It can be time consuming to find good quality background music for games, but the search can be well worth it. Playing the right music at the right moments can bring your Dungeons and Dragons experience to the next level by evoking drama, excitement, heroism, despair, sorrow and hope within your campaign as it unfolds.
If you have ever played computer RPGs, you will find the best games will make great use of music. One game that springs immediately to mind is Planescape: Torment. The music in the game does a great job of conveying the mood and atmosphere of the setting, making it seem and feel like a place like no other. Even games not related to D&D like Final Fantasy VII contain many memorable soundtracks that help set the game apart from many of it’s competitors, and these soundtracks continue to see use today.
There’s no reason why it can’t be the same for your tabletop roleplaying campaign. In fact, in addition to any visual aids you might use, music can be a great way of bringing your story to life. As well as music, sound effects can also add a bit of ambience to your setting. For example, if you’re caught in a blizzard, your DM could narrate the story with howling wind in the background as you are exploring.
Some albums, such as Wanderer by Adrian Von Ziegler, contain atmospheric sound samples along with the music. The first track of this album would be very suitable for use during a trek through the woods or forest in the morning, as you can clearly hear the sounds of birds singing in the background as the music is being played. The drawback is that this makes it hard to use the tune for anything other than treks through the woods in the morning!
Nevertheless, you can take a leaf out of Adrian’s book and combine both music and sound effects to very good effect. An epic, soaring battle theme can be made to suit the season or weather if you have thunder, wind or rain in the background. If you are involved in a large scale battle, the use of clashing sound effects in the background wouldn’t go amiss, either.
If you already use music and sound effects in your roleplaying campaigns and have one or two recommendations of your own, please feel free to get in touch and I will consider adding your favourite tracks on this website so it can be shared with others – provided permission is given for the general public to broadcast or embed the music (please see the copyright policy). Alternatively, you can simply share your own story on what music has done for your campaign. Simply use the comments box below.