The McElroy brothers are not experts, and their advice should never be followed. However, you should follow my advice when I say that The Adventure Zone: Graduation is more than worth a listen, and here’s why.
The Adventure Zone: Graduation is the fifth campaign and third season in the saga that is McElroy family game night gold. This season we get to see our middlest brother Travis McElroy take the reins as the Dungeon Master and take us on a fantastical and hilarious journey through our heroes first year at Hieronymous Wiggenstaff’s School for Heroism and Villainy. Here heroes, villains, and sidekicks learn what it takes to fill their roles in society. Of course, we all know that the most important role for a newly minted adventurer is to understand the ancient technique of accounting. Yes, you read that right. Accounting.
In previous seasons, our dear brothers and everyone’s favorite internet dad were able to exist in a lawless land where there were little to no fiscal repercussions for our adventurer’s blunders, like say flattening an entire village. However, this season is a whole new ball park. Our adventurers are now given a gold limit at the beginning of their missions and are urged to keep track of spending so not to bankrupt themselves or the school that they are credited under. Yes, credited. This includes purchasing equipment and food, bribing or bartering for information, and you guessed it, paying for anything they may destroy along the way.
New Gameplay Mechanics
Introducing this gameplay mechanic forces our heroes to think more clearly before acting on their previously more brutal whims and makes it a little tougher to acquire overpowered items, such as Travis’s previous character Magnus’s flaming, raging, poisoning sword of doom from season one. Yep, our McElboys have to be responsible this season. Istus, help them!
This brings us to another new and exciting mechanic for this season of The Adventure Zone: blame taking. This mechanic is used when a hero or villain inevitably flubs up. I know what you’re thinking, “Oh good, heroes and villains have to take responsibility for their actions! That’s refreshing!” Incorrect. We live in the real world, and in the real world, the little guy always takes the fall, even in D&D. The blame-taking mechanic is used by sidekicks of our heroes and villains. It’s basically a fun way of using the already existing persuasion mechanic. Our sidekick’s task is to convince the powers that be that somehow, whatever their hero or villain did was their fault. This way, the glistening reputation of the hero or villains can continue to go untarnished. This simple change to existing mechanics makes for more than a few hilarious stories from our adventurers, with only more to come as the season progresses.
All right, gameplay mechanics are all good and fun, but let’s get into the meat of the season, the characters!
With Travis at the helm as the Dungeon Master, we finally get to see our baby brother, Griffin McElroy, play a player character in a full-fledged campaign. Griffin controls Sir Fitzroy Maplecourt, a half-elf, dual class, barbarian sorcerer. What did you think he was going to play, something normal? Sir Fitzroy is an all around delight. A fancy boy with a taste for crepes and a rage that could fuel a thousand suns. As you will hear multiple times in the currently released episodes and beyond, Fitzroy finds himself in the sidekick program at the esteemed Hieronymous Wiggenstaff’s School for Heroism and Villainy after failing out of Clyde Nite’s Night Knight School because he accidentally catfished his headmaster. I mean, he literally turned his headmaster into a catfish. Hence, the dual class. Surprise! You’re a sorcerer, Fitzroy!
On to the next adventurer! In this season, McEldad Clint McElroy finally gets to claim the handsome character, much to Griffin’s chagrin. Argonaut (Argo) Keene is a swashbuckling water genasi rogue from a modest background. After spending the better part of his life at sea, he, like Fitzroy, finds himself in the sidekick program at Hieronymous Wiggenstaff’s School for Heroism and Villainy. However unlike Fitzroy, he seems only to have a taste for limes and other citrus fruit. He has to fend off the scurvy, you know? Since he was a sailor? Get it? Is that anything? No? Alright, moving on. Also, unlike fancy lad Fitzroy, Argo has a specific hero or villain in mind to work under. That’s right, Clint has a plan, a vision, a purpose. He also has a mustache on his new character. Like what, Clint? I thought you wanted to be the hot one this season, come on! Anyway, there is much more to our boy Argo than meets the eye, and only more will be revealed as the season continues.
Finally it’s time to discuss our oldest brother, Justin McElroy’s character for this season. Justin has famously given us amazingly hashed out characters with unique personalities and even more unique names. This season, he takes a different approach. Justin is playing an unnamed player character that is referred to throughout most of the season so far only as “Master Firbolg”, although many nicknames have been tried out, such as Buddy, Bud, Fitzroy Maplecourt, Fitzroy II, and of course Dr. Mushrooms. As you may have guessed by his title, Justin is playing Firbolg this season. The class, you ask? Druid. That’s right, we have ourselves a good, good natured boy on our hands. Since our dear Firbolg is a man of very few words, we only know a few things about him. One, he was once part of a firbolg clan, but no longer is. Two, this is incredibly distressing to him. Three, accounting makes his head hurt.
Now, I could go on and on about all the other amazing and unique characters that Travis has devised for this season, as well as the ever growing world-building that the boys have managed to construct in their first eleven episodes. However, I now release you with your new found insight and urge you to open your favorite podcast provider app and start listening to The Adventure Zone: Graduation Episode One: “Orientation.” Dare to join me on this adventure!