The Adventure Zone: The The Adventure Zone Zone: Ethersea Wrap-Up!
August 18, 2022 7:57 AM - Subscribe

This week we're answering some questions about The Adventure Zone: Ethersea, as well as talking a bit about our next two (!) projects. To learn more about Urban Shadows: To learn more about Blades in the Dark:
posted by curious nu (8 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Was really interesting to hear how little was planned and left to chance; it definitely explains some of the weird pacing, and the push-and-pull of their attempts to tell a Big Story but without having it all set up.

Also: Justin finally going to run TAZ! Will be really interested to see how that goes.
posted by curious nu at 8:27 AM on August 18, 2022

their attempts to tell a Big Story

I really wish they wouldn't. Play or commission a preroll that they can get the commercialization license for.

I feel like this isn't too much of a bummer, but they simply have to change it up more. With each arc it's become increasingly clear that they just want to create semi-improvised radio drama from scratch and that's just not playing to strength; they're not good enough writers (as a group, on the fly) for that. They're good at riffing off of / dunking on other people's content: Mines of Phandelver, Yahoo Answers, listener questions, Paul Blart, QSR press releases, etc etc. They just take things too seriously post-Balance (probably post-Suffering Game); literally nothing they do in-character is funny anymore, and only occasionally the table talk.

Here's hoping that Justin running a game will (a) keep it light, (b) keep him engaged.
posted by supercres at 11:40 AM on August 18, 2022 [3 favorites]

Oh boy, I dropped off TAZ-Eth at least... 25 episodes ago. For many of the things supercres mentions, but also the palpable lack of fucks from Justin/

Does it get better? Should I even try to go back or just... let it go?
posted by coriolisdave at 5:44 PM on August 18, 2022

I’d let it go and read a recap/summary or something if you were curious. I listened every week on Thursday mornings before work as I woke up but there were days I fell back asleep and never went back and re-listened and didn’t feel like I missed anything, especially in the middle batch.

I don’t want this post to be a hate-listen! There’s too much of that in Fanfare. There were some really good moments (Urchin’s buddy was maybe the hardest I’ve laughed listening to TAZ ever) and some kind of whatever moments. This ep is interesting to hear some of what was going on behind the scenes about WHY it felt off and that’s cool to me.
posted by curious nu at 6:19 PM on August 18, 2022

I agree, this particular episode was extremely enlightening, and I'm hoping they're more cognizant of the downsides that are kind of skirted around in the public content and take them into future campaigns. My comment, like all my thoughts related to McElroy content, are in the vein of "this used to be better, and I'm pretty sure this is why..."

I care about Urchin way more than I care about anything else in this universe, especially any of the PCs.
posted by supercres at 9:50 AM on August 19, 2022

Does it get better? Should I even try to go back or just... let it go?
posted by coriolisdave at 5:44 PM on August 18 [+] [!]

posted by supercres at 9:51 AM on August 19, 2022 [1 favorite]

This was actually the first arc I really listened all the way through since balance. I really enjoyed the world-building. Listening to the Quiet year parts I really enjoyed, and made me look out for other lets plays of it, and well, none of those ended up anywhere near as interesting.

And I think just having this crazy, undersea, post apocalyptic setting kept things interesting instead of falling into a lot of standard D&D tropes and stereotypes I bounce off of hard. I still have an irrational and probably unjustified smoldering dislike of critical role for this reason.

I actually started really getting into the story only a little after where coriolisdave left off. It took about that long to get to the point where I felt the characters really started to be proper characters. And honestly, I don't think that's unreasonable for playing a D&D game. If you don't start with caricatures and playing to tropes, it takes putting your character into a few situations to get a feel for the character you're RPing and how they react.

I know several actual play RPG podcasts that are more actual play-ey rather than radio dram-ey that start after the game has been played through a few introductory adventures, and I think that helped the entertainment factor with not having to listen through the awkward phase of figuring out your character.

If I have any big complaints, it's that the characters just started to come into their own, right as they were dealing with big, world changing events that kind of... preclude the characters from being the same people if they go back to the world again.

I actually do kind of agree that just listening to them playing and joking through and riffing on other people's adventures might be more entertaining in the moment. But, there is so much fun. cozy, and ultimately shallow content out there... I don't think the world would be a better place for having a little more. I do enjoy seeing what the McElroy's actually are interested in and come up with and the stories they want to tell, and I'm glad they get the opportunity to do and share that and want to see more.
posted by Zalzidrax at 9:04 AM on August 20, 2022 [2 favorites]

I think the boys can do some really compelling role-play/collab storytelling, but only when they are all giving a fuck, and various behavioural tendencies *cough*travis*cough* are minimised.
posted by coriolisdave at 2:27 AM on August 21, 2022 [3 favorites]

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