Friday, December 19, 2008


Lots of chatter these days about music to play in the background while you game, or just for inspiration, including some rather, er, odd choices. I mean, yeah, it's catchy, but I'm not sure if it's the music I'd want to listen to while I was gaming.

But then, I should talk, because my players were always dropping in my Murphy Brown collection of Motown hits. Aretha Franklin beltin' out "R-E-S-P-E-C-T! Find out what it means to me!" doesn't exactly invoke images of stalwart heroes delving into the depths of orc-infested ruins.

And what music really gets me in the mood for gaming? It's purely nostalgia, I'll admit it, but it's '80s pop, especially Phil Collins. Why? Because that's what was on the radio when I was really getting into the game. I remember exploring the Palace of the Silver Princess while Men Without Hats' "Safety Dance" played on MTV in the background. We heard Madonna's "Live to Tell" in the hobby stores we visited.

(I'm apparently not alone in this. When discussing Scylla and Charybdis, a friend of mine first thought of "Wrapped Around Your Finger" rather than Homer.)

At the same time, though, I listened to Thistle & Shamrock every Saturday night. I was really into Celtic music back then, and that also heavily influenced my gaming style. That was the music I imagined in the background when I looked at the art of Elmore, Parkinson, and Whelan. I wasted quite a bit of time trying to reproduce the stories of King Arthur with AD&D. It was a poor fit, but I kept plugging away at it, since I was too cheap to buy Pendragon, and the music of the Boys of the Lough, Silly Wizard, and Clannad was usually playing in the background.

And today, as I work on my Moldvay/Cook/Labyrinth Lord hack, with its ancient and tropical setting, I'm pulling up a lot of Oriental and Middle Eastern influences: the Dhol Foundation, Dead Can Dance, and Ofra Haza. I still pop in some Phil Collins when I need a little hit of those days-gone-by, though.


Natalie said...

I feel roughly the same way about Sugar Cult and and a couple of songs by Weird Al. That's what we listened to when I first started playing D&D, and both will always, bizarrely, be associated with role playing.

RipperX said...

I go to the public library and blatantly steal music. Granted, my games aren't all that fantastic, and more real world based. I enjoy the ancient Japanese music, gypsy songs also work well, I have an unnatural affection for creating Gypsy races for a personal tool to give hints and aid (or the opposite of aid) to the players. I also collect chants, African tribal music can be fun, and add a real sense of danger and adventure to the game.

A friend of mine gave me two CD's by a "band" called Midnight Syndicate one of them carries the Dungeons and Dragons trademark, and is absolutely wonderful!

Norman J. Harman Jr. said...

I can never play music during game, it distracts me too much. But I find metal(esp if it's over the top) to be great for keeping me focused when prepping.