Helping you incorporate music and sound effects into your Star Wars RPG
Episode 0 – Starting at the very beginning, a very good place to start.
Hi Gamer Nation! Hope you’re having a good day today. Now why would adding music to your games be daunting to many GMs out there? Well, at the time this article is being written, there are around 163 music tracks from the movies alone, nearly 12 1/2 hours of music! Plus there’s still music from the TV shows, video games, and another 4 Star Wars films that we know of! In short, trying to find tracks that are good for your current encounter is a huge task. Especially when one of your players is asking if they can mount and tame that rancor… while they carry the princess they just rescued… and a gatling gun.
So we’ll start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.
What you need:
You need a device that either can download music or stream music from it, like your phone, tablet, or computer that you’re probably already using for your game. (I know that’s super obvious but I like being thorough so bear with me.)
You need access to Star Wars music, again super obvious but you have to figure out your budget. If your budget is zero dollars I recommend Spotify as that was what I used until I bought CDs, and you can get access to nearly all the albums with a free account. The only problem with these types of streaming services is:
- They don’t allow you to trim the tracks which is super helpful to do
- Most don’t let you download the music so it can be used offline, so if your internet is spotty or at a place with no internet you’re sunk
- Even if you get a premium account and download the tracks, they can randomly say that in order to play this album you have to be online. (Not like this happened to me recently and I’m extremely bitter about it…)
If you have enough money to buy one CD then listen to them all using the aforementioned streaming services, or wait till my next article gets published, one of those options comes with witty writing and I’m sure you don’t want to miss out on that… right?…
Or you could be the sort of person, with either lots of disposable income or really bad money management skills, that has bought the entire collection and if so well done! You are completely set for any type of scene or encounter you could come up with. (Even if you dumped boku bucks on Amazon to to so… what we do for our love of the game & our PCs…)
You need a speaker, a good speaker if possible. While you could get away with using your laptop with the speakers facing you or sticking your phone into a cardboard toilet roll that you life hacked into a “speaker,” I believe that even a $10 speaker is a better option than either than those other two.
Once you get comfortable setting up, planning out, and playing your music I suggest splurging and get a Bluetooth enabled speaker so your phone has more freedom of movement, because the less wires I have to move to get to the rule book the better.
What you need to do:
Listen to the albums. Now that you have access to the music, the next logical step is to listen to the music. If you don’t have the time the albums are usually laid out in sequence with the scenes in the movies. So if you can remember how the movies go, and if you’re like me you have watched them countless times, you’ll be able to do a good job at selecting what tracks to play.
Separate your playlists into categories and have a game playlist. You can separate your music any way you want but for me I either have them separated by movie or, the way I’ll be doing it from now on, into the categories: Battle, Dramatic, Happy, Sad, and Scary. Then from those categories you can pick tracks to put in your game playlist so you don’t have to switch playlists mid-game and look for certain tracks.
You need to plan ahead and build a playlist of tracks that you want to have during the game. What I try to do is while I’m writing an adventure I’ll listen to a category of music while I write, like Battle music for that fight against a rancor (though for that you use the track entitled “Den of the Rancor” which is super obvious).
Don’t forget, you can repeat tracks. In the heat of battle with that rancor neither you or your PCs will notice the “Den of the Rancor” playing for the 17th time, because unless its a dramatic moment, i.e. Character death or an informative revelation, the music is there to fill the dead space of the rolls and the humdrum of adjudicating the 6th time that the rancor has crited your big game hunter. (GM tip: if you have a big game hunter in your game make sure the creature focuses them down first, because that’s why they picked that career right?)
Dramatic pausing… is a great option. As you listen to these tracks you’ll get better at remembering just when the music swells and as you GM you’ll get better at lining up the perfect moment to ask for a astoundingly hard roll just before the music reaches it’s pinnacle, however its best to pause the music while you figure out how good/bad your PC rolled and while you think about how to adjudicate the roll. The silence is palpable as you all eagerly look at that despair that suddenly appeared, signaling that the big game hunter is now a pancake. Using that pause to switch the song to either a happy song for a good outcome or a sad song for a bad outcome is also a good practice to get into.
Remember to keep an ear on the volume. Until you “get gud” at being a DJGM it might be wise to have one of your PCs help you to keep the music from drowning out your sad narrative of the big game hunter’s death, or you’re overwhelming the music with your rendition of the princess’s song commemorating the bravado of the hunters last stand.
There you have it! Just enough information to get you hooked on my brand of humor and insight to keep you coming back for more. In the next several articles I write; I’ll break down the albums into the categories I mentioned above so you can find the tracks you need easily and even how to trim some of the tracks so they flow better for your game. But until these get published, if you have the time, take the time to listen to these albums and think about what situations you could use it in. Because that’s the first step to putting music into your games. So thanks for reading and I hope you have a nice rest of the day.
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