‘Roll For Combat,’ a ‘Starfinder’ Actual Play Podcast, Introducing the Players

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Roll For Combat

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Are you caught up with the action in Roll For Combat yet? If not, why not!? Get over there and listen to the first three episodes of this new Starfinder Roleplaying Game actual play podcast! Roll For Combat episodes are available on the Roll For Combat website, iTunes, Google Play, or Stitcher.

Fair warning that this post has some slight spoilers for the first three episodes of Roll For Combat… so really, hop on over first for a listen and be entertained!

In the first episode we were treated to an introduction to the players and their characters and some explanation of their intentions with Roll For Combat. Thurston Hillman, Paizo’s Starfinder Society Developer and the first Roll For Combat guest NPC, gave some great explanations of the role playing system, and the Starfinder story. In perfect cinematic style, episode two, the first real full episode of actual play, jumped us right into intense combat where we got to experience the Role For Combat group’s unorthodox and interesting play style as they dealt with an unfortunate turn of events, and a confusing multi-faceted battle. Episode three started with the party being at risk of some legal trouble, so the action of the previous fight wound down as we got to see the party play through being investigated by the police and starting an investigation of their own, working with the Starfinder Society. With the group with some cash in their pockets and a difficult investigation ahead of themselves, I’m eager to get on with episode four to see if they’ll earn their Starfinder Society stripes! The episodes have been extremely entertaining, and I’ve picked up some more of the ins-and-outs of Starfinder along the way.

In the intro to episode 1, each player talked about themselves, their history as gamers, and their characters, and you can read more about the players and their characters on the Roll For Combat website. I had the good fortune to get to ask each of the players a few questions. I wanted to know why they picked the characters they did, what they were liking about the Starfinder system, and maybe find out a little about each player beyond this podcast and Starfinder.

Jason McDonald – Tuttle the Ysoki Mechanic

Tuttle and C.H.D.R.R. Illustration by Rob Csiki.

Jason McDonald, an IT guy at a local university in real life, has been playing tabletop games, mostly D&D and Top Secret since his early teens. He says he prefers playing “cloth casters and dual-wield rogues—because if you can’t stab stuff or set it on fire, what’s the point?” It’s interesting then that he selected Tuttle Blacktail, a rat-person mechanic for his Roll For Combat character.

Tuttle Blacktail is a ysoki mechanic with a drone called the Cybernetic Hybrid Dynamic Response Rover, C.H.D.R.R. Yes, you read that correctly… the rat man has a buddy called C.H.D.R.R. He’s even yellow.

Jason McDonald is also writing excellent episode recaps and more on the Roll For Combat blog, Talking Combat.

GeekDad: Why did you choose the race and class you did? How did you go about your character development?

Jason McDonald: I have a leg up because I wrote about this in the blog, but choosing the mechanic class was all about embracing what’s different about a sci-fi setting–clearly you don’t have a lot of tech in a sword-and-sorcery campaign. From there, Tuttle’s personality came next–he’s kind of a distillation of multiple people I’ve worked with over the years in IT… technically brilliant, well-meaning for the most part, but with questionable people skills that sometimes render him abrasive. Once that was established, it seemed having all of that attitude come out of a three-foot rat was the only right answer.

GeekDad: With a few episodes under your belt, what do you like most about Starfinder? What do you miss about Pathfinder?

Jason McDonald: Well, the first thing, we haven’t covered yet… we tried starship combat in a “training session” we ran, and it seemed like it could be cool. So stay tuned for that. From this campaign, I suppose what I’ve liked most is the drone interactions. Except for the Summoner, which feels a little overpowered (and is difficult for Steve to manage in D20Pro), Pathfinder doesn’t really have a viable pet class, so I’m interested in playing around with that mechanic and making all the little design choices to grow my drone into a more powerful fighting machine. In terms of what I miss… I’ll say that SO FAR, we haven’t gotten into the fantastical elements of sci-fi play yet. What we’ve done so far–show up at a bus station, get in a gun battle with some hobos–could be played out in a contemporary setting. And maybe we’ll get there fairly soon. But with Pathfinder, you’re usually dealing with magic and elements of the fantastic right out of the gate.

GeekDad: Besides Starfinder and podcasts, what are you geeking on most right now?

Jason McDonald: Well, you could slap the MARVEL logo on old episodes of Masterpiece Theater and I’d probably make it halfway through before I started wondering why no superheroes had shown up yet. Though I’m willing to admit I found Defenders underwhelming. I do a little video gaming on the side when I can wrest the PS4 controller from my son–Overwatch, Persona 5, and I plan on starting Destiny 2 at some point. And I spend a good portion of my day chewing my fingernails nervously, hoping Luke Skywalker isn’t going to die or turn to the dark side this Christmas, because I just don’t think I can handle that.

John Staats – Maurice “Mo” Dupinski the Vesk Soldier

Illustration by Rob Csiki.

John Staats has been role playing since 1979. His love of tabletop RPGs and designing 3D video game levels as a hobby led him to a career building dungeons in World of Warcraft. He’s playing Maurice “Mo” Dupinski.

Mo, a former soldier with an unbroken losing streak in poker and a street-rep as an undependable low-life, really needs this Society job… if only their contact hadn’t been killed before they met!

GeekDad: Why did you choose the race and class you did? How did you go about your character development?

John Staats: I chose a Vesk Soldier because I wanted to see how a melee character would play in a game with so many ranged weapons. I needed a break from casters and a Soldier was a simpler class to play. Mo’s character started out as a tribute to Mo from the Three Stooges but morphed closer to Ralph Kramden from The Honeymooners.

GeekDad: With a few episodes under your belt what do you like most about Starfinder? What do you miss about Pathfinder?

John Staats: It’s too early to tell how well the combat scales. Pathfinders focus on types of damage (fire, ice, etc.) gives players reason to use a wide range of spells and combat and we’re at too low a level to see if that’s the case in Starfinder. This system also clears up some bean-counting mechanics which is a very welcome change. But economizing rules doesn’t seem to sacrifice variation. We’re not simply chiseling away at monsters’ health with spells that all basically do the same damage. It looks like a single attack outcome can still turn the tide of battle but again, it’s too early to tell.

I’m a little worried we’ll lose the meme of the dungeon. I think of dungeons as puzzles that players must cooperatively use their resources (attacks, spells, items) to “solve.” I’m weaker at city adventures, where there’s more guesswork and searching (which I find less enjoyable). I find asking a NPC the “correct” question less enjoyable than, say, using a dungeon’s clues to exploit a monster’s weakness. But again, this is WAY too early to judge an entire gaming system based on a 1st level adventure.

GeekDad: Besides Starfinder and podcasts, what are you geeking on most right now?

John Staats: I don’t listen to podcasts because conversation messes up my ability to concentrate. The only thing I listen to is Howard Stern, otherwise I zone out to music. I’m re-watching some old TV shows these days, The Wire and Deadwood; and I’m looking forward to Brandon Sanderson’s new book, Oathbringer, even though its release is still a month away.

Bob Markee – Rusty Carter The Human Con Arti… er’ Envoy

Illustration by Rob Csiki.

Bob Markee has also played since he was 11 years old, starting with the original Basic D&D box. Utilizing his appropriate Masters in History to become an IT guy by day, Bob is playing Rusty Carter a smooth talking con man often talking his way out of a problems, interestingly problems he’s talked himself into!

GeekDad: Why did you choose the race and class you did? How did you go about your character development?

Bob Markee: I liked the look of the alien races, but I chose to play a human because I liked the idea of my first Starfinder character literally being a POV for me, as a player, to meet the other races and explore the new game. I’ll also mention I’ve always enjoyed the mechanical benefits of playing humans in ****finder anyway as it’s nice to be able to personalize the build by choosing your own stat and adding a feat. It’s nice to feel directly connected to a character you want to play in any way you can.

The second part of this question is the harder part. In Pathfinder, I once built a rogue using only the bluff and misdirection traits and feats (including pumping his charisma, which is SO not a rogue stat in Pathfinder) just to see if I could make a “Con Artist” rogue build viable in a real game. Answer: oh yes. It was probably my favorite character I’ve ever played.

So when I was looking at some of the details of the Envoy class, it reminded me of that character and I wanted to see if I could build something similar in this new setting. There are so many fun “charming space rogue” archetypes in fiction to play with (Mal Reynolds, Han Solo, Star Lord) that it was really kind of irresistible to make something of that type. In fact, I intend my sneaky lying character to actually be a nice guy underneath, much like those archetypes I mention.

GeekDad: With a few episodes under your belt, what do you like most about Starfinder? What do you miss about Pathfinder?

Bob Markee: I like the world building most as of a couple of episodes. I haven’t delved deeply into rules differences as of yet but I like the setting, and the detail Paizo put into that setting. And why would I *miss* anything about Pathfinder? All of those books are sitting on my shelf ready to play at any time.

GeekDad: Besides Starfinder and podcasts, what are you geeking on most right now?

Bob Markee: The era of peak television is a wonderful thing for a middle-aged geek like me. Best genre TV shows of the last year have been Legion, The Handmaid’s Tale, and The Good Place, and there are still, like, a billion shows I haven’t had a chance to see yet.

Chris Beemer – Hirogi the Lashunta Operative

Illustration by Rob Csiki.

Chris Beemer, like the rest of the group, has been a role-player for decades, playing through most iterations of D&D. He’s probably played through most of John Starts’ WOW dungeons with his Warlock. Chris is playing Hirogi, an operative, looking for new prey, having recently tracked down and killed each of the many predators from his experience growing up.

GeekDad: Why did you choose the race and class you did? How did you go about your character development?

Chris Beemer: I chose the Operative class because I wanted to play a stealthy character who operates best in the shadows. I typically play the Iconic cloth caster type and I wanted to change it up a little this time. Even though the android race possibly makes better operatives, I preferred the Lashunta, for a couple of reasons. I like their home world description. It fit in well with my character concept of the hunter living for the kill and collecting trophies. I also like their racial telepathic abilities, notably the ability to communicate mentally can have advantages when you are sneaking around.

GeekDad: With a few episodes under your belt, what do you like most about Starfinder? What do you miss about Pathfinder?

Chris Beemer: I really like how Starfinder simplified some things and improved on some things as well. I really like the new HP and Stamina system. It really lets you feel more heroic out of the box. It also allows each individual to have a sort of personal responsibility to keeping themselves alive. In Pathfinder it is really rather mandatory that you have a healer in the party or at the very least a few cure x wands around for your whole career. At this time it is hard to say what I miss about Pathfinder. We are still only 1st level and we are all still learning the game. I can better answer this question with a few more levels under my belt (assuming I live that long—Hirogi likes to take risks!).

GeekDad: Besides Starfinder and podcasts, what are you geeking on most right now?

Chris Beemer: I really like the Glass Cannon Podcast. Even though it’s been out for a while, it’s new to me! I also enjoy WOW raiding a couple of nights a week.


These guys are putting their all into this. They’ve got a professional artist, Rob Csiki, that produced all the art in this post, with more art on the Roll For Combat website. A professional musician, Michael Gordon Shapiro, created most of the music on the show. They’re using professionals for all aspects of the show; the voiceover artist, music, production, artwork, website, and the players and GM are each professionals in their own right, all with decades of roleplaying experience and varying related industry experience. This all leads to a well-produced, sleek, and entertaining show.

Again, if you have not given the show a listen yet, or are not yet caught up, you can check out the extremely entertaining first three Roll For Combat episodes on the Roll For Combat website, iTunes, Google Play, or Stitcher.

While you’re at it, enter the Roll For Combat contest! There’s a drawing on November 30th, 2017, with a grand prize of a $250 Amazon gift card and a Roll For Combat t-shirt. Each week leading up to the drawing, they’ll be giving out $25 Amazon gift certificates. Entry is easy!

If you’re enjoying Roll For Combat, consider contributing to the Patreon to keep the awesome adventure rolling. Only available for Patreon subscribers, they posted the awesome interview with Thurston Hillman that was “extra” from the first episode when Thursty played the ill-fated Starfinder Society contact. Special content like this will be available to Patreon subscribers on a regular basis, and there are higher tier rewards as well, including such things as the custom show artwork and getting to meet-up online, or play games with Roll For Combat GMs.

In this post, we got to know the players a little bit more. In my post next week, we’ll get to know the GM of Roll For Combat, Stephen Glicker. Until then… Roll For Combat!

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