The following article originally appeared on an earlier iteration of See Page XX in February 2008.
Media composer James Semple has created some musical stings for use with Trail of Cthulhu. James has worked with Cthulhu before (in a manner of speaking), creating the intro to the excellent Yog Radio, and he composed a Trail of Cthulhu soundtrack and effect album. Several years after this post originally appeared, he also composed our Night’s Black Agents soundtrack. For Robin D. Laws’ article on using musical stings in GUMSHOE, check out “Sting, Sting, Sting.”
by James Semple
This is a tension/anticipation piece inspired by the music of classic horror films. I would use it when introducing a new element in a game: an important NPC, a new location, perhaps even arriving at a railway station or port and seeing your mode of transport for the first time.
Curiouser and Curiouser
Although slightly anxious, I feel that this music neither raises nor lowers the tension. It’s definitely transition music introducing a change of scene, especially with time passing (e.g. …and the next day).
The Big Reveal
This is more than a cliche, it’s practically mandatory! This is definitely the music to use when the bad thing happens: it could be the villain unmasked or it could simply be that the group hear terrible news.
…And So On
A very short sting. Definitely a default transition. It doesn’t really imply much other than a vaguely sinister mood.
Trail of Cthulhu is an award-winning 1930s horror roleplaying game by Kenneth Hite, produced under license from Chaosium. Whether you’re playing in two-fisted Pulp mode or sanity-shredding Purist mode, its GUMSHOE system enables taut, thrilling investigative adventures where the challenge is in interpreting clues, not finding them. Purchase Trail of Cthulhu, and its many supplements and adventures, in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.