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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.