a little scary when they rush us; but once we get going and actually start landing blows, it’s a fairly easy fight.

In the aftermath, we don’t get anything in the way of treasure, but we do get a sense that the Graycloaks came through here and lost at least one of their members. It’s at least some encouragement that we’re on the right path. Seeing that, following the path to the north seems like a good bet. However, there’s a couple of problems with that plan. First… at the end of the path is the roper, so if we go up there, we’re in the same position we were in 4 or 5 episodes ago. But then we also find the mushroom men and the nook they’re… for a lack of a better word… worshipping. Only the object of their worship is a skitterstich – that’s right, a giant spider made out of corpse parts.

This fight… it’s a LITTLE tougher than the previous one, but still more of a warmup than a real challenge. On one hand, it’s a single enemy, so it’s one against four. On the other hand, it’s a higher-level challenge – hits harder, has a few special abilities, and so on. The other thing is… at least early on… it’s hard to get a read on how the mushroom men are going to react to us attacking the skitterstitch. On one hand, they treat it almost like an object of worship; on the other hand, they also seem to like Gomez a lot as well.

The other good news is that it’s just as susceptible to fire as the regular skinstitch we faced back at the bank. So we’ve got that going for us.

So we chip, chip, chip away… and we eventually get it down. It spawns a swarm when it dies, but a critical hit from the necklace of fireballs takes care of that in one shot. Also… somewhere along the line, Gomez became King Of The Mushroom Men. I’m still not quite sure I understand how that came to pass, but OK. You know having an army of followers is just going to go to his head, right?

The other outcome of defeating the skitterstitch is that we find what almost has to be the missing headpiece to the statue that the Elven Ghost Girl was watching over. I don’t know if this is going to be a recurring theme, or just a one-time phenomenon, but this would imply they’re using magic items from the temple to power their constructs. But finding this one means we can go ahead and take that back and put it back on the statue… which, for the moment, we’re going to assume somehow releases the spirit. (Extra credit: does this imply they did something similar with the dullahan’s chain?). And collect experience for it.

Now, I have to admit the end gets just a little too metagamey for my touch, as we spend five or ten minutes grilling Steve about where we could get enough experience to level up. Now, sometimes it’s a necessary evil because if we level up and don’t have our N+1 characters ready, we could have to halt mid-session and end up wasting part of a session. So sometimes, the logistics of the show demand that Steve give us a hint that we should prep our next characters. So… I don’t mind if we DISCUSS it, but it starts feeling a little uncomfortable if/when we start talking about which specific encounter(s) we can fight to push us over the top.

Looking forward, the presence of the roper makes this particular route a dead end, so next time we’ll have to retrace our steps and choose one of the other paths we didn’t take. That will almost certainly lead us past Elf-Ghost, so I guess we’ll cross that off as well. And then it’s on to Cultist-Land! 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.

The Bird’s Eye View S2|21: Always Spay or Neuter Your Rogue

Jason recaps the events from Agents of Edgewatch S2|21: Dug in Like an Alabama Tick.

DAMN IT. I was right in the middle of writing this week’s column and the first trailer for the new Spider-Man came out, and every thought just rushed right out of my head. Quick pause to recollect my thoughts.

So, let’s talk about this map. I’m not sure I even totally understand it… but we’re going to discuss it.

Let’s start with some basics. I think what we have is the temple/burial crypt level, a living quarters level, and a layer of natural caverns sandwiched between the two, almost like a mezzanine level. I think there are a few DIRECT paths from the temple to the living quarters (the locked spiral stairs behind the roper, somehow getting past Tyrroicese) but otherwise, you have to snake through the natural cavern system between the two.

A little piece of me wonders about the nature of the cultists’ lair. At first glance, I would think it’s living quarters for Aroden’s acolytes that got overrun and corrupted. But then you see rooms like “blood pit” and realize it’s been 100+ years since Aroden disappeared; could the Skinsaws have been here long enough to build their own headquarters? But that doesn’t jibe with the Skinner’s backstory; she killed a tax collector and started her crime wave… semi-recently… certainly within a humanoid lifespan. And I don’t get a sense construction projects were high on her list. So for the moment, I go back to “it’s the living quarters of the Aroden priests and they added the blood pit to increase the resale value.”

So then we have the issue of the map itself. For our first several sessions, the original map was just the temple level, but now that we’re infiltrating the underground passages, the (new) map we’re looking at has the temple and caverns layers superimposed on each other. Whoever created the map TRIED to make the rooms overlap as little as possible, but passages (and the underground stream) are another story… those are bumping into things all the time. So you’ll be in a room, and there will be a path that’s not REALLY there but is actually above (or below) the room you’re in. Or maybe even the stream. So we’re dealing with at least a little bit of confusion here, and we need to adjust our thinking for three dimensions, much like Khan in the Mutara Nebula.

So… the bad news is that last week’s combat was pretty much humiliating. We were WAY outgunned, and we had to run away. The only silver lining is that it was the first encounter of the new day, and we made the decision to call it so quickly that we really didn’t burn much in the way of resources. So a little bit of Handwave Healing and we’re still pretty well-positioned to explore. However, this time we decide to quit screwing around and follow the path left by the cultists.

Truth told I think there’s a little self-preservation at work here: if we go the way the cultists went, presumably they would have killed or otherwise dealt with any obstacles in their way… right?

OK, maybe not. As we’re almost immediately set upon by giant ticks.

This week’s fight isn’t so much humiliating as it is frustrating, because we’re dealing with swarms, one of those things we just don’t have a great answer in our toolkit for. I’ll grant that swarms are a LITTLE easier than in First Edition; in First Edition, if you didn’t have area damage, you were basically screwed. Here in Second Edition, you can still damage swarms without area damage, but it’s like oozes where you lose a lot of the “extra” damages. Can’t flank, can’t crit, no precision damage… all that annoying stuff. And unlike oozes which you can hit like the broad side of a barn, swarms are actually reasonably hard to hit – lots of open space between creatures I guess. The only saving grace is swarms generally don’t hit all that hard: death of a thousand paper cuts. The disease is where they get you.

As is often the case, this battle turns into another argument about tactics, and more specifically, Lo Mang’s decision to run away. I’m torn. On one hand, I’ve been an ardent supporter of hit-and-run tactics. This isn’t 1E… standing around trading blows is usually a losing proposition. On the other hand, tactics don’t operate in a vacuum: there is still room for battlefield awareness. And having the guy with the largest hit point pool AND best armor class run away and leave squishier people to take hits may not be the optimal game plan.

In this case, it mostly doesn’t matter as we make quick work of the ticks, though Dougie picks up a touch of disease for his trouble… and a bunch of jokes about fitting him with the Cone of Shame that probably annoys him more than the disease does.

So we continue our exploration and find our next side quest: a grave that’s been desecrated by having the headpiece of its statue removed, which causes the ghost of the occupant – the daughter of the guy who carved the statue — unrest. OK, so we need to find the headpiece/gem, and restore it to the statue, and that probably sets her free, I guess? For the moment, I’ll assume the cultists have it and it’ll come up as a natural consequence of storming the hideout. I guess the real question is what happens when we get it: do we just put it back or do we have to do something crafting-wise to repair it? I have Crafting, but does that make me a qualified stonemason?

And OK, I still think it’s hilarious that we met an elf who died of pollen allergies. Isn’t the outdoors supposed to be their whole thing? It’s like Aquaman drowning.

We do a little more exploring and accidentally hit a dead end (of sorts), arriving back at the balcony/overhang where we met Dannicus. So that path makes a big loop back into the temple area through the room with the two black puddings. That still left a path to the southwest into new territory.

Following that leads us into a room that’s basically a garbage dump, and shortly after entering, it’s Otyugh Time. Four of them, no less. I’m HOPING that more of them means they’re lower level, but I guess we’ll find out next time. 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.

The Bird’s Eye View S2|20: Know When to Walk Away, Know When to Run

Jason recaps the events from Agents of Edgewatch S2|20: Tactical Retreat Experts.

On the surface, this week’s episode is a bit awkward. After all, we have a rich and long-standing tradition of making fun of Chris Beemer’s cowardice, and this week… we pretty much all turned tail and ran from the one creature Dannicus forgot to mention in his otherwise thorough briefing.

Of course, it’s not necessarily an apples-to-apples comparison. When Chris gets his worst bouts of teasing, it’s usually those cases when he starts retreating even before the monster’s thrown a punch. AT LEAST TAKE A HIT OR TWO! On the other hand, when the monster hits you with a 40-something and crits for two-thirds of your hit points in one shot… well, then you’ve got some legitimate empirical evidence that maybe we shouldn’t be fighting this creature right now. That’s like… the scientific method at work.

(That’s pretty much “hits on everything except a natural 1” territory, and even a crit is “only” in the 12-14 range depending on which of us it’s targeting. Yeah… this thing’s bad news.)

It reaches the point where this Tyrroicese thing (not sure if that’s a proper name, or the creature type) feels like it’s SO far above our pay-grade that you start to metagame WHY it’s so impossible… that either the person writing the adventure made a SERIOUS mistake in encounter design, or there’s some sort of “trick” involved. Maybe the key to defeating it is somewhere else in the dungeon, or that when you defeat the person who summoned it, it disappears. Maybe it’s not meant to be fought; maybe its function is more like traffic control and it’s just here to steer the party down one of the other paths to the cultist lair.

On the opposite side of the ledger, the fact that it’s absorbed one of the Graycloaks DOES suggest it has to be dealt with eventually. That’s LITERALLY on our list of side quests, and it doesn’t feel like a satisfying resolution to go tell Runewolf “yeah, your captain is trapped in some nasty eldritch thing, sucks to be them, can I have my money?”. So maybe the real message here is that we avoid it for now and come back when we’re higher level. After all, there are still two or three other ways to get into the cultist lair, including the entrance we discovered all the way back in the first episode.

And ohbytheway, on top of the fact that it can knock us into next week, it’s got ridiculous reach and can summon more oozes. Lovely. And yet… that was almost a bit motivational: it accidentally gave us a window into how far we’ve grown as party. Remember when Hendrid Pratchett’s ochre jelly was something to be avoided at all costs? And now we’re taking them down fairly efficiently, even with Dougie briefly getting enveloped. We really ARE getting the hang of this thing, aren’t we?

I realize I’m dealing with things out of order here, but our cowardly retreat did kinda seem like the big moment of the episode, so I figured I’d tackle it first.

Meanwhile, we do have other things going in this episode… that wounding rune went on an interesting ride before finally ending up on Basil’s increasingly epic sword-cane. If you remember, at the end of the last episode, we’d pretty much decided Dougie was going to get the rune. But for whatever reason, he didn’t want it… not sure I understand the logic there, but whatever. I was quite willing to give it to Lo Mang, but handwraps do blunt damage and a wounding rune requires piercing or slashing. So then I thought I’d put it on my bow, but while reading up on it a little further, I noticed it has to be put on a MELEE weapon. So… OK… bleed damage for Basil! (And yes, I’m going to be AGGRESSIVELY on the lookout for a chance to stack bleed and poison on the same target.)

One unintended side effect of ending up with the rune is that it made me feel just a little guilty around the edges, because between that, the chain shirt, and the fireball necklace, it was one of those days where the loot felt a little lopsided in my favor. Logically, I know things even out over the long haul, but in the short term, I always feel like there’s a “HEY LOOK AT THIS GREEDY” sign turned on over my head.

Regarding Dannicus’ briefing, I already covered the level of detail… it really is almost like having a cheat code. I specifically wanted to reflect on a couple of the underlings he mentioned. (We know the bosses are gonna suck.)

Now… I don’t know if it was fighting the skinstichers in the bank numbed me, or if I’m just dense, but somehow I didn’t find the golem to be THAT intimidating. (And yes, I realize the golem and the skinstitchers aren’t EXACTLY the same thing, but there are some similarities.) I think knowledge is the key with golems: if you run into one blind and don’t know what magic to use, golems can be a pain because they’re vulnerable to ONE type of damage and ignore anything else. (And golems are even healed by the wrong magic.) But if you know what you need in advance, it’s not SO bad. In this case, both Gomez and I have fire attacks in our arsenal, and we can always go buy more.

Now those ceustodaemons on the other hand… THOSE sound like a formidable challenge. I already assume they’re generally tough and hit hard. But it’s the special abilities that sound truly daunting. The dimension door innate power is gonna make it really hard to control the battlefield – setting up flanking, keeping the backline (well… Gomez) safe. And breath weapon equals area damage, which means you have to be more careful about engaging and leave yourself room to spread out. And I’m not sure what to make about the super-special wounds that require extra healing. (And for the moment I’m not going to look it up… feels like cheating.)

So jumping forward back in the present, we beat the ochre jelly, we retreat to lick our wounds (OK, mostly Lo Mang and Dougie’s wounds) and bruised egos, and I guess we’re going to use one of the safer paths down into the dungeon next week. You know… like we probably should’ve done all along. 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.