The new year is a great time to kick off a new adventure. If you’re interested in fantasy worlds, heartwarming stories, and hilarious banter then I highly recommend The Adventure Zone—a biweekly Dungeons and Dragons podcast. The show is hosted by brothers Justin, Travis, and Griffin McElroy, along with their father Clint.
The three brothers are well known for their weekly comedy advice podcast My Brother, My Brother, and Me. The Adventure Zone was originally intended to be a one-time extra episode of the brothers’ weekly comedy advice podcast, but it has now grown into a series with over 70 episodes and much more to come.
If you’ve never heard of Dungeons and Dragons (DnD), here is a quick introduction to help you get into the podcast easier. DnD is tabletop roleplaying game that is primarily focused on high fantasy and freeform storytelling. The dungeon master (DM) controls the story’s narrative and generally controls the events of the world and the actions of its characters. The player characters then get to explore this world freely, at the discretion of the DM, by speaking their intended actions out loud and then using dice rolls to determine if they are successful or not.
The first season of The Adventure Zone, called Balance, revolves around the four playing a DnD campaign designed by Griffin, who acted as the DM. The other three created their own characters: Travis plays a human fighter named Magnus, Justin plays an elven wizard named Taako, and Clint plays a dwarf cleric named Merle. The three adventurers set out to find a lost family heirloom, but end up wrapped in a plot to find and eliminate seven magical weapons of mass destruction.
Griffin McElroy shines as a story teller in the first season of The Adventure Zone. Although he has stated on the show that he had not visualized the entire story prior to the fourth chapter, he does a fantastic job at weaving each chapter together and reincorporating elements from early episodes into the larger narrative. He has also created an enormous cast of supporting characters, each voiced and played by him, that have individual personalities, motivations, and backgrounds, which he exemplifies in all of their actions.
Easily one of the show’s strongest factors is the relationship between the four hosts. As family members, they all seem to share the same sense of humor and are able to riff of each other’s jokes and actions with ease. Beyond all of goofiness, there is also great sense of intimacy in the way that each of the hosts portray their characters.
If anything about The Adventure Zone interests you, this is probably the best time to jump in. The show is currently transitioning from the concluded Balance Arc into season two and in the meantime, they will be doing several experimental “mini-arcs” with all new characters, worlds, and stories as preparation for the next season. There are also several live shows using the characters from the Balance Arc that are quick one-off stories that would be a great way to get a feel for the show’s atmosphere.