I am travelling way outside my normal job description for this one. I was scanning the Facebook one day, when I discovered* something completely different. It’s not a pocket-sized game, in fact it’s not a game at all. I suppose you could say that it straddles the border between a game resource and a game accessory. At one of the Rathole Virtual Staff Meetings, I said that someone needs to Spotlight this. I was told “you found it, you love it, so you can write it.”
So what is it that got me so excited? It’s a website called Tabletop Audio. Some of you might remember the Solitudes CDs by Dan Gibson; the ones that combined music with nature sounds. Tabletop Audio is like that, except instead of names like Call of the Loon and Breaking through the Mist, you have things like Castle Jail and Graveyard. The Tabletop Audio website was created in 2014 by Tim, a man of many talents. He’s a composer, a sound engineer, a musician, a TTRPG player and GM, and most importantly, a father. It was his attempts to get his children more involved in gaming that first inspired him to create short audio files to add atmosphere to gaming scenes. What started out as a simple project has turned into a multiple award-winning website that includes over 170 audio files, articles, blog posts, and a program called SoundPad that lets users create their own custom sound and music mixes. Best of all, the whole thing is completely free and advertising free. All of his fundraising comes from Patreon, and he offers his subscribers things like exclusive alternate audio tracks.
The best thing about Tabletop Audio is that everything is organised into categories: fantasy, sci-fi, historical, modern, horror and music. Even though these were originally intended to accompany RPGs, there are so many other possibilities. A few well-placed background sounds could add some excitement to your Parsely sessions. Or you could put together a whole horror playlist for your Betrayal at House on the Hill game. You could even find some creepy space tracks to listen to while playing Assembly. I haven’t been able to figure out how SoundPad works, at least not yet. But even I can see how the ability to create any combination of sounds and music could unlock the imagination of dungeon masters, game designers, authors, playwrights, or actors.
Even if you aren’t into gaming, this website can be a great benefit. The list of people who have thanked Tim for his work includes “role-players, boardgamers, writers, computer coders, artists, graphic designers, teachers, house-cleaners, lucid dreamers, gym-rats, long-distance runners, commuters, and anyone who wants into immerse themselves in the audio-space of one environment while physically inhabiting another”. The day that I discovered Tabletop Audio, I had just heard some bad news that got me really anxious. After several failed attempts to destress, including some professionally made guided meditation videos, I tried some quiet time, with just me, a set ofheadphones, and a file named The Feywild. And it worked.
*Thank you to Shannon Barrit for pointing me in the right direction.