Music and ambiance -- how important are they to your D&D experience?

What do you think of music/ambiance in D&D?

  • I love it!

    Votes: 10 27.8%
  • I like it.

    Votes: 8 22.2%
  • Meh.

    Votes: 12 33.3%
  • I don't like it.

    Votes: 5 13.9%
  • I hate it!

    Votes: 1 2.8%

  • Total voters
    36

Prakriti

Hi, I'm a Mindflayer, but don't let that worry you
By ambiance I mean aural soundscapes: crackling campfires for long rests, chirping birds for wilderness exploration, murmuring crowds for taverns, etc.

I usually use a lot of music and ambiance in my campaigns, but I see Roll20 has lost yet another streaming service since I last played, and my music library is now gone. I spent tens of hours curating a library on Souncloud, then tens of hours curating a library on Fanburst... I'm not really inclined to spend another ten hours curating a music library on whatever service they have now. I'm thinking of going music-less.

My own feelings on music/ambiance are mixed. On one hand, I think music/ambiance adds a lot to the game and has the power to transform a mundane scene into a memorable one. On the other hand, not using music/ambiance feels kind of liberating. Music was just one more thing I had to micro-manage as a DM. Not having to worry about it sounds really nice for a change.

But that's me. What do you think?
 
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schneeland

Explorer
I generally like it, but managing the music is something that interrupted the game flow too much when I DM'ed the last couple of times. So I will probably drop it again.
 
I like orchestral stuff for some fight scenes (the Wrath of Khan soundtrack is great) and I use ambient of various sorts a fair bit too, dark ambient especially.
 

bedir than

Adventurer
I have a couple spotify playlists for mood setting, and recently switched to using Syrinscape in game. Having it on my phone with a knowledge that I'm going to just punch a couple buttons at key points rather than make it a radio play has led to so much joy at the table.

Finding the right volume has been the most difficult part for me.
 

Legatus_Legionis

< BLAH HA Ha ha >
I found with the normal chatter between friends/players, having sounds in the background, even if it is being used to help block out outside noise, just added to the noise.

But even so, I had one game session where the players wanted me as a DM to go ALL OUT.

I had did like Fenris, and had a collection of movie tracks to use. I had them on random.

Wrath of Khan
Conan The Barbarian
Sword and the Sorcerer
Bram Stoker's Dracula
etc.

I had my encounters match the tune being played at the time.

When the music picked up its pace, so too did the action in the game.

Ironically, all battles ended at the same time as the piece of music I was using. How strange is that? LOL

When the music became mysterious/frightful, so too did the tone of the game.

One player got so freaked out, he swore to never play again if music was in the background.

Ask your players ahead of time if they like the idea. From my experience, most times they would rather not have such.
 

Doc_Klueless

Doors and Corners
I selected Meh because I have no feelings about it one way or another. If it's there, I don't notice it. If it's not, I don't notice its absence.
 

Nebulous

Hero
By ambiance I mean aural soundscapes: crackling campfires for long rests, chirping birds for wilderness exploration, murmuring crowds for taverns, etc.

I usually use a lot of music and ambiance in my campaigns, but I see Roll20 has lost yet another streaming service since I last played, and my music library is now gone. I spent tens of hours curating a library on Souncloud, then tens of hours curating a library on Fanburst... I'm not really inclined to spend another ten hours curating a music library on whatever service they have now. I'm thinking of going music-less.

My own feelings on music/ambiance are mixed. On one hand, I think music/ambiance adds a lot to the game and has the power to transform a mundane scene into a memorable one. On the other hand, not using music/ambiance feels kind of liberating. Music was just one more thing I had to micro-manage as a DM. Not having to worry about it sounds really nice for a change.

But that's me. What do you think?
I noticed that Roll20 uses Tabletop Audio now, which is quite good. I might start using Roll20 soon for the first time, I have always gamed in person but need to start a secondary group (maybe not even D&D).

But anyway yes I love using music. I have hundreds of tracks I've accumulated over the years, mostly movie soundtracks and video game music.
 

Nebulous

Hero
When the music became mysterious/frightful, so too did the tone of the game.

One player got so freaked out, he swore to never play again if music was in the background.
Yes, I have often had their very decisions CHANGE because of the music unsettling them. To me it's like watching a movie without music, it loses a lot of power.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I don't have the best of ears (some high-range/low-range hearing loss), and music makes it quite hard for me to track conversations. So I'm against it at any session i attend. Which is a shame, it can add to ambiance. But constantly asking the DM and other players to repeat themselves is much more disruptive. Same issue with car trips - I like listening to the radio, but it really impedes conversation.

For other ambiance I've used it, but I don't often give too much thought to it. Lighting is the easiest - but sometimes makes text and character sheets are to read. Have a set of battery powered candles for the gaming table to help with that (and have used actual candles before). I have done props like making aged maps and notes to hand out in the past, which is usually well received. I would not try a fog machine or introducing scents, though I've heard stories of both.
 
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iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I like music and ambient sound effects in my game. It was pretty annoying when Roll20 lost some of the options they used to have. I scored my latest one-shot with stuff I bought off of Bandcamp and uploaded to Roll20. I don't like how much time I have to spend on this, but the end result is a nice touch.
 

cmad1977

Adventurer
I like music and ambient sound effects in my game. It was pretty annoying when Roll20 lost some of the options they used to have. I scored my latest one-shot with stuff I bought off of Bandcamp and uploaded to Roll20. I don't like how much time I have to spend on this, but the end result is a nice touch.
I need to get a little better with my music in Roll20.

—- is there a thread for Roll20 tips/ideas/etc on here?
 

Prakriti

Hi, I'm a Mindflayer, but don't let that worry you
I need to get a little better with my music in Roll20.

—- is there a thread for Roll20 tips/ideas/etc on here?
Not that I'm aware of, but Roll20 has its own forums with lots of discussion on the subject. The stickied "Stupid Roll20 tricks" in the Specific Use & Macros Questions forum is particularly good. And this video, which someone included in an LFG I viewed recently, includes some good tips (but might be too basic for experienced users): Five Roll20 Tips That Saved My Life.
 

Weiley31

Adventurer
Only during key moments/battles/Plot Beats.

For example in one campaign I'm musing about, Aerosmith's "Dream On" will play when the one MC and rival have their third encounter/plot related duel, while it's raining, before the big twist about the rival, over the course of the fight, is revealed.
 
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ccs

40th lv DM
All of my games are played live around a table with 3-5 other people.
1/2 down at the local shop, 1/2 at a buddies place.
Our ambient campaign noise starts with conversation between 4'6 people. At my buddies add in whatever his family is doing/watching on tv.
At the shop? Add in 2 other rpg tables, a table of MTG, & sometimes miniature wargaming. The game room is plenty spacious for all this (+ more), but it's still a large open space. So even when the other sounds aren't interfering you've still got plenty of background sound. Adding music/soup fx to my game there, loud enough to matter for the table, will just add noise for others.

But most importantly? I've got plenty to do as a DM without adding "curate play list" & acting as a DJ to the list.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Ambient sounds and background music are not necessary for me at all, but they can GREATLY enhance the experience when present. They can also be distracting if not handled well, so it’s important to use them with care if you do use them. Keep it to the background, keep the volume low, and don’t pick songs that might take the players out of the game (I have seen this become a problem with music the players recognize from a movie or video game or whatever).
 

BigJackBrass

Explorer
I have a great deal of difficulty following conversations when there is music playing, so for me it's not only an unnecessary addition it's an actively unhelpful one.
 
I'm definitely a fan. One of my formative memories was playing a 2e game with a group of people I had hooked up with through online local BBSes (ahhh there's a dated reference). The DM didn't go super over the top - he just played some appropriate nature sounds at the right time. I remember vividly a trip through a swampy area at night where that one little thing alone made the whole scenario just spring to life in my head. He might have played some softer soundtrack music during combat but I still remember the swamp crawl.

Flash forward like 30 years and I've tried since 3e to incorporate music and sound effects where I could. My current 5e group seems to enjoy it well enough, though it can occasionally make for amusing moments. For instance, if I throw on someone else's curated Spotify playlist on random, more than once has a song with a totally inappropriate vibe popped up at the wrong time to underscore the seriousness of a scene with a more uptempo ditty, which usually makes everyone laugh and roll their eyes as I skip to the next track. I keep saying this means I need to sit down and do my own hyper-specific playlists myself, but I just never find the time.

Beyond that, I use Syrinscape for ambiances that always pop up, like tavern noise, wagon journeys, woodland soundscapes and the like. That, combined with the Midnight Syndicate D&D album has gotten us through many a session. So much so, in fact, that "Skirmish" from that album was one of my top Spotify tracks of 2019 just because of how often it looped on repeat during combats. :ROFLMAO:
 

Beleriphon

Totally Awesome Pirate Brain
It depends, I don't pay for Spotify so every 30 minutes our ambient music will be interrupted by a VW Golf advertisement or whatever. That said, I find that appropriate music an be great. Hall of the Mountain King is superb for anyplace that has dwarves. There are several operas that work for music in a fight. As long as your players don't start singing "Kill the wabbit, kill the wabbit!"

I suppose that might be the bigger problem, not that the players know the classic music pieces, but they've associated the piece with the wrong thing.
 

Eltab

Adventurer
I've not had music in the background for a D&D session (yet). There are a few things I would like to try / experience, for serious or for fun.
The enemies are chasing us: William Tell Overture (also known as the Lone Ranger theme)
Entering the sepulchure of the Legendary Artifact: Siegfried's Funeral March (from Wagner's Ring cycle)
Activating said artifact: Thus Sprach Zarathustra (2001)
BBEG's enforcer lieutenant arrives to fight the PCs: Duel of the Fates (Darth Maul confrontation)
BBEG himself arrives: Imperial March, from Star Wars
PC tries some spectacular physical stunt and rolls a 20: Indiana Jones theme
Final Victory: Siegfried and Brunehilda in the Forest (Wagner's Ring again)
 

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