‘Roll For Combat’ ‘Starfinder’ Actual Play Podcast—More of an Old Time Radio Show

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Roll For Combat

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I’ve been enjoying the Roll For Combat Starfinder actual play podcast through its first five intriguing episodes. Releasing every Tuesday, the Roll For Combat crew is running through Paizo’s Dead Suns Adventure Path. Paizo’s core talent is creating rich and entertaining campaigns—for Starfinder, written as six different chapters, or modules, released every two months. These Adventure Paths take characters through expertly-crafted tales of action and intrigue, progressing the characters from level one up to the mid teens.

The Roll For Combat podcast is available on the Roll For Combat website, iTunes, Google Play, and Stitcher.

Superb Production Quality

Actual play podcasts are recordings of games like Dead Suns being played live. All podcasts are not equal though, and Roll For Combat stands out from so many. In talking with the GM of Roll For Combat, Stephen Glicker, said, “We’re trying to make the show like an audio show from the 1930s where everything is conveyed using story and audio.” This made me think of a conversation I recently had with my dad. He was bemoaning the fact that with all the media and technology we have, kids don’t need to use their imagination anymore—in his day, “We listened to The Shadow—the Shadow knows!” he’ll invariably say. While the statement itself is untrue at so many levels, I realized that with podcasts we do this all… the… time. Whether they’re actual play like Roll For Combat, or news and information like Know Direction Pathfinder News Reviews and Interviews… we’re all basically listening to “radio shows.” Some though, like Roll For Combat, are professionally produced, and are superb about expressing through the audio everything the listener needs to know about what is going on.

Roll For Combat is getting the audio right. D20Pro, the virtual tabletop (VTT) application they are using, provides audio cues during play—especially useful during combat which can be confusing when a battle map is not visible for the listeners. In the first or second episode, they actually demonstrate all the different sounds we will hear to help us follow along with the story. It helps give the it a cinematic feel, while not distracting from the show.

Roll For Combat played on D20 Pro
While we don’t get to see their virtual tabletop on the podcast, here’s a screen shot of an encounter as depicted on D20 Pro. A great deal going on there! Note, on the ‘Roll For Combat’ Discord they post images from each session. Screenshot from D20 Pro.

They’re really focusing on helping us as listeners be a able to follow along. Even though all the players are sitting literally states apart as they play virtually, Roll For Combat is utilizing audio panning so that each player’s voice is coming from a different direction, as if they were recorded with a directional mic all playing in the same room. As I was listening to episode five today, I realized at some point in addition to seeing the in-game action, in my mind’s eye the players were all sitting in the same room! In the intro of each episode of Roll For Combat, each player says their real name, the character’s name, and the character’s race and class. This helps us orient ourselves to their virtual position in the audio, and ties the player to the voice.

Roll For Combat Characters and Show Logo
The rag-tag band of adventurers. You can see in depth write-ups for each character on the ‘Roll For Combat’ website. Illustration by Rob Csiki.

Last, they’re putting in a ton of effort, post-production, to edit the audio to sound as good as possible, and the music, professionally composed by Michael Gordon Shapiro specifically for Roll For Combat, is added post-production to enhance the mood of each scene. They really are doing a superb job with the audio. It’s a pleasure to hear.

Deep Story

What I’m looking for in an actual play podcast is something telling a deep, serious story. Occasional silliness and gamer antics are wonderful and sometimes serve as a necessary release of tension, but, for me, that needs to be on the side. Further, I want to listen to podcasts I’m comfortable letting my kids listen to—something I can recommend on GeekDad. I know the base story, Dead Suns Incident on Absalom Station, is excellent, because it’s produced by the phenomenal story writers from Paizo, and Roll For Combat is adding its own twists and turns, while producing a show I can whole-heartedly recommend!

While there are a couple other Starfinder podcasts I’ll likely also listen to, as a GM intending to run Dead Suns, I’m excited to be getting a couple versions of the same story. I’ll be able to steal from each of the storylines, as well as introduce my own twists. I love getting to experience other gaming groups’ styles and creativity and always take something away I can use in my own games.

How to Get More ‘Roll For Combat’

In addition to the show itself, you can catch episode recaps in player Jason McDonald’s excellent posts. Released Thursdays, Talking Combat is a great way to see inside the minds of the players! Roll For Combat also has a Discord, and in the #rfs-spoilers section you can see their battle maps, images, and other items that the players see during the sessions. The Roll For Combat website also contains player and character bios including some of the superb Rob Csiki artwork that was custom created for the show.
Roll For Combat Discord Screenshot
Images from each session are posted on the ‘Roll For Combat’ Discord. Screenshot from ‘Roll For Combat’ Discord.

Contest and Support

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 five Roll For Combat episodes on the Roll For Combat website, iTunes, Google Play, or Stitcher.

Don’t forget to get in on the Roll For Combat contest with a drawing on November 30th, 2017, giving 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’re posting interviews and other great content. Already on the site is an interview with Thurston Hillman that was “extra” from the first episode when Thursty played the party’s short-lived 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.

So what now?

We’re five episodes in and about to enter what appears to be a grueling combat—much worse than the Docking Bay 94 ambush scene that starts the show off with a literal bang! I’m definitely hooked, and am looking forward to continuing the story!

Check out my interview of the players and the game master.

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