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Digital Subscriptions > Tabletop Gaming > July 2019 (#32) > The Adventure Zone

The Adventure Zone

Three brothers and their dad turned their Dungeons & Dragons campaign into a hilarious, heartfelt sensation. With a hit podcast and bestselling graphic novel under their belt, the McElroys and artist Carey Pietsch take us deeper into The Adventure Zone

“I’m so afraid that if we stopped to think about it, it’d be like Wile E. Coyote looking down after walking off a cliff and being like ‘Oh nooooo’ and [we’d] wake up from the coma in which it was all a dream.”

Travis McElroy is describing the experience of seeing The Adventure Zone become an international sensation. What started out as a joke podcast to fill time during paternity leave has become a multimedia marvel, with the kind of devoted fans who pack out theatres in highly detailed cosplay and send graphic novels to the top of The New York Times’ bestseller list.

Some context for the uninitiated: The Adventure Zone is a massively popular actual-play Dungeons & Dragons podcast, created by three brothers, Justin, Travis and Griffin McElroy, along with their father, Clint. They recorded the first episode as filler for My Brother, My Brother and Me, their flagship ‘advice’ podcast wherein the advice should never be followed. It was a sprawling, messy 90 minutes of D&D where two of the players clearly didn’t know what they were doing. But there was a spark of silliness and creativity there; fans demanded more. Swiftly, it became its own podcast, emerging from its humble origins to grow into a wild, exhilarating, wonderful, ridiculous 69-episode tale (subtitled Balance) in worlds and storylines concocted by dungeon master Griffin.

Last year, the McElroys released the first graphic novel adaptation of The Adventure Zone, teaming up with illustrator Carey Pietsch to bring the podcast to life on the page. The book, Here There Be Gerblins, broke records and received a glowing foreword from The Name of the Wind fantasy author – and noted roleplaying fan – Patrick Rothfuss.

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About Tabletop Gaming

Frank Herbert’s Dune: ‘Lost’ for 35 years, the legendary Dune board game from the creators of Cosmic Encounter is finally back in a new edition this summer. Its designers tell us the full story of Dune’s rise, fall and miraculous return. The Adventure Zone: The McElroy family turned their Dungeons & Dragons campaign into a smash hit podcast and bestselling graphic novel adored by thousands. They’re joined by artist Carey Pietsch to tell us about taking their story to the masses and reveal their tips for crafting hilarious, heartfelt roleplaying experiences. Magic: The Gathering: Mark Rosewater, lead designer for the massive collectible card game, reveals the ‘secret sauce’ behind Magic’s latest sets and tells us how technology is taking it into the future. The Making of Wings of Glory: How the fast-paced World War I aerial combat wargame took flight. Namiji: Antoine Bauza is returning to his peaceful exploration of Japan with this serene sequel to Tokaido. The designer reveals all about the next step in his journey. Klask: Danish carpenter Mikkel Bertelsen struck upon an ingenious game idea during a hangover that became a surprise sensation. As a four-player version of his thrilling air hockey-like game comes to the table, he looks back on his invention. Reviews Star Wars: Outer Rim Pandemic: Rapid Response KeyForge: Age of Ascension Sushi Roll Ticket to Ride: London Noctiluca Imperial Settlers: Roll & Write Conquest: The Last Argument of Kings Miskatonic University: The Restricted Collection Memoir ’44: Flight Plan PLUS much, much more!