Earthdawn Soundtracks

Today I want to introduce a German Earthdawn page that offers some treasures. I first thought about to simply add it to the Link Advice, but it deserves much more than a simple mentioning in the links.
Maybe some of you already know the page of Pablo Pirnay-Dummer called Schattenreigen (at least some of my German readers might). I went on to talk with Pablo about his page and his works.

So here’s the resulting interview:

Hello Pablo, would you short introduce yourself?

I’m Pablo Pirnay-Dummer, Assistant Professor at the Albert-Ludwigs-University of Freiburg Germany. My research and teaching is about learning and cognition, instructional design and knowledge in general. I have a background in educational science, cognitive science and linguistics. I do also lead a company that I co-founded in 1997 and that is mainly involved in instructional systems, software engineering and media production and works internationally for many clients. In the little spare-time I have left, I do music projects with my wife (who is a professional classical singer) and many other musicians. I also hold a 1st Dan degree in Shotokan Karate.

So you are the author of the website The main thing that caught my attention, when I first visited your page, were the soundtracks you did for your Earthdawn campaigns. Please tell us something about it and how did the idea come up to make those soundtracks?

I produced the soundtracks some time ago. The idea came when I mastered long term ED-campaigns and we all got caught up in the story so much, that we wanted to have a soundtrack to support the story. Also, I needed more experience with audio-engineering and the everyday work in the music studio. So, I took the chance and let the ED-tracks be my exercise lessons on several different technological as well as composing skills. This also explains why some tracks aren’t what you would call “standard fantasy movie material”. However, they fit into the story quite well.
I recently decided to split the content from to solve a dilemma. I have many international friends and colleagues but I can’t do everything in two languages. So I decided to make the research and the music part bilingual while the other things stay in German for now. The new key site is There’s also more music available, and there will be more going on soon. will still stay the way it is and I will also continue my blog there. Maybe I will also find time to revive the Earthdawn content.

How long did it take you to produce those soundtracks and what (programs etc.) did you use?

That depends. Some tracks came up very fast, others took more time. Most of the time was spend composing. The actual technical production took between half a day or a day in general, sometimes longer for the longer tracks. For the first tracks (which are still on the site) I used Emagic Notator Software on the Atari System, and I had an ADAT XT to record the things beyond midi. Since the Windows became better over time I switched over to Steinberg Cubase, hard disk recording and numerous plug-ins later on. Nowadays my studio still works around Cubase, but in a fairly expanded way. I have quite a collection of outboard equipment (don’t want to bore you here unless you want to know all the details), Neumann, Schoeps and AKG Microphones, good signal processing capabilities, Genelec Monitors, and I came back to analogue summing some time ago. I also bought UAD hard- and software (amongst others), a VSL Extended Symphonic Cube and all the hardware that’s needed to run that giant smoothly. It’s now a very nice place to work at, and there are quite some projects going on. If everything goes as planned, I will publish at least two more albums this year. One with my wife (Stefanie Pirnay) and also another with a singer who I admire a lot (Joana Schick).

Could you tell us a bit more about the campaigns that the soundtracks match? What were those campaigns about and when did you play them?

With this, I could go on for pages and pages. I need to be brief, though. So I try to sum it up. Ever since “White Noise” started in 1998 we are about in the same storyline with alternating characters and players. We have all been undergrats back then (those were the days). All campaigns except for “Dunc” are mastered by me. “Dunc” was mastered by my good friend Daniel Umber, who is a very good GM. My players just don’t let go of me, although I’d like to play also. We have a very strong emphasis on storytelling and in the rare occasions rule discussions arise, we decide with the criterion best addressed by the following questions: “Which is the story that we want to tell? What is is about?”
It all started in an almost classical way in Bartertown, got caught in Barsaive politics which turned out to be mainly controlled by all the great dragons. The story always left a changing view of the world both for the players as for the characters. Some of the characters (volunteering) became Therans over time (within the “Hidden in Oblivion” campaign), and this is where we play now. Three of the players continuously played since 1998. Others have moved in and moved out. All of them contributed a tremendous part to the story. Please, never meet us as a group unless you want to listen to all the stories and anecdotes of the past and current campaigns. The stories go on for hours just reminiscing in the past or making big assumptions about what is to come and about how all the pieces are connected.

To manage all the content and all the different places on that scale of campaign I started to use system dynamics modeling of significant parts of our ED world six years ago. It fits perfectly into the ED math (which I also admire both for its power and in game simplicity). Otherwise, I would loose track of things or, alternatively, I would have to construct large parts of the story which would never be used. Thus the preparation is a combination between the SD simulation and what I call the “fleshing out” (e.g. adding the characters, individual stories and all the textures which a world needs to be plausible and challenging to the players).

We do have two Circle 14 adepts who played their characters since the first circle and since many years intime as outtime. The actual spin of is called “Dragon Wars” and is about many things but centers around the conflict of interest between the Dragons, Thera and some of the major Horrors. It took the characters to all the places between politics, netherworlds, alternating realities, battlefield and air combats both on small and large scale thus introducing also a notion of strategy gaming into ED. While playing, we were able to develop Thera further, and also places beyond with huge magic and rich with conflict. To do so, we had to change many things, e.g. from the Theran Sourcebook in order to make it more complex and more realistic to play in. One of the players also wrote a complete novel (more than 200 pages) about the last season of the “Hidden in Oblivion” Campaign (it is in German, though).

Some of the legendary characters within the campain that need to be named are “Shiann Chaja Schilfgeflüster” (Windling, Troubadour/Wizard), “Tarkon Sturmreiter” (Windling, Air Sailor/Scout), “Auris Yashiva D’ha Syrtis” (T’Skrang, Nethermancer/Illusionist), “Jago Ragabash” (Ork, Cavalryman/Wizard) “Thorin Ahira Säbelbein” (Dwarf, Warrior), “Eochaidh Coil Cuanna” (Elf, Troubadour/Illusionist), “Raodemus Fluxus”(Human, Wizard), “Torgrimm Grollbart “ (Dwarf, Weaponsmith), “Elenar” (Elf, Wizard). There are many others. There are also long standing NPCs.

Do you still play Earthdawn and are you planning to make additional Earthdawn sounds?

We still play. We make the time for a weekend about 4-5 times a year. That’s not much compared to former days but the story telling is more intense. My players keep asking for more soundtracks. Especially also because I have the resources to produce them with better sound now. This interview also encourages me to do something like this in the future again. Maybe in fall 2010 is a good time to expect something like that. But that depends on many things. I dream of doing the Hymn of Throal with a real choir (of course, we would also need the lyrics before then).

At your page you provide some neat programs, one is called Earthdawn Creature Mill [ECM]. Did you program it? Were you thinking about to make a new version of the ECM for the new Earthdawn Third Edition? Would this even be possible?

I would love to do such projects again. Unfortunately, I rarely find the time nowadays since my research, teaching, traveling, and also the music takes a lot of time. And there are times, fortunately I must say, where my wife wants to see me too. It’s probably not realistic to expect a 3rd Edition version very soon. But once I find the time, I’d definitely do such things again.

I saw that your page isn’t updated that often. I hope I was able to encourage you a bit, cause your page is worth it. Thanks for the short interview.

Indeed, I already started to give it some thought. And once the ideas start coming up… you never know where the threads of life take you and what is woven of them…

I was allowed to add two songs of his soundtrack collection.

The first one is called “Orkstomp”
Pablo Pirnay-Dummer - Dunk – Orkstomp

The second one gives us an impression how the visit of the “Great Library of Throal” could be accentuated
Pablo Pirnay-Dummer - White Noise – The Great Library

To see the rest of Pablo's compositions visit: (German) (English Google Translation)

3 Response to "Earthdawn Soundtracks"

  1. Anonymous says:

    First of all, my name is Aragorn and I'm a part of the ED group of mordom. I know my name is not fancy, but I don't care. That's my character name since 9 years.

    OMG, what the hell is this? Does somebody really think this is roleplay music. Fist one, so called "Dunk – Orkstomp" sounds like the blue man group is going crazy and the second "White Noise – The Great Library" is just synthetic, made on PC, terrible.
    Sorry for that post, but that's my opinion. And yes, I vote for "Go to hell"!
    And I know mordom will kick my ass for that post, LOL!!!

    Mordom says:

    Hey Rotzlöffel....

    First of all, the gaming session this evening will be hard for pinky-winky Aragorn. Watch out for Therans!!

    But let's see, first: tastes differ and if someone spends a lot of time to create "Earthdawn soundtracks" (and not just those two) I think this should be honored a little bit more than you just did. Listen to some others at his page, maybe you change your mind pighead.

    And if you don't like em, buy you ear plugs cause I'll use some in the upcoming gaming session. :-)

    Maybe you should argue with Pablo about his works and tell him with your profound knowledge, how in your opinion roleplaying music should sound.

    But finally I am also happy that there is feedback to this post, even if it comes from the grimy, pinky-winky, all-background-music-hating Aragorn.

    Shannon says:

    I've heard of people putting together soundtracks for their games, but this is the first I've known of anyone composing them. Very cool.

    I wouldn't use all of the music myself, but a soundtrack is supposed to complement the story that is being told, and I can easily come up with a story/tone where it would go well. Other pieces, like Night of the Banshee, are easier to see where they could transport to other campaigns.

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