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Sounds of the Desert Part 2

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Back in June I posted the first half of this post, and finally I’ve gotten around to finishing up the draft of the second part. Though Marrakesh no longer runs, I sometimes find myself coming back to this playlist when I’m writing, or when I was running Ashes of Athas, a Dark Sun module by Baldman games. Anyway, this second half tends to feature more fighting and chase music, with a few marketplace themes thrown in for good measure, but the albums primarily supplement Erdernstern’s Into the Gold or Jesper Kyd’s Assassin’s Creed Soundtrack, my standby’s for any Arabesque campaign.

Next up might be a Steampunk playlist, given the difficulty I had in finding albums for Lady Blackbird.

Kingdom of Heaven Soundtrack

Buy on iTunes

Although the choral backing that smacks of church may or may not be out of place for your campaign, the truth of the matter is that Harry Gregson-Williams can write some damn memorable music (other credits of his include the Narnia and Prince of Persia movie soundtracks). What I love about it is the mixture of Middle Eastern and European styles, fitting for a movie centering on the Crusades, which in turn lends itself to the “typical” fantasy elements of D&D while also highlighting the exotic. 9.99 on iTunes

Favorite Tracks:

  • 3. Swordplay (2:01) – Need a quick, spirited track for a duel or chase? Best saved for your shortest, since the repeat button will wear it out quickly, or to add to a queue of items for a longer battle.
  • 7. Ibelin (2:06) – One of my favorite marketplace/city tracks on the entire list. A touch short, but you can supplement it with the vocal version, “Light of Life (Ibelin Reprise),” for one of your female NPC’s.
  • 12. Better Man (3:30) – It is a bit dynamic, though you could feasibly set the track to start at :48 every time (Get Info > Options in iTunes). Regardless, it’s a great selection for a high-stakes chase, potentially with moment of hiding interspersed.

Mischief by Raquy and the Cavemen

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More Raquy and the Cavemen for the fans. I’ve used every most of the tracks off this album in game at least a few times, though you need to be more familiar with the dynamics or risk having to switch in the middle of an encounter. Not recommended as a core soundtrack, but definitely a good secondary soundtrack. Even if you only use half, that’s still an extra forty minutes of music, expanded give or take by your use of repeat. Below are some of my favorites. In addition to those listed here, I’d check out Abadan for exotic female leads, Persian for gnomes and halflings, and Yum Wa Laila for fortune-teller/gypsy types. 9.99 on iTunes

Favorite Tracks:

  • 5. Faithful (7:03) – My notes read “Incense & Prophecy,” though it could very well become an all-purpose track or character theme. You could use it anytime you’re traversing the city at night or when slower bellydancing music is called for (hey, you never know when your daring adventurers will want to take some time off at a Red Moon House). And it’s long so the repeat value is upped.
  • 9. Samai Husseini Danziger (4:30) – So the adventurers have found themselves a seedy tavern or shop that also happens to be a front for the thieves den. Slow paced, and less dynamic than some other tracks, easily set on repeat for a social encounter or so, so long as you clip it at 2:55. Though you could let things heat up, maybe with some action or a threat, through the rest of the piece.
  • 12. Nubian (4:16) – Did you need a bonfire dance track? Or maybe just a street or canal chase scene, or anything else at a fast pace? It might take a little more ingenuity on your part to fit it in but the energy is just awesome. And you have to admit the video is pretty intense (I don’t think I could ever get my fingers/hands to move that fast).

Rome Soundtrack

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I freaking love this series. If you enjoy political intrigue and the time period get off your butt and go watch it now. Being Mediterranean, most of the tracks have that exotic feel to them, many of which can be ambient. I didn’t buy the whole album, but only used a couple of their tracks (I must have found them at an MP3 rotation) but you can preview the tracks and see if it speaks to you. On the plus side, you get more epic battle tracks (Caesar was a military badass, after all), and a lot of tracks well-suited for quieter character moments. 9.99 on iTunes

Favorite Tracks:

  • 1. Main Title Theme (1:36) I put this track along with all my other marketplace tracks onto one playlist and hit repeat/shuffle for those extended street scenes when they were just wandering or looking for the next contact for their quest.
  • 2. The Forum (1:43) – Another good marketplace track, the only downside being that it’s short like its counterpart. If you don’t want to use shuffle you could use it in between two longer tracks to keep things interesting.
  • 5. The Battle Has Begun (Caesar’s Theme) (3:14) – I used this one during encounters against bosses or other magic-users when I needed a particularly epic feel to the battle. Can also be used during really important fleeing scenes, or maybe even a city burning.

Troy Soundtrack

Buy on iTunes

How can you go wrong by adding a little bit of Brad Pitt to your game? It doesn’t hurt that the composer is the legendary James Horner of Braveheart, Titanic and Avatar fame. (He’s up there with Hans Zimmer, who is likely my favorite composer ever.) Anyway, here you’ve got your large-scale battle anthems, close-combat encounters, raping, pillaging… Oh wait, does that sound like your campaign? More recommended if you’re featuring out-and-out war in your campaign, otherwise you can still probably make use of every track on this album, so long as you’re sensitive to the dynamics in the tracks. 9.99 on iTunes

Favorite Tracks:

  • 1. 3200 Years Ago (3:37) Pyramids. Ancient temples. Desert vocals. Preparing for a battle between heroes. The Temple of Poseidon is a good companion track, if you want to play them both in succession.
  • 3. Achilles Leads the Myrmidons (8:30) – One of my favorite serious battle tracks, or good to use when the tides have turned and the adventurers are on the losing side or face-to-face with something huge and terrifying (like, I dunno, a giant Sphinx coming to eat them). A desperate city siege maybe, with fires starting. Oh wait, that’s the next track…Through the Fires, Achilles…And Immortality
  • 8. The Trojans Attack (5:02) – Typical battle music, you may want to start it at :14 or so. Again, perhaps to be reserved for boss fights or cinematic scenes with ancient ruins (coming alive with mummies?). Very optimistic, hopeful, heroic.

Those are a few of my favorites, not counting the bits off of the various World of Warcraft, Prince of Persia, or Diablo II soundtracks. What else would you add to an Arabian campaign playlist?

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