Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2014/06/11/tabletop-review-rpg-background-loops-mp3-pharaohs-tomb/
Last month I reviewed one of the many tracks generated by Plate Mail Game’s very successful Kickstarter. I enjoyed 1890′s Train Plateform (Or Platform as it has now been corrected into) and it felt like it would be a good fit for my Call of Cthulhu games, especially the upcoming Horror on the Orient Express remake. As many of you know by now, I’m a big mummy fan. Be they fantasy or World of Darkness style mummies, so when I saw that Plate Mail Games had released a track called Pharaoh’s Tomb, I decided to see what that one was like as well. After all, I do love to run adventures in the Har’akir domain of Ravenloft, so I thought this might be a good fit for a dungeon crawl. What did I think? Let’s take a look.
Like all Plate Mail Games tracks, Pharaoh’s Tomb is ten minutes in length and designed to be run as a loop, providing continuous background noise for you and your players. Now I use background noise rarely, mainly because a lot of tracks designed for this sort of thing actually seem to distract players rather than enforce the food the GM is trying to provide.
The track almost lost me at first with what sounds like a weird bit of feedback, but is probably a Theremin. The noise occurs regularly throughout the track and I’m not sure what it is supposed to be, except that it occurs frequently and is annoying, distracting and loud. Maybe it’s meant to be a ghost howling or something?
The other major sound you’ll hear with the track is wind. It’s the one constant throughout the ten minute piece. Of course, if you’ve been in a pyramid, you’ll know it’s deathly silent in there, but what they hey – it’s for effect and it is very ominous even if it’s not very accurate.
There are occasionally other noises like a guttural moan that occurs once or twice, rare footsteps and even the clanking of chains (which would be more appropriate in a haunted house than a tomb of an Egyptian pharaoh), but the track is mostly wind and the weird synth/Theremin howling that just doesn’t fit the tone or location of the piece.
What’s most notable in this piece are the things that are missing. I would have put in the shuffling of feet on stone. Perhaps some creaking or noises from locations settling. The grinding of stone on stone for a trap or secret door being activating. The scuttling and scurrying of bugs (probably scarab beetles) and other things that are actually reminiscent of a pyramid. The idea of the track had a lot of potential but what I actually got wasn’t at all what I was looking for.
What’s here just in no way shape or form makes me think of a “Pharaoh's Tomb.” It’s too distracting and off-base for me to ever contemplate using in a mummy based adventure or campaign. Now your mileage may vary. The weird echo feedback playing every few seconds might be up your alley and you might not find the repletion and loudness of the track as distracting or annoying as I did. Taken on its own outside of the theme it is meant to portray, Pharaoh’s Tomb is technically sound and a decent deal considering it’s ten minutes in length for only a buck-fifty. While it doesn’t fit my needs or desires it the slightest, you can listen to the audio preview for the track over at DriveThruRPG.com and see if it is more your cup of tea than it is mine. In the end, while well priced and proficiently made, Pharaoh’s Tomb just didn’t work for me.