Our fantasy world for the Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad campaign world itself is loosely based on the Wilderlands of High Fantasy world, but many of the resemblances are superficial at best, thin skin on a monster of our own making. The names are sometimes the same, but the intent and flavor are quite different. My goal: Make this world the one I should have been playing in back in the day. For me, the Appendix N for us includes music and album covers. This makes a big difference.
As I've mentioned, this adventure, The Crypt of the Lizard King, is based on Doors song titles. It's about the precedents for the campaign world, and, to some extent, a hat tip in the direction of the musical inspirations for the campaign world. Jim Morrison was a strange cat, but incredibly, wickedly talented and charismatic. I've watched the video of when he more or less tried to cause a riot and got arrested. Absolutely amazing that he would even do that, but you get the feeling that he could have succeeded if not for the intervention.
This is a story about youth, music, power, and rebellion. This is also the story behind the campaign. It's about the rise of humans, and their escape from the domination of their Elven overlords. Musically, this is about how power and music can be linked, whether we're talking about this video of the Old Ones, or this one, which I'd associate with the Metal Gods:
Centuries pass, dust in the wind
I shall remain, shining in sin
The metal I am, the iron you feel
The song of the dead, the chorus of steel
I, I am the blade, I break the oath that you made
I, I am the mace, I am the blow in the face
I, I am the axe, to cut down heroes like rats
I, I am the sword, I do the work of the Lord
For me, "metal" as such, is not my favorite music, but some of my favorite bands are metal bands. Does that make sense. "Metal" is a metaphor in the campaign for the ability to forge and to make with metal the weapons by which one can rebel against uncaring authority and base subjugation. This is why the Dwarves and Men are simpatico. They can Make Things, and do so with Technology. The Elves rely instead on magic. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it is a different thing, and helps to differentiate the races both mechanically and, more importantly perhaps, aesthetically. In short, my core aesthetic is about power chords and blazing guitar solos, brutal, pounding drums, and way too much passion for life.
As music, metal does a much better job in capturing the fantasy worlds we all play in. Well, most of them, probably. Frankly, though, I'm an old punk, not a metalhead. I love me some metal, but a lot of it's just too damned slow for me. I'm finding that it's a lot better to listen to when I'm out running, though. The hardcore punk ethos is in there somewhere, the nihilism (to whatever extent), the rejection of values, the casting off of authority and damned be the consequences.
This is a campaign based in the relationships I have with all of this music. It got me through my teens and twenties, and now it's getting me through my forties. Sure I'm an old fucker. That doesn't mean I'm still not that same fucked up kid who got kicked out of his house, got drunk, got fired, almost got homeless, and then ran away to join the Marine Corps. He's in there. He never leaves.
But it's not about me. I'm just telling the story of the cycle of life and death, of rise and fall and rise again. This part of the story is about the rise of man, and the Metal Gods who made it possible.
The music sustains us. It is life. It is story. It is reason for living. It helps me tell the tale. In drums, guitars, and bass, riding the edge of barely controlled chaos, in the pit with all of the others, sweating and straining, bashed and bruised, I found myself there. I moved on without leaving, and there was always more. New sounds, new gods, but the strings of my heart are always metal, the ringing in my ears is always loud. The wheel keeps turning, and I'm born again from the soil of my beginnings, bent as I was wrought. Echoes of the past are still ringing in my ears, come 'round again after all these years. They're all a part of the same story. Just listen.
The creative process is a very strange thing.