Game session music thoughts ...

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Myself and at least one of the other players in my group have begun talking about playing background music during the game. I found the Midnight Syndicate CD at a music store in town, and was thinking of ripping music from the Diablo games as well. Skyrim music also came to mind.

Is this something that others do? Or does it ruin the enviroment of the game? Too distracting?
For a while I did this while DMing and it is fantastic for setting the mood, but I have found that its best used as battle background or specific BBEG music. That can really help set his tone almost like Separoth's theme in Kingdom Hearts makes you realise how bad ass he is if you never played FFVII
I have a couple of Pandora channels we play in the background... A Lord of the Rings channel and a Celtic channel.  The latter really seems to really have the best over-all feel.
It seems to me that the most important thing would be to avoid lyrical music in favor of instrumental.*

Beyond that, it seems like anything could be used from classical symphonies to movie soundtracks, so long as it's not loud enough to be distracting. Possibly

Bach's "Sleeper's Wake" for general background

Charlie Clouser's "Hello Zepp" (SAW theme) for battles

David Arnold + Michael Price's "The Game is On" (BBC's Sherlock) for working on puzzles

Handel's "Fireworks 1 - Ouverture," "Fireworks 4 - La Rejouissance", or Bach's "Brandenburg Concerto 2 - Allegro Assai" as guests to royal court.

*Unless it's in a language that nobody at the table speaks fluently, then their brain would have an easier time processing it as just anouther instrument making noise as opposed to a person making distracting words.

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For my money, you can't beat a crooner like Neil Diamond to add that extra special touch to combat encounters.

There is nothing quite so disturbing as dashing the brains of a shambling zombie across the gore-soaked walls of a dungeon to the tune of Sweet Caroline.

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For my money, you can't beat a crooner like Neil Diamond to add that extra special touch to combat encounters.

There is nothing quite so disturbing as dashing the brains of a shambling zombie across the gore-soaked walls of a dungeon to the tune of Sweet Caroline.

Made me smile.  Thank you.

On topic, in my experience, regardless of what music is playing, it tends to be a distraction.



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I don''t play music durring any part of my games.  I find it's too distracting, even if on a low volume setting.  Sound bites on the other hand, if I happen to have anything near me that I can use, I'll include maybe once.  We've used a Godzilla roar for the sound of a Taurasque and the wolf howl from "The Grey" one night, to even "Lammoth" from Blind Guardian for the sound of an attacking dragon.  These don't usually come across well if the volume isn't high enough, but sometimes they work.

^Lammoth, for those who want to hear it. 
Just try using music one session. Having a thread about music in games isn't going to help you know what it is like. That's like learning to swim or ride a bike on the internet. But if we are getting into opinions then no I don't like music to be played it breaks immersion at times. I like ambients and nature sounds though.

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For my money, you can't beat a crooner like Neil Diamond to add that extra special touch to combat encounters.

There is nothing quite so disturbing as dashing the brains of a shambling zombie across the gore-soaked walls of a dungeon to the tune of Sweet Caroline.

I think John Denver's "Sunshine on My Shoulders" has a similar effect.

Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy.....Power Attack!
Sunshine on my shoulders makes meeeeee hiiiiiiigh......Cleave!

I find background music terribly distracting when I'm playing, but I often grab my acoustic guitar and practice riffs and scales and such whenever the players are plotting their next course of action... and occasionally as they enter a tavern I'll strum a chord or two to set the mood for what kind of establishment they're in.

I once used the Pirates of the Carribean soundtrack CD for a pirate campaign, and a halloween sound effects tape for a haunted house adventure... improvising everything based on what sound was playing. For the most part, it's an occasional gimmick I throw in to liven things up, but I don't like having to talk over music when I DM. As a player I don't like when the players are confused about what's going on because they didn't hear the DM over the music.

As far as sound goes, though... I often grab whatever is handy to make sound effects... scratching my nails on the bottom of the coffee table, tapping a spoon on the edge of the coffee cup, dropping dice on the floor, reaching my hand into a box where I keep my loose change. The best sound effect I had recently was when the players heard a rapier being drawn in the dark alley... I went to the bedroom and picked up a plastic coat-hanger and started making sword-sounds (swish-swoosh-swish). They immediately recognized what sound I was going for.
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Is this something that others do? Or does it ruin the enviroment of the game? Too distracting?

I've done it, and my players commented favorably on it, but ultimately it was too distracting. Background noise increased sound levels, and I was managing tracks while DM'ing.

That said, if you're going to try it anyway: mounting speakers under the table worked well for me. Less clutter and more immersive.
I often grab my acoustic guitar and practice riffs and scales and such whenever the players are plotting their next course of action

Check out Two Steps From Hell.  They do movie trailer music, which tends to be suitably epic and dramatic.
Sometimes I find music can be distracting for everyone, me included, and can also be either too quiet or too loud. I refrain from having it on all the time because sometimes I have a difficult time hearing my players, especially if more than one person is saying something at the same time, music just muddles it.

For the sake of epicness, I do like to have intense music during 'boss' encounters. When i say boss encounters it's usually encounters where the stakes are incredibly high. Either the party is fighting an incredibly dangerous opponent, or it's a fight against the clock, a race to something, retrieve something, save someone, etc. Epic music in those situations tend to really up the emotion.

I personally like this custom made mix.

I also tend to use boss battle music from a mixture of old games (My group all played classic RPG videogames, so they automatically familiarize the music with a desperate/intense situatuon, which tends to add to the moment even more.

Luca blight theme from Suikoden II

World Revolution Lavos theme from Chrono Trigger

One winged Angel / Jenova Themes from FF7, these are just a couple of the long list I use.

also there is a group called Symphonic Fantasies who play classic RPG game music, in an orchestra, it's truely beautiful;

This is a Boss Medley they did from classic RPG's, it's glorious.
I've used music from Midnight Syndicate's D&D album (which my fiancee got for me), from their Cemetary CD (which I bought at a Halloween store) and some of the other TSR audio CDs like Red Steel.

I've also used the CD soundtrack from A Touch of Evil. I stopped using the Lord of the Rings soundtrack because I found it dull and very difficult to manage volume-wise.

Most music is just playing softly in the background, be we do notice when the CD ends, and the players tend to like it.

During cyberpunk or superhero games I tended to play a mix, a lot of club and industrial music, and I've made mixes with theme songs for individual characters. My favorite was the character who used "Monkey Boy" (Feeding Time on Monkey Island) by MIRV as his intro music ;)
On Pandora, check out Nox Arcana. You'll like it.
Music is one of my big interests, so I've always tried doing this, but it's never practical in game the way it is in your head. You can't really time specific songs/passages to specific situations, so you basically have to step way back and go macro and just pick four hours of music that doesn't really stand out in any way and it's pretty much the same style the whole time. There are very specific times when it's worked; I used whalesongs and sonar pings for a Call of Cthulhu adventure set on a submarine underwater, which was very good.

I do think that queuing up specific sounds/songs at specific times is good but NOT as background--the impact only works for a minute and then you have to fade it into the background and get rid of it as the combat begins, or whatever...because otherwise you end up listening to the Final Fantasy combat music (which was funny and cool when the DM started it as the combat began) on repeat for an hour and a half.

I really wish that it worked better in practice.
I compiled a playlist from various movies, video games, soundtracks and fantasy themed music:

 set it on shuffle!
I always play music during our sessions, but only instrumental stuff.  No singing, because that's distracting.  Unless it's perhaps choral ... but songs with lyrics are just distracting when you're trying to talk to others and think.

I've gotten years of mileage out of ripping all the music from Baldur's Gate, Neverwinter Nights, Neverwinter Nights 2, and a few other games.  I keep the remote right on the table and I can fire up different playlists in a blink.

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We don't anymore, but in the past with another group we listened to:

Fight Club soundtrack
LOTR soundtrack
Midnight Syndicate
Tribes 2 (and a few other games that I can't remember) music rip

I find its sort of cool, but not at all required.
Didn't really find it distracting at all.
I use music from time to time as a theme that leads into starting the game. When I start the music that is the signal that in a few minutes we will start playing, much like a TV show. Music during a game can be very distracting if it is not turned down to a reasonable level, has been my experience. Sound effects apps on the other hand from time to time loaded onto my Tablet can be very fun for everyone.
I just posted these lists in my own thread before I saw this, so please forgive the repost.

I have music in the background during my sessions almost all the time.  I vary the volume and the mood as appropriate.  My players seem to like it.  I created several playlists that others might find useful.  I stick to movie or video game scores.  The guidelines I use are 1) Songs should not have lyrics, 2) Nothing so distinctive it's distracting (i.e. no Star Wars Theme, Indiana Jones, etc), 3) Avoid tracks that vary too much in mood (ex. switching from battle to sorrow to horror all in the same track)

Battle Playlist


Overland/Ambient Playlist

Sorrow/Peace/Epilogue Playlist

Temple/Divine Playlist

Town/Tavern Playlist

Victory Playlist

Villain/Evil Playlist


I actually set up a sound system specifically for DnD, I usually pick out pieces on a song by song basis to fit with the scene. It takes a bit of time, but it's worth it. Music can be one of the best backgrounds for DnD. Diablo is good, but remember that dark moods are good, but only when they have the lighter to contrast.


Also, Do Not Put A Song On Repeat For Too Long! If you going to add music, you must play the DJ and the DM, it’s hard, but worth it.

Ambient music is perfect for settng the mood, as well as one other problem that some groups have- deathly quiet silences.  Sometimes, no one has something to say, the DM looks expectant, and everyone else looks horribly on the spot.  Those periods of quiet can be unnerving and really destroy immersion in games.

That being said, I use soundtracks frequently.  Say what you will about the game, but World of Warcraft has some excellent music for basically ANY type of setting.  Typically I use game or movie soundtracks, generally game moreso than movie since it is MEANT to be ambient, rather than pace a scene.  World of Warcraft, Skyrim, and Assassin's Creed have essentially anything needed for the average DnD game SOMEWHERE in there.  Honorable mentions are Guild Wars, Lord of the Rings, the Fable series, Fullmetal Alchemist, and Battlestar Galactica.
Choose something nobody recognizes. If somebody knows the music, it pulls them out of the game. They humm along, or say, "wait, what is this song? I know it."

Although I am a fan of music, it really distracts more than it adds...amongst people I've played with anyway. 
Thanks a lot it's awesome!!!!!!
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