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"The Music and the Dice" by Stu Horvath
Plus Bardic Compass TTRPG-inspired Album
In last week’s newsletter, I mentioned Stu Horvath’s new book about tabletop roleplaying games called Monsters, Aliens, and Holes in the Ground. Stu is the co-host of the Vintage RPG podcast, and the @Vintage_RPG (ex)Twitter account called my attention to his article “The Music and the Dice” from Unwinnable Monthly #166. This column is a must-read for fans of rock music and tabletop roleplaying games.
Like I tried to do in my Appendix LP article in the first issue of the Critical Hit Parader zine, Stu analyzes the overlap between music and RPGs and provides lots of crossover examples. I’m looking forward to checking out Hällas and Shadowland, bands he referenced that are new to me. My favorite part of the article is his section 11, which provides insightful comments about subcultures, including the following:
“The thing about music sub-cultures is that they often exist as places of escape for folks who don’t fit in with the primary culture. It used to all be shoved under one big umbrella – “the counterculture” – but it has becoming increasingly clear that there are many ways to be, and each of those ways merit their own sub-culture where folks can find belonging, or at least a shared experience reflected in the rhythm of a song. It’s because of this ability of music to bring people together that folks often call it a universal language….”
“…I don’t think it is a coincidence that as the RPG hobby grew to reflect different sorts of music, the diversity of people creating and playing have similarly increased over time.”
In describing the unlikelihood of Dave Arneson being influenced by any sort of Minneapolis metal scene, Stu portrays Hüsker Dü as being not very heavy at all. I would respectfully recommend a listen to their seminal hardcore full-length debut Land Speed Record, an album I think still holds up as being pretty heavy (even taking into account Stu’s accurate observation of how music that once seemed transgressive becomes prosaic over time). Although the rest of their career was mostly melodic post-hardcore, they were a ferocious live band each time I saw them, right up until their breakup.
I strongly encourage you to read the whole “The Music and the Dice” article. And for your listening pleasure while reading, Stu conveniently provides a companion playlist, which includes a bunch of great tunes:
Bardic Compass Announce TTRPG-inspired Album
Progressive rock band Bardic Compass is releasing a new concept album on November 3rd that is inspired by fantasy tabletop roleplaying games. The album is called Songs of The Caravan, and drummer David Wilson describes the project as follows in the band’s press release:
"Similar to the Progressive Rock pioneers of the 70’s, we use the backdrop of epic fantasy and specifically more modern role-playing settings to tell deep and moving stories of self-realization, triumph through adversity, and heroic self-sacrifice inspired by the deeply personal reflection which interweaves itself both at the table and through the music"
You can preview some of the tracks and pre-order the album from the Bardic Compass Bandcamp page. Check it out!