Friday, January 29, 2010

DM's Corner: Gaming Music

I'm not sure if I'm in the majority or the minority is doing this, but I like to use accessories other than just the standards: Module, Rulebooks, Paper, Dice and Pencils.

While I'm running an adventure, I like to have my handy-dandy Laptop of Holding by my side. Stuffed inside this miscellaneous magic item I keep all sorts of gaming-related music that I play depending on the situation. While in town I like to play a more whimsical, upbeat music to give the impression of safety and security as will as the diversity of the streets and the people walking around. When in a dungeon I like something a little more sinister and brooding to put them on edge and when combat breaks out it has to be high energy, blood pumping songs to get the players energized for the fight. Here are some of the albums I like to use:

  • Conan the Barbarian Soundtrack
  • Harry Potter Soundtracks
  • Excalibur Soundtrack
  • Pirates of the Caribbean Soundtrack
  • Lord of the Rings Soundtrack
  • Kingdom of Heaven Soundtrack
  • Braveheart Soundtrack
  • Baldur's Gate Soundtracks
  • Midnight Syndicate Albums
  • Nox Arcana Albums
  • Blackmore's Night (for you music fans out there, its headed by Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple and Rainbow fame)

Just a few of the specific songs I like to use are:

For Civilization (towns etc):
  • Conan the Barbarian - Theology/ Civilization
  • Excalibur Soundtrack - Igrayne's Dance
  • World of Warcraft Soundtrack  - Taverns

For Combat
  • Conan the Barbarian - Track 1 - Anvil of Crom
  • Conan the Destroyer - Conan & Bombaata Battle
  • Baldur's Gate - Attacked by Assassins
  • Midnight Syndicate - Forging the Scarab
  • Nox Arcana - Blood of the Dragon

For Dungeons
  • Conan the Destroyer - Scrolls of Skellos
  • Baldur's Gate - Down in the Sewers
  • Midnight Syndicate - Dungeons
  • Excalibur Soundtrack - Merlin's Spell

Of course, if I'm playing a more Sci Fi or Star Wars game, I have another set of albums I like to use:
  • Escape From New York Soundtrack
  • Star Wars Soundtracks
  • Fallout Soundtracks
  • Dune Soundtrack
  • Chronicles of Riddick - Escape from Butcher Bay Soundtrack
  • Star Trek Soundtracks
  • Blade Soundtracks
  • Terminator Soundtrack
  • The Thing Soundtrack

I think adding a little background music adds a little bit of mood to a game and maybe draws the player into the mood more than just idle chit-chat. You have to be careful not to have the music too laud though or people can't hear what you or others are saying and that detracts from the game. Also, pick music that has something constantly going on. Some soundtracks have lulls in the track where dialogue is being spoken in the movie and it almost seems like the song stops if you have it down low enough. That will actually draw people back out of the game wondering what happened to the music.

In addition to music, I found a fantastic (read: FREE) program called Atmosphere Lite that generates any kind of nature sounds that you would like. You can mix and match dozens of elements from rain to wind to insects and birds to give yourself the sound you want. This is really great when the party is traveling or camping to give them the feel of being outdoors without having to open the windows. I've used this to great effect in some past campaigns and the players liked it a lot.


  1. I don't recall ever having played music during an adventure, either as player or DM. I do like to have a mental soundtrack while I'm writing adventures - my current favourite is the Dr Who soundtracks by Murray Gold. Worth checking out.

  2. it makes for a nice ambient soundtrack. Just don't go too crazy

  3. I'm a big fan of using music with my gaming. I've been known to make playlists to go along with campaigns (for inspirational purposes, not for in-game use) and I've used instrumental and ambient music in the past to great effect.

    I haven't had a chance to try it yet, but I've got a playlist of 60s lounge instrumentals ready to go if I ever run a dungeon crawl-centered campaign. Something about having elevator music playing in the background while exploring dimly lit halls and passages, trying to get around death traps, and running away from various slimes and oozes...I don't know, it's totally incongruous but it seems to fit perfectly at the same time.

  4. Gee I hope Girl From Ipanema isn't on that list unless you have a really long elevator somewhere in your dungeon.


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