The Bird’s Eye View S2|08: You No Take Hostage! - Roll For Combat

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The Bird’s Eye View S2|08: You No Take Hostage!

Jason recaps the events from Agents of Edgewatch S2|08: All Right, Everybody Be Cool, This Is a Robbery!

Before we launch into the first part of the great bank heist, I figured I’d talk a little bit about the Role of the Mole.

So yeah, Steve will sometimes use one of us players to very lightly nudge things in the direction the plot needs things to go. He won’t give spoilers, and the FINAL decision is always up to us – if we WANT to dick around and waste three hours chasing things that don’t matter, he’d probably capitulate and let us. But we’re old and we want to be in our beds by midnight so we usually go along with it.

I think if there’s one thing that drives it more than anything, it’s that we’re all in our 50s and we can only get together for three hours once a week. If you’ve got the time to play an all-night session, bumbling around in the dark for an hour can be part of the merriment and make success all that much sweeter when you finally move forward. If you’ve only got three hours to play and have to get up for work the next morning, spending a third of it fumbling in the dark looking for the plot’s light switch sucks. I’d even add the online interface to the stew; it’s one thing to lose the plot a little when you’re at a table together BS-ing about other stuff while you do it; when you’re staring at a screen at people hundreds of miles away, that time starts to feel longer and yes… starts to feel a little wasted.

Anyhow, on to the bank heist. First, as a movie reference, this whole setup reminded me of the train station scene in The Untouchables. We know someone’s coming (in the case of the movie, they were trying to stop Al Capone’s bookkeeper from leaving town), but we don’t know when and we don’t know how many, and we have to stop them when they arrive. I mean, that, and the first five minutes of Speed where Dennis Hopper gets away because Keanu Reeves won’t shoot his partner in the leg. POP QUIZ, HOTSHOT.

We feel reasonably confident we have the right bank, we definitely know the day… so how do we deploy our forces?

First, let me set the stage using a clock face. Let’s put the main doors at 12. The employee entrance is at about 2 pm, but facing the front of the building. The “airlock” to the teller area is around 4:30 or 5, and the teller space goes across the bottom to about 7:30 or 8 where the stairs to the basement vault are.

One thought was to just wait in the vault room for them. “We know where they’re headed; wait for them there”. But that’s got a couple of problems. First, it ignores the potential risk to the rest of the bank and the innocent bystanders in the building. Working back from the solution, if these guys had taken hostages and started killing them while we sat in the basement playing cards, wouldn’t we have felt stupid? But it also negates the architecture of the bank as a tactical advantage… if we wait in the basement and confront them OK Corral-style when they come down the steps, that’s a BAD tactical situation for us. Imagine the initial band of robbers, the skinstitcher, and whoever’s in the basement drilling ALL coming at us at once, and they’re also between us and the only exit. That’s a recipe for disaster. On the other hand, by dispersing throughout the bank, we can use the features of the building to separate them and deal with them in pieces.

Which is roughly what happened, but it was a bit of a bumpy road getting there.

First, we get to see what happened to the missing lift that got stolen from the tannery. In this case, it elevates our “boarding party” so they can use the “accident” with the float to reach the door quickly, and in a manner that wouldn’t have attracted undue suspicion. If you think about it, if we weren’t there, any people outside would just assume it was an accident and make sure everyone in the courtyard was OK, and probably ignore the bank entirely.

Inside the bank, I have to admit, I thought we were going to take a round or two and assess our opponents before wading in – numbers, weaponry, etc. That’s actually why my first move was to retreat into the office I was using as a stakeout position. I didn’t think we’d immediately start attacking the minute they grabbed hostages, and frankly was a little caught off guard that we did so. Heck, maybe we the guys mixing in with the customers by lying on the ground wouldn’t have surprised us if we’d waited.

So now we attack and they respond by stabbing hostages and it’s on like Donkey Kong. And this is one of those fights where you can SAY “well, everyone lived” but it doesn’t feel like a huge success to me. I mean… three or four civilians got stabbed which I’m sure was really freakin’ traumatic even if they didn’t technically die. If this is an 80s cop movie, our protagonist’s captain will get called to the mayor’s office for a good chewing-out over that one.

But I say this fully admitting I don’t have a great idea what we should’ve done instead. It’s a month later, and I still can’t come up with a truly flawless Plan B. Also, I’m probably just frustrated because I was SO close to knocking that number down a couple if my sleep arrow had landed. I believe the one I shot was “the bloodthirsty one”, DC was 17, and that’s exactly what they rolled… So close. That’s where you need the reverse Hero Point where you can make an enemy re-roll, I suppose.

(Though, as I’m reading the spell, Level 1 sleep isn’t THAT great in combat, because the noise of combat allows the sleep-ee to make a Perception check to wake up, and it’s only at a -1 penalty. The Level 4 heightened version of sleep doesn’t allow for the Perception checks. So… maybe that’s kinda garbage.)

The good news is that Gomez does a FANTASTIC job keeping people alive. I give Seth a huge amount of credit for hanging in there and keeping civilians safe. The bad news is that to do so, he has to stand right out in the middle of the battlefield with a big neon STAB ME sign pointing right at him. And sure enough, the bandits take advantage of the situation and grind him down while we’re taking them out.

We finally get the first situation under control, when part two of the fight begins. We hear the drilling begin in the basement, start heading that way to investigate, and a Skinstitcher busts through the wall. Now, this feels ominous at first – it’s just a nasty looking undead abomination – but actually turns out to be a comparative pushover. First, it’s vulnerable to fire, so Gomez and I can just sit back and chuck fire at it and be fairly effective without burning (pun intended) any spell slots. Second, we generally get good dice luck, and being large, it’s fairly easy to hit, so we get a few crits to make it go down faster. So yes, it hits hard for the very brief time it exists, but we just pile the damage on and make quick work of it.

So now we’ve got noise in the basement, but we are a little roughed up, and Lo Mang discovers caltrops on the stairs. So as the session ends, we’re still in combat rounds and figuring out how we want to manage this. The good side is that the situation I described earlier has reversed itself – unless they have teleportation magic, we’re between them and the exit, so they gotta get through us to escape. But how much do we want to let them mess around down in the vault vs. getting down there and shutting this business down once and for all?

And that’s where we leave it. Next week we go down to the basement – though I’ll leave the specifics for then – and see if we can put a stop to this nonsense. As always, 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.