Wednesday 8 February 2023

A Dungeon Based on an Album: Romantic Warrior

Is it possible to make a dungeon (or setting) based on an album, with each level corresponding to a track and vice versa?

Almost certainly - in fact you could probably do it with every single Iron Maiden album just for starters. But my first attempt, if I ever do it, will be based on the classic 1976 album Romantic Warrior, by Return to Forever. 

Romantic Warrior was probably the pinnacle of popularity for Return to Forever - which isn't saying all that much - and therefore you stand a fighting chance of possibly having heard it, but if you haven't, the best way to describe it is that it's as though a very low-budget late 70s/early 80s exploitation fantasy or SF film was being made, perhaps somewhere like Italy or Sweden with faded ex-Hollywood has-beens and B-listers, and the director was inexplicably able to hire some of the greatest, most virtuoso musicians then living to play on the soundtrack. 

Or, alternatively, you can just listen to it through the marvels of the internet and see what I mean:

It's difficult to put into words how much I love Romantic Warrior, not necessarily because of the music itself (which, while I do really like, I think at times is a little too showy even taking into account Al Di Meola is playing on it) but just because of the intense atmosphere it creates. How does one describe that atmosphere? Really you need some visuals; it's kind of like the distilled essence of all this:

Tell me you don't feel it too.

The dungeon almost writes itself, of course, from the titles of the tracks alone. The whole is set in a complex of palaces with extensive, lush gardens surrounding them, perhaps in an improbably inhospitable spot in a hidden mountain valley, and the levels are:

1. Medieval Overture, featuring a pastiche of medieval bestiary monsters.

2. Sorceress, a tower where the eponymous sexy sorceress holds sway.

3. The Romantic Warrior, a fortress ruled by a chivalric knight with a hypertrophied sense of glory and honour, served by minions and stalked by the foes his imagination has conjured. 

4. Majestic Dance, a series of vast ballrooms where decadent mask-wearing dilettantes prance and pose.

5. The Magician, 'nuff said - an arch-wizard's lair, filled with his slaves and constructs. 

6. The Duel of the Jester and Tyrant Parts I & II, two linked levels devastated by the struggle between the two demigods of chaos and order. 

Now all I need is to find an artist to illustrate it for me. Perhaps Larry Elmore is available.

[I am currently running a Kickstarter for the 2nd edition of Yoon-Suin, the renowned campaign toolbox for fantasy games. You can back it here.]


  1. I much prefer the first album, but if you Kickstart this I'll back it. Sounds grand.

    1. I like most of Chick Corea's stuff but I think the early Return to Forever stuff is ruined a bit by the cheesy samba-esque vocals.

  2. I love this. I've been kicking around an adventure or even a campaign in my head based on David Bowie's swan song Blackstar and the corresponding music video.