What did the bard do when the party finished fighting… HE LUTED THE BODIES. Heyoo.
I like table top gaming, RPGs especially, D&D the most; the renaissance in the hobby has brought me some good/weird times and it’s nice seeing it grow like it has.
One way I’ve found to enhance my nights as Dungeon Master is to call on experiences as an amateur musician and fan, to ramp up the intensity and sense of fantasy with playlists of tunes from the history of composed and recorded music.
I realised that this might be something I was OK at when I saw our party’s rogue lost in imagination and stabbing to the beat of a bit of Shostakovich.
Over the months some of the collections I’ve curated have picked up a few followers on Spotify and upvotes on Reddit but I thought it was time to put more effort in and start writing about it:
- To bring some awesome pieces to an audience that might not get exposure to them and do it in a structured practical way
- To explain how I researched those pieces/lists so that you can find your own treasure, and how to practically apply music in a game
- To dig out some stories from the history of music that could make for inspiring characters and scenarios.
For starters I have basic rules that I apply when researching a playlist. I break both of them, obviously, but you have to have a starting point…
No vocals: The part of my brain that works on speech can only really keep track of one conversation at a time and with role-playing an extension of the oral storytelling tradition I need that mental bandwidth free.
No computer game or film music: I fall back on well known themes it feels like they distract from the uniqueness of the world that we’re building as a group. I loved Skyrim but at the kitchen table I don’t want to be thinking about the Xbox. One of the things I’ll try to do in this blog is explore the music that has inspired the work of folk like Jeremy Soule, John Williams et al. and give you some alternative options to keep the spirit, but use it to help you craft new associations.
Enhance don’t detract: The two above rules are just extensions of this, its about making the games better not stealing the show.
In the coming weeks I will be suggesting play-lists on a weekly basis of music that I’ve used for environments, scenarios and events that I hope you might like to try out with your crew. I will be very welcoming of questions, suggestions and corrections on anything that I mess up or egregiously omit.
I’ll leave you with ~6 hours of unbelievable Lute jams. This is my overworld “a-wanderin’ in fields” list but provides a gentle backdrop to any setting so could just be put on all session for atmospherics without being intrusive.