Audio At The Table

Figured i’d start a thread about Audio usage the table.
I, as a GM and player, enjoy a nice set of background music going in the background in games to help heighten the feeling of the game. Whether that;s light dance music in the back ground as Agents enter a night club on a Delta Green Mission, or the dripping sounds of water and wild life as we’re exploring a cave in D&D. The little touches of sound can really add a lot to the game.

What are your thoughts?
And what are some sources that ya’ll use for your games?

Here are a few that i often use when gaming.


Its a thing I’ve had on my to do list.

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I use a back ground play list. There’s a web site called table top audio which has great back ground sounds and music. I would highly recommend anyone interested in audio ambience at their game table give it a look…or should I say listen.


This is a thing I want to start doing, but frankly haven’t invested the time to be ready with a particular set of tracks. I’d be curious how much effort goes into planning the audio and if they’re a distracting extra thing to have to manage as a GM?

I can see how they’d be great for creating a particular mood at the table, but I also see extra work…

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I’ve never managed to have the best experience with audio at the table.

I run most of my games at the FLGS, and prolonged musical interludes don’t go over well. The best I’ve pulled off there is playing the Justice League Unlimited theme to signal the “start” of my DC Adventures games or the Star Wars theme to start my Scum and Villainy games.

I had one person, when we played at his house, that put on a playlist of general sci-fi/fantasy soundtracks, but honestly, it kind of got distracting when we would be playing D&D and a recognizable theme from Star Wars or Star Trek would come on, because he didn’t curate lists beyond the broad theme.

I tried coming up with a few tracks to play during a Dark Heresy game I was running at a friend’s house, but his roommate came home and started playing music in the other room, which kind of scuttled that idea.


I have a couple of players that really like having music playing. For me as DM I find it just one more thing to talk over. As a player I don’t care but I don’t need it.

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I use a simple app and come up with the music ahead of time. My personal favorite was the built-in music for roll20 as it made my job as GM much easier for finding sound effects and music.

That said, I think the genre really matters a lot. Playing background music always amplifies whatever you’re doing if it’s correct and breaks immersion if you’re doing it wrong. Playing Michael Jackson for a Call of Cthulhu game only works if Thriller is resurrecting some Old Ones. Meanwhile Manowar could work for a pulp battle in 5e, but not for Toons.

Tldr: Music can add a lot to game, but it can also distract and not in a good way.

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Once upon a time, in a city near a Great Lake (known as Gathering Place by the Water) I ran a VtM game for a group for quite some time. I was very immersed in the VtM lore and vibe and scene. So I made a mix tape with a song that I thought captured the feel of each of the clans. It used a song as a general intro to the tape that was very atmospheric and signaled to everyone that we were ready to get started. I also had a mix tape made for whenever the party was at the ubiquitous club where lots of the action happened. During most of the game I had some general goth/punk music in the background. I also would cue up specific songs on CD for big moments…like when the Ravnos clan (including several elders) all showed up up at the club and using their disciplines threw things into chaos for the DJ as they made a thematic dramatic entrance unnannounced. The Ravnos character in the PCs especially loved that.

Later when I lived in OH and was running another VtM game with players who were generally more immersive, we used that same song as a brief meditative moment to “get into character” and ready to play. We also would keep some music on thematically in the background to help keep the mood.

My brother would sometimes use moody music when running his Ravenloft setting game and we would sometimes do soundtracks during DnD in general background.

But setting the way back machine to Way Way Back to when I started, we often played all night at my buddies house in the basement “rec room” or what would now be the man cave because it had the most room, a pool table, video games, and the best stereo system. He liked what would now be called “classic rock” as did many of us and because it was his stereo he played what he liked in the background. So for me AC/DC, Zepplin, Bad Company, Floyd and the like were the soundtrack for those games.

Now I think I’d like when I get around to running a game to incorporate some sounds, music and other things because the technology is so much smoother and more easily.

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Used to run Star Wars soundtrack when running said game, but then the audio wouldn’t match the feel of the scene. “Wait, Leia’s Theme? Ugh, it’s a starship battle.”


I create playlists for encounter areas, combat (often different per encounter), and ambient loops for non-encounter areas (taverns, cities, woods, caves, etc.)
[Look for Plate Mail Games other soundscape designers on DriveThru…)

Also, I have music for pre-session, post-session, and some special set-piece mood music, such as a track for a character/major PC death/battlefield carnage …

[If you want to move players, there’s nothing quite like violins…]

I’m usually curating the soundtrack as the last bit of prep I do - often in the last hour. I find it calms me and gets me into the mood for the story (again).