John Darnielle, the singer/guitarist of the acclaimed indie band the Mountain Goats, has never hidden his nerdy inclinations. Even his 2014 novel debut, Wolf in White Van, was a mesmerizing downward-spiral descent into the maddening mind of a disfigured man who runs mail-order tabletop RPG games from his bedroom. As a musician, his band had previously released "concept albums" (of a sort) loosely themed around such things Biblical verses, Goth bands, and professional wrestling—so it was only a matter of time before the Mountain Goats put out a self-proclaimed "dragon noir" record, in the form of 2019's "In League With Dragons."
(Or, as the ever-delightful Hard Times put it, "Mountain Goats Make Second Album In a Row About People Who Don’t Get Enough Sun.")
To celebrate the new album (which is excellent, by the way), Darnielle sat down with Vice to play a Dungeons & Dragons campaign loosely inspired by his own album, including a a red dragon and a wizard king who craves clemency. (The album also features songs about Ozzy Osbourne and cadaver-sniffing dogs, but alas, these are absent from the game). Along the way, Darnielle shares his thoughts on storytelling and D&D in general, and the catharsis we can find through communal fantasy gaming.
During the video, Darnielle is also gifted a custom figurine which is so eerily accurate that I'm pretty sure it's actually a voodoo doll. I fully plan to steal this artifact to force him to cover more Fall Out Boy songs for me. Read the rest