Roll For Combat

‘Roll For Combat,’ Meet the GM of This ‘Starfinder’ Actual Play Podcast

Podcasts Tabletop Games

Roll For Combat

This is a sponsored post.
The adventure continues with Roll For Combat episode four! Again, this post contains spoilers for the Roll For Combat podcast as well as the Dead Suns Adventure Path that they are playing through. If you haven’t started this entertaining podcast, or aren’t yet through episode four, then you should go listen on the Roll For Combat website, iTunes, Google Play, or Stitcher— you’ll be glad you did!

While you’re listening, 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. There are three more prizes ranging from $25 to $100 Amazon gift cards. Further, you’ll want to enter as soon as you can because each week leading up to the drawing they’ll be giving out $25 Amazon gift certificates to one lucky contestant. Entry is easy, and you can only win if you’ve entered!

Gang War Crossfire
Gang war breaks out as soon as the party sets foot on Absalom station. What this image is missing is a vesk– on fire. Image from ‘Incident on Absalom Station.’

The first four episodes of Roll For Combat have been a blast– sometimes literally! So far, the group, newly formed, essentially strangers, came to Absalom Station for a job with the Starfinder Society. Upon their arrival they were faced with a sudden change in their fortune as they stepped right into a gun fight between two rival Absalom Station gangs. We got to learn some about the character’s capabilities as well as see some of their play-styles as the group navigated their way through this crossfire, only to discover in the end that their Starfinder contact was dead. Wrong place at the wrong time, or intentional hit? With nothing better to do, after talking their way out of suspicion by the police, the group went straight to the Starfinder Society, where they relayed their story. Having proved themselves to the Society, they were hired to look into the death of the the Society member. Episode four sees the party deep into investigation mode, as they start to discover all the nefarious elements at play. Gang trouble or corporate hit? I look forward to learning more in the exciting episodes to come!

For much more in-depth recaps of the show, and other show notes, check out the Talking Combat blog. Player Jason McDonald gives some great insight and a recap into the session, as well as other information, such as some of the obstacles of playing for an audience rather than just a private game, especially over the web.

Roll For Combat is not only superb entertainment, but it’s a great way to learn the game mechanics as well as Starfinder lore. As intended by Paizo, Incident at Absalom Station is giving us an excellent introduction to Absalom Station, the hub of the the Starfinder Roleplaying Game universe. The Roll For Combat crew is bringing Paizo’s story to life as they learn about the various inhabitants of the station, and journey throughout its core. Whether they’re in docking bays on the The Arms, to meet a soon to be deceased contact, talking with the Starfinder Society in the Lorespire Complex, or tracking down the Level 21 Crew on, you guest it, level 21 of the station, we’re learning the deep Starfinder lore right along with the players and the characters.

Absalom Station
‘Roll For Combat’ and ‘Incident on Absalom Station’ are giving us a great introduction to this space station, the hub of the ‘Starfinder’ universe. Image from ‘Dead Suns Adventure Path.’

Once again the show was an excellent listen. The players are playing remotely through the D20Pro virtual table top, but the sound is still awesome. With my earphones in, it’s almost like I’m in the room with them. D20Pro provides sound effects so we listeners can hear when a dice is rolled, as well as other effects, and the background music is superb–I wasn’t surprised to discover they had a professional musician put together most of the music.

Last week I had a chance to dig a little into the minds of the players of Roll For Combat. This time I asked got to ask the GM, Stephen Glicker, some questions.

GeekDad: Why did you decide to do a Podcast?

Stephen Glicker: I had a podcast for several years called Gaming Steve which covered the video game industry. I started that podcast in the very early days of podcasting and it became a pretty big hit. It was a ton of fun, it was taking up a huge amount of my time, it was truly a labor of love. After doing Gaming Steve for several years my personal life and work were keeping me quite busy, so I had to scale back on the Gaming Steve podcast. I always regretted that decision as podcasting has really exploded in the past few years. I always wanted to start up another podcast and with the RPG scene taking off and the fact that I’ve been running RPG games for my friends for over a dozen years, it seemed like a good fit. We were already playing, why not just record our sessions and put my podcasting skills to use. So now I’m back with Roll For Combat!

GeekDad: You have said in the podcast that you have run through many of the Pathfinder Adventure Paths and in Roll For Combat you’re using the Starfinder Dead Suns Adventure Path. What do you prefer from the pre-made adventure paths over home brewing?

Stephen Glicker: Multiple reasons. First, pre-made adventures are usually better than anything I can come up with on my own. People are literally getting paid to create these adventures and they have a lot more experience writing adventures than I do. I much prefer taking a pre-made adventure and adjusting it as necessary than writing my own from scratch.

Second, we love to play long, complex, epic adventures – the Adventure Path concept is perfect for me and my players. Playing individual modules and trying to link them together always felt disconnected and random. The concept of the Adventure Path – one massive adventure that takes your characters from level 1 to the high teens – was genius and we love playing them.

Third, Paizo knows what they are doing and I can trust that they are going to be releasing high-quality content on a timely basis. Not only are most of their adventures fantastic, but they always add new monsters and items to each adventure, which is key when you are playing with people with over 30+ years’ experience. Fighting goblins and skeletons really aren’t an option for my players.

GeekDad: Since your original D&D days through today, what has been your favorite module, as a player or a GM? Why?

Stephen Glicker: Unfortunately, I’ll have to go with the crowd and say the Special line of modules from TSR in the early days of D&DTomb of Horrors, White Plume Mountain, and Expedition to the Barrier Peaks. Each of these modules was so different than anything else presented during those days my friends and I would just sit around for days talking about them without even playing them. I did eventually play all three … none of them ended well for the party members … and we’ll just leave that there.

As for modern-day RPGs, my favorite Adventure Path of all time was the Age of Worms – that was truly epic adventure in every way. You get to visit the Free City of Greyhawk, you fight doppelgangers and illithid, you fight in the greatest gladiatorial tournament in world, you find a piece of the Rod of Seven Parts, you get to hang out with Tensor, you find the Hand of Vecna, you fight the dracolich Dragotha, and you get to kill a god. Nothing compares to that Adventure Path to date, and it’s the one that started it all for my group.

GeekDad: In terms of how you GM, and the stories you tell… what are your main inspirations?

Stephen Glicker: I read a lot of fantasy so my answer will change by the day, but currently, I would say Brandon Sanderson. I have never read someone who is as accomplished at both worldbuilding and creating unique magic systems as Sanderson. I’ve read just about everything of his and I believe The Way of Kings is a masterpiece (I’ve read it three times already).

I also enjoy Stephen King quite a bit for his pacing ability. He keeps a story always moving forward and loves to drop hints throughout his stories to keep you reading. I try to do the same in my sessions, always giving my players a short-term goal to achieve, a mid-term goal, and a long-term goal. That way they are always moving forward and accomplishing different level tasks.

GeekDad: In Roll For Combat you’re using D20Pro as your virtual tabletop, and I understand D20Pro is providing your sound effects. What are all the tools you’re using when you play, and what all are you doing in post-production to make the show sound so good?

Stephen Glicker: We have been using D20Pro for about ten years now, so I know the tool quite well. We also use Discord for both the voice communication and a way for players to share notes and view handouts. We do the recording for the show in Discord as well using a nice little tool that separates all the tracks which allow for more precise mixing.

The post-production is currently all me … with some help from Michael Gordon Shapiro. I do a lot of the cleanup and editing of each track in iZotope RX 6, as well as the balance and compression. For quick edits, I will use Audacity as well. Luckily, I’ve done this all before so my audio muscle memory came back to me pretty quick, and Michael helps me out with some of the EQ and balancing for the shows from time to time.

GeekDad: Speaking of Michael, most of the music in the background is composed by him, and you’re getting awesome art from Rob Csiki. Where’d you hitch up with these two? It looks like you’ve put together a pretty impressive team for Roll For Combat.

Stephen Glicker: Michael and I meet in college and we’ve been friends since then. He always does anything music-related for all my projects. He has quite an impressive background and creates music for film, games, television, and concerts, he’s awesome and always up for helping me out.

One key aspect of this show is that we’re trying to make it easy to understand and follow, even if you don’t play Starfinder or RPGs in general. We’re doing with music cues and audio panning to make it easier for people to follow along. We’re trying to make the show like an audio show from the 1930s where everything is conveyed using story and audio.

Rob Csiki was quite the find and I just recently started working for him. He created several items for Marvel and Guardians of the Galaxy so I knew I found my guy when I saw his work. The Starfinder aesthetic works perfectly with his art style.

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

Stephen Glicker: What I enjoy the most is the balance between simplicity and complex. My players love complex rules, but running mid to high-level Pathfinder adventures can be exhausting as the rules get so complex … and my players like to play EXACTLY by the rules. Hence, we can spend more time looking up rules than playing (which I believe my players also strangely enjoy). Starfinder so far seems to have found a happy medium. The rules are still complex and deep, but not so complex that we need to spend half an hour looking something up.

Also, the Stamina Point/Hit Point system was a stroke of genius. Finally, someone doesn’t need to play the “party healer” and it provides a simple way for players to heal themselves outside of combat.

The only thing I miss about Pathfinder is the world itself and the amount I’ve invested into that world. I like how Starfinder and Pathfinder are connected and that helps with the world-building aspect, but I look forward to the day when I have two shelves worth of Starfinder books at my disposal.

GeekDad: What has been your favorite moment in the podcast so far?

Stephen Glicker: When Chris was critted twice and set on fire in the second episode. Chris hates to take damage and between the fact that he was critted twice, and set on fire, was endlessly funny for both myself and the group. Luckily, he was fine after the fight, so no real harm done (other than Chris’s ego).

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

Stephen Glicker: Well, my life is one big geekfest, to be honest. Just about everything I do seems to be geeky (at least according to my wife and kids). I would probably say playing Divinity: Original Sin 2 (the first game was one of my favorites of all time), and I’m looking forward to Brandon Sanderson’s new Stormlight Archive book that comes out in a few weeks, Oathbringer.

I love hearing other peoples’ gaming background. So much reminds me of my early D&D days but the stories are also so different, diverging in such interesting ways– seeing how the love of a game, spanning decades, brings us all to this point in time where table top gaming and RPGs are so popular that a crew such as Roll For Combat will put out so much effort to create such an entertaining audio 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 Roll For Combat episodes on the Roll For Combat website, iTunes, Google Play, or Stitcher.

Go check out the Roll For Combat contest. Don’t miss your chance at weekly $25 drawings, or the final prizes drawn November 30th ranging from a $25 Amazon gift card for 3rd place up to the grand prize of a $250 Amazon gift card. Each prize on November 30th will also include a custom designed Roll For Combat t-shirt!

Last, you can support more Roll For Combat content by contributing to their Patreon. Patreon members will have access to content only available for Patreon subscribers, such as an informative interview with Paizo’s Starfinder Society Developer, Thurston Hillman. 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.

The show is enormously entertaining, and is a great way to learn the game, or get ideas of your own run through of Incident at Absalom Station. Not playing Starfinder? No Starfinder knowledge is really necessary to enjoy this audio show. They do a great job making it clear what’s going on, so, just like any new Starfinder Society Recruit, no experience necessary!

So, now I guess I need to anxiously await episode five!

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