Do you know what really makes a full-bodied tabletop RPG experience? Going onto YouTube and looking up “D&D music” and then chucking on something like The Adventure Begins. Music can add that extra bit of oomph to a campaign, and LORESPINNER presents both bundled together.
LORESPINNER, a new project from Sydney-based artist Alexander Tulett, is being released through the Australian DIY ambient/dungeon synth label DIMCHAMBER. The works released under the LORESPINNER banner at the moment are Lakeshrine and Blooms Deep, system-agnostic scenarios for your TTRPG of choice, as well as purpose-built dungeon synth EPs to accompany your session.
It all began in 2010 when Tulett first started playing Dungeons & Dragons 3.5e after ‘several years of secretly wanting to explore the format’. However, it wouldn’t be until 2017 that he began GMing in D&D 5e. “Almost immediately, I dove headfirst into other tabletop roleplaying games,” he says, “Immersing myself in the hobby, listening to actual play podcasts and developing my taste in game systems beyond the d20 system of D&D.”
Speaking from personal experience, I’ve played in two D&D campaigns run by Tulett as a GM. Not only is it great, but every session also came with a curated ambient music playlist.
Asked about his desire to start making dungeon synth music, Tulett explains where his love for dungeon synth came from. “For decades, I have been a fan of the way ambient music can evoke time and place, both real and imagined,” he says. “When I stumbled across the Dungeon Synth genre a couple of years ago, I found hundreds of artists taking that approach more literally than I had previously ever experienced, playing in the fantastical spaces between ambient music, black metal, movie soundtracks and video game score. Discovering this genre felt as if somebody had reached directly into my heart and pulled it fully formed from my chest.”
At that point, Tulett knew he wanted to get into the scene, but it wasn’t until he had some downtime from a previous collaboration that he started the LORESPINNER project. “Andy [Lowe] and I had been working on our debut drum and bass EP under the name Possible People, and he found himself drawn to other styles and projects while we waited for the release date,” he explains. “I took the chance to begin exploring sounds that bridged a gap between my established love of New Age and IDM with the lo-fi ambience of Dungeon Synth, and from within that exploration came the initial sketches that led to the Lakeshrine EP.”
Lakeshrine, as Tulett describes it, is built as both a scenario and an EP to elicit the feeling of exploring “a secret, glitched temple in a Legend of Zelda game”. He tells me that the scenario and concept for Lakeshrine was born from notes he’d taken “for an unrelated tabletop project that never actualised (a familiar story for many GMs), but it felt like too rich a space to abandon completely.”
He goes on to explain how scenario and sound work hand in hand with one another in his creative process. “Many of the demos that came from my early experimentation naturally began feeling aquatic and empty and ancient in the same way I intended for the location of that scenario, so I allowed it to dance around the music with them both influencing each other… I wanted to give both myself and the imagined player some narrative propulsion out of one story and into the next – just one of many storytelling tricks I developed as a GM.”
Tulett also tells me, “Blooms Deep, as a conceptual space, came out of the writing of Lakeshrine and the title of the final track Morninglight & Bloomward.” The second EP/scenario from LORESPINNER is made to elicit more of the vibe of ‘discovering a mysterious town in a Soulsborne game’, and Tulett explains that his creative process didn’t change from the first EP but that he was working with a “new sonic palette” to go with the new location, “writing the new screnario to go along with it.”
He’s also working on an unnamed third EP/scenario, which he says is meant to ‘feel like scaling a strange tower in Myst’. “I’m in the middle of EP number 3, and I’m taking a similar approach [in the creative process], with story and sound being developed side-by-side until they both take shape, organically informed by each other.” As a whole, Tulett describes LORESPINNER’s releases as “fantasy worlds dripping with sadness”, with players being tasked with exploring “a location ravaged by tragedy and cloaked in deceit” in all three scenarios.
So sure, one could go with whatever the Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set decides to throw their way. It’s definitely a great start when it comes to getting into TTRPGs! But those who want to expand their worlds beyond the big names, and have some sweet, sweet dungeon synth to go along with their campaign, need look no further than LORESPINNER.
But how should players go about trying LORESPINNER? Tulett’s advice is to ‘adjust them and make them your own’. “Both scenarios are designed to fit into whatever system or world you are playing within,” he says, “They are springboards, guidelines and lamp-posts, not traditional gamebooks that require adherence to pre-established rules or lore.”
“Lakeshrine, in particular, is extremely embryonic — as is the fate for all first attempts in a new creative project — so expand on it however you see fit. Modulate and iterate to the taste of your table, read the booklets ahead of time but fill in gaps in the moment. See what interests your players and follow those threads. Basically, the same advice I would give any first-time GM before the dice hit the table.”
If you’d like to give LORESPINNER’s scenarios a try, the first two, Lakeshrine and Bloom’s Deep, are available on Bandcamp as both the EP and a PDF of the system-agnostic scenario. You can find Lakeshrine here and Bloom’s Deep here.
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