Instant soundtrack for your Cthulhu campaign

Edison and phonograph For many years now, I have used background music in my roleplaying game sessions. Music is a prefect tool to help to set a certain mood. For my last Trail of Cthulhu game, which was set into the late 1930s, I used a mix of movie soundtracks (especially the “A Nightmare on Elm Street” soundtrack works great for any horror game) and 1930s jazz music. I didn’t own any 1930s music, so I had to lend a few CDs from a friend who’s a big fan of jazz music.

But now I found a free source of music from the early 20th century (thanks to the Propnomicon blog). Archive.org has thousands of recordings from 78 rpm records and even phonograph cylinders.

[audio:http://ia341010.us.archive.org/2/items/1920s-bigBand-abeLyman-01-10/AbeLymansCaliforniaAmbassadorHotelOrchestra-FarewellBlues.mp3]

The above song is 1920s big band music performed by Abe Lyman and his band.

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

11 thoughts on “Instant soundtrack for your Cthulhu campaign”

  1. That is awesome… I struggle with music sometimes. Love to have some playing on the background but finding the right one is always hard, and I have a pretty LARGE soundtrack collection. Even with iPods making managing them easier, setting them up is such a time consuming endeavour. Tanks for that info…

  2. Do you think your keeper might be willing to share what music he uses? I am always interested to find new creepy music for my Call (or Trail) of Cthulhu games.

  3. I have not ruined your mind… yet, Misterecho.

    Being the aforementioned keeper (Stuart), I can give you a quick run-down of the music I use. It's not terribly conventional, but:

    1. Horror soundtracks (Alien 3 is a favourite of mine; bits of Dracula work well; and, oddly, Solaris; among others.)

    2. Dark Ambient music (the slower and creepier the better–a lot of this is freely available through various websites. Give it a google.)

    3. Classical (yes, good old classical; organ, voice and percussion seem to work best, but then Philip Glass works well too.)

    4. Progressive rock (I don't use a lot of this, but sometimes there is a track that really works well).

    5. Sound effects (again, I don't use much of this, but if I could find the right thing, I'd use it)

    I have all these tracks in my iTunes and I've made a playlist called Cthulhiana which I stream to my HiFi while we're playing. Some of it is a bit freaky and has the desired effect on Misterecho and his companion. Hope this helps!

    Stuart

  4. Thanks for posting the run-down of the music you use. I think I will have to look into Dark Ambient Music. This might be exactly what I need.

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