The Adventure Zone: Ep. 54. The Suffering Game - Chapter Four
January 12, 2017 9:51 AM - Subscribe

After Round One of The Suffering Game, our heroes aren't doing too great -- and with another turn of the Wheel ahead, the future's not especially bright, either. Can they keep their heads up (and on) to power through? Magnus makes an invisible friend. Merle charms the crowd. Taako makes 'em laugh.<
posted by Tevin (43 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
First off, I can't believe I'm sitting here in my kitchen feeling frustrated that Griffin is taking so long to finish Taako off, like...that is not an emotional place that I expected to find myself in.

Anyway.

- Justin's casting of that truth-seeing spell was fantastic, as was the way that Griffin immediately switched tracks to seize the opportunity to do some pretty fucking great reveals in the episode's final minutes.

- Okay but seriously, I have to trust that Griffin is going somewhere interesting with the entire Secret Red Robe Ally plot he's been cooking for most of the show, and it seems like he's taking that shit off the back burner? Mostly I'm worried that part of the solution will be that Lucretia is much more of a ruthless asshole than most of us expected.

- I'm at once viscerally horrified at the idea of Magnus having ten years of his life taken from him, and absolutely on team Oh No That's Hot with regards to his crows feet and graying sideburns.

- Also want to take a moment to appreciate Travis' careful avoidance of gendering Magnus' hypothetical date, further solidifying Bi Magnus in my own mind.

- I love that Taako seems to have arrived at "FUCK YOU I DON'T GIVE A SHIT" but I'm also....honestly, pretty heartbroken about that sentiment's "What else do I have going for me" underpinnings.

- ......Griffin seriously please just kill him next week if you're going to I can't take this!!!!
posted by Narrative Priorities at 10:49 AM on January 12, 2017 [6 favorites]


Errrrrrr where did this certainty that taako is getting waxed come from?

(great episode)
posted by ominous_paws at 10:58 AM on January 12, 2017 [1 favorite]


Errrrrrr where did this certainty that taako is getting waxed come from?

Hah, sorry. Sorry! This is just 100% a fan theory, it's not based on any metatextual hinting or the like.

Short version: we haven't had any further explanation regarding the boys' "death counts," all we know is that they've all died multiple times before. And given that the entire setup of Wonderland seems to be to grind them down into paste, it struck me as likely that Griffin is deliberately trying to kill them as a vehicle for revealing more about their backstories and the larger mechanisms of the plot.

That said, I mean, what do I know? And if Griffin continues to allow them avoid actual combat....? *SHRUG*

EH!!!!!!

EH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We'll see!!!!!!!!!!!
posted by Narrative Priorities at 11:06 AM on January 12, 2017 [1 favorite]


"(Magnus) would not be a gentle lover."

"I regret this entire podcast."
posted by nubs at 4:40 PM on January 12, 2017 [6 favorites]


Oh gosh I snuck a peak at the comments before listening, saw the death talk and ran away to listen expecting badness. Relieved at no dead Taako! I don't think Griffin is trying to kill anyone, but if it came up I don't doubt he would.

Some innovative and intuitive spellcasting at the end there for sure. Why would Taako cast the truth sight spell? Magnus has been keeping his secrets, but I wonder if Taako is catching on. So glad this show is back and hopefully returned to its normal schedule of main arc eps.

And hey digital copies of the Adventure Zine are back on sale. I felt bad missing out the first round and was glad to grab it now, it's pretty sweet!
posted by yellowbinder at 7:38 PM on January 12, 2017 [1 favorite]


Yeah, another good, funny episode. Does anyone have a little summary of Magnus's interactions with the Red Robe so far?
posted by Rock Steady at 8:15 PM on January 12, 2017


Actually more on truth spells - I was so sure that Merle would choose to give up his favourite spell when making an offering. Losing the spanner is meh, and the wedding ring (IT HAS BEEN THERE) sure, and Griffin took some warm fuzzies, but if Merle lost Zone of Truth? That would have impact.

And while Magnus was communicating with the Red Robe I was so sure we'd get a Zone of Truth and he'd spill the beans. So an inversion of expectations there when Taako had him see truth instead of speak it.

Ahhhhh I'm excited for the endgame, even though I know it will take months to play out.
posted by yellowbinder at 10:16 PM on January 12, 2017


I am enjoying this arc in the abstract but not the pace it is moving. I don't really love that it took them a half hour to do their wheel spins though, again, the content itself was good. Unfortunately Griffy is spinning a hundred million plates but I would like if they could cover more ground each episode. It's starting to feel a little piecemeal, you know?
posted by Tevin at 10:53 AM on January 13, 2017 [1 favorite]


I dug the Yuri on Ice reference!
posted by dipping_sauce at 9:29 PM on January 13, 2017 [2 favorites]


Tevin: A large part of the pace is that two of the brothers just had kids, so what'd normally take a month and a half of updates has been spread out over three.
posted by flatluigi at 7:47 PM on January 14, 2017


If I were in this campaign I'd have realized pretty early on that there's no benefit to continuing to play by the litch's rules and would be looking for every opportunity to change the game. I feel like Griffin was hoping for that and peppered his notes with talking heads and secret redrobes to push the guys in that direction. At least they figured out early on to avoid grousing.

Also, the thieves' cant instantly makes me suspect the redrobe is Magnus From The Future. How many magical undead monsters could possibly have that particular skill?
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 9:06 PM on January 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


I don't think the pace would seem as slow if the production schedule hadn't gotten interrupted - except for the first half of this episode, but I chalked that up to them just having to take a little while to get back in the groove.

My best guess is that Griffin wants to kill at least one of them, that the Red Robes are all iterations of them, and that the reason they've 'died' so much is that they keep failing to retrieve the relics and becoming liches when they die (via the animus bell probably) and then getting thrown back in time by the chalice.

In other news, FOR FUCK'S SAKE MERLE USE ZONE OF TRUTH ON CAM ALREADY
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:12 AM on January 15, 2017 [2 favorites]


I thought the observation that they died so many times was a reference to what ended up happening in Refuge. Do we have reason to think that there is still more dying ahead for the Tres Horny Boys?
posted by Rock Steady at 5:46 AM on January 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


I thought the observation that they died so many times was a reference to what ended up happening in Refuge. Do we have reason to think that there is still more dying ahead for the Tres Horny Boys?

1. How would they have gotten in trouble for something that hadn't happened yet? Why would it already be in the book?

2. Why would they each be listed as having died a different amount of times?

3. Most importantly, why did Griffin say, the first time they died in Eleventh Hour, "there's something about the dying that feels... familiar"? And then never follow up on what exactly that meant?

Here's some more stuff: we know that there are eggs for other voidfish. We know, I can't remember which BOB employee said this, but we know that theoretically if the boys' minds were wiped by a different voidfish, the fact that they were inoculated to the OTHER voidfish wouldn't protect them from what had been wiped by the other one. And we know that when Magnus looked at that drawing of himself as a Red Robe, he could see it but he couldn't comprehend it at all - like people do when they've been mind-wiped.

So that's the theory: the whole campaign is one iteration of a massive time loop. Every time before, the guys have failed, then gotten thrown back in time by the Chalice so that they can try again, but not before their minds have been wiped by a different voidfish. Some of the times when they failed, they were turned into liches with the power of the Animus Bell, and some of those liches are on their sides while the others aren't. And I'm betting that some of the times they failed, it's because they gave in and claimed one of the relics. The Director knows all this and may be responsible for the time loop - I don't think she's evil though.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:28 AM on January 17, 2017 [4 favorites]


Ooo - I haven't had time to read through this but, Masterpost of Cryptic Shit from The Adventure Zone!
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:37 AM on January 17, 2017 [5 favorites]


1. How would they have gotten in trouble for something that hadn't happened yet? Why would it already be in the book?

I guess just wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey?

2. Why would they each be listed as having died a different amount of times?

3. Most importantly, why did Griffin say, the first time they died in Eleventh Hour, "there's something about the dying that feels... familiar"? And then never follow up on what exactly that meant?


Hmm, yes, I forgot about that, but those are good points.

And I'm betting that some of the times they failed, it's because they gave in and claimed one of the relics.

That's really interesting. I was thinking the other day about how I would run TAZ as a campaign myself, and I kept coming back to what happens if they fail their saving throw against being tempted by the relics.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:31 AM on January 17, 2017 [2 favorites]


That's really interesting. I was thinking the other day about how I would run TAZ as a campaign myself, and I kept coming back to what happens if they fail their saving throw against being tempted by the relics.

During that episode where they each got tempted by the chalice, I was wondering if Griffin had an endgame for if they wound up taking it. I assume he did...
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:03 AM on January 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


(I should add, I listened to the whole thing a second time through and was actively looking for clues to the main mystery, so it's not like I'm just remembering shit super well)
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:04 AM on January 17, 2017 [2 favorites]


Also, my super duper stretch theory which is not really supported by the canon is that, in some iteration of the time loop, Magnus claimed the animus bell (which of course has necromantic powers) and used it to resurrect Julia, who is also one of the Red Robes. The one and only thing in favor of this theory is the way that one of the Red Robes noticed Taako's umbrella (which he took off a red-robed skeleton in the first arc) and yelled "you found her??" before vanishing in a bunch of flame. I don't think any of the main characters cares enough about any other 'her' to say something like that. It's probably not true but if it is, I wanted to get it out there so I'd look all smart
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:11 AM on January 17, 2017 [3 favorites]


Do we know how many discrete Red Robes there are? Could we have just seen the same one over and over again? I can't ever remember seeing multiple Red Robes at the same time.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:36 AM on January 17, 2017


I can't remember! I do know we saw one of them talking to someone 'offscreen' when they said "they don't trust me [Lup/Loop/something], I can't do this anymore."

It seems like some of them have been more malicious than others? But that could just be early misdirection on Griffin's part.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:52 AM on January 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


And of course there is the dead one that Taako takes the Umbrastaff off, so at least two? Though given that time travel is apparently on the table, I suppose it's possible the dead one is one we have already met.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:56 AM on January 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


That's really interesting. I was thinking the other day about how I would run TAZ as a campaign myself, and I kept coming back to what happens if they fail their saving throw against being tempted by the relics.

In my current approaching to DMing and the campaign I'm mapping out, it's not even down to a saving throw; the players may throw their lot in with the "baddies" at some point during the campaign, and I can run with that; in terms of structure how I'm planning things it won't make a huge difference because some big chunks of things involve racing against time/other groups towards the same goals, so the only detail that changes is which side the party (or certain characters) might be working for.

Speaking metagamishly, I think it always has to be an option. I really dislike having players on rails; I also think that the Big Bad is more interesting if it has a point of view that is compelling and rational*, which then raises the possibility that the players/characters might find it something they want to support. I much prefer running a campaign that is good-aligned and has everyone pulling in the same direction; D&D is really built around that assumption, but I'm also challenging myself to be willing to work with different...possibilities.

Anyways, I think Griffin would have been able to roll with it had Tres Horny Boys decided to go with taking the relics; there is a nice amount of flexibility in his plotting that I think would make for a great campaign of the boys building a power base with relics while the Bureau comes after them and competes with them for the unclaimed ones.

*rational for a environment which assumes the presence of dragons, magic, fey, elves, dwarves, unicorns, etc.
posted by nubs at 11:25 AM on January 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


Anyways, I think Griffin would have been able to roll with it had Tres Horny Boys decided to go with taking the relics

In this episode, I couldn't believe how quickly Griffin was able to turn on a dime and incorporate Justin's two surprise spells right at the end there into the narrative. Granted, there may have been some editing, but there's no way Griffin could have predicted that Taako would suddenly grant Magnus true sight or whatever it was called. (There's actually been a pretty consistent pattern of Justin pulling off some clever reversal and Griffin saying "oh fuck" and immediately jumping to deal with it.) I don't know how he does it!
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:31 AM on January 17, 2017 [3 favorites]


There's a few different D&D podcasts/real-plays I follow, and the difference between them and the ones I tried and dropped have a big amount to do with the DM. I listen to TAZ because of the humour, yes, but Griffin's skill at improv and being off the cuff is really impressive and inspiring.

D&D is a form of improv theatre, and listening to guys like Griffin helps a lot with my ability to do the whole "yes, and" thing when the players surprise me. Right now, my players are my two sons who are just learning the game, so there's a lot of desire on my part to be able to just roll with whatever they do or suggest (because I want them to understand you can go in any direction - this isn't a video game).
posted by nubs at 11:38 AM on January 17, 2017 [2 favorites]


Anyways, I think Griffin would have been able to roll with it had Tres Horny Boys decided to go with taking the relics

Oh, I agree, I was just thinking it would be hard to do without knowing the shape behind the larger mystery. Presumably Griffin knows that (or at least has some idea) but initially I had no idea what I would do were I in his place. I think you are right in that it would become a "rogue agent" scenario, but there also appears to be some sort of corrupting influence to the relics, and I wonder how that would play out.

I still wonder if Taako is just waiting for the right time to pull out the Flaming Poisoned Death Sword of Doom (or whatever it was called) that he managed to con off the Deals Warlock.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:10 PM on January 17, 2017 [2 favorites]


I hope he remembers that he has the damn thing, they have gotten so many magic items and then never used them at all. (Justin is the player most likely to pull some crazy shit out of his back pocket though - but I would have thought he'd hand it off to Magnus in that monster factory fight.)
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:24 PM on January 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


I feel reasonably confident in that Taako has the sword just as a fashion accessory; should he die or go unconscious however...
posted by nubs at 12:33 PM on January 17, 2017


Yeah, I lose track about how truly awesome they all truly are at making this work until something like the last episode-where the movie guys filled in. Griffin makes this look incredibly easy but it is light years beyond what others are doing.
posted by purenitrous at 6:40 PM on January 18, 2017 [6 favorites]


They have basically ruined every other D&D podcast for me. The only other one I can stomach is Friends at the Table. I'm plowing through the back catalog of that one, and if they don't iron out some of their audio issues I may not follow through with that one either.

Honestly, if for nothing else, Max Fun deserves a place in podcasting history for having consistently great audio quality across all their properties.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:50 AM on January 19, 2017 [1 favorite]


I haven't tried Friends at the Table (but audio issues tend to drive me away from things long before I have any idea if the play is any good), but I highly recommend Sneak Attack; it and TAZ are (for my money) the best two actual play podcasts going right now.
posted by nubs at 7:56 AM on January 19, 2017


I'll have to give Sneak Attack another chance.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:10 AM on January 19, 2017


I haven't listened to Friends at the Table but I've heard the audio quality does improve.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:59 AM on January 19, 2017 [2 favorites]


I'll have to give Sneak Attack another chance.

The first few episodes are a little rough (which is true of pretty much any podcast of this type), but once they settle in, it gets really good IMHO. If you just want to dive in a little a further ahead and see how it's gelled, try out episode 34 ("Detective Sherwood") in which the druid uses his Speak with Plants ability for the first time.
posted by nubs at 11:11 AM on January 19, 2017 [1 favorite]


Friends at the Table is SO GOOD and if audio bothers you, Season 2 (counter/Weight) is a standalone story and the audio quality is markedly better.
posted by clarinet at 11:02 AM on January 20, 2017 [3 favorites]


Someone went and put together a giant masterpost of Ominous Unanswered Bits and Pieces for TAZ, complete with relevant quotes from the show, if that's a thing that you're into.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 3:42 PM on January 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


(I posted it a few days ago NOT THAT I'M PUTTING YOU ON BLAST OR NOTHIN)
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:23 AM on January 23, 2017


OH SHIT I totally missed that, I'm sorry!!! ACK!!!!!!!
posted by Narrative Priorities at 8:57 AM on January 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


So: I decided to reread this thread while anxiously waiting for the new episode to go up this morning, and it turns out that was an excellent idea???

Y'all are so fucking clever and great. It's gotten to the point where I can't stomach TAZ discussion with (relative) strangers anywhere else, it just makes me impatient to get back to MeFi and your collective insightfulness.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 6:40 AM on January 26, 2017 [3 favorites]




Eeeee I forgot it was today!
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:01 AM on January 26, 2017 [1 favorite]


I am totally sincere when I say: I envy everyone who forgot it was today, as I have been hyper-aware of the clock ticking down to the point where my entire household is ready to kill me.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 8:31 AM on January 26, 2017 [1 favorite]


Oh shit, it's Thursday! I have something to look forward to for the afternoon commute.
posted by nubs at 8:40 AM on January 26, 2017 [2 favorites]


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