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). has thousands of recordings from 78 rpm records and even phonograph cylinders.


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!


  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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