Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Musical inspiration

Music has a special place in my gaming-heart. Most of us have tried background music at the table, but I find that when it comes to putting together a world, the kind of music I listen to becomes a big part of the world. I though I might share a few of my favorite experiences with music and DnD, and I hope to hear about your experiences in the comments.

In-Game Music
When it comes to styles, Folk music is probably the easiest to incorporate directly into a game. The instruments and style haven't changed much from the Medieval setting of most games. Music with electronics or heavy guitars can be a little to jarring. I've been able to mine some great adventure hooks and storylines from ballads, legends, and sea-shanties. The music of Stan Rogers (RIP) is particularly excellent, I recommend checking this out for a taste of what could be added straight into a DnD game.

I've used both Stan's music and the work of Blackmore's Night directly in game. With enough material it makes for an interesting mechanic of giving quests. The players were working to resurrect a dead god of Music and Prophecy, so what better way for his lingering memories to guide the PC's than with his last disciple's songs?

World Building
When it comes to working on a setting, I often find myself turning to much heavier music. While Epic Metal might not be everyones cup of tea, I find that the themes presented of Hero's prevailing against armies and monsters really sets a good tone for designing the places your heroes will travel. For a high-adventure and Viking style tale it's hard to top groups such as Tyr or Falconer. Again, this is a more personal element to my style of prep, and your mileage will certainly vary.

Battle Planning
Planning a good encounter or fight is a big part of being the DM, what's a good story without some action? When trying to strike that balance between high-energy and challenging tactical battles, I find that music by groups such as Hammerfall (or Tyr again) can get me in the right mood. Faster music helps me keep in mind that the battle shouldn't be allowed to lag, and I make sure to keep possible slowdowns to a minimum.

These are some of the tricks I use when doing my prep-work for DnD, I hope someone finds them useful, let me know what you think. Are there any unusual rituals you use when prepping?

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