Stuffed Crocodile

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Tag Archives: Ambient music

[RPG Music] More RPG Ambiance Music

EVE Online - Caldari Freighters

EVE Online – Caldari Freighters (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I haven’t really been playing MMORPGs lately, not since I switched over to a Linux system in 2006, and so I am not really current with a whole lot of things here. MMORPGs never really caught my interest that much anyway. The only thing I ever played for longer was The Empire of Martial Heroes, and that one switched off it’s non-Korean servers in 2010. So there is that.

But I have been sickand bound to my bed for two weeks, and during that time I played a lot with my PC. Well, playing in this case was more trying to see if I can get Windows games running on Linux and then losing interest once it works.

I never said I was exactly normal.

Anyway, one of the things I found during that time was that there are a lot of games which put the music from their game online. Maybe for marketing purposes, maybe just as a bonus for fans, but the fun thing is: these things are wonderful for normal roleplaying games as well. Most of them are loopable to some extent, a lot capture the whole fantasy world sound quite effectively, and they are free. What more do we want?

Dungeons and Dragons Online: especially the tavern/bar sounds here are really nice for some unobtrusive background music in bar scenes. There are even different sets of those for different styles of bars. And the rest isn’t bad either. Will definitely use that one.

Star Wars – The Old Republic: made a large part of it’s soundtrack available for free just before their launch. Sounds pretty much like a Star Wars soundtrack should sound like

Eve Online: something more futuristic, synth sounds for space ambience; quite good as well

Lord of the Rings Online: the made the soundtrack available for a while, and it still is online. One of the most impressive ones around actually, I can definitely see me using that one in the next session

Allods Online: this one is a bit strange, as the official website links to a fansite and a torrent because they themselves can’t get to the files themselves. Huh? How is that even possible? Anyway, some nice atmospheric music.

Anarchy Online -Shadowlands and Anarchy Online 2: I don’t know much about these games, but the soundtracks are online and might be useful

Planeshift: well, I wasn’t too impressed the last few times I tried this game. But the soundtrack is quite nice.

[Tools] Creating soundscapes with Syrinscape

I was looking for some interesting programs a while ago, and this popped up on my radar. I came across it when I was looking for ambient music for my games last year, but right now the creator of the software promises an upcoming release of a new version with loads of new features.

Very well…

Syrinscape is a soundscape program that allows the creation of dynamic soundscapes for RPG games. There are a few of that kind around, but Syrinscape is both free and more or less easy to configure. A soundscape in Syrinscape can be created by dropping the sound effects and music one wants to have in it into a folder and renaming them slightly so they are associated with certain channels in the program. Seems a bit daunting at first, but is not really much work. I decided to create a Tavern soundset yesterday and behold, it’s nearly finished today. So, not really hard to use.

The website offers a few different soundscapes that should give a good point to start from, even though some of them are a bit weird (Battle for example has mostly animal noises, and Bells has…  bells). One of the nicer things about it is that ambient music for the game can be added by simply copying it into the soundscape folder and renaming it. In that way one could actually create nice variant soundscapes by simply replacing the playlist for different locales (e.g. music 1 for the catacombs and music 2 for the orc warrens, while both of them have otherwise the same soundset otherwise in it).

One feature that does not seem to see too much use yet are one-off sound effects, or rather: current soundsets barely have one-off effects in them. The only one that actually has nice ones is the Dungeon set that has interesting things like an alarm bell, fireballs, dragon roars, etc. I think it would be nice to have a certain one-off soundset at hand in a few places though, just to make my players jump when they hear it. The howl of wolves in the wilderness, the cackling of a witch in the  distance,  the sound of footsteps coming from somewhere behind them. Hmm…

Syrinscape (Website)

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[RPG Music] Dungeon Ambient

Бородатая змея

Dragons like to listen to it too. Either that or Manowar. Yeah, dragons are weird.

I was not aware of Dark Ambient as a music style until I started to look for proper music for roleplaying. And thinking about it a bit better the style really is rather… odd. I know I might sound a bit biased, I just realized that this style seems to have a big following in the goth community, even my girlfriend just told me that yes, she knew that style, she heard it often when she still went to goth clubs.

And it is a highly sophisticated style, with deep philosophical underpinnings, yes. But the only other style of music I can compare it to is, well,  elevator music.

It’s rather effective though, nevertheless, with the interesting ability to evoke quite a range of different moods (well, mostly fear and desperation) while not doing much of anything. And frankly I think this music can make awesome background music for dark and brooding scenes. I know that some GMs prefer not to have any music at all in their scenes because emotions actually might be more intense if there is no disturbing background noise at all, but whenever do we have something like that in real life?

I was actually using Herbst9 as a background in my session yesterday, and it did create a feeling of anxiety and mystery while staying neatly in the background. It would have been a bit more effective though, had our neighbour not started to play Disco Polo while the characters were not even in the dungeon.

The style won’t be the best choice for a busy town or tavern scene, but it certainly sets the mood for a good dungeon crawl,  or some straight horror adventure.

Some examples of usable music in this style:

  • Shinjuku Thief especially the Witch Hammer Trilogy
  • Lustmørd especially Heresy and Purifying Fire
  • Herbst9, so called ritual ambient, a more oriental/temple style
  • Arcana
  • Dark Ages, actually claim to be inspired by medieval history
  • Za Frûmi seem to try to be closer to the fantasy genre, with orc-themed albums and stuff

Yeah, so far only fantasy music. I’ll think about Science Fiction ambience when I run out of Ozric Tentacles CDs 🙂