Balance – Episode 52: The Suffering Game: Chapter Two

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What will our boys find in Wonderland? Well, this arc's called "The Suffering Game," so nothing great! It's the Adventure Zone!

—The Announcer

"The Suffering Game: Chapter Two," as it appears on the MaximumFun website, is the 52nd episode of The Adventure Zone: Balance.

Synopsisedit | hide all | hide | edit source

Full transcript available here.

Our boys survived their first encounter in The Felicity Wilds -- but will they survive the perils that await them inside of Wonderland? Or like, maybe it's not so bad in there? No, I'm just goofin'. It's pretty dang bad in there. Magnus makes a new BFF. Merle goes dark. Taako considers a job application.

Sterling is suspicious of the boys, but his two bodyguards Rowan and Antonia immediately befriend Magnus and Merle. They travel through the Wilds until they come to a clearing containing a squat, wide, cylindrical building, with black and white vertical stripes rotating across its surface, that is illuminated by several large floodlights. As they approach, the striped pattern stops spinning and a door opens with three names displayed above it: Antonia, Rowan, and Lord Artemis Sterling. The three enter the door, leaving the boys outside, and the pattern spins again, and when it stops another door opens with the names of Taako, Merle, and Magnus above it.

Vogue; Strike a Poseedit | hide | edit source

When they enter, they appear in a huge, incredibly dark chamber. After a few moments, bright lights appear and cross on the center of the chamber, illuminating two elves, one male and one female, wearing skin-tight, high-fashion clothes and standing on a runway. The female elf snaps, and the floor, ceiling, and walls of the room light up in neon-colored panels that flash in time with loud, pulsating music. The elves make their way down the runway, voguing and posing, until they reach a large, circular platform in the center of the room. 

Taako is delighted by this performance and applauds.

The elves welcome the boys to Wonderland. They explain that participants in Wonderland will be tested through trials and games, which they admit will be unpleasant. Whoever passes these trials, however, will walk away with their prize. Taako asks if the elves are taking applications, but the male elf says they will wait and see if he makes it through Wonderland first.

Wheel! Of! Misfortune!edit | hide | edit source

The elves snap and disappear, and the platform descends, revealing itself to be a roulette wheel. The wheel has nine symbols on it: an eye, a body, a skull, a brain, a backpack, a hand, two crossed swords, a clock, and a question mark. The elves call this the Wheel of Sacrifice. A participant spins the wheel, and whatever symbol it lands on is what that person has to sacrifice in order to progress through Wonderland. A participant can choose to refuse a sacrifice, but if they do, they will get an undisclosed penalty. Once enough sacrifices have been completed, a door will open, leading into the next area of Wonderland.

  • Magnus: Hand

He has to sacrifice one finger of his choosing. He picks his left pinky, and it immediately (and without pain or gore) disappears. While he was deciding, he complained about having to lose a finger, and as he complained, he noticed some fog coming out of his mouth.

  • Merle: Eye

The sacrifice asked of him is his Darkvision. When he agrees, his eyes also lose their hazel color.

  • Taako: Skull

This sacrifice means that at some point in the future, he will experience some very bad luck. He almost refuses, but once he realizes that he alone would have to suffer the penalty, and not all three of them, he changes his mind and agrees to the sacrifice.

With all three sacrifices complete, the door to the next room opens. When they enter the next room, they see a small pedestal in the center of the room with two buttons on it. There is a cylindrical screen surrounding the pedestal with pixelized images of the three boys' faces. The elves explain that only one person will play the game in this room, and the faces start spinning around the podium, eventually landing on Merle's face. As Merle approaches the podium, the two buttons illuminate. One is labeled "Trust," and the other, "Forsake." The elves describe this room's game as a "competitive mode," elaborating that the decision made in this room, by both the boys and the "competing" party (whose identities the boys do not get to learn beforehand), will affect the level of difficulty both groups will face in the next room. The combinations work out as such:

Merle chooses Trust

Merle chooses Forsake

Other group chooses Trust Normal difficulty trial for both groups No trial at all for Merle's group, nearly impossible trial for the other group
Other group chooses Forsake Nearly impossible trial for Merle's group, no trial for the other group. Higher difficulty trial for both groups

Before the elves can even finish the explanation, Taako repeatedly yells at Merle to choose Forsake, while Magnus shouts for Trust, but the decision is ultimately up to Merle, who chooses Trust. Words start to appear in one of the walls, saying "Your decision: Trust" and then, "Their decision: Forsake," and a door opens to the next room.

Magnus notices more fog when Merle complains about Taako's attitude, and asks Taako if he knows anything about it. Taako's best guess is that Wonderland is not trying to kill them, but instead make them miserable, and that it feeds off this misery. After hearing this, the boys decided to try to stay positive, so as not to feed Wonderland.

Just one of the McElroy Family of Productsedit | hide | edit source

The elves introduce the next room as "the Monster Factory," and it appears to be an industrial, factory-like setting. In this room they roll a series of giant die to determine what monsters they will face. There are two monsters and three die per monster - two which give the monster characteristics, and one which determines the monster's type. Finally, because they were Forsaken in the last room, they get a seventh die which adds extra difficulty. They roll Slime (rolled by Merle), Poisonous (rolled by Magnus), Regenerating (Taako),  Direbear (Magnus), Electrified (Taako), Flying (Merle), and, because THB got the bum end of the stick this round, both are Multiplying (Taako). This results in a Multiplying Regenerating Poisonous Slime and a Multiplying Flying Electrified Direbear, which the elves are delighted by, and which both drop from a hatch in the ceiling.


The Money Zoneedit | hide | edit source

Sponsored by Nature Box

Personal message for Crnobog, from Hamled, and the rest of the #cobol crew, in spirit if not in actual expressed interest: Really looking forward to hearing Griffin read that name. The game is done, it's on the way to Walmart right now or already sold out if this is late. The day one patch is submitted for validation. You did it! You made that happen! Take a nice long break, and find your next challenge. You deserve it, man. I'm certainly proud of you. 

Personal message for Craig, from Jake: Craig is a big fan of the Adventure Zone, so I thought I would ask you guys to wish him a happy birthday. Craig, may you have a great year full of fun adventures.

Personal message for Dad, and my sweet baby brother Pierce, from your DM: Congrats to us for maintaining our own Adventure Zone. Despite being spread out between the UK, Maryland, and Virginia, we've managed to maintain our fortnightly D&D session on the reg. As I prepare to move to Berlin, I'm confident it will change nothing, except maybe some more disturbing monsters, and more delicious snack breaks. 

Featured NPCsedit | hide | edit source

Featured Musicedit | hide | edit source

Featured Locationsedit | hide | edit source

Quotesedit | hide | edit source

Meeting the Vogue Elvesedit | hide | edit source

JUSTIN: This should go without saying at this point: Taako is delighted. Like, fucking finally we go someplace cool. It's been so long and finally we are at someplace that is worth visiting.
TAAKO:: [Applauding] Fucking Amazing!

Referencesedit | hide | edit source

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