The Adventure Zone - Balance Arc Finale (And the campaign as a whole) (SPOILERS)

DaveyMacDaveyMac Tokyo
edited July 2017 in Art of Podcasting
I've seen "The Adventure Zone" pop up in a few other threads and with the finale underway, just thought I'd see if anyone has any thoughts so far. Or even favorite moments, characters, stories, etc. from previous adventures?

I started listening in March and caught up the day before Part I of the finale dropped and it's been quite a ride. I went from mild amusement and boredom with the fights to really enjoying the show by the end of "Petals to the Metal". But somewhere during "The Crystal Kingdom" I realized that something special was going on here and now I absolutely love it and am eagerly anticipating the next episode as much as I do for favorite tv shows/movies. And I never would have thought a D&D podcast that started as kind of a goof with three dudes and their dad just screwing around would turn out to be so thoroughly captivating and moving. I genuinely love the characters and really care about what happens to them.

I saw a tweet from Griffin saying the next episode may be delayed, but I'm all for them taking the time to get it just right.


  • MurderbearMurderbear Cold Spring, Ky
    Yessssssss!! I've been a huge fan of the McElBoys ever since I saw the Skyrim episode of Monster Factory a couple years ago. Those good good boys and their goofs have charmed their way straight into my heart.

    I'm in the middle of my first re-listen and it's funny how rough those beginning episodes were, but ALSO, how great of a storyteller Griffin has become. There are so many seeds planted along the way that I really want to know how far out some of that stuff has been planned. Is he just going off of some random little details here and there or has it been in the works this whole time. I mean, obviously things like the moment Taako first got the Umbra-Staff now on a re-listen are just fantastic moments because I can put it all into perspective.

    It takes a little commitment on the part of the listener but once you're invested, it pays off so much! I can't wait to hear what they do next! I would love for Clint to run a campaign. I don't know if he'd be as good as Griffy but damn it would be fun!
  • Wow, I tried starting this brteifly but I've been invested in the Glass Cannon podcast.  Sounds like I need to give this a chance.  How long do you need to listen before it really started clicking?

    I'm obviously unspoiled.
  • MurderbearMurderbear Cold Spring, Ky
    For me, it was by the end of the first arc, Here There Be Gerblins. That was the first 6 episodes. Keep in mind, especially in those first few episodes, it's a lot heavier on the dice rolling and number crunching. Thankfully, Griffin isn't a slave to the rules and those aren't as big of a focus as the series continues. (At least I feel like it is)

    I was also predisposed to liking it because I was already into My Brother, My Brother and Me, Monster Factory, Cool Games, Inc., and a few other McElroy entertainment products so that might help out a lot.

  • It was recommended to me a couple of months back and I caught up around the same time (in the last couple of weeks). I had heard of but was unfamiliar with the McElroys before. It took me a few episodes to get into it but definitely by the time of the encounter with Brian and Bryan I was fully engaged and have been pretty much ever since (some arcs I've liked more than others but they have all been fun).

    I'm excited for the finale and curious to know what they're going to do with the podcast next but I'll definitely miss these characters when it's over (especially Taako and Magnus).
  • Also my real name is John. Mwahahahaha.
  • DaveyMacDaveyMac Tokyo
    edited July 2017
    @Murderbear I, too, got into the McElroys through Monster Factory. Their Bart Simpson episode is what did it for me.

    Have you heard either of "The "The Adventure Zone" Zone" episodes? They talk a little bit about when Griffin knew he was building something bigger and when he started to really lay in clues and hints and start incorporating earlier elements into the story. I think he kind of does a similar thing to what the Villigang do with their shows in terms of stripmining the past. It is amazing to think about just how significant the umbrastaff has become and yet it probably just started as throwaway stock item. I think he said the first arc where he really started dropping hints to the larger arc was in the Crystal Kingdom. In any case I definitely recommend those two episodes if you haven't already heard them. I love how honest they are about the whole process and decisions they've made.

    Also you mentioned other McElroy products you consume. Another one that I am really into at the moment is Car Boys with Griffin and Nick. Have you seen that one? I've got Cool Games Inc. queued up for when I finish Car Boys. I'm also interested in checking out Peacecraft and Touch the Skyrim.
  • @Doctor_Nick It took me a bit longer to get fully invested in the show, it did start to click with me around the end of the first arc. The NPC characters that Griffin creates are what first got me engaged. There are great ones in every arc. As far as set pieces go the first one that got me completely on board was this big Mad Max-type sequence that happens in about episode 25 or so. That's when they really hit their stride in terms of melding fight mechanics and storytelling. And the storytelling/character development just gets better as it goes. Griffin really has grown into an excellent storyteller over the course of the show.

    It's a big time commitment but if you do give it another go it may take a couple of arcs to get into it, if you get into it at all. But I am so glad I stuck with it.
  • @voodoorat I remember you mentioning in another thread that you were binging it in a really short span of time. What's been your favorite arc so far?

    And I'm very curious to see what they do next as well. I like the idea that they will experiment with some shorter form stuff before figuring out what the next big thing is. Give them some time to breathe and also hopefully develop some strong ideas before diving in.
  • @DaveyMac Hmm.  Yeah, I ran through them pretty fast.  Gerblins has a special place in my heart because it was my introduction to the McElroys, but probably either Crystal Kingdom or Petals to the Metal was my favorite.  Likely Petals, the race/fight sequence was just so fun to listen to.  My least favorite so far was probably the Suffering Game, it just wasn't that much fun, and while I appreciate what Griffin was doing it and why I didn't like the stolen century that much, I guess I prefer more rule-driven D&D to the more straightforward improv of that system.

    And of course one of my favorite moments of the show full stop was then Taako got his hands on the flaming poisoning raging sword of doom.

    In the spirit of full disclosure, I also enjoyed HarmonQuest, although not quite as much.  Honestly I kind of have mixed feelings about Dan himself, but I think the people in his orbit are mostly hilarious.  I found the Flophouse guys' episodes of Adventure Zone borderline unlistenable though, I'm very slowly trudging through the second episode (it doesn't help that it's like 3 or 4 hours or something long).

    How about you?
  • MurderbearMurderbear Cold Spring, Ky
    @DaveyMac I definitely listened to those bonus episodes but it's been a while. I agree though about the "strip mining the past" bit but damn he makes it work so well!

    I was super into Cool Games Inc for a while but kind of fell off. I feel like after they stopped bringing guests on, it wasn't quite as good. I've been thinking about giving it another go. Nick sliiiiightly bugs me for some reason. I don't know if I'm a McElroy purist or what, but yeah. At the same time though, Car Boys was amazing and Touch the Skyrim is fantastic and he's obviously half the reason they are good. Both have a few "meh" episodes here and there but overall, I really really love them. They are no Monster Factory but hey, nothing is.

    If you want a great episode of Cool Games Inc, check out episode 4, Tim McGraw's What If? Trucks: Fates. It's a stupid title that makes sense (I guess ha) in the episode. And actually Episode 5 with Dave Lang is great too. Man, looking at some of these episode titles makes me really want to start listening to this podcast again. Early on, it's damn good but I think the concept wears out its welcome easily. It starts off real strong though.
  • I love The Adventure Zone! The Bryan/Brian Blackspider fight was definitely the point where I really got on board with their style of humor. I think Murder on the Rockport Limited and The Eleventh Hour were my favorite arcs. I didn't care for The Crystal Kingdom as much, but maybe I should give it another listen. I thought Griffin really upped his storytelling game in The Lost Century, but I found myself itching to get back to D&D at times. Really excited for the finale! I heard Justin will be DMing the next campaign. I'm sure he'll do great, but he's got some big shoes to fill. I am excited to see what Griffin is like as a player.
  • @voodoorat I think my favorite arc may be either The Eleventh Hour or The Crystal Kingdom. But I'm not sure which. I have enjoyed pretty much all of them but the first, but I think it went back to it now I would really enjoy it.

    The two scenes revolving around the Flaming Poisoning Raging Sword of Doom were fantastic. I love the ways that the guys interact with all the NPCs in the Lunar Interludes.

    I don't have any particular attachment to the D&D style so I didn't mind "The Stolen Century" arc being a departure. I was a bit unsure at first about the flashback nature of it, but I quickly got on board. And it's so necessary for making the finale work. I also thought the ending of that arc with the static coming in was perfect. Really got the feels going.

    Re: Flop House Eps, I tend to agree. I don't listen to those guys' podcast so maybe it's just that I don't have a good grasp on them, but I didn' lt enjoy their episodes all that much. A few parts made me chuckle and I like the idea of setting it in the same universe, but yeah a bit of a slog. If you haven't heard the meta Adventure Zone Zone bonus eps though I'd definitely recommend those.

    I haven't heard HarmonQuest but I am aware of it. I like Community and R&M quite a bit, so maybe I would dig it.
  • @Murderbear thanks for the recommendations for cool games Inc episodes. I actually had the podcast lined up but then saw they have a YouTube playlist too and was thinking of going that route instead. Have you seen the Cool Games videos or just listened? And I actually agree on Nick. I've only seen him on Car Boys, but there's just something about him that bugs me too. Obviously not enough to put me off as I love Car Boys but I definitely see what you mean.

    Oh and re: strip-mining the past, I think he does a fantastic job with it as well. It's smart storytelling and I think he's got good instincts to plant enough seeds in the beginning for future use to make everything work. There was some stuff from Gerblins that doesn't track, but that's understandable given they had no idea what this would turn into. I absolutely love that he found a way to bring Barry Blue Jeans back. That was such a cool reveal, too.
  • @shum I need to go back and listen to the Rockport Limited again. That was before I was fully on board and I think I probably missed a lot. That was the intro of one my favorite characters though in Angus McDonald. It's such a joy everytime he shows up. And his role in the first part of the finale was so good.

    I'm really hoping that each of the guys gets a stab at DMing before the next big campaign and see what their individual styles are. I was excited to hear them talk about the various ideas they've got moving forward. And yeah Griffin as a player will be interesting.
  • MurderbearMurderbear Cold Spring, Ky
    Aughhh! This finale is killing me!! It's been so good but I don't want it to end! ha
  • Yeah that two hours just blew by. Great episode. It's crazy how emotional I get listening to these things. I haven't been this emotionally invested in a story in a long time. So many character beats and reveals in the last few episodes had me close to tears. And some of this stuff normally doesn't work on me and I would find it a bit saccharine in other fiction, but man have they earned it here, slowly building it up.

    And there were some great returns as well. Like Upsy and Lucas! And I loved the vignettes of the void fish light washing over people.

    I will admit though that parts of it were a little to neat and tidy for my tastes, but very very minor quibbles.

    Two weeks to go for the final part!
  • new ep up, haven't gotten to it yet.
  • MurderbearMurderbear Cold Spring, Ky
    I've got 32 minutes left. It's soooooo goooood!
  • Just finished it up. I thought it was really enjoyable and there were some great callbacks with the bond mechanic. Loved seeing Garfield again. And Merle's beach moment with John was a great way to send the hunger off. Some really good one liners all around. I was surprised though how I wasn't getting as emotional in this episode as I had in the last few.

    But then Magnus's ending happened and that really got me. Actual tears. Of course in universe it was beautifully done and very moving, but what really took it over the top for me was knowing that Travis partly modeled Magnus's backstory off of how he felt in losing his own mother. And thinking of that while hearing this reunion really hit me. Especially with Clint right there too. It's just such a beautiful scene on multiple levels.

    I can't wait to see where they go next. I'm looking forward to the experimenting before they settle in for another epic campaign. Either way this'll definitely remain at the top of my podcast queue. Also next week's The The Adventure Zone Zone should be really good.
  • new TTAZZ just popped up in my feed, huzzah
  • Yeah I'm halfway through the new TTAZZ now. I love these epsiodes and how open the guys are to talking about their process and intentions.
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