The Adventure Zone: Ep. 53. The Suffering Game - Chapter Three
December 15, 2016 1:41 PM - Subscribe

Wonderland has revealed itself as a genuinely unsafe place for our heroes to be. Can they make forward progress in a cyclical game designed to extract raw anguish from them? Can they reach their distant goal before they've sacrificed too much? Magnus goes spear fishing. Merle is the MVP. Taako has a spot of bad luck.
posted by Tevin (26 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I was thinking before this episode that they're probably not going to get the bell just by playing nicely, especially since its undoubtedly what powers all these wonderful toys. This episode, near the end, confirms it. I'm at a loss as to how they can get behind the curtain and break the cycle, though. If I were Taako I'd start flexing my transmutation powers to poke around the walls.

I know Travis wants to make exciting radio, but "I'm just going to attack this fucking bear four times in a row" would serve everyone better than hairbraned but amusing schemes. And, of course, an eviller DM would just let their PCs try dumb plans that don't work, for instance, "*Rolls dice* Flesh to Stone didn't seem to have any effect on the slime"
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 8:08 PM on December 15, 2016


I was thinking before this episode that they're probably not going to get the bell just by playing nicely

Oh, I think they are. I think that's the only solution actually.

We never did get any details on how Cam was 'screwed over.' I think that to get to the end of the game you HAVE to keep choosing to collaborate. And I bet Cam was doing that with someone, and they were almost at the end, and then the other person betrayed him at the last minute. (And by 'person' I mean The Director probably)
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:25 PM on December 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


Hey we don't know what the Animus Bell actually does, right?

So animus has a few different definitions:

1. A feeling of enmity, animosity, spite, or ill will

2. The basic impulses and instincts which govern one's actions

3. In legal terminology, it means 'intent,' as in you intended to do something

4. In Latin it means the mind or intellect, or the rational part of the soul, or willpower. (And if you don't have animus, it means you're insane.)

5. And in Jungian psychology it means 'the masculine aspect of the feminine psyche' but I feel like that part probably won't come up

I've seen some people saying it means 'life force' or similar in Latin, but it doesn't - anima (the feminine form) means life force and animus (the masculine form) means mind. (I mean, it's not impossible that Griffin either got it wrong or didn't care, but)

Really any or all of those first four could potentially work. #1, the bell is used to create suffering. #2, maybe the bell can also reveal the players' true natures somehow? #3, it has something to do with making choices? #4, more of a stretch but it could refer to liches who kept their minds anchored to their souls when they died - could the bell help make that happen?

(I hope this is true and there's multiple weird layers of meaning to this bell, but if there aren't, I hope Griffin sees this comment and thinks 'ah, dang')
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:07 PM on December 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


I know Travis wants to make exciting radio, but "I'm just going to attack this fucking bear four times in a row" would serve everyone better than hairbraned but amusing schemes

I did appreciate how Griffin applied the concept of "grounding" with that attack, however.
posted by nubs at 6:35 AM on December 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


My guess is that the Animus Bell is a focus for the emotional magic that Cam mentioned.

Ordinarily, it seems like only epic, heart-rending emotions are strong enough to affect the world—Griffin mentioned Jack's creation of Roswell and Hurley's rescue of Sloane, which were basically the expression of dying wishes.

The vogue liches, however, sustain themselves off of relatively minor emotions, like annoyance or hostility. I bet the Bell can harvest and concentrate such feelings, then release their potential energy to alter reality within the local area— to power liches, or remove fingers, or create monsters, or manifest a heart's desire.
posted by Iridic at 12:35 PM on December 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


Ordinarily, it seems like only epic, heart-rending emotions are strong enough to affect the world—Griffin mentioned Jack's creation of Roswell and Hurley's rescue of Sloane, which were basically the expression of dying wishes.

Hmm... everyone who we know has used a Relic and then been able to give it up without dying: Sloane, Lucas, June, possibly Jack.

ahaha all of them were motivated by love, it's gonna be a Fifth Element type thing
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:57 PM on December 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


it's gonna be a Fifth Element type thing

Which I think the players called out early on in the campaign.
posted by nubs at 1:39 PM on December 16, 2016


We know that Cam isn't as knowledgeable as he seems because he claims that Wonderland is inescapable, but we know that the Director left without her desired prize. Which leads to calling his motivation into question. Perhaps he just sees these three as a meal-ticket out of there?
posted by Groundhog Week at 6:01 PM on December 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


My thoughts as I listened to this week's installment:

- I think Griffin is actually, deliberately trying to kill them. As in, I can't help but wonder if this is where we're going to have our follow up on the issue of the boys' "death counts" -- if Griffin's going to use one of their slow, agonizing deaths as the mechanism by which he'll lift the static from their histories.
- As many many folks have been saying ever since this arc began, I can't help but assume that a Grand Relic focused on necromancy is going to involve raising some folks from the dead in a maximally unpleasant-for-their-PCs way. So now that it's been rung, I'm pretty much steeling myself from some awful fucking shit, and hoping HOPING that Griffin isn't as creative with tormenting fictional characters as I am.
- There are going to be so many lovingly rendered illustrations of gravely injured Taakos on Tumblr (turns out: ACCURATE)

And I agree with y'all that we're going to be finding out some bad shit about the Director fairly soon.

......HNNNNNGGGGGGGG this is KILLING ME..... =____=
posted by Narrative Priorities at 11:21 AM on December 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


Apropos of nothing I was scrolling through that tumblr and I love how the fanart people have apparently mostly settled on a specific look for Kravitz - black, long thick dreads, tall and thin, hella dapper. I think something very similar happened with Nightvale back in the day, where fanart Cecil became fanart-canonically covered in purple tattoos...
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:45 AM on December 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


Excited to see how/if Kravitz will be involved if one of the boys dies.
posted by clarinet at 4:17 PM on December 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


We know that Cam isn't as knowledgeable as he seems because he claims that Wonderland is inescapable, but we know that the Director left without her desired prize.

Well, she said she went to Wonderland and left. But she could just be sending our boys into an eternal hell trap!
posted by jason_steakums at 11:12 PM on December 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


Excited to see how/if Kravitz will be involved if one of the boys dies.

Look, I SHIP IT, but I'll admit this is not how I wanted Taako and Kravitz's next date to go.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 8:45 AM on December 18, 2016 [7 favorites]


Further, on the topic of shipping:

Inked and colored some sketchbook self-indulgence -- Carey/Killian (which is mildly NSFW!) and Taako/Kravitz (which involves a scrunchie)
posted by Narrative Priorities at 7:04 PM on December 20, 2016 [5 favorites]


....I wanna tell y'all what I wrote for Yuletide SO BAD but I'm going to behave myself and wait until the author reveal on Sunday.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 5:40 PM on December 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


I know Travis wants to make exciting radio, but "I'm just going to attack this fucking bear four times in a row" would serve everyone better than hairbraned but amusing schemes. And, of course, an eviller DM would just let their PCs try dumb plans that don't work, for instance, "*Rolls dice* Flesh to Stone didn't seem to have any effect on the slime"

Personally, I'd much rather my players come up with ideas that they enjoy playing out, than simply go through the motions of hacking the monster apart. Ultimately, RPGs are collaborative, not competitive. There were a number of ways to "yes and" some of the tactics which were tried, either making the battle harder (e.g. the flesh to stone spell does some minimal damage but causes the slime's armour class to increase) or easier (e.g. flesh to stone causes the slime to get slower) or both (and any of these effects could be described as nodules of flesh within the slime hardening to rock, maybe with a few rupturing the surface with a spray of unpleasant goo). Griffin's GMing is truly excellent, even without allowing for his relative inexperience, but the flesh to stone thing was something I thought I would have handled differently.

More broadly, there are groups that genuinely enjoy approaching combat like a competitive skirmish wargame, but my experience is that these are fairly rare and, crucially, rarer than many players realise, even with regards to their own preferences. A lot of people playing RPGs aren't entirely sure what it is that keeps them coming back to the table, and people often think they want tough tactical play without actually enjoying it that much when you give it to them. One of the main jobs of a good GM is working out what different people actually enjoy, and finding a way to balance those different interests against each other during play.

Also, while I think that OSR-style games are a valuable contribution to modern gaming, I hope that the notion of the 'evil DM' is something we can leave in the past. While a few groups do genuinely enjoy that sort of thing, and more power to them, in the majority of cases an 'evil DM' isn't so much evil as just plain bad.

More specific to this episode, we know that either Cam is lying/mistaken or that the Director has not revealed her true experiences in Wonderland. Probably both?
posted by howfar at 1:38 AM on December 30, 2016 [3 favorites]


HAPPY NEW YEAR, NERDS <3

My early Candlenights gift to myself was to write the transcript of a fake Adventure Zone episode in which Carey and Killian get married and several interpersonal decisions are made while drunk and/or dancing.

It's....technically RPF....? But like...the very gentlest of real person fictions. I promise.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 7:57 AM on January 1, 2017 [3 favorites]


Wait, if it's Carey and Killian RPF is it just Griffin-on-Griffin action?
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:41 AM on January 1, 2017 [3 favorites]


Unfortunately, the format restriction just means that there isn't nearly as much Carey and Killian action as there otherwise would've been as....hah, yeah, pretty quickly devolves into Griffin talking to himself.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 4:48 PM on January 1, 2017


Inked and colored some sketchbook self-indulgence -- Carey/Killian (which is mildly NSFW!) and Taako/Kravitz (which involves a scrunchie)

Wowsers.

Also, that bird skull tie chain on Kravitz is to die for...

Can their ship name be Traavitz?
posted by Rock Steady at 12:36 PM on January 4, 2017 [1 favorite]


It's taakitz and there are absolute boatloads of it on tumblr
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:46 PM on January 4, 2017 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I should have realized there would be. Sometimes I forget that TAZ is actually popular.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:46 AM on January 5, 2017 [2 favorites]


Okay, only got a couple more to catch up on, but my current theory for the broad arc is that The Red Robes are an order being created out of grown copies of Tres Horny Boys, and that the entity creating those copies is none other than Garfield the Deals Warlock, hence the death counts and why he's constantly bargaining for their blood and hair and the like.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:55 PM on February 15, 2017 [4 favorites]


I figure if they were regularly cloning Horny Boys, there would be three cloning tanks in the mystery lair instead of one. As it is, there's just one tank, standing six feet tall - much too big for a Merle, and a little cramped for a Magnus or a Taako.

The map in the lair indicates that the lair's owner is planning to infiltrate the Bureau of Balance, probably with a view to getting into the secret vault in the Director's quarters. Now who is a) rather tall and b) has unquestioned access to that vault?

I think they're cloning Lucretia.
posted by Iridic at 5:37 PM on February 19, 2017


(Of course, making a clone is one thing; stuffing your consciousness inside it is another level of difficulty altogether. Taako's magic jar spell would work, but the result could be detected and reversed by any mid-level wizard. You would need some sort of powerful, foolproof method for transferring a soul into a new body. Good luck finding that!)
posted by Iridic at 5:50 PM on February 19, 2017


I know Travis wants to make exciting radio, but "I'm just going to attack this fucking bear four times in a row" would serve everyone better than hairbraned but amusing schemes. And, of course, an eviller DM would just let their PCs try dumb plans that don't work, for instance, "*Rolls dice* Flesh to Stone didn't seem to have any effect on the slime"

To be honest if you've got this far into TAZ and you don't like hairbrained schemes or DMs that make the game fun instead of frustrating, I'm not sure why you're still listening.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:18 AM on March 6, 2017 [1 favorite]


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