The New Listener's Guide To The Best Episodes of 'The Adventure Zone: Balance'

The New Listener's Guide To The Best Episodes of 'The Adventure Zone: Balance'

A spoiler-free look back at the Balance Arc.

Now is precisely the perfect moment to enter The Adventure Zone. No matter when you read this article, it will be the perfect time, because there is no bad time to start The Adventure Zone, but considering the popular RPG podcast is currently transitioning between storylines and will be testing the waters for the next few months, there is no better time than right now. So, whether this is your first time listening to the show and you want to know which episodes to look forward to, or you're just looking for a refresher before the first official episode of the Commitment Arc drops on October 19th, here is a spoiler-free look back at the Balance Arc and some of its greatest hits.

1. Episode 4: Here There Be Gerblins - Chapter 4

"Hallo, hallo, welcome to my cave."

The episode where nearly everyone gets hooked (if you weren't already). We meet the first of many beloved female characters. Griffin creates one of the best voices he's come up with. The boys' first fight meets a surprising end. It's become such a staple of the show and the fanbase that the majority of it is currently being fully animated by fans to be released later this year, and for good reason.

2. Episode 12: Murder On The Rockport Limited - Chapter 2

"You saving your spells for that?"

This is possibly the funniest episode of the whole show, simply because the jokes never stop. Griffin introduces character after character and the boys choose to antagonize every one of them. Basically no dice are rolled, so the whole episode is just good, old-fashioned improv.

3. Episode 21: Petals To The Metal - Chapter 4

"Everything's gonna be fine."

Every moment of the race in Petals to the Metal is great, but these moments leading up to it are gold. In the first half of Episode 21, Hurley delivers some backstory and becomes the first NPC to really share one. In the second half, the boys each take turns trying to hilariously break into a heavily guarded gang headquarters, creating both a funny moment and an interesting look into how each person thinks to tackle a problem.

4. Episode 32: The Crystal Kingdom - Chapter 4

"I prostate myself in front of you." "Nope." "What?"

A goof-filled episode and the introduction of everyone's favorite robot. The fun of trying to solve riddles along with the gang carries over from the previous episode, carting hilarious divine intervention and a frantic Stone of Farspeech call. The crinkle-tinkles continue.

5. Episode 40: Lunar Interlude III - Rest and Relaxation

"Why? What is that? What is L-U-P?"

This is the first episode formatted in a way that would become essential to future episodes: each character's story is delivered in a one-on-one session with Griffin, leading to the development of some beautiful character relationships, more heartfelt moments, and some very funny improv. It's also full dramatic irony and foreshadowing as the story begins to come together, which is always fun.

6. Episode 48: The Eleventh Hour - Chapter 8

"I said, 'I love you, Jules.'"

For most, this is the first episode that hits hard. There are moments in Petals to the Metal and Crystal Kingdom that are emotional, but Episode 48 goes one step further. It uses the newly established Lunar Interlude format to address each character's history, regrets, and past loves. The Eleventh Hour is often called the best of the Balance Arc, and this episode definitely solidifies that title.

7. Episode 50: Lunar Interlude IV - The Calm Before The Storm

"I have something that I think is really gonna interest you."

Each Lunar Interlude becomes progressively more serious, and while this one does deliver intense moments for each of the main characters, each of these sections contains the same, if not more, heart than the previous ones. Also, Taako pulls of the greatest stunts of all time in the Fantasy Costco.

8. Live Boston Stunt Spectacular

"As I say to the wife before I hop into bed, make room for Greg!"

This was the first live show made available to non-donors. Like most live shows, it is ridiculous and improbable and very, very fun. The sheer absurdity abound in every live show basically maxes out on this one.

9. Episode 56: The Suffering Game - Chapter 6

"Bad luck."

The first half of this episode manages to wrap up the fight from the previous episode in what may be the most absurd way possible, but the second half is what puts this episode on the list. From the last twenty minutes comes one of the series' most iconic moments, one that even the show's creators say was such a major turning point in the characters' relationships that it set the tone for every episode that followed.

10. Episode 59: Lunar Interlude V - Reunion Tour, Part 2

"We're nearly caught up now. Have you been paying attention?"

Though the Balance Arc wouldn't end for another ten episodes, this Lunar Interlude is when the finale truly begins. Three years worth of foreshadowing finally come to fruition as some light is shed on the Director. Some heartbreak precedes and follows.

11. Episode 62: The Stolen Century - Chapter 3

"MAGNUS!"

The Adventure Zone becomes the anime it's always dreamed of being as the boys get a beach episode. It's the shortest episode in the series and definitely the sweetest. Beach episodes always seem to come right before shows go for the kill, though, don't they?

12. Episode 66: The Stolen Century - Chapter 7

"Who?"

Though this episode is full of moments that everyone knew were coming, it still hurts to see them play out. Even the audio effects in this one should have been obvious, but, somehow, they continue to be shocking. The first half of the episode is only marginally kinder.

13. Episode 68: Story And Song - Finale, Part 2

"How...how did you do that?"

It's hopeful and exciting and ridiculous and I love all two hours of it.

BONUS: MaxFunDrive2015 Bonus Episode

"Wo--Okay, a lot of things just happened in that sentence."

This prequel episode is available only to MaxFun donors, so you may only hear it if you decide to donate a few dollars to the network, but it's definitely worth it. If you don't want to donate, everything in this episode is revealed down the line, but the jokes and voices here are hard to beat. Also, getting to see these boys meet for the first time is really something.

Listen to The Adventure Zone now on MaximumFun.

Cover Image Credit: Twitter | Evan Palmer

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One Year After..

A take on my experience dealing with the death of a sibling. 

          As a young impressionable girl, you always looked up to your older brother in many different aspects of life. Mostly, learning what you can and can’t get away with. An older brother is someone who gives you Indian burns on your arm until you scream but will take you out for an ice cream date afterward. He will teach you how to ride a dirt bike and take the blame when mom gets mad. An older brother is someone who was born with a main goal of protecting his little sister and loving her more than she could ever know. He teaches his little sister to not take sh*t from anyone and that it’s okay to be stronger than the boys she plays with on the playground; “because if they push, you better push back.” He teaches you to love sports because you grew up watching him play baseball. He prepares his little sister for pain, for the many heartbreaks he knows that she is going to have to live through. Your parents are there to keep you on a straightened arrow but your brother is there to make sure fun can be included in that plan. Unfortunately, what all of these lessons he relayed over the years don’t teach you, is how to live without him. 

It is impossible for others to understand what was going through your mind when you found out. One second you were sitting in your apartment, trying to get your already crazy life together and  then, at the blink of an eye, everything changes. Life as you knew it was broken. Anger, confusion, and sadness suffocate you until you completely black out and just stare, emotionless at the lights going by as you’re traveling down the highway to your childhood home that you shared with your brother who, you now realize is never coming home again.

 “Why did this have to happen?” is the never ending, never answered question that races through your head. I eventually learned you can’t ask why because it will absolutely tear your sanity to shreds. 

When you lose a sibling, you lose a piece of you. The biggest part of your childhood is gone and it’s hard to actually face the fact that you will never get to see this person again, hear their voice that one last time, see their smile again and at this point, you’re begging for one last Indian burn. Only being able to see him in your dreams is this uncontrollable feeling of constantly wondering if he is going to visit you tonight while you’re sleeping. He has become the angel you never knew you needed, until now. 

In your darkest hours is when he will show the most love and protection. 

When you walk down the street, you see someone that reminds you of your brother and for a second there’s a sense of hope that this entire mess was just a bad dream. But, then you must come to terms with the fact that this isn’t a dream, its your new reality. Your new reality will become more real with time and you’ll start to get back into a routine. As one year passes by, you notice your brother in your actions and through your words and that’s kind of scary because you know and can feel that he is smirking at you for making the same dumb mistakes that he did in the past.

Of course you wonder what it would be like to have never lost your big brother. To have never experienced such an immense loss that spins your world upside down. There’s not a day that goes by that you don’t think about him, but there is so much more to him than just his death and what has happened as a result of it. 

When the day that I had to burry my big brother came, I somehow muddled up enough strength and composure to read the poem that got me through his death in front of 2,000 people. The outpouring of love from his friends and my friends who drove over 2 hours to support me on this terrible day will never be forgotten or unappreciated. I didn’t quite know how to act or what to think. No one ever gave me a handbook on “What to do when your brother passes away while you’re in college.” I was given this poem by one of my brothers friends, who lost his older brother as well and this poem is truly is one of the most special things in the world to me. This poem was a light that was meant to lead me to where I am today. I would love to share it. 

If Tomorrow Starts Without Me…

Author: David Romano 

If tomorrow starts without me, and I’m not here to see,

If the sun should rise you find your eyes all filled with tears for me;

I wish so much you wouldn’t cry the way you did today,

While thinking of the many things we didn’t get to say.

I know how much you love me, as much as I love you

And each time that you think of me, I know you’ll miss me too.

But when tomorrow starts without me please try to understand,

That an angel came and called my name and took me by the hand.

He said my place was ready, in heaven far above

And that I’d have to leave behind all those I dearly love. 

But as I turned and walked away a tear fell from my eye.

For all my life I’d always thought, I didn’t want to die.

I had so much to live for, so much left yet to do.

It seemed almost impossible that I was leaving you.

I thought of all the yesterdays the good ones and the bad.

I thought of all the love we shared, and all the fun we had.

If I could relive yesterday, just even for a while,

I’d say goodbye and kiss you and maybe see you smile.

But then I fully realized that this could never be,

For emptiness and memories would take the place of me.

When I thought of worldly things I might miss come tomorrow

I thought of you and when I did my heart was filled with sorrow.

When I walked through heavens gates I felt so much at home.

God looked down and smiled at me from his great golden throne

He said, “This is eternity and all I’ve promised you”

Today your life on earth has passed but here life starts anew.

I promise no tomorrow, but today will always last

And since each day is the same there’s no longing for the past.

You have been so faithful so trusting and so true.

Though there were times you did some things you knew you shouldn’t do.

You have been forgiven and now at last you’re free.

So won’t you come and take my hand and share my life with me?

So when tomorrow starts with out me don’t think we’re far apart,

For every time you think of me, I’m right here in your heart.

If my brother never passed away, I’d probably still just be a girl selfishly enjoying college and making mistakes without a care in the world. Don’t get me wrong, I still do those things, but my outlook on the world has definitely changed. 

This whole situation as a whole sucks but it just forces you to become a stronger person. You become a different person after the death of your sibling and are eager to live life in honor of them. You’re eager to do things that you have never done before because you know you have an angel looking out for you. You become brave because your older brother embodied that characteristic. You become obsessed with bettering yourself because you now have a bigger reason to live.

Now, one year later, you live every single day to the fullest since you really don’t know when your last could be. Valuing relationships you never thought you needed to take a second to be thankful for, being closer with your parents because you aren’t the only one who lost part of your life, and cherishing life in a different light are just a few of the many things that this whole experience encouraged me to do. You really find the simple things in life that are often overlooked and appreciate its presence in the world. 

I hope anyone going through anything similar can read this and have hope that it will get better. Yes, there will be days that you want to scream but the better days, where he shows you that he’s with you are worth it. Im forever grateful for the twenty five years I was able to spend with him, even though it doesn’t seem like its enough time. We beg for more time and thats something that we always cant salvage.

 Thank you for the lessons you’ve taught me and thank you for the strength you have given me, My sweet angel. I live everyday for you. 

I’ll always love you Dylan. Xoxo. 

Gracie, your little sister. 

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What I Learned From The Absolutely True Diary of a Part - Time Indian

My opinion about The Absolutely True Diary of a Part - Time Indian

Everyone wants to make decisions that will not disappoint, betray, and harm the people they care about. In the novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part - Time Indian, Arnold has to make tough choices, but does not want to deceive his tribe, friends, and family. Arnold is displayed as an emotional and tough character which leads to him landing at crossroads often. The bold choices Arnold makes change his relations with the members of his tribe, his best friend Rowdy, and some of his family members. Arnold’s choices shape his character and his affiliations throughout the book.

When Arnold is at crossroads he makes decisions that disturb his relations with his tribe, his best friend, and his family members. These conflicts surface when Arnold decides to enroll into a rival school (Alexie 51). This event befouls his relationship with most of his tribe members, as they hate on him for betraying their trust and not meeting their expectations. Arnold also loses his best friend my enrolling into Reardan High School. Rowdy yells, “WHITE LOVER” and then punches Arnold in the face and walks away (Alexie 52-53). This indicates that Rowdy abandoned all trust and faith in Arnold for seducing him. Arnold also breaks the morals of his tribe and his personal morals by joining Reardan. Arnold’s tribe was always rivals with Reardan as it states in the text, “We all got really mad and vowed to kick their asses the next game” (Alexie 50). This suggests that Arnold and his teammates hated Reardan and wanted to get revenge. Transferring to Reardan breaks all his morals, as he is going to the school that demolished him and his friends. This quote also shows that it was wrong of Arnold to join Reardan because of the long scarred history between the two rival schools. All in all, Arnold’s choices put him at odds with his tribe, best friend, and personal morals.

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