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Talking Combat 091: In Rusty We Trust

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 091: Be The Best Rusty You Can Be!

July 4th. A day to celebrate freedom. I’m not sure the Founding Fathers realized they were going to bat for the freedom to pretend to be a space mouse once a week, but I assume they’d approve. Of course, for any of our listeners outside the US, it’s just Thursday, and hey… that’s cool too.

Aside: George Washington is a classic Envoy, Ben Franklin is clearly a Mechanic, Thomas Jefferson could also be a Mechanic, but we’ll put him down as a Mystic since he was the most esoteric of the Founding Fathers. John Adams, a Technomancer who infuriates his party-mates by taking nothing but utility spells. Hamilton’s probably a little too much of a hothead to be a second Envoy, so let’s put him down as a Solarian (with a curiously in-depth knowledge of financial systems).

Sorry, where was I?

So, welcome to both book five and Level 9. We start this week with… well, call it what it is… Rusty’s new and improved attempts to brainwash the rest of the party. So basically he can re-roll his Diplomacy roll if he wants, and we have to roll our Sense Motive twice and take the lower result for a chance to lie with impunity. We tend to think of combat as the engine that makes the whole game go, but that’s possibly overpowered. Then again (skipping ahead a bit) we forget there are people out there with high enough Sense Motive scores to see through Rusty’s cons… just none on THIS ship.

As I mentioned, as a roleplaying thing, I seriously considered dipping into Technomancer or Mystic as an extension of Tuttle gaining the Aeon subtype. “Tuttle’s awakening to the Call of the Universe turns him away from science and more toward the magical”… would’ve been neat to play around with that. And even though it would send me to Suboptimal Character Hell, I would’ve preferred to go Mystic rather than Technomancer – both to get access to heals, as well as to make Tuttle different from Akiro Jr.

So why didn’t I do it? I think it’s because of where we are in the adventure path. If this had happened in Book 3, and there was time to shape Tuttle’s character in the new direction, I absolutely would’ve done it. Take a few caster levels, buy different ability crystals, maybe a mnemonic editor… you could make it work. But when we’re about to enter the third act, with no real way to return… I just didn’t see the benefit of having a couple of first level spells, even heals.

Also, it would mean CHDRR would stop growing, and… as weird as it is, I felt a little guilty about that. Yes, Tuttle is “the character”, but at the end of the day, we’re a package deal and it feels unfair to sell his development out entirely.

So, mechanic level it is… even if it’s kind of a boring one. I get to move through difficult terrain; CHDRR gets to move faster, period.

I don’t usually worry too much about what the other guys are doing with their characters, but the back and forth between John and Chris about who’s going to be the tank and who’s going to get the good armor upgrades was pretty amusing. To summarize: John has the classic “tank” profile, but nine levels of being used as a piñata have stretched him to his breaking point. Chris wants the armor upgrades, but half his spells are about damage avoidance. Including invisibility – YOU CAN’T BE A TANK IF NO ONE CAN SEE YOU.

In terms of gear, I feel like I say this every level, but I thought about a melee weapon upgrade, since I’m still using my starter knife, but the cost-benefit just isn’t there. Truthfully I’d like to upgrade to advanced melee weapons and get Tuttle a lightsaber (or whatever they’re called in this universe), but I don’t have that option at this level.

So… JETPACK MOUSE! I think I said this last week, but there have been a few occasions where CHDRR’s jump jets have been Not Quite Good Enough for a given task, so I thought moving the game into three dimensions might help a bit. Besides, the mere imagery of Tuttle flying around like a goofball makes me smile.

Having my own null space felt like a bit of an indulgence at first glance, but there’s a method to the madness. That dragon drake pistol uses petrol as ammo. Well, two problems with that: first, petrol cells have a Bulk of 1 instead of L; second, they can’t be recharged off my suit or the ship like batteries can. So I’m going to probably have to carry a supply of four or five petrol cells on my person… you know, with my completely ordinary strength. And I don’t think having to run over to Mo to reload is practical either. Also, it’s just extra party storage, which never hurts.

The Ghost Killer fusion… the main thing was just making at least one of my guns a magic weapon by putting SOME sort of magic on it. The specific choice of Ghost Killer was more about longstanding pet peeves, even going back to Pathfinder. Incorporeal creatures just piss me off. If there was any real thought process to it, it was that we’re dealing with a long-dead civilization and the Corpse Fleet, both of which might have a ghost on their team. So screw it: I’M COMING FOR YOU, GHOSTS!

Speaking of equipment purchases. I do share some of John’s frustration with the Starfinder economy; it does seem like the market for weapons and armor is a little broken. Accessories, personal upgrades, and such… those are situational enough that you’re better off buying what you need rather than hoping it drops. But armor and weapons… there’s almost NO use case for buying the stuff, and that’s a little weird. Especially not with a 10% sellback price.

Speaking of potentially broken things, I loved the collective groan that swept through the team when I mentioned upgrading the Sunrise Maiden. At a meta-game level, new books tend to start with a ship battle, so I thought we should be prepared. More generally, we leveled up three times since the last time we did this, so we actually had enough build points to afford some decent weapons. But it sounds like Steve admitted he’s going to do starship combat a little differently going forward, so… never mind I guess.

Next week, off to the Gate of the Twelve Suns, where the endgame begins in earnest. We will probably NOT be fighting another ship, but I’m sure interesting things will be happening. Until then, I’m off to exercise my “freedom” to binge-watch Season 3 of Stranger Things in one sitting while eating as many Sweet Spicy Doritos as possible. So feel free to drop by our Discord channel or other social media and let us know what you think of the show, and we’ll see you next week.