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 12 bonus episodes set in the universe of the campaign, made up of live shows and other bonus content.
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 TAZ campaigns. Thus, a lot of fan-created content, fanon, tropes, and general fandom content centers on the Balance Arc plot and characters.
- Carey/Killian (Team Sweet Flips) the pairing between secondary characters Carey Fangbattle and Killian (canon)
- Hurley/Sloane (Hurloane), the pairing between fan favorite minor characters Hurley and Sloane (canon)
- Lucretia/Lup (Lupcretia), the pairing between The Director and Lup.
- Lucretia/Maureen, the pairing between The Director and Maureen Miller.
- 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)
- Avi/Johann (Johavi)
- Brad Bradson/Taako (Bradko)
- Avi/Magnus (Magvi)
- Brad Bradson/Magic Brian (Magic Brad)
- Magnus/Julia (Magnulia), the pairing between Magnus and his wife Julia (canon)
- Barry/Lup (Blupjeans), the pairing between Lup and Barry Bluejeans (canon)
- Magnus/Lucretia (Magcretia), the pairing between Magnus and The Director
- Davenport/Lucretia (Davcretia), the pairing between Davenport and The Director
Family and Friend Relationships
- The Seven Birds, used to refer to the family relationship of the seven members of IPRE, Magnus, Taako, Lup, Merle, Barry, Lucretia, and Davenport, usually during the Stolen Century arc.
- Team Sweet Flips might also refer to the team of Regulators composed by Carey, Killian, Boyland (formerly), and NO-3113.
- Angus often shows up in Taakitz or Blupjeans fanworks as their adopted son.
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.
There is also a longstanding fandom conversation on whether Taako, whose name is a play on "taco", ought to be Latinx.
- Main Article: Taako
- 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