We’re pleased to announce that version 2.3 of our Game Masters Collection app for the iPad is now available at the Apple Store. The new version includes in-app purchase access to several of our recent soundpacks, including:
Eldritch Horror: Cult Ceremonies is a collection of 9 different mystical cult ceremonies. Now you can let your players hear that pesky cult eagerly summoning their icky dark lord to wreak havoc on an unsuspecting world.
Fantasy: Dragons: a collection of 20 growls, hisses, roars and breath attacks. Now you can let your players hear one of the most iconic creatures of the fantasy genre!
Fantasy: Traps: a collection of eleven sinister traps for you to install into you perilous fantasy campaigns.
Horror #2 – EVP: Electronic Voice Phenomena. These mysterious recordings are believed by some to represent the voices of the dead. Now Toxic Bag introduces a collection of creepy EVP phrases for you to use in your modern horror game.
Sci-Fi: Blasters & Deflector Shields: a collection of 16 energy weapons and shields for you to equip your party as they enter your Galactic Sci-Fi Operas.
Changes and fixes –
Optimized for iOS 7.
Changed the iPhone main view to a tableview menu.
Fixed scrubber to resize properly after rotating.
Resized main tableview icons to line up the text.
Cleaned up the startup screens.
Cleaned up actions when app goes into background.
Added a microphone access request for iOS 7 devices.
The Game Masters app is a free download; additional sounds are available via in-app purchase.
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.
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.
Two of the sounds in our new Soundpack (available for the Game Masters iPhone/iPad app or as mp3 downloads) are called “Soul Gem claims a victim.” The sound is available in male-victim and female-victim varieties, in the interest of gamer equality…but what is a “Soul Gem,” and what game system uses it?
It’s whatever you want it to be, really. We conceived of a magical stone that opened a portal to some other dimension and would capture the spirit of some unlucky character, trapping it in that dimension…but of course in your game it doesn’t need to be a stone, or open up another dimension…it could just be a spell that destroys your opponent. We made a cool sound and had to call it something, and that’s what we came up with. It’s not specifically the Soul Gem from Elder Scrolls or World of Warcraft or any number of other games/comics etc. that use the term.
This is the same concept we employ on our “Monsters” and “Strange Places” effects collections as well: we made a bunch of awesome sounds for you to use for whatever you like…and we had to call them something.
We’re proud to announce that we’ve released version 2.0 of our Game Masters Collection app for the iPhone and iPad. Here’s what’s new:
• A sound slider (or scrubber) is now included. This displays the elapsed duration of the playing sound and also allows re-positioning of the currently playing sound.
• Sounds can be set to loop (repeat) indefinitely – great for sounds that are background/ambience such as the peaceful village, the eerie haunted house, or onboard the dirigible!
• The Favorites list has been replaced with Soundlists. As with Favorites, Soundlists are collections of sounds you could gather for particular occasions, settings, or adventures. Now you can have any number of Soundlists, with distinctive names for each of your games.
We want to hear from you! Are you using the Game Masters app? Are you using the Game Masters CDs? What new sounds do you want to hear from us?
Joe and Steve
Here’s another blogger talking about using sound effects in your RPG. He raises some good logistic points, specifically about positioning your laptop behind a DM screen to better hide your actions, and using a playlist program like iTunes.
I love seeing this sort of thing. It tells me that the conversation we were working on back in 1996 is still going on in many places (the previous blog entry I linked to is more recent, but still…). Keep it going!
As many of you know, Toxic Bag was initially formed to create sound effects for game masters to use in their role playing game sessions. In all, we created four CDs worth of effects, as well as a CD full of battle backgrounds from various wars. The first four discs are the Game Masters Collection, and they’re available from Toxic Bag or on Amazon.
Recently we were approached by Dale Barnes, a developer of apps for Apple’s iPhone and iPad. Dale’s other work includes a mobile reference app for the Hero System Sixth Edition. He wanted to make an app to access the Game Masters sounds directly from the iPhone and iPad. We went forward with it and are pretty pleased with the result.
When we first introduced the Game Masters Collection in 1996, one of the small obstacles to including sound effects in a pencil & paper game was that not everyone plays in the same room with their stereo. Many things have changed since then, and playback from a computer or iPod makes using the Game Masters discs much easier. The Game Masters Collection iPhone app makes it easier still, with scrollable menus of all the sounds for quick access and the ability to save a favorites list so that all the sounds for a given adventure are in one place. The Game Masters Collection is now portable enough to use in a LARP or at a convention, and as always the broad range of sounds means the GMC is useful in any number of genres.
The basic version of the Game Masters Collection app is free, and comes with a starter set of sounds from each of the four CDs, as well as several previously unreleased sounds. Unlocking more sounds from each volume requires an in-app purchase.