Monday, December 5, 2011

Gaming Music

Back when I played Rules Cyclopedia D&D music didn’t play any part in my gaming experience. I tended to listen to whatever was on the radio, and didn’t have any sort of music collection of my own. My limited disposable income went to other things! Games and toys mostly.

During high school, when I played 2e, music started to be incorporated into my gaming, but not so much with D+D, but rather with Vampire and Werewolf. I got my first exposure to goth culture and the various types of music that included. While it was around, and helped to set the mood, I wasn’t the music guy, and didn’t really pay too much attention to which band was which. I made very sure that I didn’t end up in charge of any WoD games by not learning the rules beyond what I needed to run my character. It was all very RP heavy anyway, so I didn’t need to.

In college, with the release of 3rd edition, I started to pay more attention to music during my games. Midnight Syndicate released an official D+D soundtrack, as well as their other mood CDs, I acquired the Conan soundtrack, then the lord of the rings soundtracks, plus some anime OSTs. These all found frequent rotation during my gaming sessions.

In my 4e game I’ve expanded the selection to include some more diverse selections, but it’s still a lot of orchestrated and fairly bombastic pieces. I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to expand my gaming music horizons, at least a little...

I know that lots of grognards were enjoying a combination of punk and rock with their early D+D, and still do. While tempting, I try to avoid music with lyrics. Then again, maybe it’s worth trying? I did put on some Metallica during session 3 of Thunderspire, and it seemed to work out ok...

What do you listen to during game? Do you even play music? What should I add to my collection?


  1. I don't play any music at all, and never really did. At the moment, this is because one game is played in a pub so we have no control over such things, and the other is played on-line and music would be too distracting from the voice-chat, if it worked at all.

  2. I've been using the Conan soundtracks (Barbarian and Destroyer), plus Ravel's Bolero, the band Apocalyptica (Metallica done on strings), and Rimsky-Korsakoff. We've used the Fight Club soundtrack and 13th Warrior soundtrack, too.

    I can't find my CD of Prokofiev's Alexander Nevsky suite, but it's ideal - the Conan score draws influence from it.

    Generally I avoid lyrics for the same reason you do - distracting. They'll distract me even if the players don't mind. But I am looking to expand my music, too.

  3. I'm a big proponent of using music in my D&D games. I've used all sorts of stuff--doom metal, punk, goth, industrial, cabaret, ambient--but I am increasingly leaning toward using classical music played softly in the background.

    For the types of games I tend to run (Weird Gothic Fantasy D&D) there is a ton of evocative-yet-non-intrusive stuff that really sets the mood: Schubert's Death and the Maiden, Ravel's Le Giget, Saint-Saen's Danse Macabre, Bach's cello pieces, etc.

    I'll have a post about classical music on my blog sometime this week, in fact.

  4. I go through phases where I play music in the background of our sessions. I prefer less bombastic music and more background atmospheric so as not to distract too much from the table-play. My current playlist includes:

    Dark Shadows soundtrack 1 & 2
    Age of Conan (CD from the video game - great stuff)
    Conan the Barbarian (Basil Podorus)
    The Two Towers (select pieces)
    Necronomicon by Nox Arcana