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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.