Sunday, June 22, 2014

RPG: Music for Inspiration and Atmosphere

The question was posed on Talislanta FB page regarding how we use music in our gaming sessions.

I understood that this would be a post way to long for FB, so I am putting my reply here.

The questions presented:

1) a) how many of you use music when you run a game? and; b) if you do use music, do you mainly play it in the background, or do you use certain pieces/albums/artists for specific purposes or moments in a game?
2)what CDs/bands/composers do you listen to either while gaming, or for inspiration before gaming?

I have used music in the past at the gaming table. The second part of the question, and question #2 I want to elaborate on.

While running WEG Star Wars the main theme would be used to get the players on track, and while it was playing I would recap previous events, much like the beginning of the movie with the synopsis scroll.

Since 1993, the game I have run the most often was SLA Industries, a gritty sci-fi urban horror game.

For inspiration in SLA Industries I would use anything that brought to mind corruption, rain, city life, dreams of money and fame, etc. Some of the music I had on my driving CD at the time:

Faster Pussycat - Ship Rolls In, City has no Heart
Metallica - Master of Puppets, Disposable Heroes, Damage Inc
Duran Duran - Girls on Film, A View to a Kill, Skin Trade

And many others.

During the sessions I was able to play music for background it was important to match the music with the game.

Star Wars soundtrack while running Star Wars, a given.

While playtesting Midnight Realms for Talislanta, and a few Cannibal Sector missions for SLA Industries, I had the Black Angels CD from Kronos Quartet playing, just at the audible level. Some of the violin strikes were startling, and completely appropriately timed (players and GM alike jumped at one point, lol).

Music definitely brings a new dimension to the gaming table, even if low in the background.

The main problem I ever had with using music for specific scenes was having to stop the game to get the correct track playing, or you might be stuck running a dramatic, dark scene with something upbeat.

Not sure Alien would have had the same feel with the Indiana Jones Soundtrack, lol