What Music Is Playing During Your Battle?

by Wimwick (Neil Ellis) on May 21, 2010

In grade 5 my teacher asked the class if we could only have one song playing as our theme song, what would it be?

For the life of me I don’t recall what song I selected. However, John Arcadian’s post at Gnome Stew got me thinking about this again. John highlights the tool Pandora. Now, because I live in Canada I don’t have access to this nice tool. I do however have access to my ipod and all the CDs I still haven’t copied over to a digital format.

John’s article brought me back to that question my grade 5 teacher asked, only this time it was what songs would compose my D&D soundtrack?

Now, there are a multitude of songs that would be relevant to a D&D session. I’d gladly attack any number of monsters while one of the songs listed below was playing in the background.

  1. By The Sword– Slash & Andrew Stockdale: I’m not sure if it’s the name, the guitar solo or the way Andrew Stockdale wails on this song, but it really inspires me to roll some crits.
  2. Perfect In Between – Champion: It could just be the bass, or the fact that 8 guitars are working in such harmony. This song instills thoughts of action.
  3. We Will Rock You/We Are The Champions: Queen – I couldn’t in good faith leave this selection off the list. Everyone needs a little Queen.
  4. Heads Will Roll – Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Zombies + Critical Hits = Heads Will Roll
  5. The Royal We– Silversun Pickups: “We are ready for the siege, we are armed up to the teeth” Sounds like D&D to me.
  6. Knights of Cydonia – Muse: Guitar Hero might have made the song popular, but the guitar riff is one you know want cranked as you destroy the enemy.
  7. This Is War – 30 Seconds To Mars: I admit the Dragon Age: Origins trailers hooked me on this one.
  8. Blaze Of Glory– Bon Jovi: All battle is glorious and if there needs to be a TPK, you might as well go down swinging.
  9. Clubbed To Death– Rob Dougan: You’ve seen Neo and company fight to this tune and you know you want to as well.
  10. Furious Angels(Instrumental): Rob Dougan – See above.
  11. Sunday Bloody Sunday – U2: My gaming group plays on Sunday nights, it seemed appropriate.
  12. Burn – The Cure (Crow Soundtrack): Regret, loss, violence, vengeance, this song brings it all out.
  13. Mad World – Gary Jules (cover): “The dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had.” Nothing defines a D&D character or campaign like an epic death.

There are undoubtedly many other songs that I would include on this list. A great many of them being classical pieces. Unfortunately, I’m not very well educated in classical music and I don’t own any of it. So for the time being it must remain off my list. If you have some recommendations, please let me know.

What songs would be included in your play list?

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1 Nivi May 21, 2010 at 9:34 am

What about Carl Orff – O Fortuna. May be a bit of a classic, but nothing beats attacking a large horde of undead inspired by haunted verses of this tune. Check this link for a nice youtube movie including English translations of the lyrics: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrML6s1wNHk

2 Matthew. May 21, 2010 at 9:58 am

No no no! You’re doing it wrong. Songs, partnered with 4e (the ‘e’ stands for epic–by which we mean battles–by which we mean looooong) aren’t the best match. You need albums, man; albums!

Anything off the Aural Hypnox record label.

Coil’s “Constant Shallowness Leads to Evil” (if only to offer commentary on the party’s tendency to, while loudly proclaiming their virtues, kill anything that moves to loot it)

Cold Meat Industry, as a label, is home to some superb (da)mbient. Raison D’Etre. Brighter Death Noise. Sephiroth.

Converter’s “Exit Ritual”

Most anything published by the LOKI Foundation label.

Lustmord. Anything by Lustmord.

Yen Pox.

Dark, dark, dark ambient. Droning bliss for the background of any D&D game.

3 callin May 21, 2010 at 10:26 am

Back in the day, when I was running World of Darkness, my players would come up with soundtracks for the game. They picked songs that were appropriate to the setting (vampires, mages, werewolves). I awarded extra xp for each cassette tape (am I dating myself?) they made and brought. All told we had about 10 tapes as some players ended up making 2-3 tapes by the end (all with unique songs).
.-= callin´s last blog ..4E Ritual- Reincarnation =-.

4 Kensan_Oni May 21, 2010 at 10:38 am

Oooo… Theme Music! I have too many to choose from…

Barbossa is Hungry – POTC:COTBP soundtrack
Mind War (part 2) – Babylon 5 Soundtrack
Anvil of Crom – Conan the Barbarian soundtrack
Asteroid Belt – Empire Strikes Back Soundtrack
Ultimate War – Hook Soundtrack
Septimus – Stardust Soundtrack
Elenore – Gone in 60 Seconds Score
Nemisis – A Knight’s Tale Score
Mars – Holts The Planets
High Energy Protons – Juno Reactor
Triumph – Chrono Cross Soundtrack (When the battle ends, of course)
Full of Life – Protricity, Relics of the Chozo (Ocremix.com)
The Hyperion Overture – Echoes of War
Legacy of Terror – Diablo III soundtrack
A Tenuous Pact – Echoes of War
Corneria – Star Fox OST

… and oh, how I could go on and on…

5 Flightless May 21, 2010 at 6:58 pm

I used a lot of music when running games, and the music varied with the system. As an overall rule I found that instrumental music or music in other languages tended to work better, although I’d use sometimes stuff with vocals during combat. Have more stuff than you need try to sort it into groups by atmosphere e.g. combat, tension, chase scenes etc

Here are my favourites, with explanations
The Enid – Last Judgement/In the region of the Summer Stars, Childe Roland. A band making classical style music with rock instruments, sweeping, excessive and just what any game needs. If you only listen to / use one thing I suggest this is it

Jan Garbarek + The Hilliard Ensemble – Parce Mihi Domine. Late Medieval chant with jazz saxophone. For the moment when it goes into slow motion like the cave troll fight in the Fellowship film

Steve Hackett – The Steppes, Slogans, Darktown Riot and lots more. Does brooding menace very well but does combat music too with the faster stuff.

Rush – La Villa Strangiato. Most Rush instrumentals make good D&D music

If you don’t mind vocals there is a lot of fantasy themed European power metal that does EPIC – try Dream Evil whose first cd Dragonslayer is totally quest friendly; Hammerfall, Rhapsody of Fire and Dragonforce.

Therion are good for dungeon crawling too, Wagner meets metal

Finally there’s a bunch of instrumental post rock that has appeared recently which is fairly rpg friendly particularly Beware of Safety, Giants and Russian Circles

Good gaming to you!

6 skywise May 22, 2010 at 1:39 pm

Oh man! I love soundtracks for D&D Games. I have my iPod and dock set up to play with a bunch of different play lists: for fights, for dungeon crawling, taverns, towns, temples, etc…

I pretty much only use soundtracks:
Silent Hill
The Fountain
Pirates of the Caribbean
The Last Samurai
Conan the Barbarian
Baldur’s Gate

So for instance my current game takes place on an astral yacht. Most of the game is Battlestar and Pirates, but when they encounter the fall realm, i have a mixture of silent hill and the fountain.

@Kensan_Oni been looking for the Stardust soundtrack EVERYWHERE. where did you find it?
.-= skywise´s last blog ..New Game! =-.

7 Paul M May 23, 2010 at 1:15 am

If i use any, these would be some

Ride of the Valkyries – Wagner
Dogs of War – Pink Floyd
Imperial Death March – John Williams
Run like Hell – Pink Floyd
Veteran of the Psychic Wars – Blue Oyster Cult

8 Icosahedrophilia May 23, 2010 at 3:53 am

I prefer to stay away from familiar music and music with lyrics, as I find my players getting distracted. I blog occasionally about RPG music in the irregular “Dungeons & DJs” series on Icosahedrophilia.
.-= Icosahedrophilia´s last blog ..Icosahedrophilia Podcast, Episode 67: The Sands of Time, Part 4 =-.

9 Wimwick May 25, 2010 at 11:33 pm

@ Everyone
Thanks to everyone for providing new options for soundtracks during D&D sessions. Some great idea’s and inspiration sources.

@ Icosahedrophilia
You make a good point about shying away from popular music/music with lyrics as this could easily be a distraction at the table.

10 Kensan_Oni May 25, 2010 at 11:49 pm

@skywise (P.S. Elfquest fan?)

I got my Stardust soundtrack from Itunes. http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/stardust-music-from-motion/id261481977 You probably can also order it from Amazon.

11 Thovan Spelloyal October 26, 2011 at 7:46 pm

My soundtrack that I’m working on is as follows:

The Chosen Ones – Dream Evil
Indestructible – Disturbed
The Night – Disturbed
Iside The Fire – Disturbed
Through The Fire And Flames – Dragonforce
Hero – Skillet
Igniisis Dance – Wrath Of Killenstein
The Chosen Roadie – Brutal Legend Official Soundtrack
Dream Warriors – Dokken
Cry Of The Banshee – Brocas Helm
Drink The Blood Of The Priest – Brocas Helm
Hall Of The Mountain King – Savatage
Swords And Tequila – Riot
Destroy The Orcs – 3 Inches Of Blood
I Won’t Back Down – Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers
The Gambler – Kenny Rogers
The Maid That Sold Her Barley – Déanta
Nemo – Nightwish
Voodoo – Godsmack
Midnight Blue – Slayers! Soundtrack
Headstrong – Trapt
Black Fire – Dragonforce
Black Winter Night – Dragonforce
Valley Of The Damned – Dragonforce
Enemy – Days Of The New
The Bard’s Tale Soundtrack
Holding Out For A Hero – Bonnie Tyler
In The End – Linkin Park
The Pretender – Foo Fighters
Bad Company – Bad Company
Viva La Vida – Coldplay
Lonely Soul – Unkle
Bring Me To Life – Evanescence
Lightning Strikes – Ozzy Osbourne
Dragula – Rob Zombie
Head Like A Hole – Nine Inch Nails
Heart Of A Dragon – Dragonforce
Twilight Zone – Golden Earring
Hunger Stike – Temple Of The Dog
18 And Life – Skid Row
Ten Thousand Fists – Disturbed
My Own Prison – Creed
Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked – Cage The Elephant
Blaze Of Glory – Bon Jovi
Wanted Dead Or Alive – Bon Jovi
The Balad Of Bilbo Baggins – Leonard Nimoy
The Day That Never Comes – Metallica
The Axeman – Omen
One Shot At Glory – Judas Priest
Am I Evil? – Diamond Head
God Of Thunder – KISS

12 Tracyn'tar November 18, 2011 at 10:56 pm

I would recommend many songs by the group Two Steps from Hell, especially those off their albums “Dynasty”, “Nero”, “Power of Darkness”, and “Volume 1”.

13 Chase July 19, 2016 at 12:11 am

I’d go with White and Nerdy as my theme for anything.

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