The Sideshow S3|09: Big Hero Schticks - Roll For Combat

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The Sideshow S3|09: Big Hero Schticks

Jason recaps the events from Three Ring Adventure S3|09: This is Ateran!

People, we need to talk about this bag of holding thing a little bit more. It’s like… REALLY broken.

I did some calculations. Even if you used the smallest bag of holding, you get 25 bulk, which means 250 items of light bulk. So, even if you filled it with 1d6 flasks, that’s a possibility of 250d6 damage. And OK… for grins, I also calculated the worst “Mother Of All Bombs” Bag of Death: the largest bag of holding is 150 bulk, meaning room for 1500 flasks, and the high-end flasks do 4d6 each… yeah, that’s SIX THOUSAND d6 worth of damage that you could potentially deploy with a single action. I LOVE THE SMELL OF XULGATH IN THE MORNING.

I mean, now I want to try it JUST to see Roll20 try to roll 6000 dice without crashing. Some men just want to watch the virtual tabletop burn.

If there’s a single saving grace here, it’s probably that the economics of the tactic doesn’t scale well. Even the cheapest flasks are 3 gold each, and they ramp to 10, 250, and 2500 gold each time you add a die of damage. To give you some numbers, the hypothetical entry-level BoH I created above would cost 750 gold to prepare; the ridiculous “Fat Man and Little Boy” version would cost a paltry 3.75 MILLION gold to fill to the brim.  Even doing a more “realistic” version where you load like 10 of the cheap bombs into a bag… that’s still gonna cost you 30g for something that’s like… maybe 2 fireballs worth of damage. And that’s assuming a) they all hit, and b) the target doesn’t have damage resistance.

Now, I suppose the enterprising GM could just handwave their way out of it by saying that alchemical bombs are naturally inert and have to be activated as part of the attack… like pulling the pin on a grenade. Or one could imagine a scenario where some of the flasks collide with each other in transit and detonate before they reach the target, so you can never get full damage. There are certainly other ways to defuse this bomb (pun fully intended), but I do think the money is going to put the brakes on it more than anything else will.

Back in the world of what actually happened on the show this week, this was an interesting situation. There was kind of a “darkest before the dawn” dynamic happening because the team did a lot of damage and got everything softened up and READY to drop, but nothing actually DID drop. So the attacks were still coming in droves, and Hap and Alhara (in particular) were really close to death’s door. But then it felt like things really changed within the span of a single round – the enemies started missing, and the bad guys finally started dropping, and all of a sudden, the whole complexion of the fight changed. It really went from “could this be a TPK?” to “not sure what the big deal was?” in the span of one or two rounds.

One thing this battle reminded me of is how fun fights with a vertical component can be. Aside from conjuring pleasant images of the 3-D chessboard from Star Trek, it injects a little more of a tactical element and forces characters to use skills they might otherwise not use. Darius’ throwing skills are a prime example: it’s not that they aren’t useful at other times, but the extra dimension of throwing bad guys off the platform – either doing more damage or at least taking them out of the fight for a few rounds while they run back up – added a fun element you don’t see when people are just squaring off in a generic room. Mobility, in general, makes things more interesting.

The other interesting thing about this week’s episode is it really was some of the most… theatrical… action we’ve had on this show.

I don’t want to say combat gets stale, but a lot of combats are fairly by-the-book. Square off, roll your dice, do your damage… next turn. Here we had all sorts of shenanigans that wouldn’t have been out of place in a Hollywood movie. We already discussed Darius throwing xulgaths off the raised platforms a little bit last week: this week we got that nice moment where the xulgath tries to throw him over the edge, and he gets to reverse it and show the xulgath how it’s done. Ateran – probably not anyone’s most likely choice to win a physical altercation – manages to get a timely die roll and avoid getting shoved off a platform as well. Alhara pulling out her 18th weapon of the fight – the great pick we’d all but forgotten she had – and critting one of the xulgaths. And perhaps the best of all… the timely re-emergence of Riley the Pocket Pup. I had almost forgotten Riley was there, and he shows up at what almost had to be the last moment to save Hap. The goodest of goodbois strikes again! It just felt like this fight had a flair for the dramatic, and it made for a more entertaining listen than usual.

Of course, good theater also includes a touch of dark comedy, mainly supplied by Alhara’s ongoing battle with persistent damage. What was that… AT LEAST four or five rounds she couldn’t get rid of it? Two or three was funny, but by the end you just wanted Steve to let her off the hook and have it go away on its own.

As we end the episode, the team FINALLY survives. Alhara FINALLY gets rid of the various persistent effects, Hap finally extracts herself from under a dead xulgath, and the team has to decide where to rest. They’re in no condition for another fight if the xulgaths send reinforcements to check on this group, but they’re also not really in much condition to fight anything if they get ambushed on the way back to town. Pick your poison, I guess. (I’m just realizing that’s a poor choice of words given Vanessa’s fun with persistent damage this week.) The team decides to rest here in the xulgath camp, and that’s where we’ll pick things up 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.