The Sideshow S2|30: You Are The Worst, Curse - Roll For Combat

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The Sideshow S2|30: You Are The Worst, Curse

Jason recaps the events from Three Ring Adventure S2|30: Hot Potato Heroics.

Denial.

He’s not really dead. The mark on his arm will kick in and save him. Or they’ll just go get a Raise Dead ritual. (Oh wait, that costs 1600 gp for an 8th level character… no way they have that sort of money). Or maybe the chalice itself will have some sort of healing property.

Anger.

What the hell, Steve? That encounter was WAY too hard. Haste AND a curse that prevents healing? You should’ve toned that down some. Then again, it’s not all Steve’s fault. Has no one in this group heard of alternate damage types? Even owning a damn BOW? Yeah, golems have DR, but three shots a round would add up. Noooooo… we all gotta do ONE FUCKING THING and ONLY that one thing. “La-de-dah, look at my fire rendition of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel”… GOMEZ WOULDA HYDRAULIC PUSHED THAT MF’ER INTO AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT ZIP CODE.

Bargaining.

I know they don’t have 1600 gold. But maybe the town could take up a collection. Maybe they could do a special charity performance of the circus. Maybe Jellico’s real personality is a high-level cleric. Maybe Mistress Dusklight has some line she won’t cross and will help them because deep down she regards them as worthy adversaries.

Depression.

No more bacon. No more references to oily thighs. I’ll even miss the awkward dates with Kat. I don’t know if I can do these writeups anymore. Maybe I’ll just ask Steve if I can write our show and be done with it.

Acceptance.

Nope. Not there yet. Can’t do it. I need Darius to be a part of this show. The good-natured leader without really trying to lead. Seemingly everyone’s older sibling – even though his connections to Alhara and Hap have been stronger, there have been times where’s he’s taken Ateran under his wing too. Known lover of bacon and good times in general. No… I’m sure Rob could bring a new character in next week and make it INTERESTING, but Darius holds a special place in this group, so I REALLY hope they figure out some way to save him, even if the dice say he’s gone.

I mean, this is also hitting a little hard because it’s our first death on RFC in general. I guess Rusty Carter may have died behind the scenes in Dead Suns (and then been “saved” by becoming undead), and I think one of our Black Lodge characters hit Dying 4 and had to survive via hero point. But in almost four years, this is the first time we’ve had to say goodbye to a character and roll a new one. So it’s hitting extra hard because maybe we’d gotten to the point where we didn’t really think it would happen.

As we learned the really hard way this week, golems are a hit-and-miss proposition. Each golem has ONE type of magic they’re vulnerable to, ONE type of magic that heals them, and ANY other magic just doesn’t work against them at all. That’s true for all golems. If this golem had been susceptible to FIRE damage (flesh golem, for instance)… this encounter might have been a cakewalk, where Hap chucked a few fireballs while the rest of the party held a picnic lunch. And yeah, you can damage them physically, but that’s also THEIR specialty and they have the built-in advantage of damage reduction, so standing there and trading punches is a losing proposition. Even when they don’t have a nasty curse that suppresses healing.

Speaking of which, each golem also has a few “extra” abilities, and those two were some of the worst. First, haste breaks the unwritten contract that big, dumb hit point sinks are AT LEAST supposed to be slow and easy to hit. So now you have a FAST face-puncher with an extra fourth action. THAT sucks.

But the curse, that was the real problem. Just to fill in the blanks by reading the monster’s statblock after the fact, the curse suppresses ALL non-magical healing, and even magical healing has to make a DC29 check to go through. I don’t have access to the group’s character sheets, but if their rolls are coming in at +13 or +14, that means they’d need to hit a 15 or so on-die to make the check. Not impossible, but difficult. Oh, and the curse isn’t removed until the target is healed up to full…. which is unlikely to happen in the middle of combat.

I have to admit, the first round of this fight was actually funny because for once, it was like listening to… well… us. People acting with no coordination, everyone trying to save themselves, leaving other people hung out to dry, people making chippy little comments… welcome to Agents Of Edgewatch Redux! Alhara running away with the chalice seemed like it was the beginning of tactics, but that doesn’t work if the rest of the party just kinda gets out of the way and let the golem chase her…

But like Agents of Edgewatch, they eventually got there. We bicker, we point fingers, and then we get our shit together and get the job done… and so did they.

The first smart decision was to give the chalice to Hap. For one thing, she’s the most mobile member of the party, especially when you add in the third dimension of flight. It doesn’t TOTALLY solve the problem because the golem can just get frustrated and attack someone else, but it does confuse the golem’s “programming” if you force it to use most of its actions chasing the chalice. The other reason it’s a smart move – turning my mean comments from above on their head – is that since most of Hap’s attacks are fire-based, she really can’t offer much to the damage output anyway. So playing keep-away is the best use of her skills.

And then Alhara starts getting into the action with her trips, which was another key turning point. Again, the more actions you can get this thing to use on something other than punching is a good thing, so forcing it to waste one standing up at least negates the haste effect. Also, it’s a little easier to hit when prone, and standing up triggers attacks of opportunity, so the damage starts coming together a LITTLE bit faster. Other than the healing situation, things were starting to come together.

I do wonder why nobody gave any thought to just abandoning the chalice and seeing if it stopped chasing them. Or for extra credit, throwing the chalice into a body of water, since the golem could be damaged by water. (Granted, maybe MAGICAL water… maybe non-magic water doesn’t do anything.) I suppose that’s one of those things that seems obvious as a listener, but in the heat of battle you don’t think of it. Or maybe the tactical value of having the golem chasing Hap was worth it. If Hap’s flying around with the chalice, you KNOW the golem will chase her. If the cup is up for grabs, maybe the golem just starts killing party members randomly and grabs the cup once they’re all dead. So maybe predictable behavior is better in this case.

Now, guilty confession time. As rough as the golem fight was, there was also two percent of me that wanted to see an encounter bleed when Steve raised the possibility. Though at that point, I was hoping the encounters would bleed in such a way that the bad guys would fight each other and help the party out. But I can’t pretend it wouldn’t have been interesting to see what happened.

Eventually, the fight settled into a steady state, and then it just became a race to the finish… can the party get the golem down before it gets them. FINALLY, Riley gets to be the hero, getting the killshot, but not before the golem takes Darius down.

And then the fateful countdown begins, and I have to admit those were some of the most excruciating moments I’ve ever listened to on this podcast. All it would’ve taken is ONE roll succeeding… there was no persistent damage beyond the “tick” on the dying condition, so just getting back to 1 HP would have at least allowed them to retreat and throw as many downtime heals as required at the problem. But it just didn’t work out… too many low rolls. The final line of defense would’ve been that aeon stone that bought them one round, but since Darius rolled a natural 1 on his last check, he went from Dying 4 directly to Dying 6, so even popping the aeon stone would’ve only gotten him back to Dying 5 and he still would die.

So that’s where we are. A mighty warrior has fallen. I can’t be the only one, but I’m HOPING there’s some way out of this, even though it doesn’t seem very likely. And believe me, I’ve come THIS close to breaking my rule about the True Listener Experience and asking Steve if Darius somehow makes it through this, but no… I’m gonna ride this emotional rollercoaster with the rest of you. We’ll find out next week.

Lastly, a brief apology for the column being late this week. I’d like to be all noble and say that I wanted to do the moment justice, and that’s even true to an extent, but the biggest problem is that I lost a day to a power outage in my neighborhood, and then the resulting lack of air conditioning left me a little dehydrated and I crashed for a good portion of Thursday.

As always, feel free to drop by the Discord channel and let us know what you thought of the show. This week, in particular, feel free to share your favorite Darius moments, in case this really is the end of the line for him. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next week.