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Talking Plaguestone 12: Dude, Where’s My Sidequest?

Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat: The Fall of Plaguestone, Episode 12: The Cade & Prue Variety Hour!

We start this week with a dispatch from our Department of Random Weird Stuff. I was running a little behind this week and had a fairly small window in which to listen to the show, so I experimented with listening to the show at 1.5x speed for the first time.

Two observations. First, Manic/Flustered Celes gets even more manic and/or flustered when sped up. I highly recommend it. We really need to find a way to just record Vanessa that way all the time. (Then again… I am also easily amused, so your mileage may vary.) Second, Sped-Up Steve sounds even more gleeful and bloodthirsty when trying to kill us. It’s almost like he’s in a barbarian rage, albeit a weirdly cheerful one. Oddly, Cade, Prue, and myself don’t really sound that much different. Maybe we’re actually slow-talkers in real life and speeding up the playback just gets us to socially-acceptable speeds.

So it’s our second week of Sidequest Spectacular, and basically we’re at the point where everyone now has one but Brixley. Now that Cade gets his quest to teach the teenager to fight, it also retroactively brings a clearer focus to the Sir Kent/undead subplot. When we first met Sir Kent, I thought maybe he was part of the main plot – that the “undead” he saw was going to turn out to be Hallod’s hideout, and he was a breadcrumb for that. Now, it’s clearer to see “oh, hey that’s Prue’s sidequest, and it looks like everyone is getting one”. So selfishly, I’m spending a good chunk of this episode in low-key “what about MEEEEEEE?” mode, but I figure we’ll get there. I give it another episode or two – then I go on strike.

I could pout and point out that Brixley is equally capable of teaching the girl to fight – also short, also uses a finesse weapon – but my combat strategy depends on hiding behind much better armor and a shield (which she doesn’t have), so maybe it’s for the best that she learns from the squishy guy who can dodge a blow. Also, I would’ve been a train wreck at trying to sneak the swords past her mom. HERE ARE YOUR SWORDS, MA’AM (clank-clank-clank).

I enjoyed listening to the middle stanza where we cool back at the inn because it represents a general loosening up of the gaming group. I think the first few episodes, we had to figure out our dynamic and get to know each other a bit. Speaking only for myself, I had never played with Vanessa before, I had done ONE session with Loren (one of our Starfinder Society one-shots), and a few more sessions (plus gaming live at PaizoCon) with Rob. So while there was no directive to act a certain way, I think there’s a natural tendency to dial back a little when joining a new group until you figure out other people’s playstyles. To the extent that making a bunch of Dad Jokes about ghost-themed bar drinks is the official “over the hump” signpost… cool.

And in saying that, I don’t want to abandon quality roleplay and turn this adventure into my tight five at H.P. McChuckles. (NOW HERE’S THE THING ABOUT ORCS… AM I RIGHT, PEOPLE?) I genuinely LIKE that this is something different than the Dead Suns group and we do things a different way. I fully admit I swim in the shallower end of the role-play pool, but I do like giving it a shot. But that ability to get silly for a few minutes is still something I like about the hobby in general, so it was nice to finally hit that level of goofiness in a way we hadn’t before – or at least not for an extended period.

The tail end of the episode revolves around the Sir Kent storyline, and eventually, a fight against a ghost. As I listen to that fight, I’m somewhat struck by how good our luck was on that one. First, we generally had fairly good party composition to deal with an incorporeal creature. We had a melee who could create magical attacks (Prue), and we also had a caster (Celes), though the ghost died before she got a chance to go on the offensive. And if we’d really needed it, we had a talisman available as well, which could’ve given someone a round of magic weapon. But then some of it was also getting lucky with rolls – the creature rolled really low and missed all of its attack rolls, and then Prue rolled close to max-damage to make it a one-hit fight. I don’t get the feeling we would’ve been in danger of a TPK, but that could’ve gone a lot worse than it did.

In fact, in our gaming past, it HAS gone worse. Back in the pre-podcast days, our Carrion Crown game got seriously waylaid by our inability to hit incorporeal. I think we spent 2 or 3 sessions because we didn’t have the tools for the job. I was a druid but most of my spells were utility spells, Bob was a Pally, but Smite doesn’t bypass incorporeal, Chris was a caster but also mostly utility – one cast of Magic Missile was all that he had to deal with incorporeal. In fairness, it wasn’t “just” incorporeal, there was also an element of phasing through walls to avoid taking hits. But the principle remains: incorporeal can suck if you don’t have the right tools for the job.

But that was then, this is now, and the one big ghost is no match for Prue’s many little ghosts. How it connects to Sir Kent and where we go from there? (And whether Brixley gets a quest of his own?) I guess we’ll have to find out next week. Until then, feel free to drop by our Discord channel and… tell us what you think of the show, share your best ghost-themed mixology ideas… whatever you like. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next week.