The Adventure Zone: Ethersea - Episode 13
October 22, 2021 10:53 AM - Subscribe

With their first proper mission under their belt, the crew of the Coriolis attempt a series of negotiations with mixed results. A night at the Cloaca forges new friendships, while morning at the Gills forges new ... enemy ships. Additional music in this episode: "Piano Abstract" by Ubik; and "Intense Horror Music 01" by Magmi Soundtrack
posted by ardgedee (6 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Whoops, long comment alert. Flipping back and forth between TAZ and NADDPOD backlog has been really enlightening.

The 2 Crew almost never breaks character, to the point where they'll preface OOC statements with "This is Emily saying this..." etc. The McElroys -- including Griffin -- are way too into making commentary on their game now as themselves instead of roleplaying. This isn't "Stay in character instead of being funny!" Clearly they're able to do both; early Balance had tons of this.

It seems like now Justin is the only one making an effort to RP; the beginning where Griffin asked for OOC omniscient narration about the mental state of their characters and Justin asked who was making the insight roll against Amber was ๐Ÿ˜—๐Ÿ‘Œ. His in-character jokes are really fun. Travis OTOH painted himself into a corner with a really serious character (side effect of main-character syndrome?) and has to step out of it to do goofs.

Griffin picked up bad habits somewhere. He's not as bad as Travis about trying to write a book (graphic novel) where his family is just providing voices, but he's worse about it than he was in Balance, certainly early Balance. (He was doing it more by The Stolen Century or so.)

Short version: glimmers of hope if Justin can stay engaged and put his foot down about roleplaying.
posted by supercres at 3:01 PM on October 22, 2021 [1 favorite]

I enjoyed this episode a lot while listening but donโ€™t have too much to say about it. Justin does seem to be doing the RP stuff best in that his character work seems the most thought through. Travis has a thing heโ€™s working out, and I dig it, but Amber undercutting the emotional tension from the rest of her team is really needed.
posted by PussKillian at 4:34 PM on October 22, 2021 [2 favorites]


What is that?

Travis keeps crashing in with serious moments and they routinely undercut not just the story and the mood but even Devo's personal goals. I really don't understand why he's doing it. It's not even playing Devo as a naif, it's more like Devo occasionally being momentarily taken over by goateed anti-Devo.

I was hoping "Ethersea" would be a return to their early form of having adventures while fucking around (contrasted with fucking around while having adventures) but right now the show's kind of flying apart and it doesn't feel like there's any remaining consensus of what they want to do even with The Quiet Year prologue which I assumed had been used to form a shared vision.
posted by ardgedee at 1:48 PM on October 23, 2021

NADDPOD is Not Another DND Podcast, an excellent dnd podcast run by some folks from College Humor and Headgum. It's excellent, raunchier than anything from TAZ beyond probably Here there Be Gerblins, and is more rule-following than TAZ but still allows the Rule of Cool to stay at the forefront. I'm not caught up on all their content, but the first season, Bahumia, was pretty fantastic. One of their players is new to the game and watching him learn is really fun. One of the other players, Emily, is a fantastically sideways thinking player. She and her husband Murph (the DM) are also frequently present at Dimension Twenty games. Their motto is that the dice tell the story and Murph is good at steering things based on successes and failures.

A standard warning to new listeners - they had previously worked on a much much raunchier podcast called 8-Bit Book Club, and some of that energy resulted in a weird dragon genitalia joke in the first episode that seems to throw people off. They dial things back from that point, but blowjob jokes do occur. It's amazing that the show can do that and also include so many poignant character arcs.

I also listen to Rude Tales of Magic, but I'm damned if I can explain one single thing about that show.
posted by PussKillian at 8:55 PM on October 23, 2021

I've been enjoying the heck out of Ethersea overall. Justin is killing it, Travis is much better when he only is allowed to narrate the lengthy internal thoughts of one character, and Griffin is rolling with the tables and charts in a really fun way. Clint also is Clint. (He's a lot better when his character is as slightly detached and fish-out-of-water as he is.)
posted by Scattercat at 9:09 AM on October 25, 2021

Honestly I don't think the problems that the McElroys are having is related to how much they stay in character or how well they roleplay. This isn't a game of D&D, it's a narrative podcast where D&D is used to generate a story. The thing I don't like most about how they're working right now is it feels like Griffin is doing a lot of the heavy lifting. I don't want to hear Griffin telling Travis what Devo sees and does when he gets to the bridge. I want Travis to tell me what Devo sees and does. This should be a solved problem for a show that gets edited as much as this one, Travis and Griffin can work together to make a scene, and either that work gets edited out or just leave it in. Justin is doing a better job keeping his character under his control, but occasionally it'd be nice if the audience got an insight into her mental state even if she's keeping it from her companions. Travis is fine, it's just his character is very serious about hating the church/cult he came from so there wasn't much room for goofs when he had to deal with his former abusers. Clint is exploring an interesting place with anchorless Zoox but It'd be nice if he could give some more relatable insights to his mental state too.

When I think of good storytelling I think of a climactic scene from Friends at the Table's Partizan season, when two player characters finally have enough of each other and throw down. No dice are rolled. The two players just work together to collaboratively narrate a scene. They're both so in tune and have the same goal of describing a scene as cool and interesting as possible so it works and the result is a scene so memorable I can picture in my mind like I was there. This is the kind of storytelling I want, even if it doesn't fit into the strictest definition of "Actual Play."
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 12:01 PM on October 25, 2021

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