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The Sideshow S3|25: Only You Can Prevent Friendly Fire

Jason recaps the events from Three Ring Adventure S3|25: No, Sir…they’re Saying Boo-Urns.

I’m going to start this week by either providing a graphic demonstration of Steve’s point about forgetting session details, or by pointing out a bit of a continuity error. I don’t know if those “computer problems” Steve alluded to caused some lost data, but I can’t remember ANY conversation about the distillery crew not coming into town for the Stump Festival. Or Hap running into some weird guy, for that matter. I even went back and listened to last week’s episode to be sure, and it just wasn’t there. Last week’s episode ends with Darius experiencing all manner of stump-related cuisine.

OK, so either some of the session got lost amidst the “computer problems” Steve mentioned and didn’t get recorded, or perhaps it just ended up on the cutting-room floor because Steve was trying to knock out 364 episodes before going on vacation. The other possibility is maybe they were referencing rumors they heard all the way back at Kerrick and I’m just losing my mind. (Though that explanation doesn’t make sense because that was 2 or 3 weeks ago in game time, so presumably the distillery folk wouldn’t have been “missing” back then.)

It’s not the end of the world… it was still easy enough to fill in the gap and realize the distillery needed to be added to the itinerary. And in fact, it’s become the priority item — even above visiting the tower — since people are missing. But I will admit to being briefly throw for a loop. I mean… I listen to these shows largely while driving my morning and evening commute… I can’t POSSIBLY have fallen asleep while listening or I’d be writing this from an ICU bed.

Speaking of being thrown for a loop, both Alhara and Hap are a little bit distracted after their first exposure to the logging festival.

In Alhara’s case, it’s a case of competitive spirit with no outlet. Imagine: the devotee of Kurgess and general show-off, not being allowed to compete in an athletic competition! The TV sitcom solution would be for Alhara to disguise herself as a lumberjack to compete… except that Kurgess also has rules about competing fairly and respecting the rules. So… she’s just gotta sit and stew about the unfairness of it all. I do hope Alhara gets to compete at some point; the games sound like they could make for fun skills challenges.

In Hap’s case, she’s distracted, smitten… dare I say, in LURRRRRV… with Dingo (is that really his name?) the Lumberjack, a corn-fed mule of a man. While Hap desperately tries to get the adults to make themselves scarce, Ateran launches right into the sales pitch for the circus. This does prove to be an interesting encounter, because for arguably the first time, it’s not really clear if the circus is the right fit. You can kind of see a case for him joining the circus because he does have skills that would be unique anywhere OTHER than a town full of lumberjacks. (And OK, no one’s saying it, but having a master woodsman on staff will help with some of the grunt work associated with setting up the circus.) On the other hand, Dingo seems genuinely good where he is, and doesn’t seem like the showbiz life is really calling him the way it is with the other acts. Dude is too wholesome for this crew. And if Hap thinks her party-mates are getting in the way now, wait until Dingo starts bringing his DAD on dates.

Though I have to admit, I was sort of cracking up when Ateran was pitching Dingo on the idea that Hap would help introduce him to other women. Is Ateran that clueless, or is it a well-meaning (if awkwardly framed) double-cross to get Hap and Dingo to spend time together? All I know is that if this ends in Dingo joining the circus but ending up with the snake lady, I wouldn’t want to be in Ateran’s shoes. Watch their back, Csillagos.

Either way, my proposed title for the spin-off series: Hap and the Thirst Trap. T-shirts, anyone?

So, our crew decides to start with the distillery instead of going directly to the tower, and on arrival there are definitely signs SOMETHING is amiss. Javelin-riddled horse, signs of struggle… and lo and behold. XULGATH BUDDIES emerge from the trees! Hap gets the jump on initiative, then the xulgaths, and then everyone else. As an aside, I loved Rob P’s out-of-character deadpan: “Oh, I beat one person on initiative. The dead horse”. And… in the words of Dr. Sam Beckett, “oh boy”.

Hap fires a fireball at the xulgaths. As one does. Unfortunately, guess who else is in that fog of war? Hostages. The surviving xulgaths now have their choice of original (in the distillery) or extra-crispy (tied to trees).

First, I hope the Lumberjack Himbo doesn’t have any friends amongst the distillery workers. That’s gonna make for a really awkward date. “So, what do you do for fun?” “Oh, just light your friends on fire.”

Second, speaking on behalf of my Edgewatch brethren, any and all applications to join the force are hereby revoked. I’ll grant we’ve lightly dented a few bystanders in our travels, but we’ve never lit any on fire.

Though OK… amidst all the soul-searching, I did literally (not figuratively) laugh out loud when Loren said: “And after that, another fireball.” Gallows humor is great, people.

Could things get worse after that? Well… morally… no, of course not. But in terms of game mechanics, HELL YEAH, as now all the xulgaths go, and Steve gets the insane luck of three 20s in a row against Hap. (Remember math nerds: it’s not impossible, 1-in-8000 is just really improbable.)

So a huge wrench has been thrown into combat right from the start, but our team actually does a pretty good job pulling themselves together. Alhara in particular gets off some nice shots (complete with “Vanessa and the Chipmunks” sound effects), and things are starting to stabilize after the messy start.

But then as the session ends, the battlefield is thrown into upheaval once again, as the remaining distillery workers come out of hiding, armed. Now, I have to admit, when they first said “stop killing our friends”, I thought they meant the xulgaths. I thought this was going to be some peaceful coexistence twist. But no, they’re just mad at the party for lighting up their friends. Even so, they’re going to try and help defeat the xulgaths, but they’re also not really trained fighters and their first couple shots go wide.

And that’s where we’ll pick things up. How will the rest of the combat go? What will be the fallout of Hap’s “nuke the site from orbit” strategy? To borrow from Harry Shearer in This Is Spinal Tap, “will we still be doing a circus performance?”. And for extra credit: should we be worried that the supposedly dead horse is listed on the initiative? Come back next week and find out. As always, feel free to drop by our Discord channel or other social media and let know what you think of the show. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next week.