The Bird’s Eye View S1|20: Between A Rock And Hardness - Roll For Combat

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The Bird’s Eye View S1|20: Between A Rock And Hardness

Jason recaps the events from Agents of Edgewatch S1|20: Welcome to the Party, Pal!

I think I’m just gonna start this week’s episode by speaking my truth, and saying what I feel like Steve was sneaking up on but never quite got to.

Hardness is an EASY way to balance an encounter. But hardness is also a BORING way to balance an encounter.

There. I said it.

As I was listening to the fight with the statues… I have to admit I was getting a little bored, and that’s me speaking as someone who was an active participant. I think the problem is that damage resistance makes the fight take a few extra rounds, but it doesn’t add any “wrinkles”. A poison or a spell effect might make you readjust your tactics. A battlefield obstacle might create some interesting movement dynamics. But damage resistance… all it does is add a numeric drag. And what’s worse, it does so in a way that makes the heroes feel less heroic. You get these inflection points in character development where standard melee damage doesn’t keep up with hardness and you basically need to crit to do anything at all. That’s definitely the zone Basil was living in for this fight – unless I critted, I was AT BEST doing 2-3 points of damage per hit. Oof.

I mean, think about it. At one point, the LITERAL best thing I could do for the party was to go stand in melee range and give the statues someone else to swing at so they wouldn’t be hitting Dougie and Lo Mang as often. Basil, The Human Pinata! How fun is that?

Don’t get me wrong. I know I’m complaining a lot, but I do understand that EVERY campaign has certain ebbs and flows. There are moments where you’re the star of the show because you have the right tool for the job, and there are moments where your character is basically useless. I’m sure John and Chris probably get a little frustrated during the parts of the story where Basil is “That’s Odd”-ing everything in sight. Over the long haul of a full campaign, it absolutely evens out. But when you’re in the middle of one of those dry spells… boy, it’s a rough way to spend an almost hour-long combat.

Speaking of those ebbs and flows, it did give Lo Mang the chance to make the fullest use of Flurry of Blows. You see, one of the 2E benefits of Flurry of Blows is that if you hit with multiple hits, you get to combine their damage for the purposes of overcoming hardness. For this sort of fight, that’s absolutely perfect. Add it to Dougie’s always-effective maul, and we were able to grind our way through this fight and come out the other side in one piece.

While we were fighting, I did notice I made at least one rule mistake. At one point early in the fight, I cast Ray of Frost using Devise A Stratagem. That’s technically incorrect – DaS only works on melee and ranged attacks; and even then, an agile/finesse weapon is usually required. Spell attacks are NOT eligible for Strategizing. I’m pretty sure we get the rule right most of the time, but this one time, we kinda forgot. Chalk it up to picking up Wizard spells at Level 3 and not having as much practice with them. Oops.

So we drag ourselves through the statue fight and emerge victorious. As Steve alluded to, not DIFFICULT exactly… just tedious and resource-taxing. If you think about it, we got through the mimic and the guillotine blade MOSTLY with after-heals, so we were probably due for a tougher fight. From there, it’s time to continue our search. Keep in mind we’re basically going door-to-door on the left/west side of the hotel. After a few more rooms (including another murder-chute), we eventually stumble on what looks like a personal office and living quarters for the staff – it’s unclear whether it’s Ralso or Pratchett that lives there, but I’m not sure the distinction matters for the moment.

A thorough search of the room uncovers a few goodies, including that neat amulet that makes one conditionally invisible to the undead, but the biggest find is the secret staircase going down… presumably to the basement. I’m saying that based on architecture: we didn’t see these stairs on the first floor and there were a few structural dead spots that would be explained pretty well by secret stairs that bypass the first floor entirely. So it’s a guess, but a pretty solid one.

In a larger story sense, between the murder-chutes, the weird fireplace configuration, and the general lack of anywhere else to search, it just FEELS the answers we’re looking for are going to be down there. Big picture, that’s our destination. On the other hand, we still have the entire east/right wing of the second floor left to search – it’s a bit meta-gamey, but there’s that whole spirit of “clearing the rear” before you proceed to a new level. And thanks to the statue fight, resources are also starting to become a little bit of an issue. And if you REALLY want to get meta-gamey, we’re probably due to level soon, though I don’t know how you’d justify an 8-hour rest during an active pursuit.

So we’re at a bit of a crossroads as we come to the end of this week’s episode. The logical thing to do is go downstairs and see what’s what, but it may be worth thinking about a little further. As always, feel free to drop by our Discord server or other social media and let us know what you think of the show. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next time.