Game Music


Should be playing D&D instead
OK guys. I have an idea for a thread that will be difficult/impossible to degenerate into edition-war horseshit.

I like to play music during the game. I listen to black metal, ambient music and a lot of soundtracks.
I have found that anything too recognizable is usually a bad move - unless you are trying to trade specifically on the imagery and everyone's collective memories of that thing. I listen to a lot more music than my players do, so it's usually not too hard to stay ahead of them, but film soundtracks can be tricky sometimes. Also, I haven't been doing this too much LATELY since I don't run games in my living room right now, for obvious reasons...

Here are a few examples.

Conan the Barbarian -
If "Anvil of Crom" doesn't make you want to roll dice, check your fuckin' pulse pal. I don't play it during the game, but usually blast it while I'm getting my books, laying out character sheets, pouring drinks, etc. It's a bit too bombastic to actually have going during conversation.

Silent Hill 2 -
I love this game and fewer people remember it than you might think these days. I used to play this for spooky dungeon music until one of my players said "I can't play D&D while listening to rap!" I will have to go through it and cut out the trip-hop pieces, leaving just the ambient & industrial tracks. The first game would be better for that.

Silence of the Lambs -
Great stuff but the melodies aren't so distinctive that people pick it out right away. Howard Shore is a genius. Skip "goodbye horses" or you'll give the game away instantly. His other soundtracks for movies like "Crash" or "Se7en" are great, but the latter might be too noticeable.

Dark Ambient. Pretty much everything that Cryo Chamber puts out is amazing. Just check their bandcamp:
Atrium Carceri especially will work for you, and the big lovecraftian compilation albums.
This site has come in handy once in a while for things like 'rainforest background' or whatever. I use it sparingly though because it can be a pain to fiddle-fuck with at the table.

So what do you guys use? Let's have it.


8, 8, I forget what is for
My group experimented with music and sound effects a long time ago, but has pretty much given it up as distracting or (in the case of sound effects) fiddly and not worth the effort. Although I do remember a pretty good moment when the party was being chased by hounds and I triggered an effect of wolves howling (from a Solitudes album), and the players didn't realize that it was a soundtrack and were creeped out by the coincidence.

I agree, the music from Conan always makes me want to play. As does the soundtrack to Excalibur, especially O Fortuna from Carmina Burana.

Two orcs

Officially better than you, according to PoN
Face to face I find music distracting, running online I find it easier to handle and each player can control their own volume setting. I try to find music from a single source so that there is a consistent sound, and use specific playlists for specific locations or situations.

Something I've learned is to start each session, online and face to face, with a Campaign intro theme. It signals the start of the game and gets players in the mood.

A recent addition, at first tongue in cheek but now done in earnest is combat victory music, literally the Final Fantasy victory theme. I use it for other obvious triumphs as well and now the players crave it, prodding me if I forget. It's also funny to use it for pathetically small victories, like knocking out a single normal man and convincing a merchant to sell you a rare piece of kit.

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My my my, we just loooove to hear ourselves don't we?
Power and cinematic metal are very narrative and work quite well. Had to give it up when we all started playing remotely; background music creates all sorts of echo and feedback on Roll20 and Discord :(



Should be playing D&D instead
Since music is used for ambiance and yet is often distracting, I just go straight to ambiance instead, usually by way of audio mixer ( has done a passable job for me thus far).