Adding a little audio to set the mood for your game

Music and sound effects in an RPG environment used to mean the GM would have to go through hours of splicing together a mix-tape of music that he or she hoped would be effective and at a length that wouldn’t cause more distraction than enhancement of the game. Then came CD, and choosing a specific track to play was a lot easier, and with a multi-disc changer, a lot of sound could be loaded up and ready, if you could keep track of the specific discs and tracks you wanted, and when. But you still had issues with not being able to layer different sounds over one another. In short, it was still a pain. I know, I’d tried both, and rarely with more than moderate effect.

Now in the age of computers that come in portable sizes, we can set up complete and immersive soundscapes to help our players lose themselves in the story unfolding at the table. Here are a couple of examples of completely free options for GMs to add that extra little punch to their game.

There is an all-new completely free (and open source) project for bringing a musical atmosphere to your games. It’s called RPG Ambience.
This is a browser-based program that allows a GM to set up scenes in pre-selected routines with music and  images. The GM would have the PC running nearby, then use a programmed hot-key to start different scenes. A desktop image comes up, and whatever mix of music you select will also start. It can even loop and fade to other pieces within the scene. There doesn’t appear to be support for online play, but it’s a cool tool to have at hand.
This is also a great option for GMs running Mac or Linux systems.

Another great tool for music in games is Syrinscape.
This one I’ve used before, and intend to use with the podcast once I get the mixer set up and integrated with the show production. This also allows a pre-set music bed, plus a number of other sound effects that are played randomly in the background. It also has a  bar on the side for buttons that trigger specific noises like weapons or monsters.

This program is not browser-based, and is Windows only for the current time. But, it’s also free to use, with a voluntary donation link to assist with development.

Both of these game sound systems are very much live and under continual development by their creators. Pick your preference and add some mood to the audient void at your gaming table!