Monday, November 14, 2011


Well, as you can see above, this week's entry is so personal that I posted the background for my blog as the headlining picture for this article. If there is only one thing you should have figured out by now, after I have been blogging for over two months, and posting quite frequently, it is the following:

I Love Dungeons and Dragons.
If you  haven't figured that out, I apologize for making outrageous presumptions about your attentiveness and apologize further if you are total newbie to my blog. But, it is an undeniable fact that only after playing dungeons and dragons for a few years, it is that playing or game mastering dungeons and dragons, or more correctly, pen and paper roleplaying games, is my favorite past time.

Above is a pretty good approximation of my first dungeons and dragons character. He was a somewhat grumpy and big-mouthed but terribly clever, loyal, and generous dwarf cleric (think warrior priest) by the name of Bumble Bootsbane. I played the character up until I had to retire him. He had become so powerful and important in the world that he was just not as much fun to play (being Dwarf Pope, happily married to a Dwarven paladin, and Head Councilman of his own country, Freeland) and as such I retired him. Yet, I'll never forget how important Bumble was and is because, perhaps the most easily lost beauty of dungeons and dragons, is that one's character does not simply have to be a fantasy or avatar (though there is nothing wrong with that) but instead can be so much more. Bumble Bootsbane was an extension of myself, the best version of myself, and when I played him in my best friend Zach's dad's A D & D campaign (a campaign that is older than me) I played Bumble as if I was in his boots. (A full story about Bumble will come out some day when I feel like I am ready to tell the whole story.) Moving on to the subject of today's Musical Monday Post, I think Patton Oswalt really understand the idea of how important this game is to people.

Patton Oswalt is, undeniably, one of us. He pokes fun at nerd culture and his own nerdier past (and nerdy present) with the gleeful and child-like relationship that we should all be able to have when poking fun at our identities. This year, he released a humorous memoir, Zombie Spaceship Wasteland.
In the book Oswalt makes a lot of references to D & D and other pop culture in the piece. Included in the book, is the Song of Ulvaak. It is a sad but beautiful ode about a D & D fantasy world. It follows a warrior who discovers his world is not all as it seems.

What does this have to do with anything? Well, Allie Goertz, an awesome youtuber and musician wrote a fan-song adaptation of the piece called Song for Ulvaak. Just as the Conan the Barbarian! The Musical! video from the Kaplan Bros. sold me on Conan the Barbarian, its soundtrack and their talent, Allie Goertz achieved similar results. I ordered Zombie Spaceship Wasteland from Amazon, subscribed to her youtube channel, and am just in love with everything about this song. I loved the song so much that I quoted it in the two D & D books I gave my friend, Rachel, as a birthday gift.

On the right, Allie Goertz and on the left, her friend Megan.
The song is about a warrior by the name of Ulvaak who is on a quest to kill a lich king. He is surprised that the lich king does little to stop him. As the lich king died, it informs him that their world is not so real, and it is all a game to some far-off gods. Ulvaak at first refused to believe the lich's words but after seeing the empty faces of the people around him, realizes the truth and dedicates his life to find out the truth and making his creators pay. The themes implied here are so poignant. The most important part of role-playing is to be able to detach oneself from reality and engage in an imaginary world. Realists and people who have trouble grasping metaphysical concepts about reality tend to have trouble playing the game. Children, story tellers, gamers and actors tend to be the best players because they are so willing to play pretend and pretend the imaginary is real.

But who is to say that imaginary world isn't real?

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