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YMMV / The Adventure Zone: Balance

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Your Mileage May Vary Index


  • Approval of God: While Griffin confirmed that he didn't intend to imply that Angus is secretly a silver dragon, he likes the theory so much that he refuses to confirm one way or the other.
  • Arc Fatigue: The Suffering Game. Several episodes can be succinctly summarized as "Tres Horny Boys experience suffering", to the point where some listeners have difficulty staying engaged, and during publishing the arc dragged on even longer due to Griffin and Travis going on paternity leave.
  • Author's Saving Throw:
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    • After Griffin was informed of the greater context of the fully-subtextual lesbian relationship ending in Bury Your Gays in the Petals to the Metal arc, he brought in an explicitly mentioned relationship between Carey and Killian, as well as a budding one between Taako and Kravitz, for subsequent arcs and interludes. Then in Story and Song, he reveals that Sloane and Hurley have become dryads. He rolled really well on this saving throw.
    • Griffin explicitly said that this is why Lup's name is just "Lup" rather than being short for "Chalupa" as originally intended.
    • Griffin also acknowledges that, given one particular Continuity Drift-induced Plot Hole — specifically, "how could Gundren Rockseeker be Merle's cousin with the same magical properties to his blood if Merle is from another universe?" — he has to introduce an explanation for it (the universe where the IPRE crew manage to grab the Light of Creation after agreeing to the plan to divide it into the Grand Relics just happened to be remarkably similar to their own universe, with the Rockseekers being alternate versions of Merle's real distant relatives) and preemptively agrees that it sucks as an explanation.
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    • Rather than pull the trigger on Taako inventing the taco, a situation rife with Unfortunate Implications, Griffin instead fulfills the storyline by having Taako meet a Hispanic person from our world who teaches him the recipe.
    • Fans found it hard to reconcile Davenport's retcon into using only Pokémon Speak after he became an Ascended Extra at the end of The Suffering Game where he was revealed to be the IPRE's captain. Griffin's narration in Episode 66 turns this into a Cerebus Retcon by saying that while he did know how to say words other than his name, he was so thoroughly traumatized from having his memory wiped that most days he could not manage to say them.
    • In response to the criticisms regarding the original graphic novel preview, where the main characters were all depicted as white, their designs were revised to depict more diversity.
  • Base-Breaking Character: Lucas Miller. Some people love him. Other people point out that his treatment of the Hugbears seems like slavery.
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    • Lucretia. To many, including the McElroys she's a good person, put in an impossible situation where she saw her friends torn up by the effects of what they had done to the world, and did something she knew was wrong for their benefit, and only until she could fix the mistake and keep the world safe. To others, she may have been aiming to do good, but she still took the choice of that decision out of her friends' hands, separated them from each other and reduced her captain to a babbling fool before endangering everything in existence. Even in-universe Taako isn't sure he'll ever be able to fully forgive Lucretia for wiping his sister from his memory.
  • Broken Base: There is a sharp divide between fans of the show which prefer the earlier arcs' emphasis on comedy and those who prefer the later arcs for emphasized storytelling. The fans of the former argue that the show not only stopped being as funny but also stopped being an actual play D&D podcast. The fans of the latter argue that the show was never strict on the rules of D&D to begin with and that the change in tone was necessary to payoff the characters and plot.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: While The Suffering Game was coming out, some fans complained that the show was getting boring because every episode was just about the characters getting hurt and being put into miserable situations over and over with no chance for levity. It didn't help that the arc ran for more episodes than intended and had much longer waits between episodes than usual due to Travis and Griffin going on paternity leave. Discussed by Griffin in this Tumblr post. Opinion seems to have softened now that the arc is over, with fans generally appreciating the numerous Awesome Moments, Plot Twists, and great songs it provided in the last couple of episodes.
    • Discussed in-show during The Stolen Century when Griffin notes that the past few episodes have gotten pretty dark and apocalyptic, and makes an effort to keep the show from getting monotonously depressing by including more lighthearted elements like a Beach Episode and greater focus on the characters' friendships.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: So many. But to start with a few...
    • Magic Brian, for his hilarious voice. Ditto for Jenkins.
    • Angus Mcdonald, for being generally adorable. He was so well-liked, the fandom went nuts when he became a Bureau member.
    • Carey and Killian, for being badass action girls and a really cute couple.
    • Barry Bluejeans. He barely had any dialog, but people still loved him for his crazy name. And then he became an Ascended Extra.
    • Lup, despite being a MASSIVE Walking Spoiler.
  • Fan Nickname: The 3-woman team of Regulators complementary to the Tres Horny Boys is "Team Sweet Flips", composed of Killian, Carey, and No-3113 (Noelle). Which is canon now.
  • First Installment Wins: To many, The Adventure Zone will always by synonymous with Balance. This stems in part due to the series exploding in popularity after it had already grown its beard, while new continuities like (K)Nights and Commitment are still finding their legs.
  • Fridge Brilliance: Much of the early installment weirdness (Taako's idiocy, Merle's indecisiveness regarding which god he was actually a cleric of, Davenport's (and to a lesser extent, Barry Bluejeans's) verbal tick of repeating their names) can be explained by the fact that the characters had lost more than a century's worth of memories prior to the start of the story. The fact that it works so well retrospectively is even wilder when you consider that no one, not even Griffin, knew about the events of The Stolen Century at that point.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: There's a moment in The Suffering Game where Cam and Merle are commiserating the lost of Cam's body (except for his head) and Merle's arm and eye. Magnus puts in that he's lost a pinkie before realizing that's not as bad and saying "I can check my privilege." Fast forward a few episodes and Magnus has lost his body completely.
    • Earlier in Here There be Gerblins there is a point were Merle reaches out to pet a dog and Griffin jokes that the dog bites Merle's hand off. Come The Crystal Kingdom this is a little less funny.
    • Davenport's Pokémon Speak after Reunion Tour.
    • Lup trying to get her $15 back from Greg Grimaldis isn't quite as funny after Live in Nashville! reveals that said money was an infinitely-replicating $15 bill that Lup had accidentally created, which Greg used to become a powerful tyrant. Though compared to the destruction wrought by her other creation, the Phoenixfire Gauntlet, Greg's casino seems like pretty low-grade damage, so the Running Gag isn't completely soured.
  • Genius Bonus: Early on, the Voidfish appears to be trying to communicate with its keeper Johann by singing musical notes at him. Intrepid fans on the series' Reddit determined that the musical notes are, in order: E, G, G, and then B, A, B, E. This was later confirmed in The Calm Before The Storm.
  • Growing the Beard: Due to Clint being new to D&D and Griffin as a new Game Master, the first half of Here There Be Gerblins involved more explaining the mechanics and asking questions about following the pre-set campaign. Once they caught on, their creativity shows through and they get a better handle on playing their characters.
    • Griffin personally points to the renaming of Barry Bluejeans as the point where he really embraced altering the story into his own homebrew narratives.
    • The end of Murder on the Rockport Limited was a turning point for how they played their characters, with Justin playing Taako as less of an idiot and more smart but aloof, as well as Travis and Clint developing character voices for Magnus and Merle.
    • The last two episodes of Petals to the Metal mark the podcast's shift into a more serious and mythology-heavy tone, featuring the first original music, first romance, first genuinely emotional moment that isn't made into a joke (like the destruction of Phandalin), and first appearance of the Red Robe.
    • Griffin also remarked in the second episode of The The Adventure Zone Zone that The Crystal Kingdom was where he fully shifted the story to a mythos-heavy and character driven story as well as laying the bedrock for all of the revelations to come in the podcast about our heroes, the nature of the Relics, and their true enemy.
  • Gut Punch: Newcomers to The Adventure Zone often don't understand why it makes people cry. The first 10 episodes or so include a lot of masturbation jokes and people slowly adding up their dice rolls and modifiers out loud, which doesn't make for a highly emotional podcasting experience. By either the end of Petals to the Metal or The Eleventh Hour, they tend to understand.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • Travis jokes about Magnus turning evil and having Redemption Arc in an early episode. Then it turns out Magnus may have been a Red Robe and he attacks two Bureau guards in his desperate search for information.
    • Several moments with Lucretia — hell, the boys' entire relationship with her — takes on a whole new weight after The Reveal that Lucretia wiped the party's memories of being Red Robes, and more specifically of being her colleagues and friends, in particular her telling Merle about having to make a terrible decision about the course of her life, one which caused her to lose several people close to her. This is hammered home near the end of Episode 66, with a brief montage of such clips from earlier in the show.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • During the intro of Moonlighting, the announcer states that he's afraid of aliens and hopes they won't be on the moon. After it's revealed that Director Lucretia, Davenport, Barry Bluejeans and Tres Horny Boys are from Another Dimension it turns out there were aliens on the moon all along.
      • In the same interlude, Taako asks if the final Grand Relic is love because he doesn't want to waste any time looking for it if that is the case. Lucretia deadpans that she "cannot confirm or deny that the magic was inside of them the whole time". Said relic is Lucretia's staff, meaning that in a way it was with them all along.
    • In episode 97 of My Brother, My Brother and Me, two years before TAZ began, they're asked for advice on how to leave a D&D party, and they suggest having the character retire and die of old age. Griffin takes a moment to point out that playing out a natural death is something that people have probably done without joking. Five years later, at the end of Story and Song, Magnus dies of old age, surrounded by his friends in the Distant Finale.
  • "Holy Shit!" Quotient: The Reveal in episode 7 of The Suffering Game of who the Red Robe actually is manages to be a Heartwarming Moment, Funny Moment, and Moment of Awesome all balled up into one because it's Barry Bluejeans. Originally just a one-off mercenary who got unceremoniously killed in the first arc, he is now probably the most important NPC in the campaign despite Griffin's insistence that he wasn't coming back.
    • It's safe to say at this point that every episode after the one described above is hitting fairly high on the quotient.
  • Idiosyncratic Ship Naming: Killian/Carey is "Sweet Flips", named from Taako commenting on their acrobatic battle skills while fighting a room full of ice robots.
  • It Was His Sled: The fact that Taako has a twin sister whom he forgot about via Laser-Guided Amnesia, due to her immense popularity as a character despite not being introduced until the penultimate arc.
  • LGBT Fanbase: Let's see... a huge amount of characters who fall under the LGBT spectrum, avoiding negative stereotypes and cliches with these characters, and treating the relationships these characters have as normal? It's no wonder why the LGBT community would love this series so much.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Has its own page.
  • Paranoia Fuel: Our Heroes work for a secret organization that uses a creature called the Voidfish to inflict Laser-Guided Amnesia on a global scale... and they're supposedly the good guys. During a carnival, everyone except for the main characters suddenly falls unconscious without warning or explanation and thousands of eyes momentarily open up all across the sky, and the ostensible Big Good seems remarkably blasé about it when they report the phenomenon. At one point when Taako slips into the ethereal realm he catches a glimpse of shadowy figures watching him, who promptly disappear before he can tell anything about who they are or what they want. The characters are too happy-go-lucky and, let's face it, dumb to have caught on, but it's pretty clear that something very very strange is going on.
  • Portmanteau Couple Name: When Kravitz was first introduced, Clint joked that the possible ship name for Taako and Kravitz would be "Taakitz". The name stuck.
    • Hurley/Sloane is either "Hurloane" or "Ramraven" from their respective battlewagon racing animal masks.
    • From The Stolen Century: Merle/Davenport is "Highport or Davenchurch", Lup/Barry Bluejeans is Lupjeans or Blupjeans, and Lup/Lucretia is Lupcretia.
  • The Scrappy: Sazed, with the whole killing everyone at Glamor Springs, which is forty people including elderly, single mothers, and even teenagers attending Sizzle It Up With Taako by poisoning them with arsenic in a botched attempt to murder Taako, all for not letting him be featured in the show more, then bailing two days later which causes Taako to carry the blame and guilt. Yeah, he is not well beloved by fans...
    • Just to fully understand how much the fandom seems to hate this man, there is a tag on Archive of Our Own called Fuck Sazed! This man is really not loved by the fans.
  • Signature Song: "Wonderland: Round Three" is the song used the most in fan works, and was even used in the official trailer for the podcast.
  • Squick: In The The Adventure Zone Zone, Justin and Griffin explain that roleplaying the relationship between Kravitz and Taako can be kind of weird; not because either is uncomfortable with playing gay characters, but because they're effectively roleplaying a romantic relationship with their brothers.
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