Audio for my online games

Posted on November 11, 2020 by

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Gaming through a pandemic has forced my home game to go online, leading me to reassess what it is I want (or not) out of my online games, and how to get there.

I have one major rule of thumb when it comes to gaming online, and it’s very simple:

If I can’t recreate it at a real table, I don’t want it in my online game.

What do I mean by that? Well, I play RPGs for the social and tactile aspect of it (the dice, minis, maps, books, etc) so with online, I’m already at a disadvantage. I don’t want to push the experience even further away from what I love about gaming–yes, I love my dice, my handouts, my minis, maps and random bits, so what? 🙂

Things like lighting effects, animations, and other things that push the virtual session into a more video-gamey experience is not something I look for. Yes, I know it probably makes things easier, but again, it cannot be replicated at the table, so it’s not something I want. I DO use fog of war, because that CAN be replicated at the table. You can draw maps as players explore, or cover up maps and reveal as players move along it, so I generally make exceptions for fog of war.

What about audio? In my house I have a sound system in the room I play in, so I figured, let me look into it for online gaming, and I discovered a really neat way to do it that I want to share.

First, I asked myself what type of audio I wanted to stream? I’m not necessarily a fan of music while gaming, I feel like atmospheric sounds and the occasional sound effect add more to the immersion. So I needed a system that would let me run a sound in the background and let me drop in sounds as needed quickly and easily. Oh, and it obviously had to work with my current online setup, MacOS, Discord for Video/Audio, and Roll20 as my actual gaming table.

Streaming audio through a mac has proven to be challenging for me in the past, but I found an easy fix… Loopback from Rogue Amoeba. It basically takes my microphone and any other audio source (a tab, another program, itunes, whatever) and mixes it down as a “source” in the mac, that I can then tell Discord to use as my main audio.

So what do I combine my mic with? Farrago, an awesome soundboard program also made by Rogue Amoeba. This thing is great!

Check it out in action:

 I download ambient sounds from a few youtubers who have great stuff, plus random sound effects, convert them to mp3’s, and load them on Farrago.

Farrago lets you make different sound boards, so for example, I can make one that’s just for Chapter 5 of Rime of the Frostmaiden… like in this picture.

You can loop audios, so the “Dark Cave Sounds” is a looped ambient sound of a cave, and it just runs on the background. The Vampire Gnoll SFX is a VIncent Price laugh I took off youtube and run through a filter to give it a high-pitch sound. It is triggered with my keyboard on the “2” key. These are all mappable on your keyboard anywhere you want. 

My players really enjoy this level of immersion, and I’ve been able to have fun recording some voices that the characters hear as they adventure. Basically, this lets you bering some of the read aloud text to life.

Adding audio to your online sessions is a nice way to add to the immersion of your games, I highly recommend it.

Here are some of my sources for ambient sounds:

Michael Ghelfi – RPG Ambiences & Music 

Sword Coast Soundscapes

Here are some monster SFX:

D&D Monster Sounds

http://freesoundeffect.net/tags/dd

Here is a GREAT voice filter app that lets you alter your voice (or any audio file) for free:

https://voicechanger.io/

Do you like using audio in your games? Let me know below! 

Oh, and by the way, if you’re playing online, check out my Spell Template graphics for your favorite VTTs. They make spell casting a lot easier. 


If you’d like to support the work I do on my blog, podcasting, or twitter, perhaps you’d consider supporting me on Patreon. I’m only asking for $1, and I’m doing it for a good cause, so go ahead and visit for more details.

You can also support my work by visiting Amazon.com for your next rpg related purchase. All links to Amazon in this article are linked to my Amazon Associates account.

If you’d like, also check out the following products:

Descent into Avernus

D&D: Tomb of Annihilation

D&D Tomb of Annihilation Dice

Dungeon Master’s Screen Reincarnated

Tales from the Yawning Portal

Posted in: 5e D&D, Gaming