View Full Version : How do you use music and sound effects in your games?

2008-08-31, 04:10 AM
Hello all,

I am starting my very first campaign on tuesday and is terribly nervous. =)

I have most of the story together and encounters and NPCs prepared. The one thing I am not sure of, is mood. How do I go about to set the mood for some serious roleplaying? :smallbiggrin:

I want some general background music, I have the more important encounters already planned out. And soundeffects. Some whind for when there walking through dead forests, tavern background noise, growls and monster sounds. Random creepy music for when theyre exploring abandoned temples and such.

Do you have any suggestions where I can find soundeffects? Any good songs or albums you use as a DM or have enjoyed as a player?

General newbie DM tips are also welcome. :smallbiggrin:

2008-08-31, 04:39 AM
To be honest, I never used sound effects in a game... To me they just turn out kitschy or end up just being funny and ruining some of the mood. If someone else has made 'em work, please enlighten me... But it's too much work for too little gain imo.

Music on the other hand is fantastic. I don't use it nearly often enough.

It's late and there were like 19 typos in those last two sentences that I've had to correct while typing this so before I pass out I'm just gonna relay this:



You'll be able to find all kinds of great mood music here. And it's all FREE!

Totally Guy
2008-08-31, 04:49 AM
There was a scene in last night's session. The BBEG was defeated politically. He might have started zapping in every direction but he was beaten and vengeance wasn't his thing. So the PC's that actually managed to save his life in one of those "Come with us before you're destroyed too!" "Never! Oh alright!".

So the PCs follow him and he decides not to go home he goes to the pub. Buys the PCs a drink. Then one of my players picks up the guitar and starts strumming. And well, as soon as I realised whet the tune was I started the BBEG singing about how he's been defeated. It was "Always look on the bright side of life". Unfortunately 1/2 of the group had just left the room when this spontaneous and surprisingly well rhyming song kicked off. It was the funniest thing in any of our sessions this year and half of them missed it.

2008-08-31, 05:18 AM

Yeah, I am afraid of that. But I think that if I use it very rarely and only on low volume it might have a better effect. Just like background music, only sound effects. Sounds like a great site, thanks for the tip. Gonna check it out as soon as I get home, (stupid work, blocking all fun sites).


That sounds like a lot of fun. =) No one in our group is very musically gifted so I dont think it would work. But congrats to you for pulling something so spontaneous and funny of. :smallwink:

2008-08-31, 10:29 AM
I tend to err on the side of no music at all; certainly pop or the radio will be distracting and ruin the atmosphere.

2008-08-31, 04:24 PM
I did music in my first game, but gave up on it after that point. My feeling was that the amount of atmosphere that the music added wasn't enough to make up for me getting distracted while setting up music. Sound effects would have been even worse.

What could work is if you set up the music ahead of time and just leave it alone during game. Like, put the on the Braveheart soundtrack on repeat and then forget its there.

Kurald Galain
2008-08-31, 04:38 PM
I've never actually used music in RPGs, although some DMs I know play background music (which tends to become very jarring at the wrong moment, which is why I don't use it myself).

One exception though: Paranoia. I've used Shiny Happy People as the Alpha Complex anthem, and Another One Bites The Dust whenever appropriate. This also tends to become jarring, but in this case that was well intended.

2008-08-31, 08:24 PM
I've rarely used music in my CoC sessions except to simulate certain events - like the pumping music of a rave and then cut over with a scream or the sound of blood spattering, using a secondary player, or an opera scene playing in the background while they are at an opera house. Wind sounds, jungle noises, etc, can be useful tools sometimes but I tend to use them sparingly to avoid the players building up a 'tolerance'.

2008-08-31, 08:45 PM
General newbie DM tips are also welcome. :smallbiggrin:
This guide (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=76474) is very good.

2008-09-02, 12:39 PM
Last Friday night's session, my crew was trekking through "The Vast Swamp" looking for a hermit druid-cleric. They kept seeing this weird, huge grey crane/stork/heron thing peeking at them from behind cypress trees and hearing strange noises at night. For the noise I played the call of a sandhill crane, which is pretty weird if you've never heard it. They put 2+2 together and figured the crane must be important, and followed it to the druid-cleric (it was his animal companion.)

Google the sandhill crane call, and put it in the context of a very long, exhausting and creepy swamp beset with eerie encounters (giant beanpod vines, huge alligator turtles with poisonous berry bushes growing from their backs, thousands of frogs fleeing an unknown terror, dozens of dead frogs impaled on sticks) and you might see why it unnerved the players when I played it without warning. Grrrrrrrrro! Grrrooooooooo!


2008-09-02, 01:03 PM
We mostly just have background music; it doesn't really matter what it is, as long as it's quiet. Usually, it's just somebody's music library set on shuffle at a low volume. Sometimes, though, we try to lighten the mood. After all, it's a game, it's supposed to be fun, and sometimes you need to laugh. And what's better than thematically appropriate music - say, Re: Your Brains during a zombie attack or Wanted Dead or Alive when you're running from the guards?

Then, of course, there's the Picard Song. Usually shows up when we're starting to lose concentration and it's about time to end the session anyway.

2008-09-02, 01:53 PM
I tried a little bit with music, and it wasnt worth it. You have to change the songs to suit and that pulls attention from the game. The only time it ever worked was when they returned victorious and I would pop the Medal Ceremony track on repeat while they got Medals and loot. :smallbiggrin: