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Monday Music: Dark and Depths

Caves, subterranean tunnels, deep murky depths...sooner or later, every D&D party ends up delving into the dark underground. Whether it be vast caverns of aquatic horrors, or ancient ruins of long-dead civilizations, these excursions tend to be similar in spirit - tense, ominous and a little creepy.

Fortunately for the music-loving DM, there are boatloads of great "Evil Cave" songs available to use. Most are quite generic and would also work perfectly well for dungeons, prisons, ruins, etc...anything controlled or inhabited by monsters or enemies.

Kita No Daikuudou

Source: Final Fantasy: Advent Children [Movie]


Source: ICO [PS2]

Dark Secrets

Source: The Last Remnant [Xbox 360]


Source: Diablo [PC]

Dead On Time

Source: Silent Hill: Homecoming [PS3]

Mood: Creepy, suspenseful, dark, gloomy, tense

Summary: This selection of songs is high on ambiance, hopefully evoking feelings of uncertainty and danger. They're all fairly generic while still maintaining a discordant, unnerving feel, which should help a DM build up dramatic suspense before all hell breaks loose. There's also lots of strange little noises which really keeps a listener on edge and wary. Personally, the echoing wind and unidentifiable noises makes me think of maze-like, unknown caves where a party would be completely lost and overwhelmed by the huge vastness they find themselves facing. And who knows what those clangs and bizarre sounds really are?

These songs would be perfect for:
• The Underdark
• Exploring an ancient, long-dead underground civilization
• Investigating something haunted; a ship, a castle, an city, etc.

Monday Music: Danger!!

Most D&D fights are against regular sized foes. Orcs, gnolls, maybe you go up against a troll or giant now and then. But sometimes the PC's have to take on a true behemoth. We're talking dragons, titans, maybe some horrible primordial. For these fights, it's nice to have suitably overwhelming music.

The Monster Hunter game series for Playstation Portable is a great source of "oh crap!!" panic music. Fast-paced and exciting, I would definitely only use them for battles against a massive foe or with an epic scale. To use them on orcs or goblins would be a waste.

Rathalos - Howling

Source: Monster Hunter OST

Monoblos - Crimson Horns

Source: Monster Hunter OST

Gypceros - Poison Mist

Source: Monster Hunter OST

Gravios - A Crack In The Earth

Source: Monster Hunter OST

Rathian - Rhythms Of The Ancient Past

Source: Monster Hunter OST


Source: Monster Hunter Portable 2 OST

Mood: Primal, panicked rush, fight for survival, relentless pursuit, rampaging beasts

Summary: If your party is against something physically massive and overpowering, these songs should work perfectly to convey the sense of power that such creatures should possess. The fast drum beats also work great for encounters in a jungle or wilderness setting, where the players are clearly out of their element...but their opponent is not.

These songs would be perfect for:
• Fighting a dragon, tarrasque, or anything else enormous that dwarfs the PC's
• A climactic battle where the party has to rush and hurry before something Terrible happens
• Any combination of Big Monsters and Out-of-Place party; T-Rex in a temperate jungle, bulettes in a rocky gorge, Kraken at sea (obviously)...anything where the monster can have their way with the hapless, uncoordinated party.

Monday Music: Banquets & Balls

Occasionally your party of rugged manly-man heroes will end up in a situation totally foreign & frightening to them - a fancy, glamorous banquet. (Or ball, masquerade, etc) It's a nice break from hack/slash killing, gives players some roleplaying time, & usually ends in comically disastrous fashion.

Even if you know the barbarian will end up brawling in the kitchen or swinging from expensive crystal chandeliers, having "scene" music helps bring life to the setting. Some players will concentrate hard on being civil and dignified, while others will be exactly the opposite and emphasize how awkward and out of place they feel. Having appropriate music will do a better job of painting the scene in players' minds than even the best spoken description, and help everyone at the table get into the proper mindset.


Source: Final Fantasy VI Grand Finale

Lullaby of Resembool

Source: Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood OST

Tifa's Theme

Source: Final Fantasy Advent Children OST

Mood: Elegance, lighthearted, high society, nobles, luxury

Summary: Over the years, my players have attended high-class balls and banquets as bodyguards, as thieves, and as guests of honor. It's always fun when they're attending as legitimate guests, since you end up with the real-life players roleplaying their characters, who are themselves "roleplaying" as distinguished, cultured citizens.

One extra feature in these songs are how generic they are. Pleasant but unremarkable, they are meant to be subconsciously absorbed in the background while the players are busy roleplaying, concentrating on dialogue, or making sure they don't offend the Duke they're trying to impress.

These songs would be perfect for:
• Any luxurious, high-class party such as a banquet, gala, masquerade, etc.
• A play, show or opera
• Pretty much anything where the party is there as spectators or guests instead of adventurers

Monday Music: Town Themes

Something that makes me want to punch gnomes is the sound of cliche "medieval" music. You know the kind - bagpipes wailing, cheery flute you'd associate with celtic dancing or medieval fests. (It is also used in many RPG games, and every terrible fantasy TV show/movie ever invented.)

I hate this music! Not the music itself, but what self-respecting evil DM has a happy little town deserving of a theme song like that? No, our villages are besieged by bloodthirsty goblins, situated atop ancient gnoll burial grounds, or unknowingly participating in vile rituals which will summon Yok'Thrykrr the Devourer. No, my fellow DMs, we need appropriate town music.

A few "village that is totally effed and may even be aware of this fact" themes that I have used are as follows:

Tristram Village

Source: Diablo OST (No longer available for purchase on Amazon)

Castle in the Mist

Source: ICO OST (aka ICO-Melody in the Mist) (Import only, it seems. Sadness.)

Mood: Loneliness, determination, meager resources, hardship, helplessness

Summary: These songs perfectly capture the "points of light in the Darkness" theme that Wizards is pushing so hard in 4E D&D. In fact, the games themselves follow this theme exactly as well - in Diablo you are one hero against thousands of demons in a corrupted land, and in ICO you are a boy all alone in a monstrous castle fighting...the Darkness (no, seriously!). No wonder their music fits so well.

I would guess that not many would listen to these songs and think "Wow, this sure is a nice place to live!" Instead, I hope players would grit their teeth, sharpen their blades and prepare themselves for difficult struggles ahead.

It would be perfect for:
• Any town/village where there is hardship and people who need help (aka EVERY D&D TOWN EVER)
• Castle in the Mist - an elegy (I visualize it playing while sending someone's body drifting off to sea, something like that)

Monday Music: Countdown


Source: Needless (Anime, but couldn't find a link to purchase the soundtrack). The artist's name is e-ZUKA.

Mood: High tempo, blood pumping, aggressive, speed

Summary: One of many in my "generic battle" music folder, this song has been remarkable in my D&D group for stirring up my players and getting them very intensely focused on the fight at hand. A few have even started mock-hating the song because they unconsciously find themselves pumping their heads to the fast guitar beat. It's a great, fast-paced battle theme that would also work exceptionally well in other tabletop games for chase scenes, fights atop a speeding subway train, or anything else that screams SPEED.

It would be perfect for:
• A high-speed car chase
• A medium-level fight - not a pushover, but not epic either
• Battling atop a speeding lightning rail train in Eberron

This rest of the soundtrack is full of similarly styled action music, many of which I use in my D&D music library. Here are a few more of my favorites. (The thumbnails look identical, but they are in fact different songs.)