The Adventure Zone: Balance
|Name:||The Adventure Zone: Balance|
|Abbreviation(s):||the Balance Arc, Balance, TAZ: Balance, TAZ season 1, originally just TAZ|
|Creator:||McElroy Brothers (and the creator of those creators)|
|Date(s):||Dec 4, 2014 - Aug 17, 2017|
|Country of Origin:||USA|
|External Links:||podcast link|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
The Adventure Zone: Balance, also known as the Balance Arc, is the first campaign of the actual-play DnD podcast The Adventure Zone, hosted by the McElroy Brothers, Travis, Justin and Griffin, and their father, Clint McElroy. It spans 69 episodes divided into 8 arcs, and is a completed campaign.
There are also 11 bonus episodes set in the universe of the campaign, made up of live shows and other bonus content. All TAZ live shows are also set in the world of the Balance Arc, and will continue to be, despite the campaign being over.
The main characters of the Balance Arc are:
- Magnus Burnsides, controlled by Travis McElroy
- Merle Highchurch, controlled by Clint McElroy
- Taako, controlled by Justin McElroy
Notable NPCs include:
- Angus McDonald, a boy detective
- The Director, Lucretia, the leader of the Bureau of Balance
- Kravitz, a reaper (one of many) who goes on a date with Taako and later becomes his boyfriend
- Lup, Taako's twin sister, and a trans woman, who has become a fan favorite
- The Voidfish, a large jellyfish that consumes memories
- Killian, an orc fighter who invites the Tres Horny Boys to the Bureau of Balance
- Carey Fangbattle, a dragonborn rogue and Magnus' best friend.
- Julia Burnsides, Magnus' deceased wife
- Davenport, a mysterious gnome who is later revealed to be the captain of the Institute of Planar Research and Exploration (IPRE) AKA the Red Robes
- Barry Bluejeans, a fighter who resembles Tom Arnold, later revealed to be a member of the IPRE, and Lup's boyfriend
- For further information, see The Adventure Zone (graphic novels).
The Balance Arc has a huge following, and it is overwhelmingly the most popular of the current TAZ campaigns. Thus, a lot of fan-created content, fanon, tropes, and general fandom content centers on the Balance Arc plot and characters.
- Lucretia/Lup (Lupcretia), the pairing between The Director and Lup
- Carey/Killian, the pairing between secondary characters Carey Fangbattle and Killian (canon)
- Hurley/Sloane, the pairing between fan favorite minor characters Hurley and Sloane (canon)
- Taakitz, the pairing between Taako and the reaper Kravitz (canon)
- Taako/Magnus (Taagnus), the pairing between Taako and Magnus
- Davenport/Merle (Davenchurch)
- Merle/The Hunger (Johnchurch)
- Magnus/Julia (Magnulia), the pairing between Magnus and his wife Julia (canon)
- Lupjeans or Blupjeans, the pairing between Lup and Barry Bluejeans (canon)
Notable Tropes and Headcanons
A popular fan theory, based on Angus' incredibly high charisma, odd family situation and details, and personal interests as they align with common Silver Dragon traits in Dungeons and Dragons. A compilation of evidence can be found here.
As the boys themselves foreshadowed:
Justin: No one say [Tres Horny Boys] out loud ever again, please.
Griffin: Well, that’s unfortunate, Justin. Everything you say on this show becomes canon.--The Adventure Zone Episode 43: The Eleventh Hour Part Three
- trfghjk, fanart by tv-headache 
- Taako Supreme, fanart by ozziyo 
- The Adventure Zone!!!, fanart by Pikachuvz 
- TAZ Animatic: You Hear It Too by EmptyFoot
- The Adventure Zone - No More Elevators by • STULTZ
- The Adventure Zone - Making a Deal by milkychai
- The Adventure Zone - Taako Gets Real by BlueBeanieGenie
Graphic Novel Character Designs
There has been much fandom discussion over the 'canonical' character designs.
- For further information, see The Adventure Zone Graphic Novels: Issues with Character Designs.
"All Headcanons Are Valid"
Because the podcast is an audio medium, the McElroys have always insisted that most of the characters in The Balance Arc have no specific "canon" appearances. There have, however, been popular trends among fanart creators, often drawing the tres horny boys as white. However, this has lead to discussion on whether "all headcanons are valid" is true representation.
saying ‘the decision is up to you’ is… pretty irritating. Being ambiguous doesn’t help anyone - a personal example is that though I am free to draw characters in whatever way I want, I still get comments telling me what I’m doing is wrong, that I’m not adhering to ‘canon’ (canon in this case being, strict D&D race descriptions or a character description from one of the first episodes)
Saying ‘there’s no canon design’ for a character means nothing when the graphic novel, the merchandise, the posters, the zine - these all feature white designs. You can’t say you care about representation - how important it is to you - when you don’t represent anyone. You can’t say you accept all designs when the only ones that seem to be accepted all look the same. You can’t say there is no default when white is the default.roswelltxt on Tumblr
Taako's Race and Skin Color
With no true canonical character design, Fanart fandom has long debated about Taako's race and skin color (and occasionally personality), and the possibly harmful tropes associated with various depictions. This debate resurfaced in 2017, with the reveal of Blue Taako in the graphic novels.
- This is about the general fanon/fanart discussion. For discussions specifically around the graphic novel depiction, see Blue Taako.
Antisemitism and Green Skin
your green taako has antisemitic undertones:
Green/olive skin = witches/wily natures was once/still is translated as Jewish people to antisemites#taako taaco #taako #taz cast #taz #adventure zone #the adventure zone #talkin #not saying you did it on purpose but you should know where it comes fromvelvetwyrm on Tumblr
I saw people going “TAAKO’S DESIGN IS ANTISEMITIC” before I even got to see the pages. And I was bracing myself for the hurt, I really was.
Then the pages finally came up on my feed and I was hunched over in the break room at work to stare at them all “??????”
I live in South Florida. I live with antisemitism. These days, I’ve removed certain phrases from my vocabulary in public because I don’t feel safe having that label even remotely assigned to me by strangers. When my uncle passed and my entire (INCREDIBLY jewish) family came down for the funeral, I fucking sat in a car with my cousin and talked to her about how the student at her school who dressed up like Hitler for Halloween and followed her around was a disgrace and should have been suspended immediately.
I…. don’t understand this. I do not understand it. I do not see where it is coming from and for every time I see people implying that if we disagree with the backlash we should shut the fuck up, I see red.
SORRY I GUESS I’M NOT JEWISH ENOUGH, WHOOPS. MY OPINION IS INVALID, HUH?Miss me on this shit.callmearcturus on Tumblr
having a character with green skin is okay. having a character with green skin and a pointy wizard hat is still fine. having a character with green skin, a pointy wizard hat, and an exaggeratedly long nose? getting a little uncomfortable. having a character with green skin, a pointy wizard hat, an exaggeratedly long nose, and a tendency to steal things? feels bad scoob. having a character with green skin, a pointy wizard hat, an exaggeratedly long nose, a tendency to steal things, and also speaks Yiddish on occasion? blatant antisemitism. #taz #taako taaco #wanda.txttrickstarlilybell on Tumblr
There's longstanding fandom conversation on whether Taako, whose name is a play on "taco", ought to be Latinx.
[mononsnidali on Tumblr]
folks the reason taako’s ethnicity is important to be mexican (and I mean specifically mexican) isn’t because justin named his god damn wizard after tacos. in fact his name has zero to do with why I interpret him as mexican. the reason is that part of taako’s arc is to invent in this world the concept of tacos, which is a traditionally mexican style dish. this was explicitly stated to be part of taako’s development from episode 1. it’s not that big of a deal (under these circumstances, imo, but correct me if I’m wrong) that a mexican character is named after mexican food, taako’s a vain character and in the context of the story I can completely see him naming a dish after himself. what is a big deal is having someone outside of that ethnicity invent something from a culture that doesn’t belong to them. that’s honestly worse than having mexican characters named after latinx food.
- Campaign 1: The Balance Arc on The Adventure Zone Wiki
- The Adventure Zone on Wikipedia.
- The Adventure Zone on TV Tropes
- The Adventure Zone on AO3
- The Adventure Zone on Fanfiction.net
- 43: The Eleventh Hour Part Three - The Adventure Zone transcript
- representation in taz, and how it could be better
- your green taako has antisemitic undertones
- Anonymous asked: Like I am yet to see an Actual Jewish Person to say that the whole green Taako thing is antisemetic
- having a character with green skin is okay. having a character with green skin and a pointy wizard hat...
- I’m listening to ttazz after 59 and ???????????
- i’m not caught up with that drama