Black Dahlia Murder frontman Trevor Strnad is back again, folks — and this time, he’s letting us in on a secret he’s been keeping for quite some time now. He spills his guts in this latest installment of Deadspeak.
Dear faithful followers,
There’s something I’ve been needing to tell you guys, of which I’ve been a little ashamed. I have been carrying this secret like an anchor around my neck, an albatross of indignity; the further I go without telling, the further down into the pits of sorrow I do sink. My faithful cronies, there is simply a void in my life I cannot figure out how to fill again without outside help. There is a chasm in my heart so deep no woman nor out-of-print death metal CD could ever begin to fill it. Alas my friends, I stand before you begging your forgiveness, and more importantly, if you have the contacts for a decent Dungeon Master. Ladies and gentlemen, I fucking miss roleplaying.
I’m not talking about the fiftieth installment of Dragon Quest for Nintendo DS, ’cause I still do that. I’m referring to the old school pencil and paper shit, the meet-up-at-sports-card-mania-on-a-Saturday-night-with-a-bunch-of-dudes-who-look-like-Stephen King kinda roleplaying. Have you ever rolled the polyhedral dice of chance? I assure you, 20 million nerds can’t be wrong.
It began the first day of fifth grade. I was sitting in the back of the classroom in a new school when a tall gumpy kid with a few colorful-looking books under his arm approached me and began to speak. “My name is James, do you play man?” Play what?, I thought. “Dungeons And Dragons man, do you play?” I must have been flying my nerd flag pretty high that day with my blue and red tiger-striped hammer pants and giant tortoise-shell glasses weighing down my 10-year-old head. He knew from one look at me that I had at least drawn a picture of a fantastic realm or creature at some point, and probably would serve as a good ally to align himself with.
“No, I kinda know what it is but I have never played. Is it hard?,” I asked. “Nah, man, it’s just like Dragon Warrior for Nintendo, but better!,” he responded quickly. Big talk, but he had definitely stirred my interest. “You’ll like it, I swear. Meet up with me when the bell rings.” Fair enough. That Autumn day, under the old oak tree in the corner of the Cooley Elementary School playground, a role player was born.
Throughout the next few years I would experiment with a few different roleplaying games (Rifts, Superheroes Unlimited, Shadowrun to name a few) but none of them would steal my heart quite like D&D. I have been away from it so long that I haven’t even played since it was owned by TSR (any of you nerds out there know that Wizards Of The Coast — the creators of Magic: The Gathering — bought the rights up several years ago). As a youth, I immediately fell in love with its images of barbaric violence, mystical Tolkein-esque creatures, and it served as the escape I was looking for from the ailments of nerddom at school. It lead to the discovery of heavy metal, as my 10-year-old mind couldn’t help but draw a parallel between the two because of their similar themes and artworks. My involvement in metal has lived on, while I sadly haven’t rolled a polyhedral in years.
I want to be a fighter class (you know, the warrior type) with some kind of shitty black metal name (haha, how many black metal characters are there out there right now, I wonder?) and thumb through the second edition AD&D Offical Arms and Equipment Guide, scrutinizing over different glaive-guisarmes for hours, while we listen to Nokturnal Mortum’s Goat Horns and smoke weed til our eyes bleed. I want to see my adult friends impersonate the voices of the most honorable Paladin, or the eldery wizard, and try not to piss my pants laughing. I want to sit atop my sleeping bag in the back of Black Dahlia’s van while my dream tour manager/dungeon master paints so eloquently an amazing adventure chock full of blood and guts that would make the drive from Seattle to buttfuck Idaho seem like dog dick.
I stand before you in the falling rain, shaking and cold, begging to paint pewter figurines shaped like a gnarled, battle-torn Warlord of some type, wishing oh so badly to bend bars and lift gates, to draw maps, to roll a natural twenty and annihilate an orc with one swing of a claymore sword. Just please, I beg of thee my faithful minions, don’t tell anybody.
Don’t forget to sign up for the Gun Shy Assassin Newsletter, and be entered into a drawing for a Black Dahlia Murder skateboard deck, autographed by Gun Shy Assassin scribe Trevor Strnad. Just head to the top of the page to sign up.
…and if you like Trevor’s take on things, check out Autopsy drummer Chris Reifert’s column Psychotic Drivel and Perfectly Reasonable Insanity.