How Do You Actually Use Music in an RPG Session?

We’ve all read the articles about background music you can use in your pen-and-paper RPGs, but how do you go about actually using it?

The default in our game is for me to throw on one of the Lord of the Rings soundtracks, which is ok, but it also leads to the music not really matching what’s going on in the game.

What I’ve been thinking of doing is creating playlists for my iPod that contain certain tracks that I know go together (i.e. the more sedate LOTR tracks for scenes involving the party walking and talking in a city, and “action” tracks to be used for combat).

But I also have sound effect CDs (from Toxic Bag Productions) that include a bunch of one shot sounds like “gun volley” or “radio static” that don’t really work in the context of a play list.

I’m thinking that what I need is some sort of computerized sound table that I can easily pull up and press the appropriate button when I want that sound to play. As of yet, I haven’t found anything that’s up to the task, but my search has only begun. Any suggestions on programs that might be up to the task? E-mail ’em to me at

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