The Adventure Zone: Graduation Ep. 15 "Out of Order"
May 28, 2020 7:24 AM - Subscribe

Fitzroy is not doing well. The curse is consuming him from the inside out. Argo does his best to comfort him. The Firbolg is on the hunt.Chaos rears its head and all hell is about to break loose.
posted by Tevin (15 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I've been holding off on posting here for 24 hours because... I'm not sure if I liked the episode. I'm a little torn between enjoying it on its own merits (especially compared to the rest of the campaign so far), and disliking it because, well.. the reason I think I enjoyed it is that it's super similar to a few Balance episodes. Split action, but relatively quick scenes and not just talking to people. A character being near death and hallucinating and getting some wisdom. Specifically, Fitz and Chaos really felt a lot like Merle and John.

It felt like a real quick tone/structure pivot, which is nice. But I also think I'm expecting the impossible: enjoying the patterns of Balance, but being kind of turned off by feeling derivative.

At the very least, I wasn't missing the 3-PC banter because the rest of the episode had compelling structure; when it didn't, that's all I was listening for.
posted by supercres at 4:25 PM on May 29, 2020

I had a similar impression, supercres. I felt like I enjoyed the episode a little more and then realized it was probably because it was sorta Balance-y. Can't really complain- it was nice to feel a bit invested. Part of why I think I've been having a hard time with this season is that even this many episodes in I'm not sure what the rules of the world are. What sort of events are likely? What are the limits? In Balance these questions were answered pretty quickly: overall jocular world, with some perilous (but non-mortal) situations for the mains but in the larger world the potential for catastrophe exists (Phandalin). So this episode established that, yes, the PCs can be in narrative danger, and its helpful to have that question firmed up, even if it is maybe a bit familiar.

In the same vein, I guess, is I'm still not sure if Althea is trustworthy? This episode seems to confirm as yes: she's trustworthy, but I dunno. It's probably on me and my own learned expectations from other media, but there's something about the way that the character is presented that I keep waiting for a shoe to drop. It's probably intentional as part of the overall "the school is compromised, who do we trust?" aspect of the plot. For some reason though I'm reacting to it more as a feeling of being unmoored than of being intrigued by a mystery.
posted by wordless reply at 7:53 PM on May 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

Was there no ad in this episode? Or did I somehow just completely blank it out?
posted by meese at 8:57 PM on May 29, 2020

I had a couple ads. They switched to Simplecast a while back, which I think lets them do dynamic ad insertion so individual downloads may differ? My block started about 26 minutes in.
posted by wordless reply at 9:09 PM on May 29, 2020

Yeah, weird-- I have no ad there.
posted by meese at 9:47 PM on May 29, 2020

Meese are you a Max Fun donor?
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:38 AM on May 30, 2020

I didn't have any ads and I'm a Max Fun donor but how would they know that?
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:06 AM on May 30, 2020

Mystery solved!

My podcast aggregator downloaded the episode soon as it was released. That's what I was listening to. When I deleted the downloaded copy and streamed it, I got the ad.

ANYWAY... To the actual content of the show: Firbolg just going "fuck it" and going to grab the apple from the tree was an awesome moment.
posted by meese at 11:32 AM on May 30, 2020 [2 favorites]

Really mixed feelings about this ep.

Putting the worst first, the "companionship" attribute (or whatever it was called) that Argo had to roll against felt irritating; there really doesn't seem to be any value in it that couldn't be covered by an existing attribute? Argo wasn't pulling Fitz back from the brink because of his loyalty, was it? It would have been because he was making a correct decision (reading chapters of the Larry the Lime saga) to resolve a problem with muddy or indiscernible causes. This wouldn't be worth ranting about if it wasn't a pivotal event in the episode.

The Firbolg doing his thing was a great example of Justin's playing style. For as much as he likes to say he'd rather hang back and let other people lead, he's a much more aggressive player than he says he is; even in the "Balance" arc, Taako was often moving the adventure along when the other two players would waffle.

fwiw I think Althea is trustworthy in regards to what she says, but that her words should be interpreted according to her own interests rather than the Thundermen's.

And yeah, fwiw I didn't get any advertising this episode either. I have my podcatcher set to download eps as they arrive. If that doesn't work well with the ad support on their current syndicator, I hope that doesn't end up biting them in the butt. I usually don't mind the ads in McElroy podcasts mostly because they usually do a decent job of making them interesting.
posted by ardgedee at 3:49 PM on May 30, 2020

In that case the inital lack of ad was probably just a mistake.
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:55 PM on May 30, 2020

Yeah I should have mentioned that, Justin is killing it. He’s dragging the narrative along by its heels, kicking and screaming sometimes. I bet Griffin wants to, but defers to Travis knowing the pain of relatively inexperienced DMing.

I would love a candid TTAZZ parting the curtain a bit but it doesn’t seem likely.
posted by supercres at 9:57 PM on May 30, 2020

This one was... fine. An improvement, I guess, but I think I'm only hanging in out of habit.

Thanks to whomever mentioned dungeons and daddies a few threads back though - I've picked that up and it's EXCELLENT. Abba the fact a bunch of the npc voices sound exactly like griffins npcs is a bonus.
posted by coriolisdave at 3:24 AM on May 31, 2020

I would love a candid TTAZZ parting the curtain a bit but it doesn’t seem likely.

They did a pretty candid one about Amnesty after it was over.
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:23 AM on May 31, 2020

They had a TTAZZ scheduled for MaxFunWeek, but put it in the vault when that was cancelled.
posted by ardgedee at 7:12 AM on May 31, 2020

Just caught up on these last two episodes, partially because my podcast-listening time is cut way back due to quarantine, but mostly just because, like… I have found that I kind of stopped looking forward to the Adventure Zone? Not as an active thing, but, like, I don't really get excited for it anymore. I think Justin is especially good at playing in TRPGs, and Griffin and Clint are doing fine too, but I absolutely get where people are coming from when they say that they don't really feel like Travis has been up to the task.

I'll probably keep listening either way, in the hopes that he improves as a GM over time, but it really does feel at times like he forgets that the dice are there except when he has everyone roll a DEX check or whatever (which never really seems to have any meaningful consequences anyway?).

I also feel like I would probably be less meh about Graduation overall if the previous all of it, ever weren't so strong, but at the same time I feel like everything Griffin got criticized for, Travis is doing twice as much.
posted by DoctorFedora at 10:22 PM on June 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

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