RPGaDay 2018, Weekend Three: Media

RPGaDay 2018 infographic

RPGaDay is an annual celebration of tabletop roleplaying.

Weekend Three: Media

  1. What art inspires your game?
  2. What music enhances your game?

(There’s some kick-ass original art under the cut. So maybe check that out. Just saying.)

18th: What art inspires your game?

I don’t really know what this question is hinting at. Sometimes the art in the game books inspires my games (as I mentioned in RPGaDay 2017). Sometimes random pictures can inspire my games (I mentioned previously that my Cortex Prime supervillains game was inspired entirely by a specific gif I found online).

Also sometimes I go looking for art on the internet if I want something specific. For example, in my last two Dungeons & Dragons campaigns, I wanted to get pictures of my characters. Mostly this was to fix the images of the characters in my head (although getting a profile picture for D&D Beyond was also useful in the most recent campaign).

Focusing on the first campaign for now, my character was Kylie-var (it’s an anagram of ‘valkyrie’, don’t tell anyone), generally just called Kylie. She was an aasimar (half-angel) paladin, so I went searching through hundreds of images of women in high fantasy armour and also angels and, yes, valkyries. None of them were quite right, but they all helped me work out what the character looked like in my own head.

But far more interesting for me recently is the reverse question: how has our game inspired art?

After the campaign finished, our DM commissioned Melissa Trender (who, you may recall, did those amazing Avengers-themed Apocalypse World character portraits) to do a picture of our D&D party. Knowing what my character looked like at that point became really useful, and thanks to Mel I ended up with a picture that looked exactly like the character I had in my head, albeit at a relaxed moment between battles. Check it out:

D&D Party by Melissa Trender
From left to right: Kylie-var d’Arloch (aasimar paladin), Pipaa d’Arloch (dragonborn shadow monk, Kylie’s sister), Weyes Misty (half-elf bard, youngest of the band and their leader), and Eliriel (eladrin wizard, Weyes’ teacher). Art by Melissa Trender.

19th: What music enhances your game?

It feels odd answering this because internally I feel as though I don’t really listen to a lot of music while I game. And, objectively speaking, that’s just not true. I think most games that I’m in have soundtracks, and over time I have become more used to having them. I’ve even started dipping my toes into doing soundtracks for the games that I run.

(Incidentally, last year Michael Duxbury made a blog post about building a soundtrack for games. It’s probably the first advice I’ll use when I start getting serious about it.)

At the moment, I’m in a campaign of The One Ring that uses the Howard Shore soundtracks from the six Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit movies, and I’m in a Dungeons & Dragons campaign for which the playlist is a bit more eclectic. The main theme is The God of Thunder by Antti Martikainan, but I think there’s also other stuff like Two Steps From Hell (if not in that game, it’s certainly been used in other games I’ve played it).

My forays into actually providing music have been quite limited, hampered partly because listening to music is not something that I do for fun, and I find it difficult to have music on in the background while I’m doing something else. But, as I mentioned in my blog post on my campaign of Masters of Umdaar, I did an introductory theme at the start of each session. Since Masters of Umdaar is partly inspired by 1980s cartoons like Masters of the Universe and Thundercats, I used an extended instrumental version of the theme from a similar show (Silverhawks), which had the right feel but was obscure enough that my players weren’t distracted by familiarity.

Making sure your soundtrack isn’t distracting is important, so I’d always recommend instrumental pieces and something that the players won’t recognise (except when you’re playing in a world with an established soundtrack already).

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