Dimaension X - RPG's - role-play or dice-roll conundrum?
Not that I have plans of getting heavily involved with playing Role-Playing Games (RPG's) again (I haven't played D&D in more than twenty years), but I have developed a recent interest in reading about them, perusing the various free pdf rulebooks I've found online, and creating gamer "sandbox" settings just for my own creative brain-exercising. "Sandbox" gaming is a new term to me, but the concept has been around for a while. It involves the Game Master (GM) mapping out and creating as large a world as possible for the player characters to explore. The focus is not on numerous dice-rolls and complex chart consultation, but rather on the story telling and character exposition. Similar to playing World of Warcraft or Grand Theft Auto, the world/universe is an "open-range" world where the characters choose what they want to do, where they want to go, and how they will interact with the environment and other characters (both Player and Non-Player).
This style of gaming is coming back in style, mainly be the recent OSR movement of older gamers (Old School Renaissance) because they're sick and tired of 500-page rulebooks, convoluted rules systems and character creation, multiple editions of the same games with no compatibility from one edition to the other, and character sheets that are five pages long. It isn't about "role-playing" anymore. It's about building your stats so you can hack-and-slash battle for two hours (representing an actual combat that would probably only take about ten minutes in realtime), then looting the bodies for their stuff, add up experience points, level up, then on to the next two-hour battle.
Meanwhile the art of creating a fantastic adventure with interesting characters and their interaction is gone. You may as well just be playing one of those huge hex-map wargames where the figures represent squads of soldiers and the game setup takes longer than the game itself. Move, roll dice, remove these counters, add these, etc. Boring. The only difference between these games is the setting, and that really doesn't matter, because it's all about how and where you move your little counters and how the dice roll turns out. Sure there's strategy and thought, but it's like a game of chess where you roll to see if the pawn really takes the rook, or does the rook manage to fend off the attack. Boring. Where's the fantastic storyline? Where's the interaction of people? How does the setting of the story really guide the numerous possible outcomes? How does the underdog win the battle against the huge gladiator when the STAT points are so obviously against him?
This is where story-oriented role-playing is a far superior approach (IMHO) to those seeking "role-playing" adventure. A well-prepared GM who is prepared to throw caution to the wind can guide an adventure anywhere. I mean that. Anywhere. An axe-weilding dwarf might end up as a roller-skating entertainer on a beach in California. A spice-smuggling space pirate might end up retiring in a primitive cave-dweller village. Gary Gygax said, "The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don't need any rules." This may not halt the sales of $50 core-rules hardcover books, but it might make players stop and think about just what game they are playing. Are you really "role-playing", or are you just throwing dice to compare stats for un-yeilding results?
At this point in my life, I prefer the former.
32,705. Wow. Really. Thank you all. Sincerely.
Yes, I am merely massaging my fragile ego, but it's nice to know that there are some folks out there still interested in listening to my music. And this is WITHOUT any of the "old-school Myspace spamming" that we all used to do to each other. (Remember those days? Leaving "comments" on as many pages as possible stating that you've "got some new music posted! Thanks for listening!")
I also didn't count any of my comic book releases (or my side-projects, Burn Without Me and Moroghor) - not so many of those being downloaded, but eh, that's okay. I personally never thought my comics were that good anyway.
And I still think that people download my music because it's free. If they had to pay for it, it would be a different story. I create my music for me and no one else, and if anyone else likes it, it's just a very nice "pat on my back." But it is still a very nice pat on the back. Yeah, the flaky, insecure artist in me does acknowledge the need for a bit of attention here and there. Like we all do.
So nearing the end of another year, I managed to get a few albums out (some old material, some new), and will hopefully be working on some new stuff for 2013.
Oh, BTW, some old friends of mine just put a new band together, called Joe Sixpack. Three former members of Second Class Citizen and one new guy (who I don't know). More info on them and where-and-when they're playing soon.
And don't forget to check out former Deadside Manor bassist Clint Mitchell's current band, Muckler's Circle. They're playing at Tammany Hall on Dec 9th. Here's their FACEBOOK and REVERBnation links.
Four long "songs".
An experiment in drone-doom-noise. I'm mainly toying with feedback, delays and other effects in real-time. For a lot of this I just propped my guitar up in front of the amp and let it do the work.
There are some "riffs" and chords and some rhythms here and there. This isn't a SUNN O))) album. It's Dimaension X. Though I really didn't play any "solos". Next album. This is experimental and improvisational. Noisy. Droney.
The final "song" is a "cover-tune" of sorts, but obviously severely modified. Anyone care to venture a guess?
All recorded with my guitar tuned to D,A,D,A,D,E. Loud amp. Loud.
Bass, too. (D,A,D,G) Through the guitar fx and amp. Loud.
It may be good for your Halloween party. Maybe.
And ... get this ... their "secret bonus track" has lyrics from Dr. Seuss's "Green Eggs & Ham" - not that you could actually understand them, but I think that's kind of a neat idea. I'm still waiting for a legitimate death metal band to do a cover of "C is for Cookie", but I haven't heard it yet.
The vocals are pretty obviously "pitch-shifted", but it doesn't detract from the music. It actually adds to the odd-weirdness. I like some of their riffs, and they dive into some headbangin' grooves.
They also feature a girl drummer. Another oddity in the metal realm, especially in the more extreme metal genre.
So here's the link to their website:
Their discography page has a link to stream the songs and you can download the album for free. No registrations, mailing lists, etc. Pretty cool.
and here's a more direct link to the download page for their album, "the blackest gift" at the Internet Archive:
This music is very fitting for your Halloween Party this year. Play it loud.
More bands to be featured soon.
I decided to do some promoting for some neat music I've discovered online that is mostly available for FREE DOWNLOADS! Yeah! Apparently I'm not the only nutcase who gives it away for nothing.
The band is called Black Spring Monolith, and most of their music is available for free download at the Cosmic Gates Records Bandcamp page:
I'm not even sure how to properly describe their music. Industrial-drone-doom-metal? Lot's of fuzzed out guitars playing simple repetitive riffs over simple drums and heavy synth-drone atmospheres.
There's also a bunch of other albums from other bands posted on this page. I haven't had the chance to listen to all of them, but most are in the same genre. Heavy, sludgy, kinda industrial. A bit of fizzy noise, some odd samples here and there. If you're into experimental industrial sludge, these bands are for you. I mostly recommend Black Spring Monolith, but there's a lot to choose from.
I'll be posting more recommendations here and there, while I'm figuring out what my next musical project will be. I'll be working on some new stuff soon, once I'm ready.
As most of you 7 readers know (that's how many folks have actually subscribed to my blog/website - suckers!), Dimaension X is in a "period of transition". I left the band that I was involved with for two years (Deadside Manor), decided not to pursue recording other bands for a second job, lost one job in January, got an older job back in April, my son moved out to his own apartment, I injured my back moving my amp, and so on. Lots of changes musically and personally.
So I have decided to take some time to "re-invent" Dimaension X.
My first step forward was to revise my tuning to Open D sus (D.A.D.A.D.E). I like playing in Drop D (mainly due to the fact that I've lost some of my barre chord strength in my left hand after I had a cyst removed from my wrist a few years ago), and wanted to try a more "open" sound that would have nice, full one-finger barre chords. I really enjoyed playing with Open C sus (C G C G C D), and recorded an album and most of an EP in that tuning, so I wanted to try it again, but in a more normal guitar range. Open D sus fits the bill nicely, being similar to Drop D, but revises the guitar scales very differently on the fretboard for solos.
Which is good because I now have a whole new set of scales and modes to re-learn. I now must re-think how I play guitar, and will discover some new things by virtue of notes being in new places. Old finger patterns cannot be used. New ones must develop. Playing old songs in the new tuning is interesting. Some of the Deadside Manor tunes sound fuller, due to having more strings ringing out in chords across the fretboard. I get why Devin Townsend uses similar tuning.
I've actually posted a video of myself trying out the new tuning. Sound quality kinda sucks, but I'm recording the video with my Nikon CoolPix camera (which is NOT made specifically for video). First thing I noticed is that I really have to lose some weight. The camera doesn't add ten pounds. Eating ice cream every night and finishing my wife's supper does. So step two is to try to drop some pounds.
Here's the video:
I'm also working on my live rig. My Line 6 Spider IV 75 is a great amp, and has served me well both in practice and live, but I really need a lighter amp to keep from injuring my back over and over lugging it around. So I am looking into options for lighter amps that will still keep up with a live drummer. Which means I may also go back to using pedals for my live sound.
And musically, I'm trying to get back into a more progressive, interesting sound. I just bought Steve Vai's new album, and am still blown away by his music. Not just his guitar playing (which is ALWAYS phenomenal), but the music itself is equal parts melodic, emotional, catchy, heavy, and downright weird. I've spent the past few years playing a much more stripped-down heavy rock with the band, and really have a yearning to get back to something way out there and unusual. Maybe revisit Burn Without Me's genre-hopping style?
Reinventing Dimaension X. More soon. See yah.
Wow. Over thirty thousand downloads of my albums from the Internet Archive. I am continually amazed that people actually keep listening to my music. I am also surprised that the newer albums are not as up there in the count as I thought.
I also got a sort of scathing review of my "Ambient" album from someone known as "narlynibbles." Here's the review:
Reviewer: narblynibbles (2 stars) - August 10, 2012
Subject: Did not enjoy
Okay, I can live with the fact that someone doesn't like my music. But tell me why you did not enjoy it, and why you think it is "simply awful." It's kind of like me reviewing a Celine Dion or Miley Cyrus album. Of course I'd hate it and would judge solely by my own snobbish tastes. But I'd at least try to give credit for good performance and production. Nah, I'd simply insult Miley and Celine, so that's a bad example.
And of course, should I take a review seriously by someone known as "Narly Nibbles?" Perhaps? After all, Devin Townsend's YouTube Channel User Name is "Poopy Nuggeter."
Well, the saving grace is that my albums are free, so if you don't like it, delete it. If you review it, please be constructive. Don't like it? Tell me why. Really. Apparently 32,466 people have really bad taste.
Yup, as of August 13, I have quit the band, Deadside Manor. The last two years were a lot of fun, and I think we did a lot even thought we only managed to play two gigs (we did record a bunch of our songs, and actually recorded a 3-song demo for another band), but I think we also ran out of steam.
It was a very amicable parting (since the bassist Clint and drummer Jamie are literally my neighbors and friends), and we're all leaving the door open for the future. I think I just hit a wall and am a bit burned out and need a break. This past year I lost one job (which was pretty horrible anyway), got my old job back (which I left at the end of 2011 to go to the newer crappy job and has been very busy), my son moved out on his own closer to where he works ( I really do miss him!), and so on. Music is just not a priority right now, nor do I feel the need to play any music right now.
So it's break time. I'll still be in contact with various musicians and friends, and we'll see how things go. Most likely I'll find that I'm going crazy NOT doing music and will get back to it sooner than later, but I really can't predict when. Nor do I even need to right now.
Thanks again to the guys from Deadside Manor. Good luck to your future endeavors (Clint is currently the bassist for Mucklers Circle, who play out a lot, and may have some big breaks coming their way soon). Danny is probably going to do some singing with some guys closer to his hometown and Jamie should keep drumming. Keep practicing those D-Beats!! Not to mention I'd love to hear if our first drummer James is back playing with some other bands again.
I'll post things here or there. Maybe I'll do some music reviews on some of my favorite musicians, and this blog will turn into an actual music blog. We'll see what happens. Stay tuned. I'll be around.
... and now for something completely different ...
This one, though, is very much focused on ambient space rock. Imagine Tangerine Dream and Zombi jamming with Phrozenlight. Mainly lots of ambient and spacey atmospheres, with added drums and very simple rhythm guitars, just to add the "rock" to it. And when I say simple, I mean Glenn Branca/Rhys Chatham simple. No wacked out riffery. But yeah, two or three songs do have the "patented Dimaension X" guitar solo, but that's it. Those of you metal-heads may not like it, but give it a try. It'll be free anyway. And you may end up liking it. Here's the first track below.