The Strange Way An Eclipse Led to My First AD&D Publication

The first solar eclipse I remember occurred in July 1964 while I was in upstate New York at a Boy Scout camp.  We used paper plates to make pinhole cameras to view the eclipse.  Although it was only a partial eclipse, it was still exciting, and all activities at camp stopped when it started to get dark.

The next eclipse that was important to me came in 1983…on MTV.

We can start out with a copy of the book Rock Dreams in 1973.  The book contained a series of near-photo realistic paintings of various musicians at various times in their careers.  The book started with a picture of teenage idol Frank Sinatra in the 1940s and ended with a sad picture of a has-been musician and a quote from the Who – I won’t spoil the ending here.  One section of the book included pictures of some acts that the artist considered potential future stars, and he really nailed it with one picture: Jim Steinman and his pet, Meat Loaf.  It would be four years before Bat Out Of Hell became one of the best-selling albums of all time and made a megastar out of Meat Loaf.  Creation of the follow-up album started in 1979, but Meat Loaf developed vocal problems, and Steinman did his best to create the vocals for Bad For Good, and that album was shelved for a few years.  In 1981 The two of them worked together on Meat Loaf’s second album, Dead Ringer, but that album barely created any ripples in the US, and the tour planned to promote that album vanished without a trace.

No longer working directly with Meat Loaf, Steinman found new success in 1983 with multiple artists.  According to Wikipedia, Steinman offered two songs to Meat Loaf for his third album, but Meat Loaf’s record company refused to pay for the songs.  During 1983 Steinman instead worked with three other artists on those two songs as well as a remake of a third song that was originally done by Meatloaf on Dead Ringer.  Barry Manilow had a hit record and one of his best videos with a recording of Read Em And Weep, Air Supply had one of their biggest hits with Making Love Out Of Nothing At All, and Bonnie Tyler had her most successful single with Total Eclipse of the Heart.

Bonnie’s video for the record was set in what appears to be a private boys school for teenagers.  Similar to the film Village of the Damned, some of the boys had glowing eyes, and the video contained some scenes that implied, well, stranger things going on involving the students.  While I was already writing AD&D tournaments at that time, I didn’t immediately do anything with the ideas from the video.

Several years later I was running an AD&D campaign at a store in Austin, Texas.  The players had spent weeks participating in small adventures close to town, and I decided to force them to travel.  The party had dealt with the mayor a few times, and I simply added a son who was supposed to be at the Charleston Academy for Young Boys.  Without explanation, the son had come back home unexpectedly, and the mayor asked the party to escort him back to school.  I created a few encounters for the trip there, a secret romance, a mystery at the school, bullying, and special classes for future leaders.  I also introduced a new monster, a semi-lich, who was the big bad behind the problems at the school.  Almost none of that was in Bonnie’s video, but the idea of unexplained goings-on at a boys school had gestated in my brain for a few years.  I eventually used my notes from the campaign to create a tournament that TSR and the RPGA (Role Playing Game Association) used at numerous conventions, and the adventure was eventually included in issue 42 of Polyhedron magazine in 1988.  That was the first time any of my AD&D adventures was published!

The full eclipse in August 2017 has helped bring Bonnie Tyler back into the spotlight, and Carnival Cruise Lines has even scheduled a cruise where she will sing Total Eclipse of the Heart when the ship is affected by the eclipse.  In hopes of attracting more than just Baby Boomers to the trip, the cruise line is also bringing along the group DNCE to back her up on the song.

Here’s the original video.

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