Monsterscape – Skeleton Pack
BattleBards is working for a high-profile, undisclosed client set to release a new product aimed at the tabletop gaming market. As Audio Producer for this product, BattleBards will create and manage the audio needs required for this product with all final decisions regarding track selection handed off to the client. Selected artists will be credited with the creation of the tracks purchased. All Gigs are full Buyout only.
This Gig is for a ‘Monsterscape’, a new audio category pioneered by BattleBards which, similar to how a soundscape features a specific setting, a Monsterscape features a specific creature. In this case, the creature(s) is probably one of the most iconic foes in all of fantasy, the skeleton. Animated by evil magic, these walking horrors are stripped of flesh and given evil purpose by their tyrannical necromancer masters.
So what’s a Monsterscape? Well, we would like to provide gamers with audio tracks that can be played highlighting the sounds these monsters makes in close proximity. Tracks must be able to loop cleanly and provide a rich, high definition canvas for the creatures being featured. A challenge here is to make each track somewhat general, able to be used in a multitude of situations. For example, if you include the sounds of an armor plated warrior rushing headlong towards the skeletons, only to be torn apart in an agonizing death, use of this track would be limited to situations where an armor clad player cling-clangs her way towards oblivion. Those sorts of specifics destroys the ability for a Game Master and our client to inject this audio in their games so talent must dance that fine line between adding enough specificity to make the track interesting and making sure that the piece remains flexible enough to be used in almost any setting the Game Master needs.
Now, onto the Gig itself. A Monsterscape focuses on the creatures and only the creatures so we don’t want to hear any overt environment influences, other creatures or people, spells blasting or anything else. So what exactly are fantasy skeletons? As remarked above, they are the animated bones of a once living being, in our case, humans. Devoid of any high level reasoning skills, skeletons are often wearing what they had on in life, in our case, terribly rusted platemail and crumbling chainmail. Their weapons are equally pathetic, often wielding broken swords rusted to near oblivion, rotting shields, and barely functioning bows and arrows. In fact, some skeleton’s equipment is so old that it has utterly fallen apart, making skeletons resort to slashing at opponents with their boney hands.
Unlike most other monsterscapes, we are looking for a single track only, combat. Specific below:
Combat (Not less than 3:00 (3 minutes) in length, longer tracks are not required but welcome): The players are fighting a group of skeletons (roughly 8 in number) consisting of a several wielding swords and shields, several using bows and arrows, and a large commander in platemail wielding a massive weapon like an axe or large sword. Skeletons are generally not talkers as they often lack minds of their own, however, that’s not to say they don’t make vocalizations. Typically, skeletons emit simple sounds like hissing or attempts as wispy, incoherent speech. As they lack both a tongue, all vocalizations are extremely simplistic. Moreover, any such ‘speech’ is actually being emitted by the forces animating them since they lack lungs, so such vocalizations come off as soft, airy, and indistinct. It’s critical to showcase the skeleton warriors as vividly as possible. Their rusted equipment, the distinct clinking of boney feet on a stone floor, the sounds of their various weapons both missing and hitting. The most successful monsterscape makers have a very clear picture of the scene they are creating. In this case, we encourage you to create a simple draft of your skeletons, what they are wielding, and the condition of their equipment. Once you assemble your troop of skeleton warriors, it’ll be easier to create a monsterscape as you will be able to portray distinct ‘characters’ like “Joe, the mace wielding skeleton” who jumps in swings with his mace, and takes a hit before allowing another comrade get into the fray.
Layering – We ask that every group of skeletons be created as a separate layer. For example, sword and shield wielding skeletons are one layer, bow and arrow skeletons are a different layer, and the skeleton brute (the commander) is his own layer. For audition purposes, we will ask you upload the complete track with all skeletons involved in the combat (all layers) but will ask to receive each individual layer as well. Ideally, each layer will be like a Lego piece, allowing to stand on its own as a compelling monsterscape as well as seamlessly being able to be added to the other pieces. Aspects such as a skeleton dying, vocalizations, and similar accents should be spread evenly between layers. In this way, the tracks allows players to create their own skeleton scene with the combination of combatants you provide. We suggest that composition of the track actually be constructed layer by layer and we’re happy to hear and comment on each layer during the audition process if you prefer. However, at Gig’s end, please include the full audition for consideration.
Sword and Shield Skeletons – A better group name for these skeletons is actually “melee” skeletons as it would nice to vary up their weapons a bit. Although most likely wield chipped or broken swords, others many use rusted maces, rotting clubs, or just slash with their boney hands. Again, creating your own cast of skeletons is key.
Commander – Think the skeleton of Andre the Giant. No, not an actual giant, not a troll, not a titan, just a large human. When this skeleton is featured in your monsterscape, he needs to sound a bit distinct, best done by his ‘voice’. Still hissy and wispy but with a unique edge, deeper register, and the like. He also favors using his very large weapon (massive axe, massive sword, etc) which helps to make him distinct.
What to avoid – Do not make the skeletons too rickety. Sure, they are a pile of moldy rotting bones but the forces that bind them make them hardy and tough. We really don’t want to hear a skeleton’s bones rattle with each footstep like it’s about to fall apart. Don’t kill off all of the skeletons and most certainly don’t kill off the commander. If a couple of skeletons gets destroyed throughout your piece, that’s great, but since this track needs to loop, we cannot have any ‘end’ to the fight. Do not make the commander too big. Lastly, and this is absolutely critical, do not include the people the skeletons are attacking. The only indication we should hear regarding those the skeletons are attacking should be the sounds the skeleton’s weapons make when hitting their targets, that’s it. No screaming, no yelling, no spells, no other footsteps, absolutely no evidence of the skeleton’s opponents, period. The reason is that the players fighting these skeletons can be ANYONE and by you including the characters fighting the skeletons, you are essentially limiting the track to only those players. For example, if you include knights in shining armor fighting the skeletons, this track can’t be used for players playing wizards, rogues, ogres, dragons, or whatever else the Game Master allows.
So What Surfaces Are the Skeletons Hitting? – Well, first, it’s OK to have a good number of skeleton’s swing missing (simply hitting air) but it would be boring if all of them keep missing. Keep the surfaces varied. Sometimes skeletons hit platemail, sometimes, chainmail, sometimes a shield, and sometimes just someone wearing leather or clothes. The trick is to keep the surfaces (in this case the various armors players are wearing) varied enough to allow any player to be included. So, in cases when the skeleton hits metal armor (platemail, chainmail) don’t put too much focus on the impact, make it clear and short, slightly buried in the overall combat, and move on.
For those of you that thrive on visuals to create your skeletons, here are some pictures to consider:
There is really no better track on earth from which to direct you for this Gig than a track previously sourced by BattleBards, created by none other than Olivier Girardot, featuring a pack of goblins on the attack.
This track covers all the bases: create a distinct pack of creatures, varies the sounds of weapons hitting different surfaces without over emphasis, showcases the deaths of some creatures without killing the whole crew, loops well, etc. If you want a solid idea of what to shoot for, it’s this but with the skeletons described.
Please note that there will be no tolerance for stolen work, so make sure that submitted auditions are original compositions and that you have 100% rights to use and sell everything that you submit for consideration.
Most important of all, have fun making these! Own the Gig, own your skeleton pack! Talent that enjoys immersing gamers in facing these creatures tend to be the most successful since it often shows in the track. If you have any questions, please shoot us over a message through Audio Catch, we’ll try to answer all of it, don’t be shy. Good luck!!!