5 suggestions for using sound in your role-playing game

1) Be organized. This is first because it addresses the number one concern we hear from GMs when the subject of sound comes up. Go through your story beforehand, pick the sounds you want and know where/when they should come up. Make a playlist on iTunes or the Game Masters app with the sounds, in approximate order, and have your playback device close to hand so you’re not fumbling around for a sound when the moment arrives.

2) Hide the speakers. Having a sound that comes from another room, or just behind the players, can be very effective and surprising. For one game, I prepared a special soundfile with 15 minutes of silence in front, so I was able to walk across the room, sneakily hit “play,” and sit back down – and not only did the players not really take notice of what I was doing, they’d forgotten all about it by time the sound actually played.

3) Use headphones. Playing a sound for just one player is the equivalent of taking a player aside to give him proprietary information or a secret agenda. How will a character react if he’s the only one who can hear the monster?

4) Moderation. You can’t have a sound ready for every place the players go, or every thing they run into. Instead, have one or two encounters set up before hand. make them the show stoppers of the adventure. Choose the final showdown with the beastie or the first time the party meets the evil bandit king in his palace or when they find the magical sword of awesomeness. Any of these can be set piece encounters that you can really build up with sound to expand and heighten the experience.

5) Let the players know beforehand that sound is going to be a part of the game. That way, when they hear the snarling beastie noise coming from your hidden speaker (see number 2 above) they will react accordingly and not just say, “huh, cool sound.”

For over 200 sounds to use in your RPG, go to toxicbag.com.

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About toxicbag

Toxic Bag Productions, Inc. provides sound effects and music for independent films, animated shorts, theatrical productions, dance performances, podcasts and video games. They work out of their studio on the north side of Chicago.

Posted on August 19, 2011, in Sound Effects for RPGs and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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