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Check out Corvus Corax.   While they are a German neo-medieval band, the sound is very unique and I'd use it for any fantasy rpg - particularly for combat scenes.  

For more general background music try Zoe Keating

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My simple session consisted of mixture of these games ost, found conveniently in youtube play list:

Total War Shogun 2 [Tone: Serious; used for mainly battle]:


Muramasa: the Demonblade [Tone: Serious, but more modern/pop than traditional - although still influenced by Japanese instruments; Mainly used narrative scenes, especially supernatural ones]:

Onimusha [Tone:Serious, Battle, Urgency, but also uplifiting music too; Used in narrative scenes]


Edited by HelloRPG

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Great topic and tool for GMs. Ok, here's some of my tried-and-true recommendations for L5R sessions. These do go back a few years; my original article dates to 1998, with charming references to buying CDs:

Shakuhachi – The Japanese Flute (Kohachiro Miyata, shakuhachi). Five tracks of the Japanese Flute running approx. 30 minutes. Highly recommended. This CD features solo Japanese flute – the music is deeply contemplative, and sadly haunting. The alternating piercing and quiet notes of the flute evoke thoughts of far off misty Nippon. I used to use this to start my L5R sessions, allowing for five minutes of meditation on character before play begins. 

Best of Kodo (Kodo). Eight tracks of Japanese drumming running about 60 minutes in length. The drumming is very martial in flavor and makes good backdrop to more exciting events and/or combat scenes. Another favorite for L5R and other Far Eastern-styled games; my players enjoy these tracks especially, finding that it enhances the tension and mood of action scenes. 

Koto Music of Japan (Zumi-Kai Original Instrumental Group). Five tracks of koto music running approx. 45 minutes length. This album consists soley of the high pitched strings of the koto; the atmosphere it creates, like the selections listed above, is instant. Recommended as another way to bring “traditional” Rokugani atmosphere to the table. 

Chinese Bamboo Flute Music. Approximately 45 minutes of traditional Chinese bamboo flute pieces in nice tracks. Various tunes (all, like the above Koto music, in public domain), many suitable for “theme song” type music; one track especially reminded many of an Asian “western” theme song. The Chinese flute has a very different sound than the Japanese flute – the tunes come across as more fitting for action or village scenes, or again, session introduction or theme song moments.

Buddhist Chants & Peace Music: Music for Reflection and Relaxation for the Far East. Two tracks of Eastern monk chants running for 73.51 minutes (!). Excellent music to play during temple, monestary or monk encounters. The two tracks (Hanshan Temple and Bow to Avalokites Bodhisattva) are uplifting and very easy on the ear; good for putting folks at ease (and general relaxing as well). Note, however, that this track is not suitable for “evil” temple complexes and the like.

Mandala (Kitaro). Meditative, mysterious and eastern styled guitar and music of a sort categorized as “new age”. Some tracks suggest the movements of wind or water, kami and wide open spaces, others seem to echo of the Void and a few have the “big” sound of various temple or danger scenes. A variety of enjoyable tracks; generally uplifting music. Good soundtrack for play, but this is not traditional music.

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