Music in your game

edited May 2010 in General Discussion
Hey all, I was just curious if anyone uses music for their games, and if so, if they had any suggestions for music to use. I'm working on putting together my own playlists for the game, but if there are any particular songs that you think are awesome fir a battle, a temple, a town, or whatever, I'd love to hear your thoughts.


  • gnunn
    Posts: 423
    I recommend picking up anything by Apocalyptica. Nothing beats metal covered by four people on cellos for battle scenes.

    The Donnie Darko Soundtrack is good for exploring caves.
    I use the LOTR soundtracks as sort of standbys if I can't think of anything better.

    The biggest sticky points I find about using music in game are that:
    # if your playlist is not long enough, your players might complain about it repeating.
    # battle music can heighten the mood at the start of a fight, but can make your players feel exhausted more quickly if the fight gets long. While exhausted characters may be realistic, exhausted players slow down their turns and get distracted more easily.
    # Finding an appropriate volume level can be tough.

    I've found music works best to underscore narration, rather than during combat... or perhaps to punctuate a certain moment. (e.g. two sessions ago, my players fought a kobold mariachi band... I started the scene with the first track from the Mask of Zorro soundtrack, which was good to set the mood, and get a bit of a laugh. But then I let it fade so we could focus on fighting.
  • Idabrius
    Posts: 51
    I also use a ton of music; I would suggest some of the following:

    Soundtracks from the Conan movies, the soundtracks from Lord of the Rings Online, all the music from the Baldur's Gate series by Michael Hoenig, Ars Arcana's Savage Tongue, the soundtrack from Gladiator, the television show Rome, and the Myth games.
  • gaaran
    Posts: 740
    Thank you guys, I've downloaded most of the stuff you've suggested, and will be incorporating it into my games. Gnunn, I agree that the idea of repeating will be a problem, but I've found a found a good half hour of battle music that should only repeat once at the most, so that shouldn't be a problem. That sounds good, but i think I have like 50-60 tracks for music so for my first session of the campaign, it should be more than enough. but any more suggestions that you have will be more than welcome, and i appreciate the input.
  • JimTriche
    Posts: 483
    On Idabrius' Myth suggestion: Marty O'Donnell's Myth/Soulblighter/Riven and even Halo stuff is great soundtrack-ing for gaming. The man is a musical genius as far as emotional transfer. It does tend to work best for fantasy though.

    Other fantasy music I can recommend is stuff like Thistle and Shamrock, Some Enigma, Deep Forest, Enya, etc.

    For cyberpunk themes, Carpenter scores, (Especially Escape From LA/NY soundtracks) Cannibal Whore Feast, emo stuff actually works, anything techno/dance and acid.

    Steampunk themes need jazz fusion, and mellowed industrial beats, especially with a Victorian bent. Throbbing Gristle, a couple Kraftwerk songs, Tobacco, KMFDM, etc.
  • munkybut
    Posts: 16
    Depends on what kind of a game you're running. We typically do the horror-esque games, and I have found that the Silent Hill soundtracks are worth their weight in gold. Currently, I'm running a "CoC campaign": and for that I have been using the BigBand station on my Directv. I have found that anything pop-culture promotes too much discussion and off-topic stories being told. Pretty much anything Instrumentals work very well, and is safe from too much discussion.

    All of your guys' ideas are really good too. I think I'll be looking into those for other games (Especially the Apocalyptica idea).
  • sandman
    Posts: 155 edited May 2010
    I use music in my games, and what grunn said is true: "Finding an appropriate volume level can be tough."

    It's pretty obvious, but try to avoid using music with lyrics, it will distract everyone. Instead, focus on background music you've heard in movies, games, etc.

    *From movies/TV:*

    * Braveheart
    * Conan
    * DOOM
    * Interview with the Vampire
    * Lord of the Rings
    * Pirates Of The Caribbean
    * The Last of the Mohicans
    * The Tudors

    *From videogames:*

    * Diablo
    * Dragon Age
    * Baldur's Gate
    * Icewind Dale
    * Heroes of Might and Magic V
    * Neverwinter Nights
    * Vampire: The Masquerade
    * Vampire: Bloodlines
    * Willow

    *From music groups (these are purely instrumental):*

    * Dronolan's Tower
    * Minight Syndicate
    * Nox Arcana

    As a side note, in case you are playing a _Vampire_ game, you should try to get this:

    * "Music from the Succubus Club":

    Hope that helps.
    Post edited by sandman on
  • jemmasmum
    Posts: 33
    My old DM uses alot of celtic music for battle etc, we thought it was great because when we are in a peacful scene he goes to a clam song and when there is tension he goes to music that shows it, the only difficulty is when we are in a scene with lots of discussion or if players are talking at which point we need to turn the volume down lol
  • Morrinn
    Posts: 166
    I'll be composing a massive playlist for an upcoming NWOD game I'm running. I'm thinking of "Interview with the vampire OST", Diablo 1-2, some select songs from the silent hill games.
    I'll be keeping an eye on this thread for other ideas :)
  • gaaran
    Posts: 740
    that sounds awesome Morrinn. When you get that playlist done, I would love to take a look at it!

    Some bands/artists that haven't been mentioned:

    Michiru Oshima (the ICO soundtrack)
    Yasunori Mitsuda (Chrono Cross)
    David Nevue
    Immediate Music (stock music for different genres)
  • templeorder
    Posts: 18
    Yes, i use music for epic scenes. Its such a vast selection i draw on its not worth listing.. but recent ones included Will, Epica, BLind Guardian, The Chieftans, Carl Orf (Carmina Burana - of course), Basil Poledorus (The Anvil of Crom - an old stand by but not used in years)...

    I also have a music quiz before i start my games - each one worth an action point... usually three songs and i vary - it may be guess the band, album, singer, player, etc.
  • gaaran
    Posts: 740 edited May 2010
    I'm also curious at what points in your games do you use music? Do you have something playing quietly in the background during every part of the game? Do you only play things at specific times (epic battle, fanfare for a king, the lich's lair, etc.)? Thanks to everyone so far for their insights, it's already been very helpful.

    EDIT: Also, gnunn, I might have to borrow that idea of a kobold mariachi band, cause that's fantastic!
    Post edited by gaaran on
  • gnunn
    Posts: 423
    Yeah, I really liked the idea... unfortunately, my players took them all out in about two rounds. It played out "kind of like this.":!v=Ui337e5D50E A fireball followed by a ranger with manyshot will do that.
  • jrdinapoli
    Posts: 1
    All of the suggestions for music are great. The soundtrack from the Age of Conan video game had some kick-ass songs.

    I've had mixed success using music, but I'm still trying!

    For basic background music, such as town or exploration - any of the above music posted is great. This week however I'm going to try using Pandora online radio and see if it can work with my sessions.

    I've also had some luck with using music as queues, especially with getting my party to know when I'm interested in seeing a few skill checks. I just picked a single song and let them know if they heard it come up it probably meant there's a possible skill challenge to be found.

    You can expand on the idea above to create 'theme' songs for particular events or organizations. Part of using music is to evoke a response; with a small bit of time and an audio file editor you could take a single song and make several clipped versions to use every time that event or person shows up. Maybe the Jaws theme gets chopped into several smaller .wav files which match how your party is handling a trap or skill challenge. Or Carmine Burana is your epic boss song, so you use a few mid-song clips every now and then when the villain's cronies arrive, then the full version for big boss man.

    I agree with Gnunn regarding music and combat, and that Mariachi encounter sounds awesome!
  • Arronax
    Posts: 3
    I tend to not like soundtracks in the background as they typically never fit the setting.
    We just use spotify (it's an internet radio thingy) and all my pc's are signed up to one playlist on it, which we just bundle any old song we like onto the list.
    Granted Prince or Lady Gaga never really fit any setting but since background music never fit it in the first place we were not bothered.

    If all else fails we just stick soft rock on like Toto-Africa or some Fleetwood mac.
  • FrankSirmarco
    Posts: 250
    I've used Midnight Syndicate's, _13th Hour_ (find it "here": for my Cthulhu campaign and find it works nicely, particularly because it's instrumental. They've also done a bunch of D&D soundtracks as well.

    I've tried to sync up certain music for certain moments in the game, but find that I lose focus as a GM if I'm thinking about a music cue too much. I've also found that too much singing is distracting.

    But I think music can be very effective if it's not too loud or jarring.
  • gaaran
    Posts: 740
    In an effort to be prepared for shifting moods, and to not have to think too hard about the music, so as not to distract me from more important things, I've come up with 16 different playlists (some of which will be specific for my game). They are as follows:

    Epic Battle
    Evil Lairs
    Temples/Holy Ground
    The Far Realms
    Theme Songs (Each PC has one, along with a couple of recurring NPCs)
    Specific Events (I put songs that I want to use for specific cues in here)

    Are there any sort of events that might come up that I've forgotten about? I'm up to 150 songs total, and adding more all the time (when I come across them), so for any particular scene, the music won't repeat much. Thanks for all the great suggestions here, they've been pretty helpful, and I'm using a lot of them.
  • BrokenClock
    Posts: 51
    Music for battle is always a good idea as battle can be a little boring sometimes.
  • sandman
    Posts: 155
    Nicely done Garaan, you could add another playlist for "Sound FX" if you want, for things like:
    * An evil laugh
    * A "level-up" sound
    * Something funny for critical fumbles
    * Something cool for critical successes
  • gaaran
    Posts: 740
    not a bad idea sandman, and i might keep that in mind for certain events, but what I've aimed for with these playlists is to have at least 8-10 songs (more in many cases) that play on a random loop so that it will all fit the scene, won't have too much repeat, and I don't have to think about the music, allowing me to focus on the more important aspects of DMing.
  • FemmeLegion
    Posts: 521
    I've only played with one GM who used music in his campaign. It's a Werewolf campaign set in an alternate modern-day Dallas (you know it's alternate because the Trinity River is pure and pristine). Since he chose to set it back in the mid 1990s, he put together a playlist of music he was listening to at the time. He keeps it on low and it helps to set the mood (jogging our own memories of those years).

    That, and he *always* kicked it off with "Bad Moon Rising" because, well, that's funny. It also became a sort of Pavlovian signal that we needed to transition from eating and socializing into the game itself.
  • FemmeLegion
    Posts: 521
    I was thinking more on this, and I think a soundboard would be an epic solution. Small snippets of song, just enough to set the mood, and possibly a little easier to navigate quickly. Though I suppose thoughtful naming of snippets would allow it to also work well with an actual music player...
  • derrii
    Posts: 3
    I think you should add some kool retro music or pop somethin that will be really awesome.
  • Hardhead
    Posts: 65
    I've been checking out Apocalyptica. Good stuff. I think I may try that at my next game.
  • ketherian
    Posts: 203
    I suggest you get anything you can from the company TwoStepsFromHell. Their music is mostly instrumental, and very mood-specific.
    I use a fair amount of music in my campaign, mostly as background. I like a lot of medieval music (Medieval Babes, Cadfael soundtrack, Benedictian Monks Chant, ...) and use it fairly regularly.

    I've only played in one other gaming group that used music. He was far more organized with his music. While I use music as a fire-and-forget mechanism; he preferred to find music to best match the scene type we were in. I really enjoyed it.
  • Ydeon
    Posts: 17
    FemmeLegion mentioned it first, a soundboard works wonders...although I have only used it once. The software I used is the free SceneSound ( ).

    It allows you to introduce music or background noise AND individual clips. You can use these clips manually (like when you really need that thunder at that precise moment) or tell the software to randomize the clips and their frequency. The webpage itself has a lot of clips and soundtracks, but you can use anything you can get your hands on.

    Sadly it only works under Windows...I need to fix that silly laptop.
  • gaaran
    Posts: 740
    Thanks for reminding me Ydeon, I checked out that soundboard, and it looks pretty fantastic.

    And thanks to Ketherian for some more mood music ideas, I can never have enough, as I like to be able to just pick a situational playlist and let it run.
  • Ydeon
    Posts: 17

    Ah! Found another one (ignoring those that seem dead projects or pay products) RPG Deck ( ) allows you to have several lists of music/sounds and a separate list of spot sounds, but no control over repetition or the nice features of SceneSound, on the other hand it runs on Linux, Mac and Windows.

    Does anyone know of a web page dedicated to game music? Of course most of what we use is movie/game soundtracks that can't be shared, but even just lists of recommended music and personal lists would be a huge asset, specially when you don't have time to compile music or dozens of sounds.
  • erwin
    Posts: 58
    I've been sitting on the idea of using "The Carnival of the Animals - The Aquarium": for such a long time.

    If I could just get my party to go into that one fanciful crystalline cave..
  • Thewizard63
    Posts: 1
    I've been looking for a Scene setting that also allows for effects and other sounds, "Scene Sound" looks like a perfect fit. Thanks to you all
  • sandman
    Posts: 155
    bq). I've been looking for a Scene setting that also allows for effects and other sounds, "Scene Sound" looks like a perfect fit. Thanks to you all

    Ditto. Thx!
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