These got suggested for me on YouTube and I did a double-take when they came up. User crysknife007 has a playlist of different sci-fi sounds for sleeping, allowing you to listen to the background noise of the death star or the distopian hum of a Blade Runner apartment all night. You can find the playlist here.
If you haven’t been watching as many Star Trek channels as I have lately, you might not have seen this. If you have, though, it’s still worth another look. While crysknife007 might have intended these for helping with sleep or as background while writing, they make excellent backdrops for RPGs as well.
There are lots of tracks for Star Wars (to use with Edge of the Age of Force and Destiny… or whatever you call the full line of Fantasy Flight‘s games) and others for use with Doctor Who, Firefly, or Battlestar Galactica if that’s your RPG favorite. Perhaps understandably, though, I’m going to be concentrating on the Star Trek videos thinking ahead to the next time I play Star Trek: Cypher.
There are engine sounds for the Enterprise-A, the Enterprise-D, Deep Space 9, the Defiant, Voyager, a shuttlecraft, and the Enterprise NX-01, all of which are excellent background noises to set the stage. Too much of these, though, can give your players a headache, but if you get them used to their ship’s background noise and then change it when they board a Romulan warbird, a Klingon bird-of-prey, or even a Borg cube. It might be subtle but as an environmental, subconscious piece of scenery that they might not even realize they are internalizing. They’ll start to feel uncomfortable in the new area, though, and that’s right where you want them…
Some of the most useful tracks, though, are the interior of Federation starships. The background noise of Engineering is useful when you have a scene making adjustments on the system. Combat situations are sure to be tense (explosions and/or dramatic music might work) but if you have a system failure that requires some fancy modifications you can use this to announce when you are switching to Engineering. Sickbay is another excellent background sound when you have someone sick, an unconscious alien, or neurological treatments for a telepathic infection (to name a few hypotheticals).
Whether you use these in your game or just get a kick out of them, let me know what you think!