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Did you hear that? Using Audio in RPG sessions.

It was 1997 the players had come over to my house for a game of TORG. (West End Games). I was running a one shot in the MicroCosum of Orrish. A Victorian Horror reality where the monsters were supposed to scare you before they ripped to pieces. I really wanted to impress the players by doing something different. I had recently picked up from the store software that would allow me to edit sound (Yes they were not standard on Packard Bell computers and downloading software was still sci-fi). 

In Torg one of the warnings that reality is changing on you is a storm. (Look up Storm Knights). Once reality changed some of the key things that you depend on such as physics may not work in your favor. (such as your gun no longer being able to fire because it's tech level Was 1983, not 1883.... Go read TORG) 

I had gathered up as many Wav files as I could find. 

  • Owls hooting 
  • Light rain 
  • something scurrying on the floor
  • a wolf howl 
  • Thunder and lighting. 

I had mixed this all together giving a Night soundscape that lasted for about an hour. (by the way, that size of a file back in that day crashed my computer exporting it to WAV. )  The rain would start off soft and slowly build over the first 10 min or so. From there I slowly added some of the other noises like the Wolf and the Owl. I had an audio queue of the owl hooting twice to warn me what was coming up next. this told me that I would have 10 min to start building the suspense. In the story, I had one of the NPCs leave the house to fix the electrical generator for the third time. I let room get really quite then  

KABOOOM!!!!!!  Thunderclap!!! 

Wow was it really loud.

All the players jumped including the player who is always bragging that he himself is fearless. (He actually screamed like a child) Rest of the adventure the players were on their toes. I had changed the mood from a joking bunch of comedians who would fit better in Ghostbusters than the exorcist. Into something more serious to fit the mood of the game. 

Audio Resources for Gamemasters 

As a Gamemaster I am always looking for new ways to get the players in the mood for a game. My current obsession is http://tabletopaudio.com/ as it does 98% of the mixing and the sounds for you. It is also free! I was playing with it and freaked out my dog with the Thunder noises. 

If think that an App would work best for you check out https://syrinscape.com/ There is a cost for this but I am told that its worth it. I have used the free version and I Can see why there is a cost. They have worked very hard on this app. 

Making your own soundscapes 

Start off by going to Freesound and download some sounds for free. I have a ton of these on my hard drive. 

Next check out programs like Garageband or Audacity .  They are both free

Rules for making soundscapes 

  1. Remember that it's about ambient sounds. Opening up an app just to make the sound of a lightsaber is disruptive and will annoy your players. 
  2. The sound clips should not be too repetitive. Make sure that your soundscape is at least 10 min long otherwise it will be like playing the same song over and over again. 
  3. Less is more.. The sounds and music should b
  4. You should always be able to talk over the sounds even if the sounds are of battle. It's better to have no sound than sound you have to shout over (unless that is what you are trying to do... though the neighbors may not like you) 
  5. Be careful of timing. In the example above I had a lot of FLUFF Role playing and interactions planned. So I could interrupt at any moment. If there were to be any action during that time I would have just shut down the sounds. 
  6. If you are recording a podcast be careful many of these sounds are protected by copyright (though free sound project is not a problem) 
  7. If you have to pick between being a GM or a sound tech always pick the GM. I have been in a game where we waited 20 min for the GM to figure out why the sound was coming out of the wrong speaker. 
  8. For the love of THACO never make noises for every action. The sound effects should add to the experience not be one in itself. It's annoying for video games tabletop its even worse. 

So that said ... if you have some cool audio that you would like to share please email me This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Using Keynote or Powerpoint in your RPG game

 

As a gamemaster, we are always looking for ways to improve our game.  One of the things that I have found helpful is running a Keynote presentation on loop behind me during the game. 

Here are a few tips to creating that presentation.

I create sites in categories, Rules, Common knowledge, and feel. 

  • Rules are a quick explanation of some of the rules that the player may encounter during the game. Such as how to roll the dice. 
  • Common knowledge is things the player may not know that the character should. This will help the player avoid those awkward moments like not knowing the name of their employers 
  • Feel is just that. Images that help add to the feel you want to portray in the game 

Tips 

Never stop the game so the player will watch.

Gone are the days of the slide show of your grandfather's vacation where all he did was take pictures of the same toy train set for 14 days. There is a reason for this it is boring! So don't subject your players to this. Run the slideshow in the background behind you during the game. The players will take a look at the slide show while they are waiting for their turn. 

Keep the Slides short 

The point of these slides is to give tidbits of info not write a book. Consider the maximum bit of info to be the same as a twitter post. Anything more than that and you are going to lose the player to the side show. 

Avoid Music or sound effects 

Sound effects and music are one of those things that sound like a good idea at the time. Trust me it get's really annoying really quick when a slideshow repeats every three minutes.

Are Hobbies a usless skill in RPGs

So the question is are hobbies a useless skill in RPGs? I happen to think not! I have received more XP because my character took up an odd hobby that has nothing to do with combat than anything else I have tried. this Video talks more about this. 

 

 

What do dice Really think of you?

 

This one is more silly than anything. I had this idea of what would happen if dice could think and what would they think of us players? This one is about players who stack dice during the game. I have a few ideas of other videos I can do .. so If you like them let me know. 

Meta-Danger : how to use meta gaming to make games more exciting

How to make a game more exciting. 

As a gamemaster, we must always walk the line between being a tyrant at the game table and allowing the players walk all over you. Sometimes you need to add some excitement without having actually trying to kill the PCs. This video is going to cover a few ways as a game master you can try to convince the players you are evil when you are really not.