One Surprising Resource to Help You Design

The lot of a designer is a tough one. Sometimes words come easily. Other times, it’s an unending struggle to even complete a decent paragraph.

By William McAusland (Outland Arts)
By William McAusland (Outland Arts)


That’s why I’m a huge fan of anything that can help me design better and quicker. Getting in the mood to work is very important. I often listen to film soundtracks while I design—particularly when slaving away over an adventure—but recently I’ve discovered something else that’s handy ear fodder for my design time.


I’ve previously used Syrinscape in-game to build atmosphere—that’s what it’s for—but (until recently) I’d never used it as a backdrop to design. However, a friend mentioned to me the other day that you could install it on your computer. Previously, I’d only installed it on my iPad and somehow I’d not noticed the Mac version of the software.

This provides a handy tool for designers.

So, when you are designing, just pick a soundset related to what you are working on and off you go! For example:

  • If I’m designing a dungeon, I might listen to the Flooded Cavern soundest.
  • If I’m designing an encounter on a ship I might listen to the High Seas or High Seas Battle soundest.
  • If I’m designing a dragon’s lair, I might listen to the Dragon Battle soundest.
  • Instant atmosphere! It’s as simple at that!

What Helps You Design?

Do you listen to film soundtracks? Do you design in silence? What other aids do you use to help you design? Let me know in the comments below!

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Creighton is the publisher at Raging Swan Press and the designer of the award winning adventure Madness at Gardmore Abbey. He has designed many critically acclaimed modules such as Retribution and Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands and worked with Wizards of the Coast, Paizo, Expeditious Retreat Press, Rite Publishing and Kobold Press.

2 thoughts on “One Surprising Resource to Help You Design”

  1. That’s the first mention of Syrinscape I’ve seen and after downloading it and trying the free demo I can see it might well be a useful tool for both inspiration & atmosphere. thanks for bringing it to my attention!

  2. I usually have the TV or radio/Pandora/Youtube/whatever going as I write. I am currently in the research phase of my next design (a game world based on a portion of real world ancient history), and the music/tv/movie/sports/whatever is more of a distraction while my brain mulls something over without me forcing it.

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