“Long Overdue,” the sixth episode in The Adventure Zone: Graduation, is as delightful as the first episode was. I laughed, I cried a little, and it’s making me anxious for more.
Unfortunately, “Long Overdue” comes on the heels of some complaints from The Adventure Zone fans. All the complaints are a little different: the campaign is going too slow, the campaign is going too fast, there’s too much combat, there’s not enough combat, Travis spends too much time with his NPCs, Travis doesn’t let us get to know his NPCs well enough… There’s a complaint for every person, and none of them really matter.
(Reposted, minus the quoted tweeted where someone mentioned issues with Graduation)
Listen, I know it's TOO GOOD! I have tried to tone it down, but I guess my awesomeness and brilliance just keep shining through. I will try harder to make it worse in the future!
— Travis McElroy, The Internet's Best Friend (@travismcelroy) January 13, 2020
Even I’ve brought up times where there was too much combat (episode three) or too much shopping (episode four) for me to enjoy them, but those aren’t complaints that I would bring to Travis’s attention on Twitter. When I’m playing D&D, I love combat! I love slinging spells and smashing bad guys with my mace! For me, listening to it isn’t as exciting as playing — I’m here for the characters and the NPCs and the boys desperately trying to stifle their laughter so the recording can continue — but that’s me.
Em, one of the other Geekiary writers, put it best in her article about the situation:
On the grounds of making a “better” story, Travis has no obligation to engage with criticism of his plotline and mechanics. […] It is not an unkindness to choose to focus on his story as he wants to tell it. He will not craft a campaign that all of us will like, because that’s an impossibility. […] The right time to make these criticisms is whenever; the right time to insist Travis must pay attention is, in my view, not ever.
So, enjoy the parts you enjoy, ignore the parts you find boring (or complain without putting it where the McElroys are likely to see it), and bring up complaints that are not based on game mechanics or how much fun you’re having. When Travis misgendered an NPC based on a real person, he apologized and edited the audio. That is the kind of thing to bring to his attention; not an argument about the rules of 5e. That’s just rude.
Still with me? Okay. Time for the actual episode review.
Obviously, the biggest thing that happens in “Long Overdue” is that Sir Fitzroy gets an offer to join the Villain track. He’s spent the previous five episodes absolutely convinced he doesn’t belong in the Sidekick track — he wanted to be a Hero, he wants to return to Sir Clyde Knight’s Night Knight School. Literally, Sir Fitzroy’s one worry here is not being able to become a Knight again if he’s a Villain, a “graduate Nastyman.”
And I just want to take a minute to say: the background music during this scene was absolutely divine. I don’t know who does the episode editing, but the dark music gradually increasing in volume as Sir Fitzroy succumbs to the temptation to become a Villain and gain a measure of advantage over Argo and the firbolg was perfect.
“Long Overdue” also shows the return of the baby pegasus from way back in episode one, which I absolutely loved because that’s the part that made me cry a little bit. She’s been training over the semester, she’s gotten bigger and stronger, and she’s almost ready to go look for the rest of her flock. She tells the firbolg her real name, something pegasi don’t normally do, and she teaches him a spell to communicate with her over the distance.
Am I crying again? You’ll never know. (Yes.)
She also puts in a hint for what I think will be, if not the big bad of the whole campaign (my vote is still with the Board), the big bad for this arc: her flock was attacked by demons, something she’s never seen in the forest before.
The boys also return a library book, choose Sir Fitzroy’s Villain name (Thunderman), get invited to Rainer’s birthday party, have a weird dream about Higglemus Wiggenstaff standing in the forest outside the school, and Argo sneaks out to have another secret meeting with the Jackal, where he gets an invitation into a secret society (not the Shriners).
It can be so hard to balance three separate storylines for the player characters on top of juggling all the details that lead into the campaign arc, but I feel like Travis really is doing a good job. I never get confused about who’s doing what, and I’m invested in what all the boys are getting into when the others aren’t paying attention.
Travis described “Long Overdue” as “part one of a two part finale for the first chapter,” and it shows. There are three great subplots creeping into the arching theme (the demons in the forest, Sir Fitzroy becoming a Villain, and Argo joining the secret society), and I absolutely can’t wait to see where this campaign is heading next.
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