I wrote about Naturespace not too long ago, but sometimes, you want the manmade sounds of a city or a battle instead of the sounds of the forest. Luckily, there are whole hosts of sound effects readily available to you on the web.

I often download sounds straight off of iTunes. Type in “medieval battle sound effect” and see what you get.  It’s utterly ridiculous that so many of these exist, but there they are. There are lots of loopable sounds on iTunes. In fact, you can get crazily specific. Do you want a swordfight? Just camp noises? The sounds of jousting? Blackpowder weapons? If you poke around, you’ll find all of these things. (In fact, with a little work, you can string them together yourself, but more on that in a different post.) And, of course, don’t forget the ever-popular banjo music with werewolf howls. You’ll pay for your iTunes sounds, of course, and they’re harder to manipulate than other types of sound files, but they’re usually very high quality.

Of course, you can also use sites like The Freesound Project, a whole library of Creative Commons-licensed sounds put together by users. You’ll have to get more creative with your search terms if you use this site, since searches like “city noises” will end up having traffic in the background. Since some of them were recorded with substandard equipment, you’ll often get some fuzz in the background. If you have an afternoon to poke around and manipulate sound, though, you can come up with some great stuff here, especially if you’re willing to take out the occasional irregularity yourself.

A whole host of other free sound effects archives lurks out there on the web if you’re willing to do some searching, and it doesn’t take much to liven up an important scene in the game. In fact, I generally find that locating and working with sound helps me think about which parts of the storytelling are most dramatic, and it also often helps me think about the parts of the action that are easy to miss: the people fighting in engagements other than the PCs’ engagement, the townspeople, the creatures, the servants, and so on.