Music in your game?

Author: Andrew /

Well, the answer to that is "YES!"

Now, you're probably thinking "Please, elaborate!" So I'm thinking I will.

So, does music have a place in your D&D game? I think that it does. Now, that said, some of you might ask how one goes about getting that to work and with that, I would reply with a few solutions.

I think something like iTunes works best, if you have access to a computer and speakers (usually a laptop with some portable speakers works best). The bonus to this is that you have all of your music all in one place, you can create playlists that have all the music you want and you can even arrange them in an order that suits your needs. Other ways to integrate music would also be having a radio with a CD player nearby or some portable speakers for your personal MP3 player. Or having your own personal orchestra (but I know most of you can't afford those all the time, so we'll skip that).

So, more to the point, you want to have music because it can add a fantastic amount of atmosphere to your game. The major trick is picking music that will fit your scene but at the same time, not detract attention from the action.

Usually what you want is good ambiance. This can usually come from game soundtracks, classical music, movie soundtracks, etc. These (with the exception of some classical music) were usually made to accompany some kind of entertainment and provide atmosphere as well as increasing, emphasizing and sometimes just plain creating a mood desired by the creator (in this case, the DM).

The idea to this is pretty simple and I don't think it needs much explaining. I think what really merits mentioning is the idea of it at all. If you watch a small video clip of a man in a top hat walking down the street with no sound, and then watch it again with oboes and a pipe organ playing some dark funeral dirge, you'll get a certain feeling about that scene. Take that scene again and put some old western saloon piano behind it instead of the dark music. You'll get a different feel from that as well. Still the same visual though.

The point to all of this is to make clear that if you're not using music, you're ignoring an important story-telling medium that could enhance your game very very much. Below are some games that have some great music:

The Baldur's Gate series
Neverwinter Nights
World of Warcraft
Age of Empires
Shadow of the Colossus
The Total War Series
Music by "Midnight Syndicate" (They actually made a Dungeons & Dragons soundtrack years ago)

Those are just some great ones. There are others out there but the point is that you should explore the medium. It's not for everyone but it can sometimes be the salt that a game needs to created just a little more mood. Creeping skeletons are more scary if you put some scary music behind it!

Well, thanks for reading and I hope this gave you all some ideas, if you hadn't had them already. Comment away and if you haven't, register and enjoy Take Talk!



silent stone said...

The only problem I have with music at the table is that it's an extra layer of complexity for the DM to manage: prepping the playlist, making sure the right track is playing at the right time, finding appropriate music, et cetera. For me, it's a matter of diminishing returns.

Still, I agree that it can help set and maintain the mood. I'd recommend that anyone thinking of using music avoid anything that has lyrics (unless they're in a language nobody at the table speaks), and keep the volume low (so you don't have to shout over it).

And Shadow of the Colossus did have an awesome soundtrack; it was a truly great game. I would start raving about it, but I don't want to drag this off-topic...

Adam said...

yes, the music can be extra work for sure. This might sound a bit esoteric, but I usually plan my sessions while listening to music that inspires the creative side. I agree also that lyrics can often detract so its best to keep them out unless there is something ambient about it. One of my favorite artists to use is Therion. its a very ambient yet epic feel that can express some different moods and provide some good fight music. its an interesting blend of opera and metal but stands in the background most of the time. A good album to start with if you've never heard them is Vovin imo, if you just want to check out one of their songs i might try "the rise of soddom and gammorah" or "wine of aluqua" for something faster. Not that i am trying to plug this band, but for some settings it can work well, it was my soundtrack for my drow campaign which I called, "Womb of Darkness".

Andrew said...

LoL ah the drama of Womb. That was a crazy game. A little too much treachery for me. But the music was good. The players would constantly ask "Who is this again?". So good they couldn't remember.... O.o

Magus Stragus said...

You know what games have excellent music for almost all events? Castlevania. From calmed and peaceful tones to invigorating songs, Castlevania osts have it all.

Post a Comment