The Adventure Zone Game Design Journal

Last month we announced that we’re making a game with The McElroy family for The Adventure Zone. Each month leading up to our pre-order launch in December we’ll be sharing some sneak peeks into the type of game we’re making and what it looks like. This month we’re sharing a little more about the game, our design goals, and how to get involved in play testing.

So: How do you make a game about people playing a game? Isn’t the Adventure Zone “game” Dungeons & Dragons or Monster of the Week? Sure; one way to replicate the Adventure Zone is to play the same games that are played on the show. But what we’re focusing on is the feeling of the show—the spending an hour with your friends in the Bureau of Balance and laughing over the story that you’re creating together.


TAZ: Bureau of Balance is a cooperative storytelling card game. As reclaimers-in-training, you and your companions are pitted against nefarious villains and exotic locations as you seek to reclaim dangerous relics. You’ll match wits with gerblins and have to find a way through deadly traps. The challenges you face are represented by decks of cards, and you’ll have to combine your skills with those of your companions to defeat them. But beyond the numbers and die rolls, what drives the game is the story. How will you outwit that gerblin? What will you do to get through the Vile Jelly Pits? Perhaps, in the end, the greatest treasures you’ll find in the dungeon are the memories you make along the way.

TAZ: Bureau of Balance is designed to be accessible to anyone who enjoys the show. The rules are easy to grasp, and play is cooperative; there’s no need for a game master, and you will all succeed or fail together. The cards dynamically generate challenges, allowing you to play dozens of times without facing the same scenario. If you’ve got an hour and some friends, you’ve got everything you need to dive in to the world of The Adventure Zone and reclaim a relic!

The playtest dome at xoxo fest 2019- thank you playtesters!

The playtest dome at xoxo fest 2019- thank you playtesters!

Wanna playtest the game? If you’re good at keeping secrets we’d love for you to join us at some playtest events over the next few months. These playtests are ways for us to get specific feedback from a diverse group of fans as we develop the game. Last month we dipped our toes in the water with our first public playtest at XOXO Festival in Portland, Oregon. Next, we’re excited to partner with The Chicago Playtest Society for a special catered event featuring an Adventure Zone fan art show. We’ll also be running playtests of the game at GAME Expo in Springfield, MO. Stay tuned as we plan additional events near Boston, MA, Seattle, WA, and Portland,Oregon.


Jenn & Keith