Balance – Episode 17: Lunar Interlude I: Carnival Chaos

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I'm all jacked up on corn dogs and Dippin Dots! We're going to the carnival this week in... The Adventure Zone!

—The Announcer

"Lunar Interlude I: Carnival Chaos," as it appears on the MaximumFun website, is the 17th episode of The Adventure Zone, from the arc which would later be named Balance.

Synopsisedit | hide all | hide | edit source

Full transcript available here.

In this brief interlude between adventures, our heroes attend an office party — well, a carnival — at the Bureau of Balance’s lunar headquarters. They also hit up the Fantasy Costco, where they must match wits with their most fearsome mercantile foe yet. Taako makes a discrete trade. Merle tries on some cool-ass slippies. Magnus finally finds a friend.

The Tres Horny Boys are celebrating with the rest of the Bureau of Balance at a carnival set up by The Director to celebrate the Midsummer Solstice, an event that is held every year. The highlight of the Midsummer Solstice is an eclipse that occurs every year at high noon, and which carries a spiritual importance to many religions. Griffin explains that everyone in the Bureau of Balance is wearing costumes, and he asks the boys what they're wearing for the celebration.

  • Magnus is dressed as Taako

They first stop by a food stand, where they meet Petrilda, a fried conjurer. She tells them she can fry up anything your heart desires, and Magnus orders a fried Unicorn horn and Unicorn dick to eat.

PETRILDA: Oh, the unicorn double barrel special, I see!
GRIFFIN : She looks around and uh, surveys and she leans forward and whispers in your ear:
PETRILDA : Now you’re not going to tell anyone about this, right? ‘Cause this is-
MAGNUS : Nah, we’ll keep this just between us.
PETRILDA : -super duper duper illegal. Okay.

Petrilda holds out her hands in the air and a beautiful spiral ivory white unicorn horn appears in one hand, and, in the other, a unicorn penis. She dunks them both in a vat of golden oil, and she pulls out two cylindrical fried things in a little wire basket. She hands the fried horn and penis to Magnus on a styrofoam plate, and tells him to "mind the shards". Taako attempts to trick Petrilda into mentioning tortillas, thus furthering his attempts to discover tacos, but Griffin refuses to fall for Justin's tortilla trap.

TAAKO: It’s not a trick, it’s narrative development. Trying to organically push the only story in this show that matters forward.

Failing this, the boys leave the food cart to go play some carnival games. After playing a Toss-The-Little-Ring-Around-The-Bottle game, a carnival barker barks for the boys to come and see if they can knock down his cans.

MERLE : I’ll do it, I’ll knock over your cans.
VENDOR: I bet you can’t knock over these cans. I’ve got em stacked up in a special way. My master trained for years to stack the cans in these ways and he taught me how to stack these cans – you’ll never knock them over! It’s 5000 gold pieces to try and knock over these cans.

The prize for knocking over these cans, the vendor says, is also 5000 gold pieces. However, seeing as the boys that don't have that much gold, the vendor gives them a freebie, but they'll owe him if they fail. He allows Merle a practice throw, and Merle manages to knock off the top three of the stack.

VENDOR: Awh! So close! Damn! That’ll be five thousand gold pieces, please.
MAGNUS : No, that was a practice throw.
VENDOR : I don’t remember anything about a practice throw.
MERLE : I have two burly witnesses here that remember that.
VENDOR : Alright! Easy, tiger! Easy, tiger!

Merle demands another throw, double or nothing, and manages to knock over all the cans except one. Taako casts Mage Hand, and knocks over the last can. An alarm goes off, having detected magic, and the vendor calls the boys cheaters. Taako tries to rules lawyer by claiming that, technically, the only rule is that you knock over the cans, but the vendor doesn't listen and labels them cheaters by stamping 'cheater' on the boys' hands, banning them from all carnival games. Realizing they goofed up, Travis asks for Griffin to rewind time, so that they won't be labeled cheaters. Magnus steps up to the plate this time, and...he also fails to knock over all the cans. The vendor informs the boys that they now owe him twenty thousand gold pieces.

VENDOR : Let’s set up an installment plan!
MERLE : All right. I’ll pay you one gold piece a year for twenty thousand years.
VENDOR : Sounds good to me!
MERLE : All right.
TRAVIS : [laughs] Well, that was resolved easily.

The boys wander back to the main part of the festival, where people are starting to get drunk and things are starting to get uncomfortable. Magnus gets his face painted to look like a kitty, and Taako asks "is there some adventure here or like are we just hanging?"

GRIFFIN: Listen, I don’t understand why it always has to be like killing goblins or gerblins, or like stopping, y’know, evil wizards. That’s not life. Like, if that was your everyday, it would get super boring. Sometimes you just have to celebrate uh, uh, uh, mid- sometimes you just have to take part in a festival! Sometimes you have to eat fried foods, and hang out with friends.
JUSTIN : Sounds like somebody’s saying [imitating Griffin] ‘I dunno. You guys come up with something. You’re at a carnival.’ [Own voice] You're not giving us a D&D Adventure you’re giving us improv comedy prompts. ‘Ok! You’re at a dentist’s office and the dentist- he comes in, he’s a bear! What you gonna do now? Say yes.’

The Director's voice amplifies throughout the yard, and she calls for everyone's attention as the eclipse is about to start a minute or so from now. Leon walks around handing people, including the boys, special sunglasses so they can watch the eclipse without hurting their eyes. Just as the sky begins to darken and the sun and the real moon align in the sky, the boys are blasted by a deafening shriek that immediately incapacitates everyone around them. Everyone falls to the ground limp, excluding the boys, and the sky turns pitch black. The boys are suddenly assaulted by a sonic blast, and Griffin has them roll constitution saving throws to see if they can withstand it. Travis rolls an 18, Justin rolls a 17, and Clint rolls a 20.

GRIFFIN : Damn! Y’all saved the shit out of that roll!
TRAVIS : Well, we don’t listen very well.
GRIFFIN : That is a good point.

All three of them manage to withstand the blast, and retain their consciousness. Because they stayed conscious, the boys are able to distinguish some sounds in this calamity, and it sounds almost like twenty orchestras are all playing all at the same time around them. They also hear thousands, if not millions, of whispers, all happening at the same time as the orchestra. As the eclipse begins to blot out the sun, for a brief moment, the boys can see thousands of bright, white eyes fill the dark sky, all of them burning intensely.

GRIFFIN : Uh, and then as the sun and moon part from one another, they fade out just as quickly as they appeared. Then, as the equinox passes, the music also fades, and then it’s just back to normal, it’s bright outside and the three of you are left standing. The Director is the first one to sit up and survey the scene, - You have survived this uh, this terrible, cacophonous event.
CLINT: Magnus immediately assumes that he got a hold of some bad unicorn dick.
MAGNUS : What was in that dick you sold me?!
GRIFFIN : ‘This-- Guys, this is important. The unicorn dick is tainted!’
CLINT : Don’t eat the unicorn dick!
MAGNUS : Everybody stay calm, if someone tries to hand you some bad dick, just - just say no. Say no to bad dick!

Magnus heads over to the Director, and asks her if what just happened has happened before. Seeing that she's still a bit disoriented, Magnus tries to slap her awake.

GRIFFIN : She slaps you back.

Now fully awake, the Director assures them that this has never happened before, and that they'll debrief about in her office later. The boys go around slapping everyone else awake, and, afterwards, head into the Director's office. She asks them what exactly they saw during the time she was unconscious. The boys tell her that they heard a cacophony of sounds, and thousands of white eyes staring at them. The Director informs them that no one on the surface has reported seeing what they just described, and that they were apparently the only ones who saw it. She commands the boys not to tell anybody else what they saw until they can figure out what they're up against, and that they must hasten their efforts to collect the Grand Relics.

MERLE: Well first I think you oughta investigate that can game bastard.
THE DIRECTOR : No, I’m sorry, you’re right, you’re right. Before we hasten our efforts to collect the Grand Relics that threaten to destroy our world I’ll look into a seedy carnival game owner and operator.
MERLE : Alright, foreshadowing! That’s all I’m saying.
THE DIRECTOR : You’re dismissed. Please.
MAGNUS : Are we fired?
THE DIRECTOR : No, just, go. I’m tired. I’m very very sleepy.
TAAKO : Gonna get on the case early tomorrow, huh? The case of the mysterious carnival barker. [laughter] It was the administrator’s greatest case!

[The Money Zone]

Fantasy Gachaponedit | hide | edit source

Now comes the time for shopping and character management. The boys head to Fantasy Gachapon first where they are greeted by Leon. They present their tokens to him, and he bites them to make sure they're not fake. Merle inserts his token into the Gachapon slot, and Clint rolls a 10. A shoe-box sized capsule comes out of the prize chamber, and Merle pops it open to find small slippers with aesthetic wings on them. Leon looks through his tome and tells Merle that these slippers are the:

  • Slippies of Haste: While you’re wearing these, if you ever find yourself in danger, or about to enter into combat, you will be able to move a little bit faster than those who are trying to get the drop on you. Meaning Merle will have advantage on all of his initiative rolls from now on.

Merle tosses on the slippers, and Magnus puts his token in. Travis rolls an 11, and a small capsule comes out of the Gachapon. Inside the capsule is a green cloth glove meant for Magnus' right hand. Leon tells him that this glove is the:

  • Fletcher's Mitt: If you ever find yourself on the receiving end of an arrow or a crossbow bolt, this glove will give you a little help in avoiding or even catching the projectile being fired at you. Meaning Magnus now has +1 AC against ranged, non-magical attacks.

Magnus puts the mitt on, and Taako hands the token to Leon, who hands it back to him.

LEON: Just, sweetheart, I want you to pop it into the machine and turn it yourself. I can’t do it for you. Remember the monologue I did last time about like, how I can’t give you magical items, it has to be fate--
JUSTIN: I hand him the coin.
LEON: Okay.

Leon scolds Taako and tells him that he'll take his token away if he hands him it again. Taako complies and puts the coin into the slot. However, he starts having trouble which way to turn the crank, and a frustrated Leon tells him to turn it clockwise. Meanwhile...

TRAVIS: While all of this is going on, I’ve handed my bow and arrow to Merle, and I’m telling him to shoot me while I try to catch the arrow. Just in the background. [laughter] Just quietly in the background.
GRIFFIN : Okay, that’s fun. Merle, you wanna make a ranged attack roll against, uh, Magnus?
JUSTIN: [laughs] This’ll be his critical. This’ll be his critical roll.
CLINT : This is good, yes. Okay, ranged attack roll. …2.
GRIFFIN : 2, okay. [laughs] The arrow just falls out of the bow. [laughter]
TRAVIS : And I run over and pick it up, and I’m like, “I did it!”

Back to Taako, who has finally managed to figure out where to turn the handle. Justin rolls a 16, and a cylindrically shaped capsule comes out. Inside the capsule is a blue handheld folding fan with clouds on it. Leon flips through the tome and tells Taako that this is the:

  • Gustmaster 5000: This fan is capable of once per day producing an incredibly powerful gust of wind that you can use to, say, knock back a foe, or put out a flame, or send some dishes flying, or anything you could do with a stiff breeze. This fan will allow you to produce that breeze, once per day. Which, in layman's terms, means that Taako can now cast the spell Gust of Wind using this fan once per day.
MERLE : It’ll come in handy when your soup’s too hot.
TAAKO: Yeah, thrilling. You know, uh, between this fan and this fancy sunbrella, I’m one seventeen inch waist away from Scarlett O'Hara.
CLINT & TRAVIS: [laughter]
TAAKO : A real plantation lady over here.

Leon notices something different about Taako's Umbra Staff, and Taako tells him that it ate someone's wand. Leon takes a look at the Staff's handle, finding a sigil of an umbrella on it, and informs Taako that it is now capable of casting Feather Fall on himself and his party once per day. With this new information, the boys head to Fantasy Costco, where they are greeted by

Fantasy Costcoedit | hide | edit source

Fantasy Costco, where all your dreams come true!

Got a deal for you!

The boys have 2100 gold pieces from their last mission, which they split into 700 each. Taako goes up to an appraiser to pawn off his stolen goods and gets about 20 gold pieces for the tiara, which he learns is actually fake, but nothing much else.

GRIFFIN : They’re not especially interested in the other items. They are interested in the uh, uh, the silverware set. And the appraiser is going over uh, the silverware set and looking over it saying like:
APPRAISER: This could be worth thousands! This could be worth tens of thousands! This is very rare - oh, wait, one second. It seems like a fork is missing from this set. Oh dear.
TAAKO : Yeah, I gave it to some idiot.
TAAKO : Some idiot baby.

The appraiser offers 280 gold pieces for the set, which Taako is totally cool with, and he throws in the pantina, which totals it up to 300 gold. Taako gets his money in Fantasy Costco bucks, and, after pocketing it away for a later date, the shopping spree begins. In stock are:

Item Description Price
Haunted Doll Will take the third death save that the player rolls and will die in place of them.  Unknown
Ring of Pointing Basically just a magic laser pointer. 200 gold
Tankard of Potent Drink Make beverages more alcoholic, or, if the user drinks water from it, it immediately sobers them up.  300 gold
Glasses of Lightning Comprehension Allows the wearer to read and comprehend text of any language that you know 10 times as fast. 600 gold
Lens of Straight Creepin' Allows the user to find footprints, tracks or markings of any person or thing that traveled through the area recently once per day. 700 gold
Alchemist's Ring Gives the wearer extra healing when they drink a healing potion. 500 gold
Ring of Recall Allows the wearer to regain a spell slot for a failed spell casting. 1000 gold
Mystery bag You don't know what's in it. 300 gold
Pocket Spa Whenever the player takes a short rest they can chill out in this little spa tent and regain extra hit points when they recover. 900 gold

Magnus is instantly drawn to the Mystery bag, almost like it's calling out to him. While Magnus is distracted by the bag, Taako dips out to go discreetly buy the Pocket Spa using his 700 gold and the 200 gold that he hid while the others weren't looking. Merle is skeptical of Taako though and asks how he managed to buy the Pocket Spa with only 700 gold.

TAAKO : The guy gave me a great deal.
GRIFFIN : Yeah you got a great deal.
GARFIELD : From me, Garfield the Deals Warlock!
TRAVIS : [Gasps] You made it!
GARFIELD : I made it into your game!
TRAVIS : It’s our first cross-universe character!
GARFIELD : I’m a new hire here at the Fantasy Costco. The benefits are terrible!

Justin reminds their father that they have a comedy advice show called My Brother, My Brother, And Me that exists outside of the one they're currently doing and that Garfield the Deals Warlock is a character from that show that appears when deals are about to be made.

CLINT : Oh, that’s cool.
JUSTIN : Yeah.
CLINT : Is it doing well for you? The show?
TRAVIS : We’ve seen some solid response.
JUSTIN : Not really. There’s been some up and down.
CLINT : Good. Okay.

Magnus decides to make a deal with Garfield. Garfield will allow Magnus to buy the Mystery Bag, the Lens of Straight Creepin', and the Tankard of Potent Drink for 700 gold, if he can beat him in a test of mercantile wits. Which basically means Magnus has to roll for Charisma, which he does. Magnus rolls a 15, while Garfield rolls an 8. Garfield allows it and asks them not to tell his boss. Magnus cracks open the Mystery Bag, and inside the bag is small glass sphere with water inside it. And floating in that water is a goldfish.

TRAVIS : [Gasps]
GRIFFIN : Uh, and that’s it.
TRAVIS : It - what does
GRIFFIN : It’s a - it’s a goldfish! You have a pet! Get off my - get off my back! [Travis laughs] This could not have worked out any better for you.

Having made a new friend, Magnus decides to call his new fish friend Lord Steven Q. Fletcher, Esquire, the Goldfish, the Third, or Steven for short. Merle, who wants to buy the Ring of Recall for 700 gold, decides to also compete with Garfield in a test of mercantile wits, and Taako and Magnus go to chill out in the Pocket Spa while he does this. If he loses, Garfield will get his firstborn child, who he will call Craigory. Merle does lose, unfortunately, but Taako gives him the extra 100 gold needed to buy the Ring of Recall. Meanwhile, back in the Pocket Spa, Magnus sings to Steven, his new best friend.

GRIFFIN : As you sing, as you sing to Steven, the ball seems to pulsate with magic - no, it’s just a goldfish.

Character Managementedit | hide | edit source


  • Magnus is now Level 6!
    • New Abilities: Can now roll an extra attack
    • HP: 57
    • Stats
      • Wisdom = 10
    • Bonus: Proficiency +3
  • Taako is now Level 6!
    • New Abilities: Can spend eight hours creating a Transmuter’s Stone, which can store Transmutation Magic.
    • HP: 37
    • New Spells:
      • Can now cast 3rd level spells
    • Bonus: Proficiency +3
  • Merle is now Level 6!
    • New Abilities:
      • Channel Divinity - allows Merle to use the abilities, Turn Undead and Destroy Undead.
      • Dampen Elements - anytime anybody takes any kind of elemental damage, Merle can cut it in half.
    • New Spells:
      • Plant Growth
      • Wind Wall
    • Bonus: Proficiency +3


Epilogueedit | hide | edit source

GRIFFIN: Man I wish there was a, uh, D&D insider app. Do you think any Wizards of the Coast people listen to our podcast that can do that shit for us please?
CLINT: Uh, all of ‘em?
GRIFFIN: Even the Magic: The Gathering people?
GRIFFIN: Have you guys listened to our Magic: The Gathering podcast? It is...not very good.
TRAVIS: McEl-Magic?
GRIFFIN: McEl-Magic is what it is called, yes Travis.
JUSTIN: We do not even have a rudimentary grasp of the rules.
TRAVIS: No. And Griffin keeps shuffling Pokemon cards into his deck.
GRIFFIN: I tap two swamp energy, and then it’s Charizard.
TRAVIS: [laughs]
GRIFFIN: And the Charizard’s fighting a Blue Eyes White Dragon. That was a Yu-Gi-Oh reference. Bye everybody, see you next week. In two weeks.
CLINT: Here on Dork Patrol.
GRIFFIN: Thanks for listening to Dork Patrol, see you in two weeks!

The end of Dork Patrol
We’re taking our Doritos and going home
We drunk up all your Mountain Dew
Now we’re headed down the road
It’s the end of
Dork Patrol

GRIFFIN : Just hateful, just hateful. A hateful song.

[Theme Tune Plays]

The Money Zoneedit | hide | edit source

Sponsored by Audible.

Sponsored by NatureBox.

Personal message for Kat, from This Field Intentionally Left Blank [sic]: Thanks for turning me on... to this podcast. Peace and pleasure, Kat! :)

For emmyqtgirl and/or Neclandorf Ann, from Momo and Damn It, Katie!: For this b-day we promise to play with your hair; buy you incorrectly monogrammed stationary; burn wangus; put a real poop on the bathroom floor; and butt-punch the cum right out you. Turn westward and you will find a mug with the pic of you at the wedding where your mouth is full of food and you have tiny mouth. Love you schmimsy! #BringBackBarryBluejeans

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