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The Bird’s Eye View S2|34: Done With the Dungeon

Jason recaps the events from Agents of Edgewatch S2|34: We Have Such Sights to Show You.

Hey, everyone! Yes, I’m still here. Didn’t win the Powerball and change my identity, nor was I trapped in a freak avalanche. It was one of these things where I didn’t get to my column for a first few days because I had a lot of work stuff to get done before going on vacation and was tired after work; and then once vacation started, I down-shifted into vacation mode a little too hard and fast. I realize that’s a lot of words, to sum up, “I was a lazy-butt”, but here we are.

But I’m back, and it’s time to wrap up Book 2. The Skinner is dead, and we’ve just got a few more rooms to clear out… oh wait, maybe she’s not. I guess I was a little surprised we hadn’t killed her since we were in lethal mode for the whole rest of the dungeon, but I suppose Steve had his reasons for that, which we’ll get to later. But we summon our army of Henchmen Who Have Been Cops Much Longer Than Us But Are Surprisingly Useless to take her into custody and continue exploring.

In addition to a bunch of fairly “normal” loot, Dougie gets the doubling rings, and… those strike me as a pretty nice little magic item for a dual-wielder. Level 1 potency and striking runes are not that big a deal (about 100 gold between the two), but +2 potency and greater striking are in the neighborhood of a thousand gold each. And this 50g magic item literally gives you the equivalent of a copy of EACH for free if you have a first one – so there’s potentially a window where you can get 2000 gold of economic value out of a 50g magic item. And ohbytheway there’s no cap on how powerful the replicated runes can be, so yes, you can replicate +3 potency and major striking with the same entry-level ring (providing 40 THOUSAND gold of value). The ONLY restriction is you can’t replicate property runes unless you get the more powerful version of the ring. I can’t believe I had to talk him into keeping this.

First up, we stop by the prison and free the remaining (living) prisoners. Not too much to report here, other than the general observation that I must’ve stepped away from the computer for part of this because I didn’t remember it well at all. The one tangible development here is that it does give us some bread crumbs for starting Book 3, as the prisoners mention being attacked in the Docks district by a(nother) gang called the Washboard Dogs. Presumably, we’ll circle back around to that once we formally start the next book.

Next up, we find the Norgorber statue and add another magic weapon to our collection, and Dougie performs a little mild temple desecration in the name of the law. I thought it was kind of strange to have an encounter-less room, but now that I think about it, there haven’t been a lot of opportunities for treasure, so maybe the writer decided to throw in a loot room just to beef up the treasure content.

Then, we finally have our final kinda-sorta battle, though it’s cut short by Mobana surrendering halfway through. I have thoughts on this. On one hand, part of me wonders if this was Steve having had his fill of dungeon crawl and wanting to wrap things up. Or maybe even just a cut-for-time, so the session would end at 11. Yes, we could’ve taken another 20 minutes to slap her down, but the outcome wasn’t in any serious question.

On the other hand, it does kinda make sense on a storytelling level. Not EVERY minion is required to go down with the ship, especially once they’d have to know the leader is “dead”. If you look at the layout of the dungeon, since we hadn’t come down the ladder, we would’ve HAD to come through the Skinner to get to her room, so that means she’d have a general sense that the Skinner (and the complete upper level) had been dealt with. So if you’re a mild-mannered psychotic dress designer confronted with cops that probably killed your boss and plow through your minions like they were chopping firewood (what can I say, we’ve gotten pretty good at killing skinstiches at this point?), are you really gonna throw yourself in front of that? Probably not. So no Mobana fight. Oh well.

The good news is that while surrendering, Mobana gives us some more bread crumbs for the next phase of the adventure by confirming the existence of the Twilight Four. Turns out that the Skinner is one of FOUR crazy Norgorber weirdos trying to destroy Absalom, and in fact, she’s the weakest/lowest of the four. Not information we can do much with, but it does lay out the overall scope of the problem moving forward. One down, three to go. (Though there’s one more book remaining that Twilight Four members. Going REALLY metagame, does that mean there’s someone else leading them?)

The music box is an INTERESTING magic item in terms of flavor, but unlike the doubling rings, it doesn’t seem like a very useful one. Or at least it’s REALLY situational – I could actually see a situation where you’d set it off as a distraction to confuse enemies and screw up their perception checks while you do something else. The deafened condition isn’t THAT challenging in battle – it creates a minus on initiative checks, and forces a flat-check on anything that has an auditory effect, but deafened doesn’t seem to prohibit casting spells, so it’s not even a caster-killer. The downside is that whatever it does do, it does to EVERYONE – there’s no discerning friend from foe – so unless you bring earplugs, it’s going to have the same effect on your own team that it has on the bad guys. And ohbytheway, it’s also generally clumsy to use since you have to carry it in both hands to position it, and then have to set it down on a flat surface to activate it. So… really situational magic item or 250 gold (sell price)? Yeah, we’ll take the money.

The remainder of the dungeon crawl is mostly just refreshing our collective memory of how awful these guys were. Lots of creepy horror vibes – body parts, skinning rooms, people’s personal effects, and treasured possessions tossed in the trash… all that stuff. I have to admit I liked the ongoing meltdown Seth was having Gomez endure as we explored, and I was a little sad he kind of ended it at the end of this episode and doesn’t seem like he’s going to explore that idea long-term. A scarred Gomez could be an interesting variable going forward.

With the dungeon cleared, we go back to town and pretty much end the episode with a final interrogation of the Skinner. Functionally, we didn’t get anything new; I was hoping we’d get a more concrete lead on one of the Twilight Four, but really we just got the same breadcrumbs we got earlier – Twilight Four, Washboard Dogs, Docks district. Sounds like our next stop on the Absalom tour is the Docks.

What we didn’t get enough of was emotional closure, and I’m saying this as a compliment. Great story by the authors and great roleplay by Steve. Once again, I’m amazed at how emotionally invested I was in the situation. I really wanted the Skinner to FEEL something about the fact that she lost – you notice I made two or three attempts to go for the emotional dig, including the guilt play about her dead family – and she just didn’t bite at all. If I had to compare it to something, it felt reminiscent of the scene in The Dark Knight where the Joker is in custody and still acts like he has the upper hand on Batman, and I found her lack of concern equally infuriating.

Speaking of Batman, I didn’t make the connection while we were playing, but as I was re-listening this whole Skinsaw cult thing has echoes of Batman: The Cult. It was a run of the Batman comic where a bad guy – “Deacon Blackfire” – created an army out of Gotham’s homeless that he ran out of an underground lair in the sewers. One of the central plot points that’s driving the comparison in my brain is that Blackfire was (or claimed to be) hundreds of years old and retained his youth by bathing in a blood pool. It’s a decent story, worth checking out.

So next week (OK, at this point… later this week) we’ll start into Book 3. A new part of the city. New challenges to deal with. No new level, but let’s not get greedy… we did just get Level 9 before the Skinner battle. 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.