Balance – Episode 41: The Eleventh Hour: Chapter One

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Can our heroes recover the final three Grand Relics before they're crushed by the weight of their incompetence? No, they can't! It's the Adventure Zone!

—The Announcer

"The Eleventh Hour: Chapter One," as it appears on the MaximumFun website, is the 41st episode of The Adventure Zone: Balance.

Synopsisedit | hide all | hide | edit source

Full transcript available here.

After a fairly morose start to the episode, our heroes are launched -- with great speed -- into a new adventure. What awaits them inside of the time-stuck anomaly? More important question: Who's ready for SUMMER FASHIONS? Merle exhibits classic Dwarven jealousy. Magnus loves a fish. Taako accidentally saves the day.

Yea, though I walk through the shadow of the valley of Boyland…edit | hide | edit source

The adventure bois are still hanging out in the Bureau of Balance on the Moon, and the time has come for Boyland’s Rites of Remembrance. Everyone (except Avi, and Pringles, who is still in jail) is on hand to mourn Boyland, and everyone is so sad. Boyland was a good guy, well-beloved by everyone at the BoB. Literally everyone in the BoB was a serious Boyland Boi, and everyone is crying and sharing their favorite stories of Boyland.  

Should the dudes have gotten to know Boyland better? Magnus says they were probably right in thinking he was a dick. All the same, Magnus raises his flagon of Super alcohol, and makes a toast to Boyland. Johann is playing a cello piece he wrote for Boyland,The Voidfish lights up with the blocked memories of everyone on earth trying to remember the fallen dwarf. It’s beautiful and tragic, and the mood is only a little bit ruined by Merle’s groans and Taako's jokes about the Voidfish being Johann’s number one fan. 

Magnus and the Voidfish share another moment, with his hand pressed up against the tank. The Voidfish sings Magnus their song once more. 

Gametimeedit | hide | edit source

The Director signals to our heroes that it’s time to get briefed on their next mission. She’s really broken up about Boyland, but also worried about the extraordinary dangers involved in this mission. The fifth Grand Relic is the Temporal Chalice, which is a cup that gives the holder power over time itself. The Temporal Chalice will tempt the beholder with the power to fix their mistakes.  

The Director pulls out a sphere.ppt that shows a brown, dusty, series of dry canyons that are weaving into the ground, all made up of red clay. The largest of the canyons has a big opening that contains a perfect circle — a bubble/temporal anomaly/forcefield. The power creating the forcefield has begun to wane, which led to its discovery. The bubble is nearly 1.5 miles in diameter, impenetrable, and opaque, and the Director does not know what’s inside. It’s not just a dome, it’s perfectly spherical, extending into the ground, and it blocks time. The Temporal Chalice is projecting the field, and it’s very likely inside the bubble. 

The name of this area… requires some workshopping, but is eventually revealed to be the Woven Gulch. 

COOL LOOKS FOR HOT SUMMER DAYSedit | hide | edit source

It’s gonna be hot down there, so it’s time for some shopping! The boys go to Fantasy Costco, and Garfield the Deals Warlock helps them pick things out. The clothing department of Fantasy Costco shoots out with shelves and racks of clothes like in the Matrix. 

  • TAAKO: I want a skirt like the one Jared Leto wore to the 2015 I Heart Radio Music Awards.
  • GARFIELD: You’ve got it!
  • GARFIELD: What color? I think a salmon would look good on you, Taako.
  • TAAKO: Well, his was black, but I think something light for the clime would be great, so. Maybe kind of like a mooave? Like a mooav? [Ed. note: mauve]
  • GRIFFIN: Okay. He gets you the exact color you were thinking of. How low- or high-cut is this? What are we talking, like at the knee?
  • JUSTIN: I mean, flirty. 

Taako goes with a salmon or mauve flirty skirt. Magnus wants cargo shorts, but he’d also like them to be enchanted so he doesn’t have to worry about sand getting all up in there, if you know what he means. Merle gets jodhpurs cut right above the knee and secured with garters, in black, green, and red plaid. Jortpurs. Garfield the Deals Warlock "gives them one on the freeskis," and enchants the fantasy shorts (and skirt) to guard against dust. 

Bombs Away!edit | hide | edit source

Avi is planetside and unavailable to launch the transport canon. A very very nervous Angus MacDonald does so instead! While they’re flying over Phandalin, Rockport, and Goldcliff (“the sites of all our greatest triumphs!” Merle says), Taako casts Stoneskin on himself, just in case. 

Eventually Magnus remembers to pull the brake, but it’s late enough that the landing is pretty rough. The three tumble around in the glass cannonball before rolling to a stop right at Avi’s feet. Magnus has curled around Steven the Fish to protect him. 

They have reached the edge of The Dome,[1] a.k.a. the mysterious spherical bubble. It’s enormous and slivery, but not opaque. When you look at it, Griffin explains, it looks as though you’re looking at the terrain on the other side of the bubble, like the camouflage in Metal Gear Solid. It looks like you can see through it, but you’re really just seeing past it.

Avi is standing in front of a cannon, much larger than the one on the Moon Base. It’s pointed not quite point blank but pretty directly at the bubble’s wall, 10 feet away.

Avi congratulates Angus on his sharp shooting, except he realizes that Taako has Stoneskin… which should have thrown off the trajectory. Somehow, between that and the late braking, it worked out perfectly.

Avi pulls out a scanner and points it at the dome. It displays sine waves, expanding and contracting. The energy the dome is giving off is fluctuating, and Avi figures out (and has tested with rocks and a skull), that if you launch something with enough speed right at the weakest energy signature, Avi’s like, 94% sure that’ll get through.

Merle sees the clay earth rising up like the gopher from Caddyshack out of the corner of his eye. He alerts the others, who say, “Cool!” The single trail merges into three. Three very large, purple worms pop out of the ground.

Purple Rain, I mean Wormedit | hide | edit source

FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT: Taako rolls a natural 20, Magnus a 15, and Merle a 7. The three worms are encircling them, and they sound like they’re in distress. Taako casts Thunderwave, which knocks it out of its hole (and deals 11 damage). It gets pulled out of the ground, wriggling and crying. 

Next, the worms. The one who was hurt uses its move to burrow back into the ground and hide behind one of its brethren. The other two cast Scorching Ray, and Magnus uses Protection, which fails. “C’est la vie!” says Taako as he is dealt 21 points of fire damage. (“Hatchi matchi!”) The other one misses and hits the barrier instead.

Merle casts Flame Strike, building a column of divine fire to scorch the two worm guys. After some dice finagling he deals 10 fire damage and 15 radiant damage. The unharmed worm squeals like a pig, and the one that was already damaged is lying on the ground twitching, and then the unharmed worm makes another sad squeal.

Magnus goes after the healthy worm with Railsplitter, two-handed. There’s a lot of table talk about how many actions/attacks Magnus can do and how to best manage those. When he dashes away after dealing a bunch of damage, the worm declines to take an attack of opportunity, which leads Magnus to believe that perhaps the worms’ intentions were not all that violent to begin with.

Taako delays his turn, and the purple worms retreat, crying all the way home. Whoops. They did let them live, though, so that’s nice. They won.

Magnus asks if Avi has seen one of those purple worms before. He hasn’t, but he has heard of them, and they’re supposed to be, like, huge. Like the size of a bunch of trains. Magnus has the realization that possibly, these were baby purple worms. “Oh shit,” says Magnus.

The gang loads up into a large metal cannonball. Inside it feels like jelly — there’s an airbag charm in the chamber. Avi explains that the guys are going to go from 0 to 800 miles per hour very, very quickly, breaking the sound barrier. Magnus is into it.

Taako names the cannon the Yaeger Bomb,[2] and Avi writes that on the side of the cannon. Avi points his scanner at the dome and prepares for launch. At the right moment they do, and… they go fast. They go very very fast. They hear the sound of a large wave rolling in, and their vision goes white.

The team is sitting in the white space (no cannon ball included), and standing in front of them is a very old woman, who is holding a large, ornate, silver cup. [MAGNUS: We did it!] She looks at the team and gasps. She says, “It’s you! Find me.”

[Episode ends!]

The Money Zoneedit | hide | edit source

Sponsored by Little Guardians webcomic. Perfect for the family of fantasy fans!

Sponsored by the new novel The Girl with the Red Hair, based on the author’s own D&D campaign.

For Abbot from Eric, Ian, and Jesse: It’ll be hard to find somebody willing to sacrifice his party members for a chance at the best loot, but it paid off for you in the form of an unusually roguish hat. Your character and friendship will be missed. Good luck on your new side quest.

For Mickey from Michael. Thanks for covering me that weekend when I forgot my wallet. You’re extremely generous and a great friend. You’re also a big jerk who refused to let me pay you back, but you know who won’t refuse my money? The McElroys. So here’s our favorite Dungeon Master, telling the world that you’re a terrific, selfless guy. Now we’re even, you stubborn asshole.

Featured NPCsedit | hide | edit source

Featured Musicedit | hide | edit source

Featured Locationsedit | hide | edit source

Quotesedit | hide | edit source

#1edit | hide | edit source

  • 10:50 TAAKO: Like I’ve always said in every situation, I’m the one hurt most by this. 

PTO is no jokeedit | hide | edit source

  • 16:55 THE DIRECTOR: Have you all collected yourselves? Are you emotionally prepared to- If you need to take a day, I think we can probably give you some leave. 
  • 17:03 MERLE: Is it paid? Paid leave? I mean the whole thing with Boyland… I’m, I’m pretty shattered. But I don’t want to lose a day of pay! 
  • 17:07 THE DIRECTOR: If that’s what you desire, if that’s what you need, then I completely understand. 

Regionalismsedit | hide | edit source

  • 18:30 THE DIRECTOR: It’s the fifth Grand Relic, which is the Temporal Shalice. Or Chalice. Depending sort of what region you’re from. Let’s go with Chalice. 
  • 18:38 MERLE: So it’s a giant… like an onion? 
  • 18:39 THE DIRECTOR: It is… a relic, a cup, that- 
  • 18:42 TRAVIS: Dad, I want you to know I got that. 
  • 18:44 GRIFFIN: I got it, it’s just, like… no. 

Once you popedit | hide | edit source

  • 25:45 MAGNUS: So the goal is: Get the Chalice, do not use it. 
  • 25:47 THE DIRECTOR: Do not use it, and get out. 
  • 25:51 MERLE: Is there a palace where they keep the Chalice? 
  • 25:53 MAGNUS: Good question. What if we have to use it to stop it? 
  • 25:57 THE DIRECTOR: That’s goofy talk. 
  • 25:58 MAGNUS: Well. You’re not gonna be there, you don’t know. 
  • 26:03 THE DIRECTOR: To quote your imprisoned friend Pringles, once you pop, the time control don’t stop. 

COOL LOOKS FOR SUMMERedit | hide | edit source

  • 26:17 MERLE: Is it hot down there?
  • 26:19 THE DIRECTOR: It’s probably sticky… if you want to wear shorts-
  • 26:21 TAAKO/JUSTIN: Oh wait a minute! We gotta get new looks! We gotta get summer looks!
  • 26:26 IN UNISON: YAYYYYYY! Shorts shorts shorts shorts! Fantasy shorts! Fantasy shorts!
  • 26:35 TRAVIS: Magnus definitely has cargo shorts, don’t even tell me I don’t.
  • 26:40 THE DIRECTOR: O…okay. I will set this up for you, if you will get on the… This will be your signing bonus, is I will secure for you some cool shorts. Is that…
  • 26:51 MAGNUS: Okay, but on one condition. I want a changing room with three stalls, and I want Killian and Carrie and N0-3113 to be there all kind of like shaking their head yes or no when we come out and display it. Does that sound good to you guys?
  • 27:00 MERLE: Say Yes to the Shorts
  • 27:06 TAAKO: Um, don’t… please don’t trip, I’m wearing a skirt. Don’t even bug on that, like of course I’m wearing a skirt.
  • 27:12 MERLE: A kilt!
  • 27:12 TAAKO: Not a kilt, like a skirt, but like a magic skirt.
  • 27:26 MAGNUS: Merle would wear a utilikilt. Or maybe jodhpurs, we’re going to the desert.
  • 27:26 MERLE: Do they make jodhpurs…
  • 27:26 THE DIRECTOR [urging them out of the room]: And awayyyyyyy you gooooooooo! Off we go on another adventure.

DM gets impatientedit | hide | edit source

  • 30:15 GRIFFIN: I cannot believe how much time we’re spending on this.
  • 30:23 TRAVIS: I’ve put a lot of thought into my magical cargo shorts.

Magic Fishedit | hide | edit source

  • 43:55 TRAVIS: That whole time I curled up my body to protect Steven the Goldfish. 
  • 44:03 GRIFFIN: It’s been a while. 
  • 44:04 TRAVIS: Yeah, he’s fine! Still swimming around, still being a fish in my pocket. 
  • 44:09 GRIFFIN (incredulously): How long do goldfish live? 
  • 44:10 TRAVIS: He’s magic, Griffin! A long time. Longer than, like, two months. 
  • 44:18 CLINT (imitating Griffin): How long do goldfish live inside a pocket?
  • 44:18 TRAVIS: He’s magic as shit, y’all. 

Dice are hardedit | hide | edit source

  • 54:20 CLINT: Each one of them (the worms) takes four d6 fire damage.
  • 54:23 TRAVIS: Wow
  • 54:23 GRIFFIN: Damn, son.
  • 54:24 CLINT: Wait a minute, AND four d6 radiant damage.
  • 54:30 GRIFFIN: Good lord, did you just burn your, like, nuke?
  • 54:33 TRAVIS: What level spell is that?
  • 54:34 CLINT: Level 5, nosy.
  • 54:36 JUSTIN: NICE.
  • 54:38 CLINT (reading his dice rolls): 6, 8, 4, I’m up to 18, 1-
  • 54:53 TRAVIS: Wait-
  • 54:53 CLINT: That’s a 19.
  • 54:53 TRAVIS: How’d you get an 8 on a d6?
  • 54:53 GRIFFIN: That’s actually a super good question, Travis, and I think it’s something worth looking into. Maybe, let’s take that one back to the judges…
  • 55:00 JUSTIN: Let me do some investigation here on my end?
  • 55:04 GRIFFIN: We’re doing a judges’ review right now? and I think there might be something a little bit fishy with those rolls.

Speedyedit | hide | edit source

  • 1:05:40 GRIFFIN: It ju- Things just- You go very, very… Boys? You go very fast. You go very very fast. 

Referencesedit | hide | edit source

  1. Under the Dome was a novel by Stephen King. This situation is a little reminiscent of the 1977 classic Kingdom of the Spiders.
  2. After West Virginia's own Chuck Yaeger, the first person to break the sound barrier, and the alcoholic beverage.
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