As you know, we’re big fans of tabletop RPG soundtracks. We have several official soundtracks to our games for sale in the Pelgrane Store thanks to the brilliance of James Semple and his collaborators. (Scroll down and click on Music to open that section.)
But ours are not the only possible soundtracks! Fans of Pelgrane games have created playlists featuring everything from orchestral film scores to electronic dance music, including Music for the 13th Age by Matthew Federico, and Night’s Black Agents playlists by mathey and myself. And we’d love to hear yours.
Please share your playlists for Night’s Black Agents, 13th Age, Esoterrorists, Ashen Stars, TimeWatch or any of our other games on Twitter with the hashtag #mypelgranemix or leave it here in a comment. We’re hoping to post a roundup of great music in the next Page XX!
Give your 13th Age game the soundtrack it deserves
The 13th Age Age Soundtrack brings you 30 pieces of music to evoke excitement, suspense, wonder and mystery at your gaming table. Keep it running in the background, play individual tracks to herald the arrival of battle, the icons or a change in location, or use it as inspiration while building worlds, characters and monsters. (Or, you know, just enjoy it as a really great album.)
The 13th Age Age Soundtrack by James Semple and an array of talented musicians and composers includes:
Themes for the icons (wait – one’s missing…?)
Themes for key locations in the Dragon Empire, or ones of your own creation that have a similar atmosphere
Music for frantic chases, fierce combat, exploration, resting and remembrance
Special utility tracks – play “Chase Music” and “Escalation 0-6″ on a loop to sustain the mood for as long as you need
Listen to these sample tracks below:
13th Age theme:
Dreams of a Lost Age:
1. 13th Age
Prophecies fail. Demons invade, living dungeons rip towards the surface and the Empire’s protectors falter. A sweeping anthem for the heroes who will save the world, or die trying.
He has preserved the Empire for centuries and created astonishing new lands. He has also threatened the fabric of reality with experiments you’d have to be brilliant or hugely arrogant to attempt.
He’s the armored fist of the dark gods, crusading against demons — but happy to stomp out virtue or innocence if they’re stupid enough to get in his way.
Unlike the demons she controls, the Diabolist doesn’t necessary want to destroy the universe. She wants to play with it, as a tiger plays with a troupe of monkeys. Those who dance best may not be eaten.
5. Dwarf King
The Dwarf King remembers when his kingdom in the deeps was the mightiest in all creation. Forced towards the surface by elven treachery, he guards the Empire from threats such as the orcs while calculating how to claim the Empire for his own. Or maybe he’s content to mine the treasures of the earth, and build great things that his ancestors would have coveted. Maybe.
6. Elf Queen
Once upon a time, the Elf Queen united the dark elves, wood elves, and high elves as one people. Now she is the only thing they have in common.
The ruler of the Dragon Empire holds his Empire together with armies, magic, force of will, tolerably wise rule, and grand squadrons of dragons. You may not agree with him, but you’re not going to mistake him for someone who does things halfway.
8. Great Gold Wyrm
This great gold dragon is the champion of the oppressed and those who fight for justice. Unfortunately the Wyrm is stuck holding the gates of the hells shut against the demons, so the Wyrm’s champions must do its work in the world.
9. High Druid
She is the champion of the resurgent Wild, and the spiritual and magical leader of spirits of nature and the elements that were chained by the Emperor and Archmage but are now working themselves free.
10. Lich King
The Lich King is the not-quite-insane lord of the undead, a fallen tyrant who plans to conquer the Dragon Empire. He mostly understands that ruling a kingdom is not the same as destroying it.
11. Orc Lord
The leader of the hordes. An apocalyptic icon of war, disease, and endings that could be worse than death.
The gods are distant but she hears all the gods of light and speaks for those who please her. Part oracle, part mystic, and part metaphysical engineer, since she created the Cathedral, an ever-expanding temple with rooms or entire wings for each of the faiths she favors.
13. The Three
Three ancient dragons cooperate to become one of the dominant evils of the world. The red dragon embodies fury, the black masters stealth and betrayal, and the blue has used sorcery to become a legally appointed governor of the Empire as well as an evil mastermind!
14. The Eyes of the Stone Thief
The Stone Thief is a terrible centuries-old living dungeon that cuts through the earth, surfacing to swallow people and places that the heroes love.
15. Tales Around the Fire
For the rare moments when nothing is trying to kill you.
Descending into the ruined temple. Opening the gates of the living dungeon. Moving in the dark down a corridor that might be made of stone, but then why is the stone breathing? Wind from up ahead, but it’s not the wind from the surface. Welcome to the underworld.
17. The Demon Coast
Coastlines can be bad business on the Midland Sea, home to all the evil things forced out of the ocean by the Empire’s magic. The coast just north of the Abyss is even worse, hit by tides of evil from both directions.
18. The Fangs
The rivers that feed into the Midland Sea are dangerous places and this is the worst of the bunch, fast moving forks of water populated by sahuagin and sea devils and other creatures forced out of the Midland Sea by the Blessed Emperor. Another great tune for ramping up the tension.
19. High Dock
There aren’t any actual docks in these rolling western hills, and the name may or may not be a joke. For magical reasons no one understands, all the flying realms of the Empire eventually drop low and bump up against the hills or take out big chunks of the terrain in terrible skidding ‘landings.’ Eventually the realms lift off again. If you want to hitch a ride into the overworld, head to the High Dock and take your chances.
This island started small. It’s growing like a cancer in the center of the Midland Sea, bulking up the worst way possible as living dungeon after living dungeon tear up to the surface, depositing their payloads of monstrous weirdness. On the bright side, there’s nobody competing for space on the beach, you should be able to catch a good thirty minutes of sun before the monsters smell you.
The stars come to this mountain for repair and refitting. What does this mean, you ask? We don’t know — we left it open for each game table to decide for themselves.
22. Dreams of a Lost Age
Every culture in the world has its own version of this song. The world is ancient, all have lost things they would have wanted to preserve. They summon the dreams in song.
23. Chase Music
Who is chasing who? Doesn’t matter. Put it on loop to cue frantic backward glances, quick changes of direction, and short cuts that lead to greater peril.
24-30. Escalation 0 through Escalation 6
You can use this music to accompany the escalation die, starting at 0 and topping off at 6; or loop the low levels for relatively normal situations, then switch to high levels when power makes the air hum.
Stock #: PEL13A08D
Composed by: James Semple, Marie-Anne Fischer, Thery Ehrlich, Chris J. Nairn, Tristan Noon
Musicians: Eos Chater, Deryn Cullen, Eanan Paterson, Pete Whitfield, Simon Porter, Hugh Davies, Harry Davidson, Julie Minasian
Having recently completed the 13th Age Suite I was interested in writing something more contemporary again. While music for the Night’s Black Agents Dracula Dossier is on the horizon, I felt it had been far, far too long since I’d last written anything for The Esoterrorists. I remember that ever since I’d read The Esoterror Fact Book I’d had an idea for some music which I never got around to writing. Now I had a moment of spare time I thought it was time to revisit this idea!
The first thing I realised was that it was important to differentiate the music of The Esoterrorists from the music of Night’s Black Agents. After all they’re both contemporary action dramas with strong elements of the occult. It would be easy to end up with fairly interchangeable music between the two. With that in mind I reviewed the music I’d written for both and then drew out a list of elements that were specific to Esoterrorists and distinct from NBA.
Stylistically I felt that The Esoterrorists has a heavier focus on action and less on tension. The music is a little more muscular with overt nods to military snares and heavy rock guitar. Perhaps almost a sense of New World confidence in contrast to the more world-weary European quality of NBA. There’s definitely an action movie quality there. This is particularly emphasised on tracks focusing on the Special Suppression Forces.
Another important aspect is the usage of musique concrete and reversed sound design to represent the Membrane, particularly highlighted in the track The Membrane. This felt like a very useful colour to again help differentiate the Esoterrorist sound.
Finally I have also been wanting to write music for the Ordo Veritatis itself. I have many ideas for this going around but there’s likely to be something in the style of brass chorale and perhaps something with choirs as well. Maybe a hymn or even a march. There is a definite sense of noble duty I’d like to capture.
Anyway having suitably established my Esoterrorists sound I decided to crack on and write the track itself. It’s called Irrawaddy Landing and is the first scene in Operation Whirlwind Reaper, the scenario in The Esoterror Fact Book. As soon as I read this scene I wanted to write music for it.
Imagine rice fields in Myanmar at night … peaceful and calm. Suddenly a military plane comes into view. We see the Special Suppression Forces getting ready. There’s a brief quiet moment of noble duty and then they jump. Cue the hero music! Finally they land and the music gets more creepy as they begin sneaking into dangerous territory. I’ve written the music as though I was scoring this scene but of course you don’t have to use it in this way.
The best espionage thrillers use music to bring audiences to the edges of their seats, with soundtracks that evoke suspense, danger and mystery. Now you can bring this same excitement to your Night’s Black Agents RPG adventures with Dust and Mirrors: Music for Night’s Black Agents.
James Semple and his crack team of composers sonically equip your agents for any situation: shadowing a target in the fog-shrouded streets of Berlin, hacking into a corporate network, running seconds ahead of an explosion, or assaulting a secret vampire stronghold.
Play individual tracks on Dust and Mirrors for specific scenes during your game, or leave it on in the background to evoke a general mood of tension, action and horror.
Dust and Mirrors contains the following tracks, specifically composed for Night’s Black Agents:
1. Main Theme
Mysterious and dramatic music sets the scene for the game ahead!
Hidden surveillance and gathering evidence during dark hours of the night.
3. The Brief
A meeting, telephone call, email or letter is the catalyst for a series of events where danger lurks in the shadows.
An overall sense of dread envelopes you when you discreetly enter the state-of-the-art facility.
A moment to reflect where secret agents become ambivalent when their duty to the mission conflicts with their consciences.
A dangerous chase in a network of power and crime.
7. Suit Up
The final battle approaches, and only you have what it takes.
8. Urban Parkour
Desperate pursuit across rooftops in a city where death is on the line.
9. Purging The Demon
A desperate struggle between human and vampire.
Heavyweight direct brute force is sometimes the agents’ only recourse.
Conspiracy theories take a horrific turn after uncovering an ancient and dangerous secret society.
12. Covert Ops
Behind enemy lines sometimes subterfuge is the best approach.
13. The Great Escape
Confrontation is futile, all you can do now is run for your life. How will you get out of this one?
Emotionally draining circumstance of being trapped in a fiercely unpleasant and smelly environment.
15. An Eye For An Eye
An all out horror piece where the character is alone, vulnerable and miles away from any other human being.
The unfortunate and unforeseen event of meeting with blood-thirsty Vampires.
The true nature and power of the Vampires is revealed. Few can stand against it!
You can feel them watching, waiting patiently for you to come out of your hiding place.
A final reflective moment when the agents examine the life they lead and the choices they have made.
Share a link to your online playlist for Night’s Black Agents (or just your suggestions) on Twitter with the hashtag #nightsblackagents — or leave a comment below — and we’ll pass it along. We can always use more cool spy music in our lives. And if you listen to cool spy music and haven’t ordered the [REDACTED] Edition yet, for heaven’s sake fix that right away.
In a spy thriller, sometimes it’s the music that makes it all work.
The 1996 movie Mission: Impossible is a good example. In one scene, Ethan Hunt’s team discovers that they’re going to have to steal something they need from a secure room in CIA Headquarters . The scene instantly shifts to Langley, Virginia and the famous theme song blasts on the soundtrack, letting us know that we’re about to see the Impossible Missions Force swing into action.
Music can also be a great mood-setter for role-playing games. Groups playing Night’s Black Agents have no shortage of evocative music that can take them from ominous to ass-kicking and back again. Here are a couple of online playlists for your enjoyment:
Mathey’s Night’s Black Agents mix on 8tracks.com combines music from spy movies such as The Ipcress File, Ronin and Léon: The Professional with indie rock to pulse-pounding effect.
When I took a break from promoting 13th Age and started reading The [REDACTED] Edition, I assembled a Night’s Black Agents Spotify playlist to conjure the high-tech menace of the intelligence underworld, with music from the soundtracks of Taken, Spy Game and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy.
James Semple and his team have mastered over 70 minutes of original, fully orchestrated music of amazing quality for Trail of Cthulhu, and in particular, our mammoth campaign Eternal Lies
The Complete Eternal Lies Suite (now more squamous!)
At last, the entire recordings of the Eternal Lies Suite are released. The complete suite includes all of the original tracks plus an extra seventeen minutes of entirely new music and original voiceover recordings from the legendary Wil Wheaton. These new tracks cover the incredible climax of this world-spanning campaign with orchestral music of truly epic proportions. This soundtrack is now designed to be both used in game and as a separate listening experience. The narrative from Wil Wheaton sets the scene and evokes the perfect atmosphere for all Trail of Cthulhu games.
The musicians have been working closely with Jeff Tidball and Will Hindmarch, the authors, to create a thematically consistent soundscape which works both as music in its own right, and as an atmospheric background to the campaign itself in actual play.
If you have the Strange Aeons edition of Eternal Lies, you’ll be able to select the music in context from the ebook itself.
While it was written with Eternal Lies in mind, it can be used in any period horror game. There is simply nothing comparable in the RPG world in terms of quality, and it holds its own against the best film and television music.
It combines live instrumentation with the best samples available. All music is carefully planned so that it loops unobtrusively, and the action tracks can be randomly shuffled and blend seamlessly.
The music is available in CD + download, or download versions, and you can listen a sample here.
For the pianists amongst you, here is one of the main themes of the Eternal Lies Suite, which I think has an echo of Chopin about it.
The Complete Eternal Lies Suite is available as a bundle with the hardback print edition from the store at a discount.
Author: Wil Wheaton, James Semple, Marie-Anne Fischer, and Yaiza Varona with Mike Torr
Cover art: Jerome Huguenin
Format: 39 tracks, 70 minutes of music, mastered at 24 bits
The music of Eternal Lies is split into three categories: ambient music to play during most of the game, short stings to be played at specific instants and ‘action loops’ to be played during combats, chases and other stressful scenes.
These action loops are each 2 minutes long and generally of a frantic disposition to help increase the tension in appropriate scenes. They have also been designed to not only loop but to smoothly follow one another in any order. This means that they can be put into a player software and ‘shuffled’ in any order for a 20 minute action track if desired. Sometimes a Keeper may wish to use a specific track as some are specifically more about tension and apprehension, some are slower and more menacing and some are faster reflecting chase scenes.
Without further ado, here is an action track specifically for chase scenes.