5 more suggestions for using sound in your role-playing game

Here’s a follow-up from last week’s post about using sound in your RPG. This batch of suggestions comes from Steve.

1) Use your sounds to keep the game moving forward. I know it’s role playing, and the players love to make a fancy plan every time, but really, do they think that the pack of skeletons that just charged into the cave are gonna wait while the party huddles up and draws a play in the dirt? No, and you shouldn’t either! Playing the skeleton screech to signal that the fight is on can keep the action moving. Side note: our 5-minute “Self-Destruct Sequence” track from the Strange Places disc was conceived specifically for this purpose. They say they’re gonna blow up the ship on a 5-minute timer, give ‘em exactly 5 minutes to figure out their escape.

2) Don’t be afraid to replay your sounds. Gaming tables are noisy places, and some of the more subtle things can be missed. It’s not unreasonable to replay a sound (particularly the shorter ones) a time or two. On the other hand, if your party is just too noisy to hear that group of Deep Ones waddling up behind them…too bad for them.

3) Deception is key. Throughout the game, randomly take each player aside and let them listen to a sound in the headphones. These sounds can have little or nothing to do with the story (the wind blowing, or a coyote howling in the distance). This way they can grow accustomed to the headphones, but they will think that the soundfiles are just going to be a small part of the game. Then you can hit one of the players with the ghostly message or dream sequence and blow their minds – kinda like it would do in real life!

4) Volume is your friend. Beasties have indoor voices too, so don’t be afraid to play the quiet parts quiet and the loud parts loud.

5) Have fun with it. Remember, this is your story. You’re the one who spent the last few months crafting it. The soundfiles are just another tool to help you tell it. Not every sound will work exactly like you imagined it would. (in this regard they’re just like any other prop, supplement, old yellowed photo, ancient document…) All you can do is enjoy the sounds that worked well, and learn from the ones that don’t for next time.

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


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 22, 2011, in RPG Sound, Sound Effects for RPGs and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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