Friday, April 25, 2008

Heavy Metal Fantasy

“When D&D started, Gary Gygax was influenced by simple pulp adventure fiction. For him it was about dungeon adventuring. D&D, especially the second edition with Dragonlance and all that stuff, got really into creating a saga, and to me that lost the original spirit of D&D. When dungeon masters started creating these epic world-saving fantasy stories, I think D&D lost its way. I see a parallel between old D&D and people who keep to that spirit, and old metal and the people who keep to the spirit of that. I prefer my D&D to be more necro and cult.”
This is a pretty fascinating article that makes explicit the connection between metal and Dungeons & Dragons. I've noted elsewhere that, when I was a younger man, D&D was the only point of contact between "traditional" geeks like myself and metalheads. I was initiated into both D&D and Traveller by my friend's older brother, who was a metal fan and both games have forever been associated with such music in my imagination, even if I'm not an aficionado of it.

In any case, the article's worth a read. It's not a scholarly piece, so it makes a number of mistakes about the history of D&D and roleplaying in general, but they're nitpicks mostly. On the essential points, it's dead-on, even singling out Dragonlance as where D&D lost its way. That's an opinion to which I hold as well, so it's always notable when someone else comes to the same conclusion independently. Perhaps I should post on why I believe this later.

8 comments:

  1. I've been looking for more information about metal culture and its points of contact with D&D, so thanks for the link. I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on Dragonlance as well.

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  2. Nice link. Not a bad read. I think the main reason the two are associated with one another, fantasy and sci-fi influences aside, is that 'Metalheads' and D&D both hit a peak at the same time, and shared some developmental years through the 70's.

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  3. I'll do my Dragonlance song and dance later today perhaps or, if not, over the weekend. I think it's worth reminding people of how revolutionary, for good and for ill, Dragonlance was. It's easy to forget that now, since everything that has come since exists in its long shadow.

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  4. Re: 1970s

    There was something in the water back then, wasn't there? I realize that I'm just getting old, but sometimes, looking back, it's hard not to think it really was a special and unique team creatively, especially compared to today.

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  5. I also don't think it's coincidence that at the time of D&D-Metal fusion, there was little concern about dungeon ecology and more openness to things like robots, aliens, save or die poison, etc in the game. Characters died- so what. Better to burn out (or be consumed by slime) than to fade away!!!

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  6. Those were odd days, but I was too young to realize that RPGs being a growing business and bands being so popular that they sold out NFL stadiums was unusual.

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  7. Wait, you associate Traveller with metal? That's not what you said when I found the heavy metal album based on it...

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