Ambient Music For RPGs

Some years ago I tried to add atmosphere to my games by playing music. I ran into a few problems. Since an RPG usually takes 1-4+ hours to play, you need to either loop a tract, or have a massive mood music playlist. Both approaches have problems. Looping a tract that many times can get on your nerves and a playlist takes time to put together and the problem of a rogue song hitting at a time that you don’t want it to.

When you get a rogue song, the volume is too low to really hear in some parts and then comes crashing in with a loud crescendo and you have to go adjust the volume. This breaks immersion and can get really annoying after a bit.

So you have to have exactly the right music. No huge swings of volume, tracks that are hard to tell they’re being looped and you have to have a lot of it.

So I gave up.

Then one day a gentleman strolled in and said “I have the solution to your problem!” and stood like a superman with his hands on his hips.* He had took the time to not only identify the problems that I had run into, he actually had the musical talent to do something about it. Who was this masked marvel?# It was Joachim Heise!

Joachim (aka Rubbermancer) had put together ambient soundscapes specifically for RPGs and he graciously offered to make some for The Artifact. After getting some ideas about general moods that are dominant in the game he went to work and produced two scores. One for the quiet and cold underground of the planet, good for travel or survival situations and one for when the plasma starts flying and things heat up.

The Artifact Low Energy

The Artifact Conflict

These are long tracks so the file sizes are a bit larger than you might expect. The low energy track is 50 Megs and conflict is 16 Megs so they may take a moment to download. If you have a problem with the files opening in your browser instead of downloading (happens on Macs) right click the link and choose Download Linked File.

So thanks to Joachim for giving The Artifact a soundtrack!

If you want more soundscapes for your RPGs, Joachim is no slouch, he’s got you covered at his site on soundcloud/rpgambience (Now Absolution Ceramic). And he has a blog Rubbermancer.

*Not literally.

#Joachim may or may not show up at your door with a mask on. Marvel if he does.

5 Comments

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5 Responses to Ambient Music For RPGs

  1. I gave up on music during games a long time ago. The closest I ever managed to making it work was a horror game that I ran and set up a playlist of horror movie/console games scores. There were times when it hit spot on, but even at its best, more often than not something would come on that would break the mood. Whilst typing this I’m listening to a very cool black metal band called Marduk, and I have to say, stuff like this is the closest I think I would go to playing stuff in a game again, but the game would have to be pretty bleak.

    • Loc

      Try out some of Joachim’s stuff it’s not just a tune, they really go for certain moods. On his website there are a bunch of different soundscapes to choose from. Because they are long and consistent, they aren’t a hassle to try and manage.

  2. Harry

    Haha dude this rocks! I’m listening to the conflict one now, it rocks.

  3. My rpgambience soundcloud page is now nonexistent, and all game music projects are united under one banner: Absolution Ceramics

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