The Sideshow S2|28: Better Living Through Exorcise - Roll For Combat

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The Sideshow S2|28: Better Living Through Exorcise

Jason recaps the events from Three Ring Adventure S2|28: It’s Been Ateran All Along!

First up this week, I feel like I want to clarify the “Silly Steve” comment from last week since it feels relevant again this week. It’s not that Steve is NEVER silly with us on the Edgewatch side of the house; I think it’s that we tend to compartmentalize things a little more. We kinda “get it out of our system” in the pre-game, and then we’re FAIRLY goal-oriented (except for the occasional pop culture reference) once we start rolling for the evening. With this group, they weave in and out of it a little more as the game unfolds, so there’s more room for Silly Steve to operate. I don’t know if that makes sense at all, but I found myself thinking about it a bit more between sessions, so I thought I’d mention it.

So this week’s dominant theme… sympathy for poor Rob P. for getting struck down by the Bad Dice Gods. You play this game long enough, it happens to everyone eventually, but this week was definitely Ateran’s turn in the barrel. Ateran, the group’s Resident Smart Person, pretty much reduced to the village idiot (at least for this episode) by bad dice.

I think what struck me in particular about this sequence was the inability to escape the spotlight. When you’re on a critical path and HAVE to hit a roll to move the story along, it can feel like an eternity trying to make that roll. It’s like… if you roll a bunch of 2s in combat, eventually the turn passes and you have some time to lick your wounds before you have to try again. If you’re just trying and failing on a single critical-path skill check, as Ateran was doing here, you’re pretty much stuck up on the stage with a  big spotlight on you, failing over and over again with everyone watching. In some ways that’s psychologically worse, even if the in-game consequences of the individual rolls aren’t nearly as dire.

I also think Steve raises an interesting question: when, if ever, do you step in as GM and overrule ridiculous dice luck? On one hand, the dice are supposed to be fairly close to absolute. On the other hand, you’re still trying to serve a story, and at some point, bad dice luck can really screw up the story side of things. One or two bad rolls can be kind of funny, but at some point, if it just keeps going, it honestly gets boring and detracts from the action. It’s not advancing the plot, it’s not creating an interesting moment, it’s just generating busy work.

First, I don’t think the GM should ever do it in the “house’s” favor. If players get a hot streak or the monsters get a cold streak, just let them have it, and if you need to balance things out, add a little to the next encounter to compensate. It’s one of those things where you as the GM control the game, so there are places where you have to be the bigger person. In the case of the players getting bad luck… I still don’t think you want to fudge the dice often – players do count on the dice to “tell the truth” and there can even be fun found in salvaging a bad situation – but I do think if you’re starting to lose the table and the story is starting to grind to a halt, I do think fudging a roll for the sake of getting things moving again can be the lesser of the two evils.

Meanwhile, I’m also salty this week because of the appearance of the redcaps.

Now, it wasn’t the voice. I actually enjoyed Steve’s redcap voice. (Especially listening to the show on 1.5 speed. Took on a whole new life that way.) I even enjoyed the Redcap Voice contest at the end of the show, and kinda wish the Robs had participated as well.

No, my salt comes from bad memories from the Edgewatch campaign. As Loren (I think) mentioned, our Edgewatch group faced ONE of these guys, and it nearly tore us to pieces, even with us figuring out the trick with the hat fairly early in the fight. Then again, the circus crew also had four levels on us – we faced ours at the tail end of Level 3, and here they are at Level 7. I mean, that’s a 20% edge in getting and avoiding crits, and that’s even before adding any additional bonuses from four levels of improved gear. You’ll note that the redcaps still hit pretty hard, but they either never or rarely critted; I think our redcap critted us two or three times. That absolutely makes a difference – the difference between “mortal threat” and “mild enough nuisance that the GM can give it a cute voice”.

On the other hand, the fact that we faced it first means for once we’re in the rare position where I have inside knowledge the circus group didn’t have. In this case, I’d like to point out that removing the redcap’s hat has TWO benefits. The first, which WAS mentioned, is that the hat grants the redcap fast healing, so taking the hat away prevents that hit point recovery. What wasn’t mentioned was that the hat ALSO increases their damage, so they take a -4 penalty to damage rolls if you get the hat off their head. (Not to be smug, but Basil got that off an Expeditious Inspection in Round 1, and Lo Mang grabbed the hat in round 2 or round 3.)

(Also: quick rulebook detour. The main difference between “fast healing” and “regeneration” – both heal hit points at the start of the round, but regeneration also keeps the dying condition from going past dying 3 while it’s active.)

Eventually, the redcaps are dealt with (OK, one got away, but that’s not a huge problem) and Ateran FINALLY gets some good rolls and finishes consecrating the graves. Now it’s decision time. There’s at least one more door in the section of the temple they’re in, and there’s actually a whole section unchecked. But the various fights drained the party’s resources, so we decide to wrap it up and head back to the circus. We have brief reunions with “Dad” (yay!) and Gibzip (boo!), and it looks like we’re going to get some Level 8 characters next time we meet.

(BTW, I think I figured out what bothers me about Gibzip. If any of you have watched the show Big Mouth, Gibzip reminds me of Tyler, the incompetent hormone monster who replaces Maurice for a few episodes. SOOOO annoying. Both of them.)

So next week, I assume we’ll get to meet our Level 8 cast, and they’ll go kick down that last door that Steve seems WAY too excited about. 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.