Tabletop Tuesday – Gaming Soundtracks

This past Monday I used music to enhance my D&D game.  I loaded up my Zune with a few appropriate soundtrack albums and plugged it into my stereo and had it playing softly in the background.  Having a few new gamers playing this campaign, it was a new experience for many of them, and they really seemed to enjoy it.  And that made me think back to how I’ve used music for games in the past.

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The first time I can recall using music in a game was when we were playing Iron Crown Enterprise’s Space Master.  My ship’s crew were on a planet, attempting to get back to their ship and escape, when a House Devon battlecruiser came dropping out of orbit towards them.  Right at the moment that I described this, I reached behind me and hit play on my CD player, and started up Gustav Holst’s Mars, Bringer of War.  It was perfect, the looks on their faces as I am describing this huge dropship coming out of the clouds, with the brass swelling behind me.  It led to a very memorable gaming session.

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After that, I started up a series of FASA’s Star Trek RPG sessions at a local con.  We would run one game a year, and I had the same players come back every year for the next episode (one even flying in from Denver every year!)  At the time, I had a couple of the Star Trek soundtrack albums that I recorded (almost said ripped there…heh) onto cassette tapes and some small portable speakers for a Walkman.  I also used music for a small-scale “Battle of Hoth” minis game that I ran at a couple of conventions, using the soundtrack from The Empire Strikes Back.

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As we move to more minis gaming, I would try and match the music with the game we were playing.  When we were doing The Great Rail Wars, I used Copland and Leone to set the mood.  When we were doing Space:1889 minis, Gunga Din was always on tap.  The Sea Hawk was used when we were playing Man O’ War for a short period of time.  And Warhammer was whatever fantasy soundtrack album I could lay my hands on.

Now, using technology that is available to us, it is even easier to have a varied soundtrack, thanks to playlists and shuffle on MP3 players.  My current soundtrack for my D&D session consists of:

  • Excalibur
  • Conan The Barbarian
  • Prince Valiant
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
  • Lord of the Rings:  Fellowship of the Rings
  • Henry V
  • The Sea Hawk

I’m not overly happy with the inclusion of The Sea Hawk and Pirates of the Caribbean in this list, because the sudden switch to a snappy nautical theme was kind of jarring, so I think those are going to be yanked from my D&D playlist.  But I’m on the lookout for more suggestions for good music.  Also, once I have my Xbox 360 network connected, I’m hoping to use Windows Media Sharing from my laptop to let me actually key specific tracks at specific moments through the course of the adventure.

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So…any good gaming music suggestions?

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One Response to “Tabletop Tuesday – Gaming Soundtracks”

  1. Woman of the House Says:

    While dating Tao introduced me to Jeff Wayne’s musical version of War of the Worlds. Much to my surprise, I like it. Perhaps it would make a good addition to your playlist.

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