View Full Version : DM Help Alternative RPG music

2016-05-08, 03:53 AM
Going to appeal to the hipsters of the community :smallbiggrin:

I've been running games and playing games which always have some music in the background. It was mostly celtic music from Adrian Von Zeigler or some other similar artist, or just OST from various RPG games (Elder Scrolls series, Witcher, Dark Souls for boss fights, etc.).

Now, I'm going to start a campaign on an archipelago continent, the first time a campaign is actually being held there and I'd like to try something different: I don't want the samey celtic music my players have already heard a thousand times, nor do I want the classical island caribbean music mixes you can google fairly easily.

I'm looking for something out of the box, something which can fit as background music, but something that will give a different vibe, while still being close enough to the epic fantasy genre... While I'm not sure such a thing exists, and I'm not even exactly sure what I'm looking for, I'd like the community to share some of the less known artists that they like and have possibly used in D&D with good results. Preferably pure instrumental.

2016-05-08, 06:07 AM
Pirates of the Carribean soundtrack?

Alestorm? (Scottish pirate folk metal)

a Hawaiian theme with songs by Israel "IZ" Kamakawiwoʻole

Dexter soundtrack has quite a lot of generic tracks that could fit many themes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c7RShWGNPts

2016-05-08, 08:18 AM
FF X soundtrack sounds like a good match!

2016-05-08, 10:08 AM
FFX soundtrack is a good suggestion.

What is it that sets this new location apart from previous one? It might help more in pointing you to music. ^_^

Star Wars soundtrack is always epic-sounding.
Jade Empire have very good music if you want a more "distant far east" feeling.
Soul Reaver fits well for a more dark and mysterious land.

2016-05-08, 07:42 PM
I would suggest Vindictus OST.
Good ambient and battle tunes there.



Oh, and don't forget Kevin MacLeod. That guy rocks!

2016-05-09, 07:49 AM
Tomb Raider Underworld and Uncharted 3 soundtracks could be nice too.
The musics are pretty shorts (1 minute 30 to 2 minutes 30), but work fine in loop.

I used some tracks of thoses games in a scenario taking place in Colombia and the party has to explore jungle, avoid narco-traffickers, enter lost temples and deal with a snake-woman guardian of relics. Not exactly the same as you, but it's close enough to work well for you too.

2016-05-09, 10:24 AM
My players always listen to Two Steps From Hell (TSFH). Lots of great epic music there. I suggest you start with their album Battlecry to get a feel for them.

2016-05-09, 10:53 AM
There's also the Gustav Holst's Planet Sequence - a set of melodies, perfect for a RPG soundtrack. It was also the inspiration for John Williams when composing star wars. Each melody is perfect for a fantasy setting in its own way. Mars is great for an epic battle, for example, while Venus is fantastic for travel sequences.


Kol Korran
2016-05-09, 12:46 PM
I've used a lot of music for my games. Check my signature, for the Wrath of the righteous log, the second post. It has "soundtracks " for the different modules we've played, covering many different themes. Might be worthwhile?

Two Steps from Hell's album called All Drums go to Hell might also suit you. Somewhat different than their usually stuff. I used it in a short pirating campaign, and it worked really well! Just look for the full album, as each individual track is extremely short.

2016-05-10, 03:08 PM
If you're not already familiar with their work, Midnight Syndicate has a wide array of albums for use in RPGs, covering everything from classic epic fantasy to horror to sci-fi.

2016-05-11, 04:04 AM
Immediate or Immediate music (the name changes depending on album I think), with albums like Trailerhead might work. Then we have the works of Two steps from Hell (mentioned before), Thomas Bergensen (like Illusions), Jo Blankenburg (Elysium) or Future World Music (A Hero Will Rise). I also seem to have a playlist with PhReyMusic (Age of the Fallen) that I haven't used much. If you want more mystery feel for some scenarios, try Arcana, and for tavern slacking there's Dead can Dance.

2016-05-13, 03:21 PM
There's also the Gustav Holst's Planet Sequence - a set of melodies, perfect for a RPG soundtrack.
Very true!
For along time I kept two "classical" cassettes in my car. Holst's"The Planets", and Carl Orrf's "Carmina Burana":


The opening (and closing track) of Carmina Burana have perhaps been overused in movies and commercial's (still stirring though), but the totality still imparts a "medieval" and "mystical" vibe.

2016-05-13, 03:31 PM
FTL: Faster than Light soundtrack. Despite being synth-based music for a sci fi game, it's relatively minimal, atmospheric, and doesn't get in the way.

Or something by Joe Satriani. Instrumental electric guitar that's practically tailor-made for game soundtracks--although it might not be a good fit here if you're looking for "epic," as on average it'd be better suited to a smaller scope with a more personal action-y feel.

2016-05-13, 03:33 PM
I usually use the album Matangi, by M.I.A. A lot of van halen and aerosmith works for battle music. Oblivion by grimes is my go to mysterious ancient location music

2016-05-14, 12:01 AM
I second Pirates of the Caribbean and Two Steps from Hell, particularly the Battlecry album for combat music. The LotR soundtrack also works well, but it's more of a niche thing (like the elf pieces for majesty, and things like that).

2016-05-14, 01:11 AM
I want to give you a little help in terms of things that you could search for on youtube or google. For me, if you talk about something "Epic", you're talking about movie or game scoring. You can cheat a little bit by taking bits from things that are in a related setting. If you could find an instrumental version of the Pirates of Darkwater theme, you'd be in the right ballpark - possibly some background music from the show. I've never actually played Zelda: Windwaker, or listened to music from it, but the setting seems rather similar. There might be some worthwhile fodder there. There's a whole list of songs that made it into Assassin's Creed: Black Flag, though some of those definitely sound like they have Celtic roots - they are sea shanties, so it might still fit your setting. You might look into the background music from the movie "Master and Commander." Games like "Port Royale" and "Sid Meier's Pirates" or even video game versions of "Pirates of the Caribbean" might be acceptable. Empire and Napoleon: Total War music are all in this vein.

The age of sail in our timeline is a little bit later than the Medieval period that we see in a lot of Fantasy RPG games, but it still owes something of an homage to earlier periods. As such, music from Machaut, Du Fay, Hildegard of Bingen. Gregorian Chant would not be too far out of place in this period, but that'll really depend on whether your setting includes stuff that is supposed to look and sound churchy.

As far as things that are a little closer to the Age of sail, you're looking at fugues and concertos from Bach, basically anything instrumental by Mozart... Handel doesn't do a lot of stuff that I recall that is just instrumental, but I'm sure that you can find something. Beethoven is a bit late in the period, but you might still get by with some of his material. Flamenco guitar might be appropriate, but then also classical and baroque guitar.

There are some options that you could consider from earlier periods. The Renaissance period basically revisited a lot of the art and philosophy of the ancient world, and when you talk about ancient Europe you're talking about Ancient Rome and Greece. There's not a lot of music that survives from this period, but you can fake it a little bit. Games set in ancient Greece and Rome abound with music that use things like drum, shawm, and lyre. Rome Total War, any of the Caesar games have music that's suitable. Movies set in these periods also have something to offer.

Finally, if you're portraying a place that isn't necessarily Eurocentric, you might consider music that features a zither, a sitar, a sarangi, or an erhu. The last two are sort of ethereal instruments that actually sound to me a lot like a human voice.

I certainly hope this helps.