Bit by bit, I’ve been listening to more of The Adventure Zone. It’s been a little slow, between school and recovering from the brilliance of the Balance arc, but somehow, I’ve made it all the way through the Commitment and Dust arcs, leaving me right on the edge of Amnesty!
But let’s go back a little, and look at what’s happened in the mini-arcs since the finale of Balance.
I’ll have to be honest and say that I really didn’t care for this arc very much. I’ve never cared a lot for superhero stuff, with a few exceptions here and there, and it didn’t blow me away. Not to say that the McElroys did anything bad (I think they did exceptionally well!), but just that it didn’t click with me. I was totally not the ideal audience for this.
But if you are interested here’s a quick overview: with Clint as the GM, Griffin, Travis, and Justin are the players, taking up superhero mantles at a humanitarian organization called the Do Good Fellowship. Griffin plays Remy, an athletic man who gains super jumping abilities (among other gymnastic feats). Even if it sounds dull, please, have some faith; Griffin uses those powers to great effect. Meanwhile, Travis is the cool and effective Nadiya, who is able to reshape her body (ex: her hands become hammers, her skin becomes stone, etc), and serves as the team’s logical center. And lastly, Justin is the timid and kind Irene whose superpower is turning into the harsh and boisterous thunder goddess Kardala (sometimes at the most inopportune of times, of course). Together, they work for the Do Good Fellowship and set out to bring home an agent the Fellowship is concerned about. Obviously this comes with the usual McElroy amount of humor and surprising twists, which means that I was laughing pretty much the entire time.
But after Balance, the shortness of Commitment wasn’t really working for me, and it being a superhero arc meant I just wasn’t the best of listeners. I wanted deeper character arcs, for one, and less superhero stuff as number two. I’m not sure what else to say about it beyond that I wasn’t the right audience for the arc.
Dust, on the other hand, was a TOTALLY different experience. Though it was four episodes, just like Commitment, I felt like it had more depth, and it appealed to me much more in concept. Based on a wild west sort of town overseen by dynastic werewolf and vampire families, with a fair bit of murder, mystery, organized crime, and even a little bit of Shakespeare in its roots, I was THRIVING. This time, Travis was the GM, which he did very well (because keeping players on track in a murder mystery is HARD), and I’m delighted with it. Griffin played a werewolf named Errol Ryehouse, Travis was a ghost named Augustus Parsons, and Clint was the young, well-traveled Gandy Dancer.
Without spoiling any of the mystery, I loved the way they managed to split up and investigate, then come together again. There was a good amount of ribbing Griffin at one point (he tried to be slick and it was a good time), and Justin managed to make his ghost CEO both a bit of an ass but also really entertaining (spectral cashews, anyone?). Not to mention that they laid down some really amazing threads that leave the arc open to continuation later. That ending? HOLY SHIT.
Of course, Travis did say they’re not likely to pick up Dust again. It was a ton of work to keep it rolling and keep the players on track (hard enough in open-ended D&D, harder still in something that has a definite end point like a murder mystery!), and I can see why that would be a deterrent. Still, I’d love it if they decided to go back to it, especially if they drop the murder mystery element and loosen the structure up a little so that there isn’t a predefined ending they have to reach. The ending of the arc made me want more soooo badly because it was such a satisfying sort of cliffhanger.
There’s not much else to say. When you’ve only got four episodes in an arc, the summary gets to be short and sweet and hopefully satisfying, which it especially was in Dust’s case. And now that I have Amnesty to look forward to, the next TAZ talk will probably be a longer one (and one with a lot of exciting yelling, I think; I heard there’s a rabbit with a PhD and I already love him).
Have you listened to TAZ: Commitment and TAZ: Dust yet? If you have, we should talk!