View Full Version : DM / Player Tools Soundtracks to a game

Evil Nosferatu
11-09-2010, 08:34 AM
Hello everyone,

I want to talk about getting a soundtrack together for your tabletop game. I personally have had little to no success, at least in my own opinion, in created the appropriate soundtrack for any of my games.

Is it too much to ask that music changes magically on its own whenever the party are in the middle of a fight or even an epic battle with their arch-nemesis? I really don't want to set my computer up somewhere with an interweb radio that I hope will get the job moderately done again.... if there is another way.

Have any of you music nerds found a way to sync up music with their game with relative ease? If there are any ideas out there, I'd love to hear them.

Also if there are any really good resources for autopilot out there that I haven't come across yet, such as a particular channel on a web based radio, then I'm all for hearing about that too.


11-11-2010, 05:42 PM
Why yes! I think I can help with this! :P

I'm not sure if you've played Oblivion, but I think that's what you're going for. When in town it has its own set of tracks. Same for in the field, dungeons, and battles.

So... That's exactly what I do. I have some folders on my computer divided up by settlements (divided further by city, town, village), field (normal, specific weather types, specific land types), dungeon, battle (normal, mini-boss, boss, epic boss), and mood (spooky, rising tension,...). They're all ready for me if I need them. But I take this a bit further. If you plan out dungeons beforehand like I do, you can just make a temporary folder with your pre-picked set of play lists.

Say we are traveling through the mountains to meet their NPC friend at Temple of Generic Doom. I have a "mountain travel" play list already going when they arrive. When I am about to tell them that their NPC buddy is sprawled at the entrance in a pool of his own blood, I already have the next song ready from my mood folder. All I have to do is double-click. When they enter the dungeon, I have a "generic dungeon temple" mix ready to go because it's all in one place.

I'd recommend that you do not use music with lyrics in any language that your players know. It can become very distracting.
I find that I can get the best effect from songs without lyrics. I make exceptions to this when a bard is around. :D

Silence can be much more powerful than sound. Remember to turn off the music every once and a while.

Find some specific tunes that you do not use in any of your generic soundtracks. Give special characters and places a theme song (make sure that your players haven't heard it before, or it loses most of the effect. Trust me. XD)

After I have written all of that, I feel that I should mention another option as well. It's possible that you do not actually want music. In fact, I prefer this method for most situations. You might consider just ambient sounds like crickets, the ocean, water dripping, a fire burning, wind... You get the picture. If you have a sound editing program like I do, you can make your own mixes out of these basic sounds. I once made a very nice piece I called "Campfire" consisting of crickets, fire, some rustling leaves, a couple of quiet conversations, and an instrument (for my NPC bard following the party at the time).

Anyway, there are plenty of sources for good music. In fact, video games and movies are going to be your bread and butter. I'm a bit of a gamer, I know quite a few video games. And their soundtracks. I'll try to leave some examples for ya if you want to look them up.
Definitely try Chrono Cross (Tower of Stars, Dragon God, many MANY more), Dragon Age (Tavern Brawl is awesome!), Morrowind(any), and Oblivion (any). I use them a lot.

Baten Kaitos has some pretty sweet boss music, but sometimes I think it's too modern to work for most campaigns. Same with Tales of Symphonia or Vesperia. It all depends on your style.

Fire Emblem and Final Fantasy are both chuck-full of awesome music too. Unfortunately very popular. As I said earlier, if your players have already played these series, do not use.

Just remember to get soundtracks for things your players haven't played/heard before. It totally ruins the mood if they know where it's from. I went out of my way to ask them what games they've played and vividly remember before I started buying the soundtracks or finding arrangements. Same deal with movies.

Anyway, I'll shut up now. XD

11-11-2010, 09:07 PM
This is, of course, assuming that you have all of the music on-hand in your computer. And that you can use your computer while gaming. If this is afk or over the internet... well.... This might not work so well.

11-18-2010, 08:55 AM
Hmmm, sounds like a good arguement for having a laptop.


Evil Nosferatu
11-18-2010, 08:04 PM

Your'e officially my favorite! I have tried to create such a thing in the past with the music I possess with little success, but you've gotten me to thinking. Thanks to grooveshark.com I'll likely be able to look up gaming soundtracks and have in the past, Chrono Cross and Chrono Trigger along with many others already. I'm even able to create my own playlists as you've suggested and will be able to couple it with my Dungeon Mastering programs along with as I'm running said game.

I don't know why I didn't think of this before. Thanks so much!


11-29-2010, 04:05 PM
One of my favorite composers has always been Bjorn Lynne, and his music lends perfectly to a tabletop campaign for 3 reasons.

1. He has several albums in a fantasy style. And several in a more futuristic style, meaning you can match your particular campaign with relative ease.
2. He's so unknown there's a 90% chance your group has never heard it.
3. All of his music is legally for free on his page (lynnemusic.com) so that you needn't worry at all about money.

I found that music absolutely has to be in the hands of the DM. If you let your players have a say it will quickly turn into a debate. Generally they'll want music from their favorite video games, and not understand when others who have not played the games don't quite feel it. The campaign really should be distinct from all that.

Using a laptop and labeling your songs ahead of time is a great way to do it.

One thing people haven't really mentioned: Silence is a powerful tool, but don't underestimate ambient music either. I can't state this enough.. Especially if your party is a bit unruly, the right music can set the mood without being distracting. Bjorn Lynne has an album named "Soothe" which does the job, though it would be best to look other places in most fantasy campaigns.

Does anybody use background noise in their RPGs? I've always wondered if it would work out, really.. For instance, the sounds of a crowd, or the pouring of rain... I can imagine it'd be quite effective, at least for a small time.

11-29-2010, 07:05 PM
I am trying RPGAtmosphere http://www.rpgatmosphere.com/ it has a 21 day free trial before purchase of $28.95
It takes some work to become familiar with functionality but I will most likely be buying a copy.

Kaltronas - "Its not what you are doing, Its how you look doing it!"

12-24-2010, 10:47 AM
Bjorn Lynne seems to have gone commercial. Can't blame him for wanting to be paid for his efforts though.

My collection of music bought at Renn fairs over the years has mad it to my game. I have music put into folders for in game use. Even have the mood music like rain and grassland breezes I bought for my wife when she was on bed rest and needed sleep but had a hard time sleeping. Enya and Mandy Moore are also good sources of current music as well as the sound tracks. Want to one day use theme songs for the bad guys, but no group has lasted long enough to get to the really bad guys. ;)

07-09-2013, 05:54 PM

these guys have a CD of music for D&D and its pretty good

10-07-2013, 10:49 PM
Have next to my computer is an old five CD player with a double cassette player. There are five CD's cued up, two tapes and about a dozen playlists convenient on my computer. Those CD's with rain, thunder, mountian streams, brooks, woodland sounds, misty moors, campfire sounds, are some of the best ambient sounds to come out of your speakers. Once I was running a game and in the game it had been raining. Because I keep the sounds quite low the players tend to not really pay attention to it. When the rain stopped the one of the players said, "Was that a frog?" That was about a month after we had been playing. They never really paid attention, but their subconscious was.

10-08-2013, 09:57 AM
Kaltronas - "Its not what you are doing, Its how you look doing it!"

Titan (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1706767/): This town isn't big enough for two supervillains!
Megamind (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0002071/): Oh, you're a villain all right, just not a SUPER one!
Titan (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1706767/): Oh yeah? What's the difference?
Megamind (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0002071/): Presentation!

yeah. ^^