Black Hat Ballads is a Forgotten Runes community project created by Leif Dojang. Lore of Black Hat Wizards is told through pieces combining music, narration, and sound design.
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While everyone knows Black Hats are the coolest faction, that's not the only reason for telling their stories. When we think about the lovely real world we all inhabit, one question I always return to ask is what our brand of magic is. While we can't cast healing spells to save those we love, or send freeze-rays shooting out of our fingers when we're being attacked, there has always been a belief by some that our world is nonetheless magical. Is that a literal belief? Are there some who can 'bend & break the rules' of our universe? Or is it a metaphorical belief? Maybe our magic is science, or technology, or art, or love?
There's a good reason that this question doesn't have a universally agreed upon answer. I'm inclined to think that the question of magic in our world, and many of the other big unanswerables, are a feature, not a bug. Maybe part of the magic of our world is that when it comes to the biggest philosophical & metaphysical questions, a farmer's folktales can go toe to toe with the most modern research. We choose what to believe. We tailor our headspace through creating our own moral code, our own aesthetic sensibilities, our own goals, hopes, and dreams.
The theme of choice is a recurring one in Black Hat Lore. These stories illuminate the fact that we are not born good or evil, but are in a state of being perpetually redefined by our choices and actions. "Let us never fear robbers nor murderers. Those are dangers from without, petty dangers. Let us fear ourselves. Prejudices are the real robbers; vices are the real murderers. The great dangers lie within ourselves.” -Victor Hugo
This is not a new concept in the world of fantasy, of course. I always think of when young Mr. Riddle discovered the secret to splitting his soul and hiding the pieces in disperate objects. It wasn't an incantation to be read, or a ceremony to be performed, or a potion to be mixed. It was a choice, an action, a moral paradigm shift. So it is too for our Black Hat Wizards. No one just happens to become a Black Hat. It's not a contagion of family, community, proximity, or preference. It's a consequence.
For this reason, Black Hats often live a solitary, shadowy existence. They've remained hidden for so long (and so well) that they avoided being added to any canonical documentation on Wizard Factions. It's up to us, then, to tell their stories. Let's begin...
This Ballad tells the tale of Skylar, who is believed to be the first Black Hat Wizard. It takes place in an earlier time in the Runiverse, before each Faction had their own city. Wizards had less to work with, and had to spend more time working together to survive.
Leif was introduced to Forgotten Runes in early 2022 by a dear friend. This first year saw a number of commissions for original music for Wizards, collaborations with other community creators, and a special piece composed for Magic Machine for their NFT NYC event.
Check out some of the links below to listen to past works.