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Talking Combat 040: I Do Not Approve Of Your Methods

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 040: Good Cop, Bad Cop, Hirogi Cop.

Oh, Hirogi, what are we going to do with you?

If you’ve been listening to the show this far, you know that Chris is a bit impulsive. Returning Clara-247’s weapons while we were exploring the Drift Rock. Jumping through the Loot Box of Wonder portal while we were still discussing things. I’m sure there are other examples I’m not thinking of. Hirogi Being Hirogi. You know the drill. But this week we graduate to the cold-blooded murder of a prisoner who already surrendered.

What. The Actual. Fffffff…..

On one hand, we’re not a party of paladins, we’re not going to lose our powers if we don’t adhere to strict Lawful Good behavior. It’s not even a Society game, so there’s no risk of picking up an Infamy point. And who’s even going to say anything? Wahloss?

On the other hand, we are still supposed to be the good guys in this scenario and executing prisoners doesn’t seem to fit the definition. More pragmatically, as you can hear me arguing, I felt like there was still plenty of information to get from the sniper and Chris’ need to do… something… kind of robbed us of a chance to get that information.

I guess you can make an argument (and Chris was making some overtures in this direction) that it was a roleplaying decision, that he hates the bugs that much or that it’s part of his hunter code thing. But here’s the thing on that… for all times he resets that Starship Troopers quote, I think he’s getting his lore wrong – the Shirren and the Formians are different species. (Formians look more like ants that walk upright.) Oops. Also, while you can argue the overall fight was a worthy test, I’m not sure befits a “mighty hunter” to kill an unarmed prisoner. The Hirogen… and yes, forty episodes in, I JUST got it that Chris named his character after the hunter race from Star Trek: Voyager… would not approve of such behavior. It seems like a true hunter would’ve given her a knife and a 5-minute head start.

Steve is right that I was mad, though I didn’t think I sounded that bad; in fact, I thought I made some good logical points. Having said that, he’s right: this incident frustrated me because it was so unnecessary. With giving Clara her weapons, it was a 50-50 call, and I even started to move toward changing my vote, only to find out Chris had given her the guns anyway. With the portal, there was no real question we were going to use it; the real question was whether to use it before or after checking the rest of the alien complex. But with the sniper, it just feels like there was nothing positive to be gained and a lot to be lost.

I suppose this is a good time to take a little detour and talk about Steve’s GM tip a little bit. When does something become official? When do you “take your hand off the piece” at a virtual tabletop?

In combat, it’s pretty cut-and-dry because of the way the tool (D20Pro for us) is used creates the decision points. Whatever you say out loud is just thinking it over; even moving can be canceled and re-done if you think of a more efficient path; when you submit the attack in the tool, that’s when it becomes official. Similarly, if you’re not attacking and just taking actions, hitting the space bar to end your turn is the Regis Philibin-esque “final answer”.

Outside of combat is where it gets a little tricky. Steve mentioned his rules about free movement (you move until you see something or step on something) and getting a confirmation, and they’ve worked pretty well for us over the years. The one thing he didn’t explicitly mention is that rolling any sort of die also acts as a confirmation – if you roll that skill check, you’ve committed to it. What this incident revealed is that we don’t really have any sort of understanding amongst us players for deciding what we should be doing, or any way to stop someone from doing something. It doesn’t come up often, but maybe it’s something to consider going forward.

Nevertheless, Steve kind of let Chris off the hook retroactively with the “Sense Motive From Beyond The Grave”, with the revelation that we weren’t really going to get any further info anyway, so I guess there was no real harm done. Beyond yet another mild ding against group cohesion, of course.

After The Incident, you will notice some confusion and clarifying questions on my part. I had gotten a little confused because in the earlier episodes back in Qabar’at, it sounded like the people at the fort were describing a team of professional soldier types, not creepy death cultists. So I started thinking (probably mistakenly) that maybe there are two different factions out here – the soldiers are heading out with Dr. Solstarni, but there’s another faction – the cultists – who already live out here. I guess it could still be the same group and the cultists could’ve dressed in more “professional” disguise when they were in town and then put on their death gear once they got back out in the wild, but that’s why you heard me asking a lot of questions about the various earlier encounters. Trying to nail down who was who, and whether we were dealing with two teams or one.

For all the frustration with Hirogi, the interrogation wasn’t a total loss. We did get confirmation that this is the group that has been harrying our progress, including starting the stampede, and we got at least one-way access into their comms. I don’t know if it’s coming up in the next episode, or it ended up on the cutting room floor, but we did spend a little time figuring out if there was a way we could use that to our advantage by feeding the main group false information.

From the temple itself, we also got star charts (or something like it) from the temple walls and more samples of the alien writing, confirming we’re on the right track. None of it seems like it’s of immediate use – I was thinking maybe there would be a secret chamber or something — but maybe that stuff will come into play when we reach the final destination, or maybe the star maps are a guide to the next destination after Castrovel.

So next week, I guess we finally put difficult terrain behind us and resume the chase. I think we’re only like 2 or 3 days from the supposed final destination, so hopefully, we’ll be catching up to the rest of the group and resolving the mystery soon. In the meantime, feel free to pop on over to Discord or join us on social media and let us know how you feel about Roll For Cold-Blooded Murder.