Thursday, April 21, 2011

Scoring Orpheus

I've been running White Wolf's Orpheus for about 10 months now.  For those that are unfamiliar with the material, it was a limited-run, six-book series set in their old World of Darkness.  It focuses on agents working for an organization that investigates hauntings and ghostly phenomena.  Uniquely, these agents are capable of either projecting their spirits from their bodies, or being cryogenically "killed", and revived at the end of their mission.

I've always felt the strong need for music with pretty much any game I'm playing.  Even board games need a soundtrack.  Orpheus is especially cinematic, and I have given more thought to scoring this game than almost any other aspect of it.

The authors specifically cite the "Movie Model" as a method of presenting the game material: the game should be paced like, and have the feel of, a modern horror/suspense/thriller flick.  To that end, I've used a lot more of the mainstream, popular, summer blockbuster sort of tracks than I usually do.  Each song has a particular scene or character associated with it, and what follows is an idea of what I was trying to achieve with each bit.  They are listed more or less chronological order, and spoiler-free.

"Plane", by Jason Mraz.  With its dreamlike instrumentals and soft-voiced, poetic lyrics building an elegantly-delivered catastrophe, it was the perfect choice to introduce the first major upheaval to the players' world.  It evokes images of flight, not unlike projecting, but also the inevitable and dramatic crash.

"Resistance", by Muse.  The player characters are still dreaming, but now it's a dream of hunted, persecuted isolation.  However, Resistance isn't just about persecution: it's really about love against that persecution.  The crucible has only each other now.

"World So Cold", by Three Days' Grace.  By now, the crucible has begun to become aware of the depth and breadth of the horror arrayed against them.  The little threads are coming together into a woven tapestry, and the truth is turning out to be more sad and terrible than they thought.  This song specifically is used to narrate the particularly tragic storyline of one of the signature characters, who loses someone he loves when she succumbs to something truly horrifying.

"The Animal", by Disturbed.  All about giving in to the hungers of the baser nature of the spirit, and the corrupting influence that it wields.  Some of the worst enemies that the crucible faces is their own inner demons, as with the characters in any World of Darkness game.  This song adequately describes the descent into hunger and madness.

"New Divide", by Linkin Park.  A song that has yet to be used in this game, but will make its appearance at a time of revelation and discovery.  It describes a pivotal moment of crucial choice, when the crucible will have a chance to set a chain of events into motion that will result in a dramatic upheaval of their own.  Perhaps a chance to take back some of the power?

"This Is War", by 30 Seconds to Mars.  A melodramatic call to arms, unapologetically theatrical.  Unlikely to make its appearance until we get close to the end.

"Blood Theme", by Daniel Licht.  A very creepy instrumental piece that is short but extremely evocative.  I can't really talk about when this one will be used, but I have big ideas.