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Talking Tales: Tale 6, Chapter 6, The Black Lodge Triumphant

Jason recaps the events from The Black Lodge Tale 6, Chapter 6: Castle Crashers.

This is one of those columns that’s weird to write because it sits at a bit of a crossroads.

It’s hard to ignore the fact that it’s a bit of a farewell (for now) to Black Lodge, but I don’t really want to outkick the coverage and say too much about that until Steve decides what direction he’s going with things. But the simple fact is that this is the last brand-new episode we recorded for now. If Steve has episodes in the can, I suspect it’s the GenCon special event with Luis Loza – maybe he’s going to run those to give us a couple more weeks to record more of the Edgewatch show.

But I also don’t want to start talking too much about Edgewatch yet – even though I could say TONS and I’m pretty excited about it – because I want to give it its own space. I will say we’ve had two “real” sessions and a Session Zero where we generally strategized about the adventure path and our character choices, and it’s shaping up really well so far. But as much as I want to talk about it… one thing at a time.

Meanwhile, we have the rest of an undead army to take care of. As we left off last week, I was a little nervous because we had zombies burst up through the dungeon, putting me on the front lines of the assault. And because the skeleton captain was hanging back outside the fort, I didn’t really want to blow any spells other than cantrips – I had one heal/burst damage left and one cast of Shillelagh, having used the first of those in the first wave. (On the healing side, I did have some potions and scrolls, so that was a little less urgent.)

Round One was a bit of a mixed bag. The bad news was they broke through our pseudo-defensive line – there was a moment where Thorgrim and I had them pretty well blocked at the bottom of the map, but once the zombie shoved Chris out of the way, they had a free path up to the rest of the group. But that’s also the good news; instead of attacking one or two of us en masse, a lot of the zombies decided to spread out and attack different people, so no one person was in imminent danger.

Also, can I say here’s where I was missing First Edition’s attack of opportunity rules? If this was First Edition, Chris and I would’ve had a chance to pummel a few of those zombies as they were sprinting… shambling… whatever… past us, and maybe even take one or two out if we got lucky on rolls. Instead, we pretty much just got turnstiled.

The better news – if only for a moment – was that the spread of zombies made blowing my Heal spell an optimal choice, as FIVE of the zombies ended up in range for me. Keeping in mind that the channel takes three actions (so you can’t move to set it up), you take that opportunity when it arises because you don’t know when you’ll get it again. Of course, I only did two damage per zombie, rendering the whole thing a little anti-climactic, but still.

While we’re at it, I SWEAR that at least during the playtest channeling healed party members AND damaged undead. I know, I know… playtest is not the final released product… still. (Then again, my main memory of the playtest was from GenCon, so that also might be the Amstel talking.)

After my heal spell, things briefly threatened to turn a little ugly – at least for me – as the zombies decided to swarm and I had three of them attacking me at once. Most of them missed their attacks, but the possibility of being grabbed conjured up unpleasant images for the following round. But then Ducker came in and bailed me out on that one, critting the one that had grabbed me into next week. Bullet dodged!

Speaking of bullets dodged: I hesitate to tell anyone else how to play their character because I hate when people do that to me, but John… dude… put the sling away and go stab something. On the other hand, he ended up landing a crit on the boss, so I guess I don’t have any room to complain. Can’t argue with results.

The rest of the zombie fight went reasonably well for us, and then it was time for the boss and his sidekick minions. And OK… it was kinda funny to watch the Big Bad basically get double-critted by Peepers and Ducker. Granted, I was a little disappointed it meant my cast of Shillelagh was probably going to go to waste – damnit, I wanted to be the one to one-shot the boss! – but then I got to do the same to the undead horse, so that’s not a bad consolation prize. But wait… what if the horse was really the boss, and he was just letting a regular skeleton ride him to throw people off? OK, that’s my official story, and I’m sticking with it. I killed the Boss Horse.

So the townspeople are saved, we’ve proven the Pathfinders’ collective mettle, and logistically we fulfilled all the objectives for the adventure… time to roll credits, right? Noooope… time for one more humiliation at the hands of Earn Income! Nella rolls another single-digit check, and it’s another 8 days of duct-taping tree branches to the head of local dogs to pass them off as antlers. Sigh. For one brief shining moment, I was good at Earn Income, but nothing lasts. (Cue sad string music.) At least that time, misery loves company as everyone else failed too.

And that’s the end, but this time with a bit of uncertainty what comes next. I mean, big picture, we’re still here recording shows so don’t worry about that… I just don’t know what – if anything – you’ll be getting next week. It might be a replay of the GenCon live special with Luis Loza, maybe it’ll be Episode Zero of Edgewatch if everything comes together, or maybe we’ll go down to one show for a week or two…. If the last of those is the route we go, which case maybe I’ll try to “fill the silence” either with an official wrap-up on Black Lodge, or do a mini-review of the magus and summoner playtest classes or something. Or maybe I’ll take a week or two off writing two columns to go build new Zendikar decks in MTG Arena or see what sort of weird Game Of Thrones craziness Crusader Kings 3 can throw at me. THE WORLD’S A BLANK PAGE!

So we’ll be back… just not exactly sure when or what we’ll be Talking about when we re-convene. 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… pretty soon.