Starring podcast aficionado brothers Justin, Travis, and Griffin McElroy, along with their dad, Clint, three adventurers and one dungeon master take on the world of “Dungeons & Dragons” in The Adventure Zone.
I’ve only recently delved into the world of podcasts—mostly out of frustration with the obscene amount of radio commercials that were played during my summer morning commute. I downloaded a podcast player on my phone and unknowingly stumbled into a vast, strange world. Without much direction, I turned to the best research source I could think of: Reddit.
It did not take me long to find that The Adventure Zone was highly rated among listeners. Blindly trusting their opinions and taking them as fact, I decided to take a listen. Fantasy has always intrigued me, although I’ve never had the opportunity to play “Dungeons & Dragons,” and I can always get behind a good comedy. After the first episode, I was sold.
To spoil just a small bit of the first episode, this is Justin, not ten minutes in, explaining his character: “I’m… I’m playing a wizard. His name is spelled T-A-A-K-O.” Griffin, the dungeon master, then bluntly asks, “Are you naming your goddamn wizard taco?” After a pause, the group determined that it would, in fiction, be okay for someone to be named Taako, because tacos hadn’t been invented in the fantasy world.
Nothing is a known quantity in The Adventure Zone, and it’s one of my favorite features about it. In most fantasy books or shows, one can judge somewhat where the story is going. With the exception of one series, I can tell that the main character won’t be losing this fight based on the fact that there are still 200 pages left. But that’s just not true when you’re in The Adventure Zone!
For those who don’t know, rolling dice, usually a 20-sided one, is how most player actions are determined. That gives a lot of opportunity for impressive, edge-of-your-seat feats, and the opportunity for hilarious, catastrophic failure in the simplest of tasks. This aspect keeps me captivated—the intentional half-wittedness of the trio and the actions they try to roll for can never be overestimated.
The other aspect that makes the story unique are the podcasters themselves. As I mentioned before, it’s a team of three brothers and their father. These people have known each other all of their lives and thus interact through japes and jests in ways only family could. It makes the comedy all the more enjoyable because each can play to the personalities of the others, including Griffin catering stories to certain facets of his family’s personalities.
The group itself starts with little knowledge of the game, making any listening unfamiliar have a very easy time learning the basic rules and mechanics. I have found each story arc to be creative, enjoyable, and well done. Each episode draws me further into the story, wanting more and more. Any fantasy lovers would take delight in The Adventure Zone.