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Adventure Zone! Come on, grab your friends. We'll go to very distant lands...* No? Wrong one?

I've listened to all the regular episodes of the Balance Arc minus the bulk of The Suffering Game, because I got to the first sacrifices and decided this storyline was Not For Me, so I read a synopsis and moved on. I've also listened to the TTAZZ episodes, the two Max Fun Drive bonus episodes and all the live episodes.

I haven't listened to the Flop House episodes or any of the non-Balance Arc episodes.

I think if it hadn't been for the large numbers of people expressing serious emotions over the series I probably wouldn't have got very far, since all the sexual and "ha ha isn't being a jerk to people funny" humour wasn't gelling with me, despite there being several moments I did genuinely find hilarious (eg. I still love the Brian/Bryan joke). But I did, and I'm glad of it! It's not perfect but it's entertaining and so on.

SPOILERS BELOW



Canons that were published serially over a long period of time will always experience some drift, and it's pretty interesting to ponder the Watsonian and Doylist explanations for them. Like, Taako's personality shift over the series can be explained as Justin exploring the character, getting more comfortable with him and deciding what he wants Taako to be (Doylist), or by Taako growing more comfortable with his companions and coming to terms with his past (Watsonian). And particularly for a canon like this where the backstory changes pretty fundamentally midway through, there's a lot to explore there. I don't think it's entirely seamless - like Griffin says in one of the TTAZZ episodes, the whole "Merle has cousins in this world" explanation is pretty shaky. But he's pretty good at taking the little details from the earlier episodes and weaving them into his story later. I tend to be a bit skeptical about giving the creator credit for setting up massive twists very early in a serial story, but it's not like being able to make a coherent whole out of a number of previously-unrelated details isn't just as significant a talent!

That said, I'm still processing how I feel about the Big Reveal, in that it's like a bait and switch swapping one found family story for an entirely different one. Or is it like getting two for the price of one? 🤔 The post-Stolen Century dynamic still doesn't quite jive with the dynamic of the first few arcs to me, but maybe it doesn't have to. And I think the story is better with it, on the whole. (Obviously I'm not giving up Lup for the world, hah.)

Returning to the in-universe vs real world issue, I think it also comes into play in other places, like the way Merle treats Angus (along with the rest of party, but Clint/Merle keeps it up longer than the rest). It's generally believed that the "Wesley Crusher" character type is annoying, and Clint is reacting to Angus the way a lot of (real world) people do to that character type. But because Clint is doing it as Merle it makes him read like a massive jerk who is needlessly cruel to children.

And particularly in the early episodes I really got a vibe of Griffin punishing the players by making their ridiculous first actions unreversible, like an aggressive "yes, and..."-based attack. I admire it even as I'm eye-rolling at the results.

As someone who has played D&D before, these guys are much better at it than I ever was. Even when they callously disregard the rules for story purposes or forget how spells work. (Was I Clint? I have a horrible feeling I was Clint.)

I love that some player choices took Griffin by surprise, I love that some Griffin choices took the players by surprise. That's a good campaign!

Some parting thoughts:
- Justin/Taako trading for the Raging Flaming Poisoning Sword of Doom is really freaking funny.
- The running gags worked as running gags should. The "no dogs on the moon" joke in the final act made me laugh out loud.
- I am a strange individual who was really into Merle's plant thing and wished his friends were more supportive, y'know?
- Justin just, like, spontaneously creating a Wine and Pottery chain on the moon and using it as the location for his literal date with Death, amazing.
- It was really freaking mean of Griffin to kill those two guards Magnus kidnapped from the Moon, okay. Magnus is just a well-meaning confused boy who got himself in too deep and made mistakes! Those guards deserved to live!
- Magnus's wooden duck thing is so beautiful. *single perfect tear*
- Every so often I remember the introduction of Boyland and find it very difficult not to laugh out loud. I cannot explain it.
- I don't consider the terms "man" and "woman" (and, like, "person") to be human-exclusive in a world where's there's more than one sapient species, but it was obvious the McElroys do, so that's interesting. (Do the terms refer exclusively to the gender roles in humans? But it's not like those are consistent among cultures even in humans...)
- The Taako and Lup storyline is so tragic and amazing and I really love it a lot.
- I'm still not into the "being a jerk is funny" thing. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ But characters somehow became likeable through increased exposure despite it.
- No, I'm not picking a favourite. I love them all!
- Wait, I take it back. The void fish are the coolest, end of story.


If anybody has any fanwork recommendations, please send them my way. If I've already seen/read it, I can tell you how much I liked it, and if I haven't I get something new to consume. Win-win!



*With Jake the dog... No dogs on the moon!
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