The Adventure Zone (podcast)
|Name:||The Adventure Zone|
|Creator:||the McElroy Brothers|
|Date(s):||August 2014 - present|
|Country of Origin:||USA|
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The Adventure Zone (TAZ) is a bi-weekly actual-play podcast of the McElroy brothers and their father Clint McElroy playing tabletop RPGs. The first campaign, titled Balance and played using the 5th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons, was completed in August of 2017. It spanned 69 episodes and 8 arcs.
The podcast then continued with a series of shorter games using different role-playing game systems. After three separate mini-games using three different systems, the McElroys decided to resume Amnesty for the full season two. Season two aired from 2017 to 2019 and in October of 2019 TAZ returned to D&D and entered its third season, Graduation.
The Adventure Zone: Balance
Balance is the first campaign of the podcast, and is what most of the fandom is centered around. Originally, all TAZ live shows were set in the world of the Balance Arc. As of 2020, many are now oneshots set in other universes and often played in different systems.
- See The Adventure Zone: Balance for more detail.
The Adventure Zone: Amnesty
Originally one of the campaigns during the experimental phase between the two seasons of The Adventure Zone, Amnesty ended up becoming Season 2. It was played in the game Monster of the Week. Amnesty is now complete and ran from 1/4/18 - 9/23/19 for 36 episodes.
- See The Adventure Zone: Amnesty for more detail.
The Adventure Zone: Graduation
Graduation is the third full-length TAZ campaign. It is played in Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition with Travis as DM.
The Adventure Zone: Commitment
After the completion of the Balance arc, the McElroys announced that they would continue the podcast with a series of shorter, experimental games played in the FATE engine, with each of them taking turns as DM, until they figured out what they wanted the next long term story to be. The first of the shorter arcs is Commitment. It is a superhero themed game with Clint as DM, and the brothers as members of the Do Good Fellowship, a benevolent organization, who are given superpowers through a new technology.
The Adventure Zone: Nights
Nights (Sometimes written as (K)Nights) is a bonus campaign that requires a donation to the Maximum Fun Drive to listen to. It is set in a completely different world from Balance, with new characters and Travis as DM. There is far less fan content for it due to the need to pay for it. Lin-Manuel Miranda was a guest player in the third episode.
The Adventure Zone: Amnesty
Amnesty employs the Powered by the Apocalypse system by playing Monster of the Week. Griffin takes over this limited run. Amnesty is set in the McElroy's home state of West Virginia, and follows Duck Newton, the Lady Flame (Aubrey Little), and Ned Chicane as they fight monsters and ghouls in the Mononghahela National Forest. This is the game that would later evolve into Season 2: Amnesty.
The Adventure Zone: Dust
This arc used the Urban Shadows system developed by Magpie Games, set in a fantastic Wild West. Travis McElroy conceptualized and ran the game, and originally intended to develop a full system from scratch. However, with input from Magpie Games, he tweaked a current system and wrote an intense mystery which focuses on rival Werewolf and Vampire families in the town of Dry River.
The McElroys also go on tour with live TAZ episodes. Originally, their live games only featured the characters from Balance in one-shot adventures, but they have since branched out into live shows featuring other characters and new games to keep things fresh. Some live shows are released along with the regular podcast. It is common for fans to come to live shows in cosplay.
- For further information, see The Adventure Zone (graphic novels).
Fans of the McElroys often enjoy many of their podcasts at the same time, but The Adventure Zone appears to have the most fannish following of its own, leading to fanart, fanfiction, plot speculation, etc. Fanart and fan animations are especially popular, as the Balance Arc characters have sometimes been described on the podcast, but do not have "canon" appearances, letting fans use their own imaginations.
pan-TAZ twitter AU by @angus_is_my_son
TAZ characters are popular cosplay subjects both at cons and at TAZ Live Shows. Cosplay costumes are usually highly personalized. A Taako cosplay, for instance, can consist of just a pointy hat and umbrella. Fans can add whatever else they personally feel their character would wear.
"Canon" Appearances and Representation
- For the fanon/fanart discussion for the Balance arc, see the Balance Arc's Fandom Controversies subcategory. For the graphic novel specific conversions, see the Adventure Zone graphic novels' controversies subcategory.
Further reading: On The Adventure Zone Graphic Novel, Blue Taako, and Representation, post on the official TAZ Tumblr by Griffin.
Fannish Links & Resources
- The Adventure Zone at the Archive of Our Own
- The Adventure Zone on Reddit
- Tumblr tag
- The Adventure Zone Wiki
- TAZscripts fan-run canon script creation on Tumblr
- @TheZoneCast on Twitter
- The Adventure Zone on tvtropes