How-To DM: Music Soothes Even the Savage Player

Dear Readers, as I write this post, I’m listening to the “My Mix” on YouTube, of which California Dreamin’ by the Moma’s & The Papas. Oldie but goody. And looking further down my list (California dreamin’ on such a winters day…), and I have a’ha’s Take On Me, Alexander Jean’s Highs and Lows, and the list goes on and on (I have a rather…broad range of music I like, from multiple generations). And it got me thinking: music can be a really good addition to a tabletop game!

Take for example, that story I told awhile back. You know the one. The one about Waterdeep: Dragon Heist, the one with the table full of middle school kids that I accidentally traumatized. Well, if you remember, I had set up that whole game session, revolving around the fight with the wererats that stopped the party in the streets. If you haven’t read the story, go back and read it, it’s pretty funny.

Anyhow, how did I build tension into the session? How did I eventually get those kids’ emotions so high? Through my use of music! I used O Fortuna. As you may have guessed, when the penultimate event occured, I timed it to the big crescendo that happens about a third of the way through the song (for those of you interested, the crescendo happens at 1:37 in the video in the above link; Sor salutis, Et virtutis, Michi nunc contraria!). Oh, Dear Readers, every time I think about it, I smile. It was peak DMing, as the kids say these days.

Back in the day, I owned a CD (yeah, I’m that old) that was the “Official Roleplaying Soundtrack” by Midnight Syndicate. It has a wonderful assortment of tracks. And its a good one! The first track is called “Prelude” which is a great start, maybe to the beginning narrative to a new campaign, or even background music to do a session recap from last session. Track two is called “Troubled Times” and has some more dark overtones. My favorite? The travel track, called “Ride To Destiny.” Other songs are titles like “The Fens of Sargath” (wherever that is), “Descent Into the Depths”, and “Stealth and Cunning.” My favorite BBEG song is called “Final Confrontation.” In all, I believe there is 24 tracks (the last of which is a bonus track where you hear dice rolling, someone say “Oh, no…”, and then some crazy sounds; it’s pretty funny) to this particular music list.

With some of these, though, your players start getting used to. My players used to be able to tell what was happening by the track they heard. So if I wasn’t paying attention and didn’t have the track on a loop and the BBEG song came on, everyone panicked!

That all said, while it can be a huge bonus to game sessions, you have to make sure that it doesn’t become a huge distraction. If it’s too loud, or too much…muchness for the scene you are playing through, it won’t be the ambiance you want it to be.

Well, that’s all I have for today, Dear Readers. What are your favorite gaming soundtracks? Let me know in the comments section below.

Until next time, Dear Readers…

Published by The Daily DM

I'm just a DM telling the stories of my tables.

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