I know that I am not the first one to talk about music and roleplaying games. The subject has been broached on several occasions before by bigger names. I have not, however, weighed in on the subject yet myself and so here we are.
I use music in two separate ways when it comes to roleplaying games. As a form of inspiration, music is second only to novels for setting my imagination afire with ideas. And for setting the mood and ambiance of a scene, few things can rival the effect of the right song. Both uses are essential for me when gamemastering and should be a part of any gm’s toolkit.
Using music as both inspiration outside of the game and as a mood-setting tool during the game require a little bit of foresight and prep work. Something else to consider is that while one song may be both inspiration and game tool it is not always so. For me, a successful in game song would be one that:
- Is not very long. Ideally less than 5 minutes but you can edit the length or loop if necessary.
- No lyrics since lyrics have a more distracting tendency as people starting singing along.
- Applicable to the situation. “I’m a Barbie Girl” might have its’ place but I sure can’t think of a use.
So you can see that while a song like “Crownless” could certainly inspire an epic battle, it may not necessarily be the best choice for in game music depending on the situation. I would be more tempted to go with something like “O Fortuna” or the “God of War 3 Overture”. Classical/Opera, Video Game Soundtracks, and Anime Soundtracks are all excellent sources for music to use in your game. Some of my favorite soundtracks include:
- God of War 1, 2, 3
- Any Final Fantasy
- Record of Lodoss War
- Lord of the Rings
- Age of Conan and the Conan movies
- Actually, most anything done by Basil Poledouris
Quite a few more, but I think you get the drift. Roleplaying video game soundtracks are a gold mine sine they contain many of same elements and themes as a traditional pen and paper rpg. Fantasy movies such as Conan and Lord of the Rings are a great source for fantasy rpgs while sci-fi can pull music from movies such as Star Wars (essential for any Star Wars games), Starship Troopers, and 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Regardless of the campaign type music can be an excellent resource both in game and out. A song can spark an idea for a future game or even liven up an otherwise mundane combat scene in an ongoing session. Either way it is worth your time to invest in the power of song for your campaign.