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The Bird’s Eye View S3|07: Chalky: The Quicker Fixer-Upper

Jason recaps the events from Agents of Edgewatch S3|07: Back to School.

We start this week with some overall news from the RFC Mothership, as Mark Seifter is now officially part of Team RFC. It’s a weird sensation because it certainly feels like big news – like a seismic shift from “a podcast whose GM decided to put a book together for grins” to “an actual RPG content creator that happens to also do a podcast”. That FEELS exciting to me on a visceral level. On the other hand, the honest truth is that the publishing side of the RFC/Battlezoo house is Steve’s baby and we (the players) don’t interact much with it. He’ll run an idea past us every once in a while to see what we think of it or show us a cool piece of artwork, but that’s about it. So it’s cool and I’m curious to see what cool places this takes RFC as a whole. But day to day, it doesn’t really change anything for what we do… unless Mark is also about to become the fifth member of the Edgewatch and Steve hasn’t told us yet.

The other (out-of-game) thing that excites me this week is we’re finally bringing my home game back out of mothballs in 2022. We’d pretty much been shut down during the pandemic, and we didn’t bother taking it online because part of the appeal was getting together in person. But the group text chat started showing signs of life around New Year’s, and we’re going to have a new Session Zero in a week or two. The only bad news is it’s no longer the “Dads and Kids” game because the kids have had two years to develop their own interests and decide their parents are weirdos. I think we’re gonna keep one party-controlled NPC in case a kid wants to drop in for a session, but otherwise… que sera, sera.

So on to this week’s episode, as we continue our infiltration of the Diobel Sweeper lair, which prominently features another golem encounter.

The first thing I’ll note is that the Three-Ring show just hit THEIR alchemical golem encounter a few weeks ago, so I was having some amusing flashbacks when they were doing battle. I believe the “you need to use sonic damage” was muttered with the same tone that Al Powell observed, “they’re shooting at the lights” at Nakatomi Tower.

Of course, the wrinkle of our encounter was that our golem, Chalky, was designed for heals and buffing rather than offense. And that posed quite an interesting dynamic. I’ve been thinking, but even dating back to First Edition, it’s actually REALLY rare for enemies to have a true party healer mechanic that matches the way players heal. You’ll see creatures with fast healing pretty regularly, there will be the occasional one-shot life-drain type ability that takes hit points from the players and gives it to the enemy, but it’s pretty rare that real tactical healing is an option. I don’t know if that’s because it makes the math difficult or makes too much work for the GM, but you just don’t see it too often. So it was kind of refreshing. Annoying… but refreshing.

The good news is that the minions are pretty low-level and kind of brittle, so the ones that can’t make it over to Chalky for healing either go down quickly or decide to get the hell out of Dodge. (Especially the ones that would have to run THROUGH the cloudkill to get to Chalky.) And I didn’t really process this at the time but I noticed on re-listen that Chalky NEVER attacks. It’s not like “it mostly heals and then attacks if it’s got actions left”… it NEVER swings at us once. Considering how bad alchemical golems pummeled the Three-Ring crew, we caught a bit of a break with that one: they can hit pretty hard.

Speaking of cloudkill, you’ll notice that we had a little bit of a rules question that never gets resolved. Gomez finally gets to cast his cloud kill, right? I think it was actually the first time he’s been able to use it. The description of the spell says it “moves 10 feet away from the caster” each round. So is that 10 feet away from where the caster currently is or 10 feet away from the point of emanation? Could the caster (slowly) chase things around the room with his cloud by repositioning himself, or is it fire-and-forget and keeps moving the same direction it was cast?

It’s probably not a huge point anyway because most NPCs are going to be able to outrun something that moves 10 feet per round. But the “fire-and-forget” interpretation where the caster can’t control it at all is almost TOO limiting because you’d fire it off, the enemies would run away in the opposite direction, and it would just drift off irrelevantly into a corner or whatever room you’re in. At that point it might as well just be a single-round burst, do damage once, and then one wouldn’t have to screw around with moving it at all.

Sorry, I realize this is a lot of effort to expend on a cloud that moves at a really slow walk. But why else does this column exist if not to dissect rules minutiae?

As the minions are starting to drop or flee, Bloody Berleth makes his first appearance at the top of the stairs. And at first glance, I thought we were going to be entering the “Shit Gets Real” phase of combat. (Additionally, I figured the golem was going to get more aggressive as part of that.) But no… for a guy whose nickname is “Bloody” Berleth, he’s both surprisingly well-dressed and polite. And he makes us an offer to come up to the office for a parlay. Now, not sure what we can get out of him at this point – the Washboard Dogs are the ones with the connections to the Skinner and the Twilight Four – but I suppose it doesn’t hurt to listen. And as a side, if we go upstairs, we’re further away from Chalky if there’s a round two to this battle. So up the stairs we go.

And as we go up… I notice something. Wait, I notice something? What do I notice? I honestly don’t remember. But I guess we’ll find out next week. 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.