Epic Music for Roleplaying: Movies

Entropic Lantern by Orangus

I wrote about playing music during roleplaying sessions earlier this week, but I didn’t get into specific music options. In my search to expand my music collection, both for using during Pathfinder sessions and for listening to while doing other things, I’ve come across a lot of awesome music. I thought I’d share some of it.

Just in case it isn’t obvious, I am referring to instrumental scores when I mention ‘soundtracks’ below. I’ve yet to find a use for songs with lyrics in my Pathfinder games!

Movie Soundtracks

There are some great film soundtracks out there. It’s a good idea to remove recognisable theme tunes, as these are more distracting than helpful during a session. These are some of my favourites that I’ve used in my sessions.

  • Brian Tyler:
    • Thor: The Dark World – absolutely fantastic score that fits well into fantasy games; easily one of my favourite sountracks
    • Iron Man 3 – another excellent soundtrack, though there are some jarring tracks that don’t work well for fantasy
  • John Powell: How to Train Your Dragon – a lovely uplifting soundtrack, mostly on the cheerful side
  • David Newman: Serenity – generally good background music
  • James Newton Howard: The Hunger Games
  • Michael Giacchino: Star Trek: Into Darkness – good selection of tracks; just remember to remove the ones with the Star Trek theme
  • Harry Gregson-Williams: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe – has some great uplifting tracks and nice epic battle music
  • Michael Andrews: Donnie Darko – dark and eerie music for the most part, though there are some tracks that stand out a bit too much, depending on the situation
  • Steve Jablonsky: The Island – excellent soundtrack, though there’s a couple of tracks you’ll almost definitely need to remove for fantasy games
  • Murray Gold: Doctor Who – some solid background music from the new series
  • Tyler Bates: Guardians of the Galaxy – this score is largely overshadowed by the songs that are used in the film, but there are a few standout tracks here, and the rest is good background.
  • Hans Zimmer: Gladiator – fantastic soundtrack

Other Movie Soundtracks

The scores listed below are all excellent, but require more work in terms of removing recognisable themes or jarring tracks:

  • John Williams: Star Wars – all six films have strong scores, but they are highly recognisable, even among non-Star Wars fans
  • John Willaims, Patrick Doyle, Nicholas Hooper: Harry Potter – another set of excellent scores. The later films make less use of the recognisable theme tune, making them easier to use at the table
  • Howard Shore: The Lord of the Rings & The Hobbit – excellent scores, especially for fantasy games, but they do have a lot of strong themes that people may recognise
  • Mark Mothersbaugh: The LEGO Movie – this is a fun score but you’ll probably want to choose tracks carefully
  • Christophe Beck: Frozen – I bought this soundtrack for the songs, but the score is actually really great too
  • Klaus Badelt: Pirates of the Caribbean – fantastic soundtrack with some very strong themes

This list has turned out rather longer than I expected, so I’ll share game soundtracks in a future post.

What are some of your favourite movie scores?

Featured image by orangus on DeviantArt.

9 thoughts on “Epic Music for Roleplaying: Movies

  • June 26, 2015 at 10:15 am

    Nice list; I’m stealing some options from it. As for recommendations, Inception provides a nice mix of action music and what I consider investigation-time or puzzle-solving music.

    I used to maintain a track list of things to play when a PC dies. This list often contained songs with lyrics with a variety of options to highlight the sadness, the sacrifice, or the absurd quality of the death. After several hard drive migrations, I’m not sure where that list is anymore, but I do know that I had quite a number of Cowboy Bebop tracks on it. Cowbody Bebop’s very recognisable to my group, but also tends to fit those sad death moment perfectly.

    • June 26, 2015 at 10:52 am

      Inception actually came up as I was looking for cool soundtracks… then I think it got lost somewhere along the way; I will definitely add it to my wish list 🙂

      I think I will definitely steal the death music idea!

  • July 4, 2015 at 3:16 pm

    you might also look into http://www.immediatemusic.com/ they have provided a LOT of music for movies and movie trailers over the last 18 years!! great stuff. a fave of mine is a piece called ‘Redrum’. give it a look. I think you’ll enjoy it.

    • July 4, 2015 at 8:37 pm

      Immediate Music is actually in my next post (coming next Friday) about even more awesome music for roleplaying 🙂

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  • August 13, 2015 at 12:36 pm

    Brilliant blog and awesome articles. I quite like the selection you have above. Also check out the following to add to your Epic sound selection:

    1. The Fountain – Clint Mansell – haunting and spellbinding beautiful tracks.
    2. Vangelis – 1492 Conquest of Paradaise
    3. Vangelis – Bladerunner (for sci-fi based roleplaying)
    4. Hans Zimmer – Man of Steel
    5. James Horner – Troy

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