Balance – Episode 32: The Crystal Kingdom: Chapter Four

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I hope our heroes know their long division, or else they're going to get long divided! ...the robot's going to cut them in half, I mean. It's the Adventure Zone!

—The Announcer

"The Crystal Kingdom: Chapter Four," as it appears on the MaximumFun website, is the 32nd episode of The Adventure Zone: Balance.

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Full transcript available here.

We may have finally found a challenge that our heroes cannot overcome: Math-based trivia. Can our heroes stump their animatronic captor before turning extra crispy? Can they stave off a crystalline death for one more episode? Merle seeks divine intervention. Magnus makes an otherworldly find. Taako's good out here.

Our heroes are still trapped in the testing room with Hodge Podge, who shows no signs of relenting with the trivia questions. There is a blue static light throughout the room that seems to be what is interfering with the Stone of Farspeech. Taako notices a switch on Hodge Podge’s belly and tries to flip it, but the switch zips back into his body and a metal panel slides over it.

MAGNUS: Oh, that happens when I get scared, too.

Hodge Podge asks for their next trivia category. Taako says “math” and Merle says “history”, so Hodge Podge decides to test them on the “history of math”, and asks who invented math. Justin rolls against Taako’s history skill to see if this is a fact that Taako would know and after a brief argument, Griffin allows this. The answer is “Doug Math”.

JUSTIN: I’m basing this answer not on whether or not I, Justin McElroy, know the inventor of math–I of course do, it’s irrelevant.
TRAVIS: His name was irrelevant? Was he a rapper?

Hodge Podge moves on to the bonus round, called “Stump Hodge Podge”. The three have to come up with a question that Hodge Podge cannot answer, which will be difficult, because he possesses “an almanac of complete world knowledge”. Merle comes up with a question and is pretty confident in it. Justin wants to consult, but Clint says he’s on “some Captain Kirk shit”.

JUSTIN: Hey Griffin, on my fantasy tombstone, can it say “I trusted my dad”?

Magnus cautiously steps behind Merle, who asks Hodge Podge what love is. Hodge Podge answers correctly with a dictionary definition of love, and Merle tries to claim that it’s a score of zero in tennis, while Magnus yells at him.

Taako’s question is “why did the chicken cross the road?” but Hodge Podge says it doesn’t count, as it’s a riddle with no definite answer.

TAAKO: It has to be trivia.
HODGE PODGE: Yes. Not bullshit. Oops—sorry, kids!

Taako asks how to shut him off, and he responds that they would have to shut down the lab’s core power unit. Magnus asks for a fact he doesn’t know, and Hodge Podge says there isn’t one. Magnus then asks who starred in the show “Melissa and Joey”, which Hodge Podge correctly answers.

TAAKO: Okay now’s mine—what was the name of the guard on “Today’s Special”? Remember, the Canadian show? What was the name of the guard on that show?
HODGE PODGE: The security guard in the Canadian children’s television show “Today’s Special” was...
TRAVIS: Google, Google, Google...
HODGE PODGE: —Sam Crenshaw. This is terrible, just terrible.

The next questions involved more television trivia, whether Pan could make a rock so big even he couldn’t move it, how many fingers Merle was holding up, whether cake or pie was better, and the largest prime number.

TAAKO: What’s the largest prime number?
HODGE PODGE: It’s up there.
TAAKO: Alright, I’m mad now, this is stupid.

Magnus asks the first serious question: the source of the mysterious voice coming from the crystal. Hodge Podge answers that it came from some sort of computer program. Then Magnus gets tired of questions and attacks him, causing the flame jets to shoot fire at them again. After deftly avoiding the flame, Merle casts “Commune”. This allows him to ask his deity, Pan, three yes-or-no questions.

MERLE: I prostrate myself in front of you, begging your divine wisdom.
PAN: Okay I think I can only hit you back with yes or no answers, but let ‘er rip.

Merle asks if there’s a question they can ask Hodge Podge that would allow them to get on with their lives, and Pan says there are many questions. Merle uses his second question to ask if Pan thinks he’s stupid, and his third question to repeat a question asked by Magnus that Pan had answered. Pan assures them that they can do this and then leaves, as he has a pie in the oven.

Finally Taako asks Hodge Podge, “Who do we work for?” Hodge Podge’s motor makes a loud unpleasant noise, and he repeats “I do not understand”, his voice becoming faster and more garbled. Steam pours out of him, the pilot lights on the flame jets kick on, and eventually Hodge Podge just explodes.

The blue light disappears, the Stone of Farspeech works again, and they can hear everyone yelling all at once. The Director and Lucas ask if they’re okay and what has happened, and Angus is crying, because he thought they had died. The trio does probably the worst job of comforting a child, and encourage The Director to slap Angus to snap him out of it.

Justin takes a moment to tell the listeners to not tweet at them to say that they’d figured out the puzzle quicker, and to just “stuff it”.

Magnus pulls off one of Hodge Podge’s arms. Lucas chimes in to tell them that they’ve reserved enough power for 40 more minutes. Taako apologizes for destroying his “robot son”, but Lucas says that he was more of a commercial product. The three tease him and make fun of his voice until he hangs up.

They move through the next hatch and find themselves in a large circular room. There’s a big pillar in the middle and some hanging ventilation. On the ceiling is a busted grate, and they can see a note on the pillar that reads: “Crashed into ventilation system, going on ahead. Meet you at elevators. — K"

The three hear a voice, and a robot floats out from behind the pillar. It is about the size and shape of a car engine, and looks like it was “scrumbled” together from leftover parts of other robots. One of its arms looks fairly human-like, but the color of the metal doesn’t match the base of the robot. The other arm is about a foot longer, and ends with a hole instead of a hand. Turbines allow the robot to levitate, and there is a large glass fuse in the center of the robot’s core, behind a window. The fuse illuminates whenever the robot speaks, and she inexplicably has a Southern accent. She introduces herself as NO-3113.

NO-3113: My name is NO-3113.
MAGNUS: It doesn’t have an L in it?
NO-3113: Sorry? Oh, God.

NO-3113 notices that Merle is hurt, and she sticks him with a syringe filled with a green healing potion, which heals him for 23 points. Magnus asks if she’s seen the regulators pass by, and she says she has not. She directs them to two hatches. The plaque above one hatch reads “Lucas’s Private Quarters” and is locked with a hand scanner. The other hatch is not labeled and appears to be shut down. Lucas tells them not to go into his room. Magnus covers the pendant with his hand and tries to imitate his voice to trick NO-3113, but fails. When asked about the abandoned room, NO-3113 simply answers that it’s just the derelict room that every lab has. Taako wanders behind NO-3113 and casts “Disguise Self” to appear like Lucas. Taako, imitating Lucas more successfully than Magnus, asks NO-3113 to open his room because he “lost [his] hands”. NO-3113 waves a satellite dish-type attachment and the lock turns green and opens. Magnus and Merle go into Lucas’s room while Taako hangs back. Lucas’s room is filthy— there are dirty dishes, papers strewn about, towers of books, and an unmade bed. There’s a long desk in the back of the room, on top of which is a magnifying glass and a tray of broken pieces of gemstones, which Magnus steals. There is also a small hidden compartment under the bottom of the desk that is locked.

Merle uses this opportunity to use the Nitpicker, who he calls Bud. The Nitpicker is a small figure resembling a garden gnome, and picks locks while criticizing the members of the party. The Nitpicker says his name is Ernest, not Bud. He also makes fun of the trio for taking so long to solve Hodge Podge’s bonus round, and says he hates the three of them’s brains.

Inside the secret drawer is a small velvet bag. In the bag is an old, tarnished compact mirror. Instead of an actual mirror is a circular emerald disk. It doesn’t show their reflections, but images of an impossible world: people watching television, a woman sitting in a car in line at a drive-through, somebody playing a handheld game, a band playing music at a bar, and towering skyscrapers. Magnus puts the mirror in his bag, and posits that Lucas and his family had been using this device to steal ideas for their inventions. He calls up Lucas on the pendant, and asks why NO-3113 looks cobbled together from other robots. Lucas says he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and seems offended at the criticism.

Outside Lucas’s quarters, the trio and NO-3113 see a rift open in space. A chunk of pink tourmaline pops out, and the second it hits the floor, the room begins to transform into crystal. They hear more tinkle-crinkles, and a voice sings the second verse of its song:

I saw beyond the universe

Far past the places we should see

But for my vision I was cursed

Torn from my home and family

Lost to my crystal kingdom.

Money Zoneedit | hide | edit source

Personal message to Lucas from Amy: Happy anniversary, darling-face! This isn’t a traditional gift, but given that I have an amazing husband who occasionally moves countries with me, I thought that a message from a McElroy would be easier than shipping crockery to London. You’re my favorite fellow adventurer and I am so proud of us for making it this far. I can’t wait to move somewhere where we’ll both be foreigners so you stop making fun of my accent. I love you today.

Personal message for Tim Cullen from Zach Tartelle: Hey Tim! I wanted to thank you for getting me into Pathfinder and making our group hangs even more fun. I love ignoring my beautiful wife for hours to Skype with you chumps and fight orcs and shit. I’ll spend $100 to try and get you a fantasy Gashapon item. Tim plays an ent-based range caster and rolled a 6. Good luck Tim! #bringbackbarrybluejeans

Personal message from Frank Texican for Barry Bluejeans: Hey buddy, arrangements at the Regal Beagle in Phandalin are set out for 44th cake day. They promised to have plenty shiner bock on tap reserved for us, and hundreds of virgin free-range chickens are available for hot wings. The best part: Kenny Chesney tickets. After this past crap-tastic year I really need this break from real life. See you soon my friend!

Featured NPCsedit | hide | edit source

Featured Musicedit | hide | edit source

Featured Locationsedit | hide | edit source

  • Lucas's Lab

References and Footnotesedit | hide | edit source

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