When my husband DMed for our (often ungrateful and always unpunctual) DnD group, he would often stay up late at night getting props together for the next day’s game. When we played online, he’d spend hours making new pixel graphics–ones I knew darned well that our group was likely to overlook, walk past, or circumvent altogether. I’d beg him to come to bed so that he wouldn’t be cranky for the next night’s game. (Games usually made him cranky anyway; see “unpunctual” above.) He’d say, “But I have to do this for my players,” and I’d go to bed alone.

We’re a bit better off now than we were when he was running his game, and so my schedule’s not so hectic that I need to stay up until the wee hours of the night to prepare for our Warhammer games. Still, I often find myself jumping through hoops to get just the right piece of atmosphere, even when I know my players are unlikely even notice it.

Last week, for instance, I spent about two hours picking out just the right piece of banjo music to play in the background of a scene. (Those of you who are DMing or playing The Gathering Storm will know the bit.) I was horrified to peruse the banjo music on iTunes to begin with; I couldn’t help but think of the irony of downloading my banjo music to my trendy iPad for use in a European-inspired RPG that was making fun of exactly the type of people who would play this music in the first place. I kept thinking, “What if I accidentally download this to my iPod, too, and someone sees it? Would it be better to pretend I am cosmopolitan enough to see the beauty in banjo music, or to explain that I’m dorky enough to have downloaded it for a Warhammer session? And when did I become so self-conscious, anyway?” I was also amazed at how much banjo music iTunes offers. How much crossover demographic is there, anyway?

Most hilariously, though, I found out that you can get banjo music with werewolf howls in the background–a whole album’s worth! (Just search for “The Country Creeps” on iTunes.) This wasn’t exactly what I was seeking, so I let it be, but I feel a little bit better just knowing that human ingenuity has brought us this far. At four in the morning, I can download banjo music with werewolf howls to my iPod or iPad…just in case.

Oh, and by the way, my players didn’t interact with the NPC with the ‘banjo’ at all.