FAVORITE THINGS: victor von doom doing a mental risk/reward analysis like “you know what? when this girl was fourteen she covered me in squirrels. have i rodent-proofed my shit since then? yes. am i in the mood to get covered in fucking squirrels again? literally never. god knows what new powers she’s found since puberty. let the little devil-imp take the goddamn time machine. fuck it. who cares. she’ll probably just end up using it to go back in time and tell herself to never come here. that’s how 90% of all time travel ends. another 5% ends with me as undisputed ruler of the entire earth. i’m not even giving her the good time machine. it’s the janky one. joke’s on her, the a/c doesn’t even work and the tapedeck is broken. doom, as ever, is the real winner here.”
The concept of some humanoid or near-humanoid species being
naturally inclined to evil is a racist one, and, unfortunately, a prevalent one
in Dungeons & Dragons, exacerbated by the fact that these “evil species”
are frequently the “ugly” ones. Drow are a particularly glaring example - “made
black because of their ‘evil’”?! Fuck you - but the duergar - “the
slaves … learned only to enslave, really makes you think don’t it” - and
the orcs - “they feel the CALL to evil in their Gruumshy HEARTS” - are also
super not good. (There’s also a fair degree of ableism, with “insane” monsters
- in such cases, I honestly think “unaligned” would be a better description for
“too far gone to understand morality”. Evil implies a choice.) Honestly, I wouldn’t mind so much if these weren’t supposed
to be naturally-occurring species - always evil demons or fey are fine, because
they’re made of magic and stories, although care should of course
be taken not to make them look like naturally-occurring species - but
elves are really just fragile pointy-eared monkeys, and they have excuses. However, these evil humanoids are also genre staples and
often quite aesthetically good. To that end, I offer the Unfucking D&D Guide, which provides what I think are solutions to this
problem. (It should be noted that I am whiter than plain yogurt, so my ideas
should be taken with a grain of salt and definitely not take precedence over
the ideas of non-white folks. If I’ve said something fucked-up in this, please
let me know and I’ll fix it.)
Duergar. Keep the “enslaved by illithids, made grim
& psionic” bit, toss the “learnt evil from them” part. The duergar are
joyless, or can appear so - you can play them either as gloomy and fatalistic
or as eccentric and unreasonably concerned with “corruption” - but despite
whatever mood they possess, make sure that they are thoroughly dedicated to
making sure the horrors of the Underdark stay in the Underdark, and are as
righteous and honorable as their hill and mountain cousins.
Derro. The derro are an “insane” species; I bring
them up only because I saw them confused with duergar in one post about racism
in D&D. Their lore has not been constant - the current lore is “dwarves
enslaved by illithids, tortured into madness, and now they’re eeeeeeeevil”,
which is ableist, not racist - but their metatextual origin is among the
detrimental robots, or Deros, of pulp author Richard Sharpe
Shaver’s stories (or possibly delusions). “Born from the dreams of a mad author” would actually be good lore
if you can make that author a tragic sufferer of schizophrenia in a time before
it was understood rather than an ~*~eViL mAdMaN~*~, but in any event, change
their type to construct, fey, or fiend, and, most importantly, don’t take
them seriously. The derro are pulp villains, and their evil is
grandiose and nonsensical. They ought not to be seen as realistic; they ought
to be seen as Snidely Whiplash, Commander Claw, or Heinz Doofenshmirtz. “Reasons”
are for other genres.
Drow. Return drow to their mythical roots as trow,
nocturnal hunters, tricksters, and magical artisans dwelling in the hollow
hills. There’s high and wood elves; dark elves can find a niche. Lolthite culture
is good villain fodder, but make sure that you can handle an “evil religion”,
and make sure that all types of elves participate.
Goblinoids and trolls. Make them fey, and abandon
Tolkien for Rossetti and folktale. Goblins make cruel bargains; hobgoblins
attend faerie courts; bugbears hide in closets and create electricity from feed
on children’s screams; trolls lurk under bridges and love riddles. As fey, they’re
not evil, simply alien and lacking in empathy towards mortals.
Gnolls. If you use the Volo’s lore, change
their type to fiend and be done with it. If you want to have them be natural
humanoids, go read Ursula Vernon’s Digger for the best-written
hyaena-furries in literature and base gnolls off that once you’re done crying.
Kobolds. Kobolds are already draconic cleaner wrasses
in lore; there’s no reason that metallic dragons can’t enjoy them as well and
influence some populations to good.
Illithids. The mind flayers certainly have great
potential as villains. However, there is nothing about their psychology that
impels them thither. Their biological requirements could easily be met by
feeding on those close to death, whom I might imagine would willingly donate
their brains as food or tadpole incubators in exchange for a painless death and
the surety that their memories would live on in the illithid. Also, create
food and water spells exist.
Ogres. Ogres are wilderness-dwellers who prefer to
maintain their personal territories through fear instead of actual force of
arms; the idea of the monstrous, anthropophagous ogre is a deliberate sham.
They are actually capable of great heroism, even if they aren’t exactly the
sharpest tools in the shed and okay to be honest I started out trying to build
up to a Shrek joke but I think I’d take this over canon lore.
Orcs. Orcs are an easy fix; all you need to do is
remove Gruumsh from the equation and they don’t have a bullshit “call to evil”;
in Eberron, without objective gods, the people of the Shadow Marches believe
that half-orcs are the proof that orcs and humans are one people, so there’s
even in-game precedent for orcs as members of society.
Yuan-ti. There are two ways to do this. One is to
dump all the lore and just have sexy snake cults, although don’t dress them
like Asian or Aztec stereotypes like a lot of the art does. (The 3.5 Monster
Manual yuan-ti pureblood looks like she’s constantly accompanied by an
inappropriate bamboo flute riff, I swear to Istus.) A sexy snake cult (and I am
including malisons, abominations, and anathemas in the term “sexy”, not just
purebloods) should be fun for everyone.
The other way is to keep their personalities and dump
everything else, because if you keep that, you get truly excellent
villains. I mean, these fuckers. How dare they drag something as pure as
snakes into their Ayn Rand bullshit. Villain yuan-ti should be
something transformed from willing or deluded humanoids (histachii raise
the sacred snakes and the children of the yuan-ti, who possess their parents’
original race at birth). Couple that with the fact that since snakes very
definitely have emotions, yuan-ti logically should as well, which means that
they only think they’re above emotions. Now you have Objectivists roped
into a magical pyramid scheme, which should offend no-one who doesn’t deserve
it. You can mourn for the beings they once were, or just laugh in their dumb
faces. Also, the sexy ones all look like Ayn Rand.
it’s about someone having a hold over you. this is a recurring theme throughout a number of songs on our album. Our favorite line from the song is “I can hear your dog whistle from my bedroom”
This song is pretty self-explanatory. It’s about the idea of not knowing what’s next. Accepting the fact that your life won’t be as comfortable as everyone makes it out to be when you’re younger. It’s about finding out life is a longer road than you had expected. Favorite line: “Let me be a raft on a blue sea I’ll blend right in”
Looking Like You Just Woke Up:
This was the quickest song we wrote. It happens to also be the shortest on the record. Same idea as from Flashlight - just someone having a hold on you. (One of our good friends fell in love with this girl that still had a boyfriend and so in order to make time with the girl, he hung out a lot with the boyfriend and her. He slowly found out that the girl he thought he loved was kind of a bitch and he found that maybe the one he really loved was her boyfriend. They have somewhat of a romantic relationship now. And they are living together.) The vibe of this song comes from that situation. Favorite Line: “It probably won’t get easier, just easier to hide”
This song is actually about buying drugs in Pennsylvania. The line was originally “I bought weed. A big bag in Pennsylvania. I’m gonna light it up when I get home to Jersey” We changed it because none of us have bought drugs or smoked ganja. ever. Favorite Line: “They’re gonna ruin my whole summer. Stop taking pictures with your phone. Stop taking pictures with your phone.”
we met a kid at a punk rock festival we played in Rhode Island. He didn’t do much talking and we called him the Zombie Kid because he was passed out in a pile of sticks. The next day when he came out of his coma, he was asking us about directions on the best way to get passed NYC on a bike. His summer plan was to ride from his home in Vermont to Florida. All that he had with him was a backpack full of drugs. No joke. Drugs. Then we shook hands and he went on his way. On that same tour - two months later - one of our last shows were in New York City, and guess who we fucking see? Zombie Kid. Backpack empty. We asked him what happened and he said he made it down to South Carolina and had to turn around and come back. favorite line-“She says you gotta promise not to break not matter how far you are bent, she says you gotta shift my position and try to get comfortable again”
It’s about the same deal. Someone having a hold over you, so much so that you’d be willing to put yourself in danger, to change yourself in order to make them like you. But the song is all over the place and that’s just a small part of it. Favorite Line: “And it’s an aerial view from your house to my room”
I put myself in someone else’s body and I wrote this song about my life.
The voicemail in the breakdown is from one of our friend’s dads to our friend about some dumb shit about a girl. He saved it and we added it later on to our song. Months later, the girl’s mom cornered me in the grocery store and asked me if we could take that voicemail out of the song. But we’re punk rock so we left it.
Favorite Line- “There’s comfort in the bottom of a swimming pool”
The Boredom Is The Reason I Started Swimming:
I got stranded in Germany one time and I missed Thanksgiving. Side note: On Thanksgiving, I ate a hot dog with some weird potato shit on it in Amsterdam but it was still mad good. As I was walking around Berlin, I found this circus of freaks - it was more or less a sideshow act but it was free so I went in. I met a dude who was a gangster drug dealer, he let me stay at his house and was actually super nice. He cooked me food and went to Amsterdam with me. But while I was staying in his house he explained to me the rules of the streets in Berlin. Everybody pays, everybody’s head is in the noose, everyone is part of the program.
There’s so much in this song. Take it for what it’s worth. Favorite line: Please take me off speaker phone, this is a private conversation.
Legit Tattoo Gun:
This song was originally called “MJ” because when we put it out we gave it two different names on two different websites. If you know this song as “MJ,” you’re way more punk rock. At one point, I was making out with a woman who was making out with a lot of other people. It was a mutually beneficial relationship. Favorite Line: “I am not a dirty god, I don’t have a dirty body”
This is about a friend of mine that asked me to be there with her when she came out to her mother. Favorite Line: Curly hair don’t look good cut short.