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Ambient Environments - Evil Laboratory
Publisher: Ambient Environments
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/20/2014 15:56:26
Get your Frankenstein on with this well-crafted soundscape! From the opening crash of lightning through the heavy footfalls (is that Igor or the monster?), arcs of electricity climbing parallel electrodes, and strange breathy noises, you’ll find yourself in the titular “evil laboratory.” The mad scientist may have stepped out of the room for a moment, but he left plenty of equipment and maybe one or two of his experiments behind. Great mood-setter.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ambient Environments - Evil Laboratory
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City in Ruin (modern) - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
Publisher: Ambient Environments
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/20/2014 14:47:00
This track consists mainly of a dull roar, like the sound of a fan or a heavy, steady wind, along with rainfall. If it’s raining in the city by the bay (a hard rain), this is a good soundscape for your scene. Especially if the city is pretty much abandoned, or as title says “in ruins,” since there is no sound of any other activity. This city is not a post-apocalyptic population center, but a bombed-out husk of its former self. The track is good for what it does; it meets its goal but doesn’t inspire.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
City in Ruin (modern) - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
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Ambient Environments - Riot!
Publisher: Ambient Environments
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/19/2014 00:05:26
Guns and screams, screams and guns, plus the occasional scream, shattering of a window, and that sort of thing. Whether the PCs are trying to bring down the government, squelch the uprising, or just get off the blood-soaked streets, this track can provide an appropriate background. It is maybe a bit intrusive and slightly hard on the ears, so you might not want to have it running too long, or you may want to keep the volume fairly low. In any case, it will do its job nicely if you take steps to keep it in the background.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Ambient Environments - Riot!
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Abandoned Building - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
Publisher: Ambient Environments
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/18/2014 22:58:36
Maybe the recording level on this track is too low, or maybe I have my volume turned down to low, but this track boils down to near-silence punctuated by footsteps and the occasional slamming door. I won’t say that it’s useless, but I can say that it doesn’t do much for me. I cannot really see myself using this track. But please don’t let that reflect poorly on Gil’s work in general; I really like most Ambient Environments offerings.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Abandoned Building - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
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Publisher Reply:
Thanks Chris. I\'ll review this track and see if I can resolve the level issues. ~g
City Under Martial Law - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
Publisher: Ambient Environments
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/18/2014 22:51:28
I normally love Gil Luna’s soundscapes, but this one commits what to me is a cardinal sin of RPG background tracks: it features recognizable speech. Thematically, it fits; you have a guy giving commands to a distressed town through a bullhorn. But this invites players to pay more attention to the background track, so that they can understand the words he’s saying, distracting them from the actual gaming scene at hand. And this is otherwise a very noisy track, too, as would be quite expected with a rioting crowd, sirens, even gunfire. The soundscape is of high quality and fits its title very well (although the sirens put me more in mind of a police crackdown than a military takeover), but I think it would be too distracting in actual play.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
City Under Martial Law - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
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Apocalyptic Sewer - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
Publisher: Ambient Environments
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/18/2014 22:43:06
The water in this apocalyptic sewer runs pretty rapidly, it seems—or else the dripping water sounds almost like a heavy rain. I almost expect a canoe to come floating down the corridor. I think I hear rats scrabbling around, and maybe something even more threatening. The track is skillfully executed, but I have a slight concern that it might be too distracting. A GM using this soundscape should keep that in mind and monitor the volume carefully. But other than that, it’s got a wide range of applications, and would work just fine not only in the post-apocalyptic setting suggested in the title, but in any adventure that takes the characters into the sewers.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Apocalyptic Sewer - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
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Ambient Environments - Radioactive Wasteland
Publisher: Ambient Environments
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/18/2014 22:25:57
Bleak, depressing, godforsaken—that’s what I expect from a “radioactive wasteland,” and that’s what I got from this track. I picture this playing under a scene like, say, the one where Charlton Heston discovers the bomb-worshiping cult in “Beneath the Planet of the Apes.” Although the name suggests a post-apocalyptic setting, there’s no overt technology level embedded in the track except for a crackling that I associate with a Geiger counter, so I could even imagine this being used for visiting a mad scientist’s lab in a Cthulhu game.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ambient Environments - Radioactive Wasteland
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Ambient Environments - Summoning Circle (encounter)
Publisher: Ambient Environments
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/13/2014 17:55:00
I like most of the "Adventurer's Soundtrack" pieces quite a lot—but not this one. Part of the reason is just that the track implies too much of a storyline that might fit poorly with the pacing of a summoning scene during gameplay. A larger part of the reason is all the screaming in the first half of the track, and the very quiet chanting about 3/4 of the way through. The ups and downs in the volume and "body" of the piece draw attention to themselves, at least for me, and this diminishes the track's usefulness as RPG background music.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Ambient Environments - Summoning Circle (encounter)
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Ambient Environments - Elven City (with music)
Publisher: Ambient Environments
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/13/2014 17:43:47
The musical line in this track has a peaceful, almost lullaby-like quality to it. The light and airy vocals and sounds of songbirds add beautifully to the ambience. The occasional sequences of more distinct dialogue in some kind of Elvish dialect, however, beckon listeners to try to focus on them and understand the words, which could be very distracting at the gaming table.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Ambient Environments - Elven City (with music)
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Ambient Environments - The Dark Forest
Publisher: Ambient Environments
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/13/2014 17:30:58
This track strongly resembles "The Dead Marshes," track 9 of "The Adventurer's Soundtrack," except that the animal sounds here are forest creatures like wolves and bears, or perhaps other things more exotic, and there is no sound of water. Next time the PCs at your table venture into a haunted forest or the like, start this track going to heighten the sense of spookiness and vague threat. I wish this track didn't have the human scream and the large-animal snarl, which lock down your story a bit. But I like everything else about it!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ambient Environments - The Dark Forest
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Ambient Environments - The Dead Marshes
Publisher: Ambient Environments
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/13/2014 17:20:16
I think there must be alligators in this swamp! I can definitely hear bullfrogs and plenty of insects—and the crickets make me think it's nighttime. but near the beginning and middle of the track, some significantly larger, threatening creature makes noises. I wish those sound effects were more subtle, or even absent, as I find them a bit disruptive. Otherwise, the track is great. Use it to give your table a spooky ambience when the adventurers find themselves exploring a black dragon's swamp or a Cajun bayou.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Ambient Environments - The Dead Marshes
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Ambient Environments - Dwarven City
Publisher: Ambient Environments
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/12/2014 19:50:41
This does not sound like a very friendly place! "Duergar City" might be more like it. Barking dogs give you the sense that you're not really welcome here. Gruff voices, soft cries, and the sounds of pickaxes working away at ore deposits might give you the sense of slave labor. The track is pretty well done and relatively non-intrusive, even with the voices. But I don't see myself using it that often, unless the PCs at my table get captured by dark dwarf slavers or something like that.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Ambient Environments - Dwarven City
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Battlefield Ruins - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
Publisher: Ambient Environments
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/12/2014 19:15:08
Melancholy and haunting, this track could serve as decent backing for almost any RPG scene of exploring ruins that are open to the sky. Only a few drumbeats give you the sense of a "battlefield," per the title; the track surely works for such a setting, but you're definitely not locked into that description. However, bird cries near the beginning do pretty much limit you to outdoor scenes.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Battlefield Ruins - from the RPG & TableTop Audio Experts
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Ambient Environments - The Sea of Shadows
Publisher: Ambient Environments
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/12/2014 16:54:07
The cawing of seabirds implies that you’re not too far from land, but the light, melancholy instrumentals give you a sense of hopelessness. The creaking of wooden planks abounds; once in a while the ship’s bell rings lightly. This piece makes me want to write up a skill challenge for sailing through haunted waters or getting out of a dead calm (although a "gust of wind" spell makes the latter a bit less challenging). This track runs unobtrusively in the background, enhances the mood, loops perfectly, and inspires the DM—hard to beat all that!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ambient Environments - The Sea of Shadows
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Ambient Environments - The Frozen Tundra
Publisher: Ambient Environments
by Chris H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/08/2013 00:12:16
I wish I’d had this track back when my home D&D campaign went through an antarctic story arc. It makes me want to find another frozen clime just to use it! The howling winds and howling wolves give a good sense of the dangers of the tundra: the weather and the wildlife. The track isn’t perfect, though. It took me a while to realize that the crunching sounds at the beginning were supposed to be footsteps in the ice and snow, and the track doesn’t loop as well as I’d like. It’s not too disruptive, but the beginning and ending are rather distinct and there are about 3 seconds of silence at the end. Still, a good addition to your soundscape library for any RPG that might include a cold-weather adventure. I could easily imagine using this with any fantasy RPG or with horror titles like Call of Cthulhu (maybe some of those sounds presage an encounter with Ithaqua).

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Ambient Environments - The Frozen Tundra
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