The Adventure Zone: Graduation Ep. 1 "Orientation"
October 31, 2019 5:46 AM - Subscribe

It's the first day of school! There are new friends to be made and plenty to explore! The teachers and staff are here to help with any problem that may arise! Just be sure to steer clear of Groundsy's hut...   Please enjoy the first episode of The Adventure Zone: Graduation!
posted by Tevin (51 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
JUSTIN OH MY GOD
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 5:55 AM on October 31 [7 favorites]


It's still taking me a while to get through Amnesty, so I am stoked for a fresh start!

Justin had me laughing immediately with declaring that "Dungeons and Dragons is BACK," roll to enter room!

Griffin getting to go first in describing his player character :)
posted by rather be jorting at 6:47 AM on October 31


JUSTIN'S CHARACTER VOICE
posted by rather be jorting at 6:48 AM on October 31 [4 favorites]


Scraps’s intro alone had me beaming on the subway this morning. I’m so happy to have this.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:15 AM on October 31


JUSTIN'S CHARACTER VOICE

That is quite a voice to commit to, and I admire his audacity.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:18 AM on October 31 [6 favorites]


I haven't listened to any of the Adventure Zone episodes for a long time. Is this a good place to rejoin? Or should I listen to the old episodes?
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:31 AM on October 31


It's a totally new arc but with the familiar old dnd mechanics, so I think you'd be fine!

There's a nice mix of goofs (I've lol'd well more than 20 times already), worldbuilding, and a (what I thought was) very well-done unexpectedly early emotional scene in the first half of the ep.

Travis also dives into the narrative right away and the whole first day of school setting really helps with providing some structure to the exposition this time around - I love that we're learning about the goings-on and the other characters around the same time as the main trio, who also have a built-in reason to be around each other: they're dorm-sharers! But mostly I'm just glad to hear a return to a sillier and more expressly magical (instead of more set-in-our-world-sorta magical realism) setting.
posted by rather be jorting at 9:14 AM on October 31 [5 favorites]


I haven't finished Amnesty, and to be honest, I'm not sure I'm going to. So I'll probably just jump back in here.
posted by nubs at 9:30 AM on October 31 [2 favorites]


It's a totally new arc but with the familiar old dnd mechanics, so I think you'd be fine!

Seconded, it's a brand new D&D adventure. No need to have heard anything previously.

Anyone catch all the character stats? I was only about 75% paying attention most of the time.
Griffin - ??? Barbarian
Clint - ??? Rogue
Justin - Firbolg ???
posted by EndsOfInvention at 9:48 AM on October 31


Griffin is a Half Elf & Clint is a Water Genasi. I had assumed that Justin was a druid but I didn't actually catch that part.
posted by Jugwine at 9:53 AM on October 31 [1 favorite]


Ah yeah I assumed Druid too, actually, since he cast Shillelagh.

So it's:
Griffin - Half-Elf Barbarian
Clint - Water Genasi Rogue
Justin - Firbolg Druid
posted by EndsOfInvention at 10:01 AM on October 31 [2 favorites]


Yeah Justin casting Speak with Animals was the giveaway for me. I guess that makes Justin the closest thing they have to a healer.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 10:08 AM on October 31


T: "And you! You're the Firbolg."
J: "Yes..."
T: "Ooh, I want to talk to you."
J: "...This is not mutual."
posted by rather be jorting at 10:36 AM on October 31 [6 favorites]


I have been attempting to get through the back catalog for several months now and I still want to at some point, but I think for now I'm at least going to be able to start fresh with this and that's very exciting.
posted by Sequence at 10:38 AM on October 31


Griffin is some form of magic barbarian.

But it's not clear where that class comes from since most of the magic barbarians in 5e don't get actual magic stuff until 3rd level.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 1:16 PM on October 31


According to this tweet from Travis Griffin is a Primal Path barbarian on the Path of the Wild Soul from Unearthed Arcana. I don't know enough about 5e and this build specifically to know if 14 HP is a typical amount for a 1st level barbarian, or what exactly the abilities of such a barbarian would be at 1st level.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 1:28 PM on October 31 [1 favorite]


Barbs get a d12 for a hit die, and at 1st level you get maximum hit points + con modifier, so 14 is about what I would expect. At first level, all a Barb should have for abilities is Rage and Unarmored Defense...but they could be brewing up their own shit too.
posted by nubs at 1:44 PM on October 31


It’s clear that there was some degree of conversation about character and whatnot that happened before this episode (where they’ve wisely decided to show character more than tell) but I really want to get a better handle on Argo. Aside from being a rogue and having a great look (handsome, very sexual) I don’t know anything about him, but I assume it’s no accident that Travis had characters keep overlooking him.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:32 PM on October 31


Yeah they definitely say Justin is a druid at one point. I'm very pleased by that, because I was a druid the last time I played D&D. They're really fun because they pretty quickly gain the ability to transform into animals!

(Also Justin's voice is very close to the one he used in the Tolstoy's Bush bit from MBMBAM, which I found slightly distracting. "These are the names of my public hairs!")
posted by showbiz_liz at 5:24 PM on October 31 [2 favorites]


According to this tweet from Travis Griffin is a Primal Path barbarian on the Path of the Wild Soul from Unearthed Arcana

Oooh, looks like that has some Sorcerer/Wild Magic-style random magic effects at some point, which should be fun.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:46 PM on October 31 [3 favorites]


I was a little nervous when the episode started with more grand scene setting, but so far I like this new season.
posted by drezdn at 7:50 PM on October 31


(Also Justin's voice is very close to the one he used in the Tolstoy's Bush bit from MBMBAM, which I found slightly distracting. "These are the names of my public hairs!")

Chekhov's Bush! It's from the "Eleventh Hour" arc of TAZ (not really wanting to be pedantic but I was listening to that episode yesterday and had completely forgotten that part.) "I try, but it's untamable down there..."

As for Fitzroy, reddit seems to have (probably correctly) guessed that he's a Level 1 Barbarian with the Magic Initiate feat, which would grant him two cantrips and a 1st level spell (shocking grasp, in this case). If he's got 14 HP, as a lvl 1 Barbarian, that means he's got a 14 or 15 CON stat, I believe (Max from his d12 barbarian hit die, 2 for the CON bonus modifier.)

"Bud," as we may or may not have settled on, gets two druid cantrips and two level one druid spells at first level, in addition to Detect Magic and Disguise Self, which he gets as a Firbolg racial ability. I believe we only saw Shillalagh (a cantrip) and Speak with Animals (a first level spell) in this session.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:53 PM on October 31 [3 favorites]


(My mistake, prestidigitation and shocking grasp are Fitzroy's cantrips.)
posted by Navelgazer at 8:01 PM on October 31 [1 favorite]


Ah, it was the magic initiate feat I was missing.

But yeah, the Wild Magic barbarian makes sense from how he described his character.
I.e. wild magic on rage screwing up his fighting style.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 2:12 AM on November 1


Rattles will be the Hodor of the series.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:30 AM on November 1 [1 favorite]


It’s kind of an interesting character choice, even with the wild magic-on-rage effect, because according to 5e rules you shouldn’t be able to cast spells while raging. I wonder if they’ll ignore that, and also wonder if we’ll see some sorcerer multiclassing.

In other corners of the internet there’s a lot of frustration that they’re using D&D—some people really hate it for podcasts because of the level of crunch! I don’t hate D&D though I kind of wish they had explored Dungeon World or some other more narrative style game.

I’ve also seen a lot of criticism of Travis for the way he handles characters with marginalized identities, specifically Aubrey in Balance and the gay couple and Rainer in this episode. As a queer person myself I’m not bothered by Travis’s depictions but they do feel kind of ham-handed, and I do wonder if he’s run it by the equivalent of a sensitivity reader. It does seem like a lot of people are excited about his queer and disabled characters though, which is great!
posted by Maecenas at 6:34 AM on November 1


Here's the specific UA article Griffin's character is from.

The confusion is that he shouldn't get spells (or cantrips) from that.
He theoretically could take Magic Initiate as a feat IF he was a variant human. But he's a half elf.
(Ah, apparently it's from magic initiate - sorcerer, so, DM fiat rather than RAW)
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 6:43 AM on November 1 [1 favorite]


As someone who plays a rogue in a 5e game, it will be interesting to see if Trav and Clint allow him to make proper use of Sneak Attack. It's a little unintuitive, and it should be used just about every turn. It can fire if the rogue 1) has advantage or 2) the target has a non-incapacitated enemy within 5'. In the average D&D battle, it would be pretty hard to not be able to find a target where neither of those conditions are met. Sneak Attack in 5e has nothing to do with hiding or not being noticed (although attacking from a hidden position is one way of getting advantage), it's about making a quick and dextrous attack in just the right spot to cause the most damage. If they aren't on board with getting full use out of Sneak Attack, Clint could very easily end up frustrated over the course of the campaign.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:17 AM on November 1 [5 favorites]


In other corners of the internet there’s a lot of frustration that they’re using D&D—some people really hate it for podcasts because of the level of crunch!

It can be as crunchy as people want; Travis appears (so far) to be going pretty light on that - there weren't many rolls, and he was pretty open with "speak with animals" for Justin (a Pegasus is technically a celestial in 5e, while the spell only allows for communication with beasts), and Griffin at least has a feat he shouldn't have RAW...so I think we're in for something far more story driven than crunchy.

Happy to see Travis as the DM - it's nice to have a change of style, and as I always seem to be, I am really intrigued by Justin's character choices.

"Are we settled on Bud?"
posted by nubs at 7:22 AM on November 1 [3 favorites]


The explanation of Rainer’s chair was a little cheesy and forced, but given that she is, essentially, Rachel Miner inserted into the game, and Miner has been doing panels talking about mobility issues / chronic illnesses / etc in Speculative fiction, some with Travis, I think it’s fine (and there seems to be universal approval for Ranier the character, but more division over the “anybody gonna ask about the chair?” moment.)
posted by Navelgazer at 8:51 AM on November 1 [5 favorites]


I really enjoyed this and it had several laugh out loud moments. There was a good (clearly a bit nervous) energy to the whole thing.

I like Travis as a DM and I was disappointed they didn't pick Dust as the next full campaign as the short run of that was so good.

Can't wait to see how this progresses. Some strong world building already and the central conceit has a lot of potential.
posted by slimepuppy at 9:22 AM on November 1 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't call this a disappointment exactly but so far Argo seems much closer to Clint's other characters than Justin's and Griffin's characters do to their other ones. I was hoping for as big a departure as Gandy Dancer was. But it's early days yet, plenty of time to differentiate him.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:50 AM on November 1


Anyone get a clock on how long that NPC-NPC (-NPC-NPC...) conversation at about 40-45 minutes in was? The one with Rainer's introduction (which, also, yeah 😬). I don't think the PCs got a single word in, maybe one Griffin quip.

Weirdly, up to that point I thought Travis was a little slow to jump in to NPC dialogue and then it shifted the complete other direction. You could tell he had a lot of lore he wanted to get in in the first episode, or maybe the boys just didn't go the direction he expected.

First outing, ok, I'll stick with it. I for one missed the structure of DnD; I like hearing them play a game.
posted by supercres at 12:14 PM on November 1 [2 favorites]


I am so here for Firbolg. Also, I get the idea that Clint saw that he could choose a pirate background and decided he was going to be Errol Flynn, which I'm looking forward to.

A thing about Firbolgs - they have the power to talk and be understood by animals without expending a spell slot; however, that doesn't mean the plants and animals can talk back. Also, ridiculous uses for disguise self.

I'm still halfway through amnesty and I'll probably finish it eventually, but this setting seems to leave itself open for more goofs (I appreciated the take-offs to the JKR wizards poop on the floor debacle).
posted by dinty_moore at 12:56 PM on November 1 [4 favorites]


the JKR wizards poop on the floor debacle).

Was this a reference to something or was it just a random goof?
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 1:47 PM on November 1


It's a reference to something. I'm sorry.

(The thing I always think about whenever this gets brought up are those poor 17th century muggleborns that enter hogwarts only to find out that they're expected to poop their robes for the rest of their lives.)
posted by dinty_moore at 1:54 PM on November 1 [6 favorites]


I'd just keep using a chamber pot like before if I were them. Honestly, it speaks to JKR's lack of historical awareness that chamber pots were not already the answer. Using a regular chamber pot or a magical chamber pot is basically the same thing, doubly so if your regular chamber pot comes with a servant for dealing with the contents.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 2:14 PM on November 1


I think Travis kept mixing up Wisdom and Intelligence but I’m sure he’ll hear all about that on Twitter.
posted by supercres at 2:21 PM on November 1


I think Travis kept mixing up Wisdom and Intelligence but I’m sure he’ll hear all about that on Twitter.

Where are you thinking about with this?
posted by Navelgazer at 2:34 PM on November 1


I feel like he kept asking for Wisdom checks to see if the PCs knew something about the culture of the world, or famous people. Could be misremembering though.
posted by supercres at 6:46 PM on November 1 [1 favorite]


i just realized the words for the feeling i've been having since i started this up yesterday, and for whatever minor gripes one could level at Travis as he finds his feet here, this is what makes me feel so assured in this campaign:

I keep unconsciously reaching for my laptop, or switch, or whatever, looking for the way in which I get to play in this world myself. In two audio hours he's already created such an intriguing world that I don't just want to hear more, but I want to be chilling in it and exploring.

Kudos, Travis. I hope you find this thread (since y'all are at least apparently aware of Metafilter.)
posted by Navelgazer at 9:50 PM on November 1 [5 favorites]


That was a rollicking time! A lot of rough spots but it's because everybody's just trying to get used to a new thing, but even the second half of the episode flowed more smoothly than the first half as everybody settled into their characters and developed their play styles.

I do have a couple serious gripes though:
1. Justin. I couldn't understand a damned thing his character was saying. There were some long minutes of conversation I could only hear one side of. I grok that the Firbolg doesn't want to be talkative and doesn't even want a name, and that's gonna be an interesting angle in an audio medium, but this is about needing a little concession for listening in noisy environments.
2. Travis. When he has conversations between two NPCs; I can't tell who's taking turns talking. It's not a dig on his ability with voices, he just needs a clearer delineation between what character 1 and character 2 say.

Travis' DMing improved a lot over the "Amnesty" live show a couple weeks ago. Maybe the structure of D&D works better for him? Or maybe it's because he got to design the milieu so he was able to build it out to the level of detail he needed? Clint was weirdly kinda low-key this episode, and Griffin sounded relieved that for once he can show up for work without hours of off-air prep work. It was a little jarring hearing Travis do the host break. I can't wait for the next ep.
posted by ardgedee at 8:04 AM on November 2 [4 favorites]


I could hear Bud just fine, but I was wearing headphones while walking in a quiet neighborhood. I did have the same problem sometimes with figuring out if someone was talking in character or as themselves, but it all worked out in the end.

I really enjoyed this episode and am looking forward to following the story. I like that it seems to be a manageable size, with limited options — it’s easier for me to follow along than with some of the other campaigns of theirs. And the game mechanisms never got bogged down.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:36 AM on November 2


I loved it and I’m super excited to listen to where it goes. I was listening to some old MBMBaM this week and it’s just so cool to listen to these guys evolve into people that can make this lovely thing together.

It’s weird, my brain keeps telling me I’m itching to sit down and read the next chapter of the wonderful novel I just started... but it’s not a book, it’s a podcast. It feels like I have some wires crossed.
posted by beandip at 6:39 PM on November 2 [2 favorites]


I also didn't have any problems listening to Bud's (/Fitzroy 2's?) dialogue, despite being in a variety of loud environments (traffic, train, open office...), so I think that's more of an idiosyncratic listening bummer. I did, however, also struggle to distinguish between the various NPCs that Travis voiced, and would encourage clearer delineation of NPC 1 saying their thing, then NPC 2 and so on. But if it's just the one NPC speaking w/ the main three (I like the nickname of 'Tres Learny Boys' that I think I saw on the subreddit), it's nbd.

As for other, non-bathroom-related HP references, I loved Griffin asking if any of the instructors would end up being "bad, but lovable?"
posted by rather be jorting at 8:54 PM on November 2 [4 favorites]


did, however, also struggle to distinguish between the various NPCs that Travis voiced, and would encourage clearer delineation of NPC 1 saying their thing, then NPC 2 and so on. But if it's just the one NPC speaking w/ the main three (I like the nickname of 'Tres Learny Boys' that I think I saw on the subreddit), it's nbd.

tbf, I think this is something he has in common with Griffin - we're just so used to Griffin's Three Voices that we can find the edges easier.

Will just take a bit of time (also, switching between voices is hella difficult)
posted by coriolisdave at 1:22 AM on November 3 [1 favorite]


I tend to have a hard time with suboptimal podcast audio (JJGo Momentous Occasions, I'm looking in your direction) but I didn't have the slightest gripe with The Firbolg (I'm not settling on Bud).

There were some solid chunks of Trav playing make-believe with himself, but I think given the circumstances, that can be forgiven. His voices could be tricky to distinguish (I think it was mostly the Buckminster/Leon/Rainer trio that caused the problems). That said, Travis did some great voice work here. Really interesting choices, some subtle, some bold, but all of them were really well done.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:29 AM on November 4 [2 favorites]


I had a little trouble with Bud's voice, but at least part of it was discomfort with. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . the . . . . . . . . . . spacing . . . . . . . between . . . . words. It felt a bit like I was listening in on a phone call where one party had dropped connection and the other was moments away from asking 'hey, you still there?'. I get what they are going for, and I appreciate it, but I do hope it tightens up a little bit.
posted by wordless reply at 10:08 AM on November 5


I'm not offering this as a suggestion for Travis to do but if I were in his place I would have a very, very hard time resisting the urge to use post-processing to make my NPC voices more distinct.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 5:35 PM on November 5 [1 favorite]


That's an interesting thing: I know Griffin got into post-processing more and more as Balance went along, into Amnesty. And it's not like Travis doesn't produce a ton of podcasts, but that aspect might be newer to him. I assumed that Griffin did the underlying music (which is fucking excellent, by the way) but maybe he isn't. I really would like to know the under-the-hood stuff going on now that Scraps is running the show.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:42 PM on November 5


I kind of love the fact that Travis has basically invented Fantasy Pro Wrestling College
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:08 AM on November 9 [7 favorites]


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