Inspired by their podcast The Adventure Zone, Justin, Travis and Griffin McElroy play a trivia game about Dungeons & Dragons. Answering correctly is only half the battle — they must also defeat monsters by rolling a 20-sided die.
OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:
All right. We have one more game for you. Are you up for one more?
GRIFFIN MCELROY: Yes.
JUSTIN MCELROY: Absolutely.
EISENBERG: OK, so the three of you host the "Dungeons & Dragons" podcast, "The Adventure Zone." So we have created a D&D-themed trivia game for you. Here's how it works. Jonathan Coulton and I will guide you through a dungeon where you'll encounter a series of deadly monsters. Each monster will ask you a multiple choice trivia question about "Dungeons & Dragons." If you answer correctly, you will get a weapon. And that will make it easier for you to defeat the monster. You will fight the monster by rolling a 20-sided die.
TRAVIS MCELROY: OK.
EISENBERG: And if you make it to the end, you will find untold riches and treasures.
J MCELROY: Oh, that's great.
G MCELROY: I'm a warlock in this one.
EISENBERG: Griffin's a warlock. Travis, who are you?
T MCELROY: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. But I'm a rogue.
J MCELROY: I didn't know we could do that.
T MCELROY: Yeah.
G MCELROY: I also want to be Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.
T MCELROY: I'm early wrestling career Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.
G MCELROY: OK. And I'm doing Dwayne "The Warlock" Johnson.
J MCELROY: I'm Larry the Cable Guy who took over for Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson in "The Tooth Fairy 2." So I'll be Larry the Cable Guy. Lawrence the Cable Gentleman.
EISENBERG: OK. Here we go. You enter a dark, dank dungeon. All right. This is classic stuff.
J MCELROY: Good alliteration.
EISENBERG: A gelatinous cube appears. It's a 10-foot cube made of ooze that eats everything in its path. It asks you a trivia question. Who is credited as the father of "Dungeons & Dragons"? Is it A, Barry Gradlox (ph) - B, Gary Gygax...
J MCELROY: That's the one.
EISENBERG: ...Or is it C, Stephen Snorlax?
J MCELROY: It's Gary Gygax.
T MCELROY: No, it's a trick. Justin, this is a trick.
G MCELROY: This is a trick question. It's definitely Stephen Snorlax. And I yell out Stephen Snorlax. And as I'm dissolved by the gelatinous cube's form, I give a thumbs-up like, worth it.
J MCELROY: Luckily, Dwayne "The Rogue" Johnson had a healing potion. I bring Griffin back.
EISENBERG: Justin, you got that correct. So guess what? You found a weapon.
J MCELROY: What kind of weapon?
EISENBERG: It's a saltshaker. You get to use a saltshaker against the gelatinous cube. So roll a four or higher to beat it.
J MCELROY: I rolled a one.
EISENBERG: You rolled a one?
J MCELROY: Yeah. This right here.
T MCELROY: Does Justin die in real life?
J MCELROY: If you die in ASK ME ANOTHER, you die in real life, yes, Travis.
JONATHAN COULTON, BYLINE: That's right.
EISENBERG: Guess what? The gelatinous cube eats your left arm, but you manage to escape.
J MCELROY: OK. OK. That could have been worse. That could have been much worse.
EISENBERG: So, you know, take the L and move on, I guess. You continue deeper into the dungeon. A phantom fungus appears. It is a four-legged fungus that attacks with its gaping maw, as one does. It asks you a trivia question. The very first advanced "Dungeons & Dragons" player's handbook was published in 1978. Which of these is not a character class - aka profession - that you can choose to play as? A, barbarian - B, magic user - C, monk. This is according to the 1978 original edition of the advanced...
T MCELROY: I'm going to say C, Monk.
G MCELROY: Yeah, that was my instinct, too.
J MCELROY: Yes, absolutely. I'm actually going to say Stephen Snorlax is the answer for this question as well and...
T MCELROY: It's a trick question - Stephen Snorlax.
COULTON: You are all incorrect. It is A, barbarian.
J MCELROY: Really?
G MCELROY: Oh, wow.
COULTON: Yeah, they added that later. The first character classes were just cleric, fighter, magic-user, thief and monk.
G MCELROY: Huh.
COULTON: All right. So you have to roll an eight or higher to defeat the phantom fungus.
T MCELROY: I rolled an 18.
COULTON: You smear the fungus with antifungal cream, and it clears up in three to five days.
T MCELROY: Oh, good.
G MCELROY: All right.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
COULTON: Good news - you have reached the treasure room. It is full of ring lights and PlayStation 5s.
T MCELROY: Yeah.
COULTON: So congratulations (laughter).
EISENBERG: Well done.
COULTON: But you have awoken a dragon from its slumber. It asks you a trivia question. Tom Hanks starred in a 1982 made-for-TV movie as a college kid who has a psychotic episode while playing a real-life version of a fantasy role-playing game. What was the title of this film? Was - A, Castles and Cauldrons; B, "Mazes And Monsters;" or C, "Turner & Hooch"?
G MCELROY: That's going to be - that's going to be "Mazes And Monsters" right there.
EISENBERG: Yeah. That is "Mazes And Monsters."
G MCELROY: Oh, boy. That movie is a trip. I think - isn't that Tom Hanks', like, first starring role in film?
T MCELROY: Yeah. It was, like, a made-for-TV movie, if I remember correctly.
J MCELROY: Yeah, and his last.
T MCELROY: Yeah.
J MCELROY: I wonder whatever happened to him.
G MCELROY: Yeah.
T MCELROY: Yeah.
G MCELROY: I know.
EISENBERG: I guess I have to watch it. I've never seen...
T MCELROY: No. don't.
EISENBERG: No? Not even now? Not even now when...
T MCELROY: No, please.
G MCELROY: It's - I mean it's cool watching old Tommy Hanks...
G MCELROY: ...In a movie that is...
COULTON: Little tiny Tom.
G MCELROY: Little tiny Tom. That's Sully right there. That's Sully that's been...
EISENBERG: That's right.
G MCELROY: ...Sucked in by the devil game.
T MCELROY: One of my favorite - and this is absolutely true. Vin Diesel is a huge D&D, like, fan - fanatic. And "The Last Witch Hunter" movie that they made is based off of, like, a campaign he was playing with his friends. And he went in to, like, a studio and said, hey, this campaign I'm playing is really good. We should make a movie out of it.
G MCELROY: That movie would have been so much better if it was called, like, Vin Diesel's Magical Journey.
T MCELROY: Vin and friends.
J MCELROY: So if you ever wondered why that movie, "The Last Witch Hunter," ends with Vin Diesel directly addressing in the camera and saying, so I don't know. That's as far as we've played so far.
T MCELROY: We ran out of Doritos, and we had to take a break.
J MCELROY: Yeah, we took a break. Kevin's mom came home, so maybe we'll make another one. I don't know.
G MCELROY: Dougie (ph) just got married. You know how it goes.
J MCELROY: Yeah. Really, this movie is about family.
COULTON: Well, you guys have found a weapon to use against the dragon. It is an ASMR YouTube video with the sounds of crinkling paper, light tapping and soft whispering that calm even the deadliest beast. Roll a seven or higher.
T MCELROY: All right, Justin - redemption.
G MCELROY: Justin, you got it.
(SOUNDBITE OF DICE ROLLING)
J MCELROY: Fifteen.
COULTON: That is higher. The dragon got bored, has drifted off into a peaceful slumber. The treasure is yours.
T MCELROY: Hurray.
G MCELROY: I immediately start scalping them.
T MCELROY: We can scalp the dragon?
G MCELROY: No, the PlayStations.
J MCELROY: We can add finding a dragon's treasure horde to our chapter about how to make money in podcasting...
T MCELROY: Yeah.
J MCELROY: ...Because that is the only surefire thing I've found so far - is finding a dragon's horde.
EISENBERG: (Laughter) The old dragon's horde. I like that we just ended with it's yours. The treasure...
T MCELROY: Yup.
EISENBERG: ...It's yours.
T MCELROY: You did it.
EISENBERG: Justin, Travis and Griffin McElroy host a million podcasts, and their new book is called "Everybody Has A Podcast (Except You): A How-To Guide From The First Family Of Podcasting." Thank you so much for joining us.
T MCELROY: Thank you.
G MCELROY: Thank you for having us.
J MCELROY: This has been a great pleasure. Thank you.
G MCELROY: This has been very fun.
J MCELROY: Yeah, very pleasant.
EISENBERG: Thank you.
EISENBERG: And that's the end of Episode 420. ASK ME ANOTHER's house musician is Jonathan Coulton.
COULTON: Hey, my name anagrams to thou jolt a cannon.
EISENBERG: Our puzzles were written by our staff, along with Ruth Morrison, Emily Winter and senior writers Eric Feinstein and Karen Lurie, with additional material by Cara Weinberger. ASK ME ANOTHER is produced by Travis Larchuk, Nancy Saechao, James Farber, Rommel Wood and our intern Sophie Hernandez-Simeonidis. Our senior supervising producer is Rachel Neel, and our bosses' bosses are Steve Nelson and Anya Grundmann. Thanks to our production partner WNYC. I'm her ripe begonias.
COULTON: Ophira Eisenberg.
EISENBERG: And this was ASK ME ANOTHER from NPR.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.