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Talking Plaguestone 04: Float Like A Bloodseeker, Sting Like A Bee

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat: The Fall of Plaguestone, Episode 04: Ghost Bee Gone.

It’s a fun week on Roll For Combat as it’s a mostly combat-oriented episode with a pair of encounters. Granted, the whole adventure did kick off with the fight against the wolfpack, but that one was over pretty quickly and was mostly straight melee, except for Celes casting a few spells. This time, between the stirges and the bees, we got to explore a few more situations and got a little deeper into our powers.

Brixley, in particular, got to test out a couple of his champion abilities. The first class feature to get the spotlight is Liberating Step. The short version is basically what I described on the show – if someone within 15 feet gets grappled, I can use a reaction to give them a free chance to break free. It’s actually got a few additional wrinkles that I didn’t cover. It can also confer damage resistance (2 + my level) and/or can let the target take a Step. So, it’s actually a pretty neat and versatile little ability, even if it’s a LITTLE bit situation-dependent.

(As a side note, the Paladin equivalent lets the champion take a free swing in return when an ally takes a hit, and the Redeemer can either nullify damage entirely or confer an enfeeble effect on the enemy.)

The other class ability to make it into play is good ol’ Lay On Hands, the staple of the first-edition class. First, yes, all flavors of Champion get Lay On Hands; it’s not just for Paladins anymore. It’s the same basic concept as in first edition, but with a few new mechanical wrinkles. Within the action economy, it’s just a single action – nice and simple. Next, the damage healed is just a flat 6 points per level – no randomness. (However, if you use it as a damage spell against undead, you still roll for damage.) The bigger change is that the number of uses changes – it used to be a flat number of uses per day (half your level + CHA modifier); now it’s based on the mechanism of focus points, which can be regenerated with a 10-minute rest. Cliff’s Notes version: the first-edition paladin can use it more in a single encounter (especially at higher levels) since you can have no more than three Focus Points, but the second-edition champion can replenish them instead of having a finite pool. After-heals galore!

So the stirge fight went fairly quickly, leaving only a little residual guilt on my part that Brixley was the only person who didn’t take any damage. (Sorry, everyone!) We roll the Grumpy Old Man back to town, collect some experience, have a little lunch, and it’s time to get back to the murder investigation at the heart of the story. Our next lead to follow up on is the cook, Amora, who has been absent since Bort’s murder, so it’s off to her house.

And greeeat. Not only do we have a battle against a swarm – one of my least favorite things to fight (it’s either that or incorporeal creatures) – but Brixley continues his gradual descent into slapstick comic relief by stumbling into the bee swarm unawares. Falling in mud, getting punched in a bar brawl, stumbling into a bunch of bees… Brixley is gradually becoming a Warner Bros cartoon character. Which may represent a good career change for him, because he’s totally useless in this particular fight. (I mean, I guess I “did some damage” by letting them sting me? Does that count?)

Fortunately, Prue and Celes manage to be FAR more useful. Statistically speaking, Celes’ fire fingers probably ended up doing the most damage but you have to admit that Prue killing bees with ghosts wins the battle for style points. WITH GHOSTS, people. We also get to see Hero Points in action. I’m going to be honest: I’m not sure how I feel about random do-overs as a game mechanic (seems kinda cheap), but if they’re part of the system, I’ll find a way to get comfortable with them sooner rather than later.

Finally, as we kill off the bees, Amora comes out of her shack with the tools that would’ve been far more useful for the job. Amora invites us in, which leads to both a snack that Winnie the Pooh would envy and a lead on the mystery – it turns out Bort’s bowl has a floral poison-y scent that Amora doesn’t recognize. Presuming we believe her, that means we’re narrowing things down to one of the kitchen staff – either Finnick/Pinnick the goblin who plated it, and Trin who actually served it to the table. Full disclaimer… first edition habits die hard, so I’m blaming the goblin until further notice. As a side mission, we (but mostly Celes) convince Amora to return to work, thus saving turnip-based cuisine for the people of Plaguestone. Yay?

The one thing I probably should have asked a lot earlier is if the woman who has all sorts of beekeeping equipment had any sort of remedy for bee-sting poisoning. You’d think someone who keeps bees would cover all her bases. Does the world of Golarion even have the equivalent of an EpiPen? But unfortunately I don’t think of it until the poison has already cleared my system, so oh well… opportunity missed.

And that’s where we break for the session. We have two new suspects to investigate, a dead body to scrutinize more closely, and Celes has an inside track on special turnip-and-honey concoctions that the general public can only dream of. Brixley? I’d just settle for not enduring some low-grade cartoonish humiliation, thanks. Hope you’ll join us next week to see where the mystery leads; in the meantime, 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.