Back in college I did a stint as a TA for freshman English. I figured it would be all personal essay and novels and similar, all the sorts of disciplines that are right up my scholastic alley. You can imagined my shock and horror then when I was assigned to Business Writing. Drafting emails? Developing a professional tone!? TPS Reports!!! My poor little liberal arts heart shrank within my bosom.

Good thing the professor was a mad genius.

I’ve never seen anything like this guy. He was a balding little Italian version of David Sedaris, all bow tie and prim glasses. You couldn’t imagine a more stereotypical looking business professor, and I thought for sure that I was in for some Ben Stein style droning. As it turned out, I couldn’t have been more off-base. His teaching method was the most expertly paced and scripted lecturing I’ve ever seen. As his TA, my only job (and here’s where THE POINT comes in) was to play a series of AV clips when he cued me. He would begin talking about the industrial revolution or whatever, get to his climactic point, and then nod for me to hit play on a perfectly timed tape or film clip. The guy knew his stuff, and all the video and music worked beautifully to dramatize his lectures.

Guess what you can’t replicate in an RPG? Unlike a rehearsed lecture, a carefully edited film, or a traditional play, tabletop RPGs are unruly beasts that refuse to take their musical cues. There’s no way to know how fast or slow you’re going to get through the pre-fight monologue, or whether the PCs will take half an hour or 45 minutes to finish their in-town shopping. And let me tell you, nothing kills the mood faster than listening to some epic Two Steps From Hell whist trying to enjoy a pint in a peaceful tavern.

Instead, I tend to agree with Fighter. A little light ambiance floats my boat, but that’s just a preference. How about you kids? What do you listen to in game?