Balance – Episode 31: The Crystal Kingdom: Chapter Three

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Hell yes he is [sticking it to the people who say he's not allowed to have elevators in this game] - elevators are sweet! Anyone who says differently can take a hike... to the Adventure Zone!

—The Announcer

"The Crystal Kingdom: Chapter Three," as it appears on the MaximumFun website, is the 31st episode of The Adventure Zone: Balance.

Synopsisedit | hide all | hide | edit source

Full transcript available here.

Having survived an encounter with their deadliest foe yet, our heroes take a moment to reflect on some of Faerun's most prodigious scientific achievements. Later, the trio is forced into a deadly test of intellect, and you can probably guess how well that goes. Merle does some pest control. Magnus makes a token of friendship. Taako enjoys some "Taako time."

Our fantasy boys find themselves in the Magical World of Elevators. Magnus calls Angus and asks him whether the Philosopher’s Stone has anything to do with crystal golems. Angus is perplexed, and also gets a new nickname.

MAGNUS: Hey, Ango.
ANGUS: Hey—is that happening?

The three look around and take in their surroundings. The first elevator in the museum looks like a bucket, and not like the safest elevator in the world. A sign in front of it says “1469 DR—Roman Miller”. Another elevator has a face drawn on it, and is designated “Upsy, Your Lifting Friend”. There are also elevators built by Maureen, Lucas’ mother. These elevators look more modern and functional, and include “Upsy, the Rad Lifting Dude”, which is the cool reboot of Upsy, with drawn-on sunglasses. Three cockroaches scurry about on the floor, and they stamp on two of them.

On the far side of the room, in front of the next arcane airlock, is a futuristic elevator on top of a cylindrical glass display case containing a miniature model of the town of Neverwinter. This elevator is labeled “The Elevator of Tomorrow”. Lucas encourages them to run through the elevator’s demo so he can shut the room down. Taako, however, refuses to step in, citing their unfortunate encounter with an elevator during the Petals to the Metal arc. Instead, Taako opens his Pocket Spa to “fucking chill”. The Pocket Spa is bigger on the inside than the outside, and contains a hot spring, along with a tuna fish sandwich, topped with diced tomato, waiting for Taako inside. Merle and Magnus hop into the elevator, and inside is a single button and a timer set for two minutes. After pressing the button, the elevator shrinks way down and descends into the display case. Taako, watching this, freaks out.

In the display case, Merle and Magnus are about the size of the buildings around them. There are more modern fixtures that make the display an impossibly-futuristic version of Neverwinter. There are skyscrapers, electric streetlights, “metal battlewagons”, and a mobile that carries airships of various sizes and models. Lucas explains that this is his vision for Neverwinter, and ideally any city. Taako, pretending to be Godzilla, catches sight of a cockroach approaching Merle and Magnus within the display, so he runs back to the Pocket Spa to get his sandwich and return before he can miss any action.

Magnus tells his shield about killing a cockroach a few minutes previously, then swings his axe as Taako cheers from the sidelines. He chops off one of the roach’s antennae. The roach squirts green slime at Merle, who gets 19 points of acid damage. Merle casts Banishment, sending the cockroach to another plane of existence for one minute. Merle and Magnus jump back into the elevator, but the timer still has one minute and 30 seconds left. As the roach reappears, Taako makes a convincing show of trying to open the display case. The cockroach chomps on Magnus’ ankle, for 9 points of damage. Merle casts Spiritual Weapon, which takes the form of a giant golf shoe, although it fails at damaging the roach. Taako deliberates over helping his friends for a while, finally casting Minor Illusion, causing an image of a singing, dancing sandwich to appear behind the cockroach. Justin emphasizes that he is absolutely not risking his actual sandwich. The roach tries to pull Magnus out of the elevator to the sandwich, but is not able to, and is bummed out about it. Magnus pulls off the roach’s mandibles, squirting acid onto both of them. As the roach squirm away, the doors shut and the elevator rises and returns to its regular size. The lights in the room shut off, and Lucas calls in to inform them that he’s been able to add 24 minutes to their time. Magnus thanks Taako effusively for trying to help them (or pretending to). He gives one of the mandibles to Merle, and when they put them together they form the words “best friends”.

The three head through the next airlock, and are met with another branch in their path. The sign above one path reads “Radiation Ventilation Maintenance Chamber” and the other sign reads “Lil’ Genius Buddy Bot R&D”. Merle casts Prayer of Healing on himself and Magnus, and they head to the Buddy Bot.

They enter into a room that is empty except for a pedestal, built into which is an adorable robot. The robot has an LED display for a face, now showing two closed eyes and a closed mouth. The robot, and the entire room, is also badly scorched. The robot opens its eyes as the three approach, and asks for their names. It then asks them to pick a difficulty level: Child, Adult, or Master. They choose Child, and Taako calls Angus to ask if he’s really this robot, because their voices sound very similar.

ANGUS: What’s up? What’s crackin’?
TAAKO: Hey, are you down here? Because I can swear I’m talking to you right now.

Lucas dials in to explain that this robot is called Hodge Podge, and that he created it as a learning tool for children. He says he has been stress testing the robot, accounting for the scorch marks, and reassures them that they will be fine. He again instructs the trio to run through the demo mode.

Hodge Podge lists off a number of trivia categories, and Taako selects Magic. The first question is “Name a spell”. After Merle answers correctly with Zone of Truth, Hodge Podge detects that the three are not children, and raises the difficulty setting to Master. Magnus then accidentally chooses Spelling for the next category, and the robot asks them to spell “aarakocra”. Magnus spells it incorrectly, and flame shoots out of small holes around the room. Magnus suffers 5 points of damage and Merle suffers 10.

Magnus selects the next category, Problem Solving. Hodge Podge describes three beings who are neighbors, and lists off information about their relationships and weapons, and then asks them to determine the order of their houses and list which weapon belongs to which being. At first they get the answer “almost completely wrong” but get it right on their second try.

Hodge Podge continues to ask them trivia questions and Magnus, fed up, attacks him with his axe. Flame shoots out at them again, resulting in additional damage. Magnus calls Angus for help. Angus is able to spell “aarakocra” correctly for them, but Hodge Podge detects the signal of the Stone of Far Speech and shuts it down.

HODGE PODGE: The three of you aren’t cheating, are you?
MERLE: ...a little.

Money Zoneedit | hide | edit source

Sponsored by Casper.

Sponsored by Squarespace.

Personal message for Wolfgang, from Gimble, Jusbin, Dag, Corinne, and Sitoru, your loyal dog squad: Wolfgang, you’ve been a beacon of light in the terrible world you’ve designed for us. Thank you for DMing us through burning bushes, stoneshaper jokes, and so many flippin’ dragon eggs. Here’s to many more sessions, several spicy chicken sandwiches, and drawing pantless monks.

Personal message for Kinchi from Jimmer: Happy 13th anniversary. Thanks for being the Killian to my Johann.

Featured NPCsedit | hide | edit source

Featured Musicedit | hide | edit source

Featured Locationsedit | hide | edit source

  • Lucas' Lab

Quotesedit | hide | edit source

Downzo, "The Pit"edit | hide | edit source

JUSTIN: Are we to intuit from the name Upsy and the nomenclature of like, lifting machines, that like maybe they mastered getting people up first and didn’t have a plan for getting you back down?
GRIFFIN: It’s funny you mention that--actually right next to Upsy the Rad Lifting Dude was his arch-nemesis in the cartoon, and his name was Downzo.

Elevatorphobiaedit | hide | edit source

TAAKO: Listen--Taako, that’s me, hi. I’m done with elevators. Never again. Last time I was in an elevator, vines tried to eat my dick. I’m never getting in an elevator again, suck it.
LUCAS: Listen, don’t say something you’re gonna regret.
TAAKO: Not in a million bajillion years.
TRAVIS: I pick Taako up and I walk into the elevator.
TAAKO: What--why--I don’t think I even need to do this, this is unimportant.
MAGNUS: Come on, buddy.
TAAKO: Don’t do it, I swear to god. You will not like how this ends. I will burn a spell slot on you, I give no shits.

Honey, I Shrank the Charactersedit | hide | edit source

JUSTIN: Taako jumps outta the pocket tent and says, “Do you see. Do you see!” and he’s running around with his hands in the air like Jordan after he won his many basketball championships. “Don’t look so stupid now, do I, you tiny bitches!”
TRAVIS: Back inside the elevator… *continues humming The Girl from Ipanema*
TAAKO: I could eat you!

After casting a golf shoe-weapon:edit | hide | edit source

CLINT: You know, like in golfing.
GRIFFIN: Okay, I don’t know, but fine.
CLINT: Well, you’re not a golfer like me.
GRIFFIN: Fair. A lie, but fair.

Referencesedit | hide | edit source

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