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Talking Tales: Tale 4, Chapter 1, The Old Man And The Sea

Jason recaps the events from The Black Lodge Tale 4, Chapter 1: Call Me Old Man.

We’re breaking new ground on Black Lodge this week!

First and foremost, the core group finally makes it to Level 2. To be fair, you generally don’t get a lot of big changes at Level 2 – a class feat, a skill feat, an extra spell slot if you’re a caster – but the extra hit points alone make you a little less squishy and it feels a little safer out there.

In Nella’s case, I was not kidding when I said I took Poison Resistance largely because of the Three-Ring Adventure show. One thing we’re learning about Second Edition, in general, is that status effects have the potential to be MUCH more painful than they were in First Edition, so I’ll take that over… going back and getting a leshy familiar or something like that. (The other choices were nothing special.) Specifically, Poison Resistance gives +1 to my save against all poison effects, and DR equal to half my level against poisons. For the skill feat, I went with Battle Medicine… all the cool kids are doing it, but in particular, I wanted to beef up my healing skills since that seems to be the role I’m headed toward. And for my spell slot, I went with Feather Fall just because I wanted to grab some utility spells and not just be all damage, all the time. I would like to eventually add a second damage TYPE because some things are immune to fire, or maybe some AoE damage, but I’m willing to wait on that until next Level when Level 2 spells open up.

(The full endgame plan? Turn into an elemental. ALL THE TIME. My First Edition druid was nicknamed “Windy” because he spent just about EVERY fight in Air Elemental form.)

The other new ground is that this is this group’s first exposure to Quests. (John did a Quest with Mister Peepers WAAAAAAAY back when 2E first released, and I think Chris MAY have played that one as a different character.) If you think of a normal Society scenario as a 3-4 hour session, a quest should be able to be knocked out in an hour or so. Which… because we’re a living embodiment of the Mattress Salesman sketch from Monty Python… means we take 9-10 hours to do a full Scenario and 3-4 hours to do a Quest. Can we at least get credit for being predictable in our slowness?

Again, I think I’ve said this before, but it’s not like we TRY to drag things out. At least not entirely. I will plead guilty (on the group’s behalf) to a tendency to over-analyze things, particularly in the planning stage. But I also think the online format slows things down a little over playing in person, and I’ve felt this since even before we started doing the podcast. I can’t say I’ve studied it in any formal way, but I think the tools impose a level of forced queuing that diminishes or disappears entirely when you have live people sitting at a table. It’s like… you take those pauses where Steve has to process the die roll and maybe make an adjustment, where in person, it would all be happening on the fly and the next player would already have the dice in their hand. That’s my theory anyway.

We also have a new special guest… Erik Mona… who we’ve never had at our table before! I’m excited, but it’s less about the fact that he’s a Paizo Bigwig™ (though it’s also nice when people from Paizo share their time with us), but more about having a fresh face in the mix. If you count the pre-podcast days, we’ve been playing together for over a decade; you start to know each other’s mannerisms a little too well and dynamics can become a little set in their ways. Though… OK, I’m at least a LITTLE impressed that his Society number is “2”. Mine’s somewhere north of 30,000.

We don’t really get too far into the adventure in this first session, so there’s not much plot to discuss. It’s more about meeting Vortaris and getting to the destination, with a little treasure hunting on the sandbar to pass the time in between. Vortaris’ backstory is pretty intriguing… someone who’s clearly had some trouble in life, and is just now deciding to become an adventurer in his 80s? It’s actually a bit of a shame we’re (probably) only going to have this one adventure to get to know him better. Also… I’m totally digging Erik’s Old Man Voice.

In getting out to the island, the one rules question I wanted to dig into a little is the Wild Shape rules. I think the thing that’s been confusing me a little bit is that aerial forms are explicitly called out as a separate skill that has to be unlocked separately, but swimming forms are not. But then again, at least for Pest Form, the example animals listed were all land creatures – “cat, insect, lizard, or rat”. I tend to be a “when in doubt, go by the text” person, so I interpreted that to mean aquatic forms weren’t allowed. But then again when you get to the regular Wild Shape, turning into a shark IS an option. So was I assuming too much and swim forms are cool or do you not get those until Level 3? I guess Steve’s interpretation is that they’re OK, so that’s what we’ll go with. But… I’d rather be a duck than a fish… mostly so I can ruin the mood with quacking noises.

I suppose the one brief development that popped up is when the dwarf operating our boat jumped overboard. At first, I very briefly thought this was part of a double-cross where they were going to have pirates attack us at sea or something. But then it turns out she’s just Manic Pixie Dream Dwarf and likes randomly jumping out of the boat to catch fish. Crisis averted!

So we cruise into Port Peril unscathed, and it’s time to get serious about our mission… Clearly, if the words “Pub Crawl” are right in the title, that probably means some drinking’s happening, which means that poison resistance will come in handy. But that’s basically where we’ll have to pick it up next week. While you’re waiting, 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.