Opinions on tabletop game soundtracks?

edited January 2014 in General Discussion
Hey, everyone. It's been a long while. My life took a chaotic turn but now I'm back, with a considerable amount of free time. I have a few cool campaign ideas that I wanna take a while to sit down, flesh out and write before I run for some friends. Here's one of my questions, though...

How valuable do you find playing situation-appropriate (combat, town, ambient, etc) music while running (or playing) a D&D/Pathfinder/etc game? I've always liked it, but I'm never really sure whether or not other people have the same affinity for music as myself. Do you think it really helps set the mood? I'm an electronic music producer and I was considering producing a custom soundtrack for my own game. Do you guys think it would be worth the time and effort?



  • madartiste
    Posts: 328
    I *love* using music! Background tracks are wonderful for setting the mood, and I feel like it helps keep the players engaged. I find they seem less likely to get distracted, actually. A game I play in actually uses character themes even. Each PC picked out their own theme song, and the DM chose ones for the villains too. It's surprisingly cool to hear your character's theme come up during a dramatic moment -- and just as dramatically terrible when the bad guy's music starts playing when the battle swings the other way. For the right group, I think it can make a huge difference.
  • Pils
    Posts: 149
    Music is life for me, and I can't play without it! As stated by Madartist, it's a formidable tool for the mood of your game!
    Of course some players are more receptive than others, but the only negative reaction would be because of a too high volume.

    You can already try in your game with existing songs and soundtracks before producing your own. In my opinion, you should produce some tracks if you have time and will, but the gigantic internet database allows a tremendous diversity (For example, I use symphonic metal, diaphonic bulgarian chant... etc.).

    And don't forget it's your game!

    "Dark Sun / La Décade des Héros":https://dark-sun-a-trova.obsidianportal.com/: Face the Fire of the Dark Sun... a World ravaged by Sorcery!
    "Al-Qadim / Golden Voyages":https://aq-golden-voyages.obsidianportal.com/: Who among you dares to challenge the high seas?


    Dark Sun ● La Décade des Héros : Face the Fire of the Dark Sun... a World ravaged by Sorcery! (CotM - Dec 2012)

    Les Royaumes Oubliés : A D&D 5e old school style Forgotten Realms campaign!

    (And I'm so soooorry for my poor english...)

  • Maesenko
    Posts: 325 edited January 2014
    If you are willing to put in the effort, more power to you. I've been wanting to, but I know that I have enough to worry about without adding music in.
    I definitely at least recommend that players should find character themes, they can really help get into the persona of a character after giving a listen.

    All the same, I would recommend at least giving a look to "Gaming Music":https://gaming-music.obsidianportal.com/.
    They haven't updated in a few months and their site needs to update to post-Reforge, but it's a great tool to use.

    "Whispers in Tamris":https://whispers-in-tamris.obsidianportal.com/
    Post edited by Maesenko on


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  • Keryth987
    Posts: 1,047
    My group tried music in the background while we were gaming and it became more of a distraction, actually.

    So, no, don;t use it much

    Keelah Se'lai,
    "Shadows Over New York":http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaigns/shadows-over-new-york
    "Campaign of the Month - July 2013":http://blog.obsidianportal.com/shadows-over-new-york-julys-campaign-of-the-month/

  • bluesguy
    Posts: 127
    Also look at "Ambient Mixer":http://www.ambient-mixer.com/

    A really useful website so you can create specific 'sound tracks/moods with sound'. I have used to it to liven up the night watch while the party travels :-)
  • Viehmagnat
    Posts: 24
    I usually have a Pandora channel running in the background, based on Midnight Syndicate. It is just loud enough to tell it is there when no one is talking. Although it is a mix of moods, it seems like whenever someone really "notices" the music is playing, it fits the scenario they are currently in. Otherwise, when it doesn't fit the situation, everyone tunes it out without thought. Go brain! As a result, it takes no time or effort and I find it works very well. When I don't use that channel, I just click play on the LoTR and Hobbit soundtracks. That is good for a session easy :)
  • Meagoinc
    Posts: 26
    My DMs in England use background music all the time-- just YouTube compilations for dungeon music, tavern music, battle music-- and I'm surprised at how effective it is for setting the scene and getting us in character. It feels like the stakes are higher when certain music comes on, and my DMs always have a few tabs open and ready to go depending on the scene! Occasionally you'll get a background song you recognize (from a familiar videogame, or a real-life tavern song, or a movie), but it's almost more pleasant to have things that are both lyricless and unfamiliar playing; makes it more like background orchestration for your own movie instead of reminding you of someone else's.

    Good luck and happy listening! :D (/ I'm late to the discussion-- how'd it turn out??)
  • Meagoinc
    Posts: 26
    ...Also, shame on me for commenting before listening to everything: ZOMG @bluesguy, ambient mixer is amazing! I am recommending this to Thorvaldr and my other DMs, stat!
  • twiggyleaf
    Posts: 2,014 edited February 2014
    We mainly play without music but I have played with music as well. There are a number of factors that affect how well it operates:
    size of group, size and ambience of room, type of game, type of music, choice of music, volume of music, suitability to mood.

    It works well if there is a sort of fantasy generic soundtrack in the background or something specially created or chosen for the occasion, but watch out for people starting to plug their favourite bands: that is a one way road to disaster!

    CURRENT CAMPAIGN: "Mysteria":http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaigns/mysteria - set in Wolfgang Baur’s MIDGARD.
    Previous CotM Aug 2012: "Shimring":http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaigns/shimring
    Post edited by twiggyleaf on

    "I met a traveller from an antique land....."

    CotM May 2016: Mysteria: set in Wolfgang Baur’s MIDGARD.

    Previous CotM Aug 2012: Shimring: High Level Multiplanar Campaign

    Inner Council Member

  • Bookscorpion
    Posts: 58
    "Incompetech":http://incompetech.com/music/ has a ton of music to create just the right mood and it's all free to download.

    Shadowrun: The Rat's Nest - COTM  November 2014

  • Keryth987
    Posts: 1,047
    My campaigns have been musicless since the one which started my campaign group ended. We tried soundtracks and such in the background at one point in that 3 year long campaign, and stopped doing so becausde the music began to take away from the game and the players focus. And my group has enough trouble with tangents for things outside of the campaign interupting as it is

    Keelah Se'lai,
    "Shadows Over New York":http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaigns/shadows-over-new-york
    "2013 Campaign of The Year":http://blog.obsidianportal.com/2013-coty-shadows-over-new-york/
    "Campaign of the Month July 2013":http://blog.obsidianportal.com/shadows-over-new-york-julys-campaign-of-the-month/

  • Basileus
    Posts: 585 edited February 2014
    I like the addition of music to set the tone for a campaign.

    However, the key for me to keep it from being distracting is low volume and no lyrics. The human voice tends to draw focus (our brains are built that way) and even more so language does, so no understandable lyrics and preferably minimal vocals at all works best.

    Movie soundtracks (and sometimes games) work great for this sort of thing, as they are already designed to be atmospheric and blend into a narrative. Just find soundtracks from two or three movies that are similar to the theme of the campaign, and throw them in a playlist on shuffle at low volume.
    Post edited by Basileus on
  • WolfLord
    Posts: 278
    Yeah ditto here Basileus. Actually i was wondering if any of you guys had code that makes a youtube video auto-play? I had some but it recently stopped working, and i like certain pages to play music automatically (that's where this ties in). Also i want you all to know i just spent a solid hour looking for good gaming music because of this post. I would agree it is all about low volume and very very little to no lyrics whatsoever. For my Greek campaign i get to use some awesome soundtracks like the ones for Troy, 300, and Gladiator.

    "Age of Heroes":https://heroes-of-hellas.obsidianportal.com/
    "Avatar: Conquest of the Imperial Order":https://avatar_adventures.obsidianportal.com/
    "COTM November 2011":http://blog.obsidianportal.com/november-11-campaign-of-the-month-avatar-conquest-of-the-imperial-order/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=november-11-campaign-of-the-month-avatar-conquest-of-the-imperial-order
  • GamingMegaverse
    Posts: 3,001
    Don't forget, there is a great resource here on the Portal- Darkmagus awesome "Gaming Music":https://gaming-music.obsidianportal.com/
    It still has not had any post-Reforge work, but still lists 100s of music choices!
    "A God...Rebuilt":https://a-god-rebuilt.obsidianportal.com
    "OP's COTM April 2012":http://blog.obsidianportal.com/a-god-rebuilt-aprils-cotm/

    Just trying to help out.

  • Thorvaldr
    Posts: 141
    @bluesguy: Meagoinc pointed me over here, and that ambient mixer is BRILLIANT! I found some simple storm one once... but this has so many more options! My favorite so far is probably "Owly Night":http://environment-other.ambient-mixer.com/an-owly-night, possibly because of this edit:

    Edited for more owly content on September 14th, 2011

    DM of "Tyellador":https://tyellador.obsidianportal.com/
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