Like many people who played D&D in the 1980s, I was a died-in-the wool metalhead. In fact, most of my gaming friends were. As a result, when we played, we often had music going in the background. Usually, we listened to speed/thrash metal like Metallica or Megadeth. However, we were also big fans of some of the more iconic metal bands of the 80s (Dio, Ozzy, etc.). Recently, I heard the song Flash of the Blade by Iron Maiden. Wow, did that song bring back memories. Surprisingly, not of junior high or high school, but of gaming. I can recall, in vivid detail, certain things that happened in our campaigns well over 20 years ago…memories sparked by little more than a guitar riff.
As the years rolled on, I occasionally tried to incorporate more “atmosphere appropriate” music into my campaigns. I recall a failed attempt to use a cassette of renaissance music I’d purchased in a used tape bin. I tried some of the music from TSRs own LPs First Quest (anyone remember those?). I tried some stuff from bands like Tangerine Dream which produced evocative synth music. Ultimately, none of it really worked. The only thing that ever felt really appropriate were film soundtracks but those had the added drawback of reminding us of the movies from which they were taken (still, I’ll always relish charging into battle to Anvil of Crom or Carmina Burana).
In thinking about this stuff lately, I can’t help but wonder what folks are using these days, especially with the advances in technology and the ready availability not only of music via MP3s but also sound effects. What sorts of music/audio do you use in your games to enhance the ambiance?