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Talking Tales: Tale 4, Chapter 3, Last-Call Free-For-All

Jason recaps the events from The Black Lodge Tale 4, Chapter 3: New Spell Who Dis?

I start this week with a bit of personal but game-related news.

Back when the pandemic hit, our Dads-N-Kids game pretty much went on hold, and (without putting other people’s business in the street) a couple of the people had bigger fish to fry in their quarantine situations, so we didn’t try and take it online or anything. It’s just on hiatus for now.

So… I’m intrigued to learn that thanks to COVID-induced isolation, my son and his friends from school decided to try their hand playing D&D online, completely unprompted by me. (Yes, D&D. They’re doing 5E because that’s the system the kid who’s GM-ing knows). I figured even though we’ve been doing the online gaming thing for years, I’d resist the urge to helicopter-parent and leave them to figure it out for themselves unless The Boy specifically asks how to do things. So in an interesting bit of happenstance, they’ll probably be conducting their Session Zero by the time you read this.

I’m very pleased to have raised a second-generation gamer; having said all of the above, if they start a competing podcast, I’m dropping his ass off at the bus station.

At any rate… back to the conclusion of this “short” adventure. (And yes, I love how that got the biggest laugh of the entire session.) As we begin, I think we have 3 or 4 “real” enemies, and then I think we’ve only pacified one section, so most sections also have “general mayhem” to deal with. Two of our party (Nixnox and Vortaris) have decided on the “run and hide” strategy, leaving three of us to handle most of the fighting. And they’ve been getting pretty lucky with their rolls on Thorgrim in particular, so despite their low levels, they’ve put some decent damage on us.

What Steve said about the party being split up was mostly true, except maybe for me and John – we were generally no more than 10 or 15 feet from each other at any given point. If you look at the bar as a clock (with two “extra” sections that we never entered sticking out the top of it), John and I were basically bunched up where the hands were at twelve o’clock, Thorgrim was off around 10 or 10:30, Nixnox was down around 8, and Vortaris bee-lined out of the bar along the 3:00 line.

The interesting dynamic for John and I is that we were fighting around the boundary of three different sections, so depending on where the flow of combat took us in any given round, we’d quite often be fighting in different sections. And tactics magnified that: Peepers just tended to get the nearest enemy’s face regardless of what the underlying section conditions were, whereas unless someone forced the issue, I tried to use ranged attacks and stay in the safe section(s) as long as possible. If I moved at all, it was generally in the direction of the door. Later, once the fight was a little more under control, I tried to start pacifying sections to create a way out for Thorgrim and Nixnox, but early on, I was content to play it safe.

Speaking of which, I know John got annoyed at me for using my heal on Chris and not him, but there was a method to my madness. First, Chris had taken more damage – he was in “one more good hit” territory, whereas John was only about halfway down. Second and more importantly, Thorgrim was deeper into the room, so if he dropped, we’d have to go further in to retrieve him, whereas if John dropped, I could battle medicine him the very next time my turn came up. Also, fog of war, I wasn’t sure whether Thorgrim or Nixnox had the document at that point, but if there was a chance Chris had it, I wanted to keep him on his feet.

Arguably the highlight of the session – and I have to admit I forgot it happened – was Vortaris pacifying one of the sections (the front door area, basically) while in rat form. I like to think all these drunken rough-and-tumble pirates were secretly terrified of rats, and the mere sight of one caused them to flee in panic like elephants anecdotally do. (At least that’s what happens in old Warner Brothers cartoons, and we know those are completely accurate, right?)

If you want to get technical, Steve probably shaved a few rounds off the end, but it would have been busy-work at best – there were no more active enemies, and there was a pacified path to the door for all five of us. It really would’ve amounted to us either crawling really slowly out the door three actions at a time, or making a bunch of Dex rolls to avoid slipping. Nixnox in particular would’ve faced a LONG slog over slippery floors to get out. I’m not sure that would’ve added much entertainment value to the show, so… moving along.

I suppose the big development of the postgame is FINALLY succeeding in an Earn Income check! Nella’s Nature Tours finally turns a profit! I went into the session fully intending to hold the line – I wasn’t going to let myself be humiliated again for 2 days’ worth of copper. But somewhere during the course of it, I figured it was a win-win from a show standpoint – either the running gag continues or I finally break the streak, whereas nothing happens if I just go to the bar and wait for the story to be over. So I decided to go ahead and roll, and there you go. I did it for you, the fans.

So where do we go from here? As Steve said, we have two in the can, but one of those is the live show from PaizoCon. On one hand, it would seamlessly continue the Vortaris Chronicles and it might be nice to present a cleaned-up, properly-edited version of that one; on the other hand, I assume some of you listened to that one live already so it would be a couple of weeks of already know what’s going to happen. Or we could go with the NEW-new show, but that’s a full adventure, not a quest, so that’s another 4-6 episodes.

I’ll leave you all to think on that until next week. While you’re thinking, feel free to duck into Discord and check out the ongoing general mayhem. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next week.