In this episode of the RPGBOT.Podcast, we discuss voicing characters. We discuss the do’s and don’t’s of using real-world accents, and we propose other options which are often easier than mimicking real accents so even the most amateur voice actor (like Tyler) can give their character a distinct voice.
Special thanks to @CyberCollosus for this week’s question of the week.
Materials Referenced in this Episode
- RPGBOT.Podcast Episodes
- DnD 5e
- Other Stuff
- Basic Fair Accent
- Dames and Dragons Podcast
- English-language accents in film
- Hot Fuzz (affiliate link)
- J.R.R. Tolkien
- Klingon Language
- List of Futurama Characters
- Muppets Characters
- Nick Frost
- Producer Dan
- The Problem with Apu
- Regional accents of English
- Rise of the Runelords (affiliate link)
- Saturday Night Live
- Simon Pegg
- Star Wars Species
- The Simpsons
- TV Tropes
- Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
Welcome to the RPGBOT Podcast. I’m Randall James live and in your ear balls, and with me is Tyler Kamstra.
And Random Powell…
All right, what is happening?
Well, tonight we’re going to talk about voicing characters. So if you play Dungeons and Dragons and other tabletop RPGs, most likely you are playing one or more characters. Like normal people, your characters probably should have distinct voices. Doing a voice for your character can be intimidating, especially if you’re a newer player, or if you just know, like, I don’t do good impressions, I’m not going to try it. So today, we’re going to try and give you some tips on what to do, what not to do, and we’re going to work through how to build a voice for your character.
Voices are a really interesting thing, right? There’s a lot of cultural connotation that goes into what a voice is going to sound like. And because you’re going to be largely working off of the experiences that you’ve had, there’s going to be a lot of real world connotation that goes into what any particular voice is gonna sound like, no matter how hard you try and make it like something. So there’s a lot of things to consider, as you do create a voice for your character. By the way, just because we are advocating that you, you know, having a voice for character is a good thing. You should not take this as a mandate. We’re three dudes on the Internet, it’s fine. A voice for your character is a great way to make it feel distinct. It’s a great way to indicate when you’re role playing, especially, you know, if you’re, if you’re someone who does roleplay in first person, having that distinct voice is a great way for you to indicate “I am talking as my character versus I am just talking to the DM to my friends.” Whatever.
And I do think that can be really powerful, right? When you’re sitting at a table and talking, I feel like a lot of times folks drift in and out of the players voice versus the character voice. You know, you say a thing like, “oh, you know, well, you know, can I get the door open?” “Or can you get the door open?” Well, was that a character requesting another character try the door? Was that a player telling the DM or the GM that they’re trying to open the door? That can be really confusing. And so the power of bringing a voice to the table is one just it gives a clear demarcation of like, this is my character speaking and you can tell because of the voice. The second thing I does is at a table where there is some indicator. It really can help get folks to enjoy the role playing aspect. Because they see you being successful, they see you having a lot of fun, the other players start to hop in, and you can get some really great scenes created out of that. All because people really become enveloped in the, in the actual role playing aspect of a role playing game.
But we always know it’s a goblin!
Yeah, this is one of the things that I talk about a lot from game design. Generating buy-in is super important. We’ve talked about it like in horror, where we talked about you know, that’s one of those scenarios where you really need buy in because if you don’t have it, the whole atmosphere just falls apart. But as a tool to generate buy in, voices are great. Tyler will happily tell you about my awful thing that needs to happen whenever you know I’m voicing a goblin or a pixie. It’s shrill. It’s terrible. But you’ll always know it’s a goblin or an invisible fairy girlfriend. It’s fine. She’s from Canada.
They use the same voices…
And are invisible. They are similar, okay,
There’s a high pitch trill that my voice doesn’t have a lot of range in. So, there you go.
That’s fair, that’s fair.
Now to be fair, how often do people use the phrase invisible fairy girlfriend? Right? Building that sort of engagement and right, we choke. But that invisible fairy girlfriend, that was from the start of my Rise of the Rune Lords campaign. That was like three years ago. We both still know exactly what I’m talking about. That’s the sort of memory that you’re going to build if you are able to craft something like that because that’s going to generate buy-in from people. I’m grateful for you that you haven’t spent enough time in the weird parts of the Internet. I’m just gonna leave it there.
Speaking of things that we’re, we’re just going to leave there. So we’re advocating for voices. One common thing that folks do all the time is they step into accents, and we thought it would probably be worthwhile to spend a little bit of time talking about kind of what do we view as maybe like what’s okay, what’s not okay. How can you navigate the gray area or the strictly keep out zones of how to think about doing voices, doing accents, doing speech affectations? Because all of these I think can be kind of treacherous. I think it really comes down to, you shouldn’t be punching down, no matter what the accent is. It should never just be a caricature or a stereotype of things. On the positive side, and maybe to give a positive motivation of this. My view of it really is, there should be a reason in the world in the game, that there’s going to be a particular accent or particular voice. And you should have an idea of what’s going to drive that. So this is a good place where you know, one, session zero talk about it. Are folks comfortable? You know, does everybody want to try it accent. Do we all want to have the same accent? Is one of us from a far off land, where we’re generally all going to agree that everybody from this land, like yeah, they they speak common in an Italian accent, because that’s what we’ve deemed is, is going to be the thing that we’re going to do.
So when you’re using real world accents, you do want to be a little bit cautious. Because inevitably, there are going to be accents, which probably aren’t okay to do. Because you’re mimicking the, the voices and behavior of real world people, you do need to be very culturally sensitive there. If you’re not sure, don’t use a real world accent as a shortcut. Like that, that’s a good baseline to start from. If you’re ever thinking like, is this, okay? Like, pump the brakes, maybe look for something that doesn’t make you quite as nervous. There are some real world accents that are considered more acceptable for people to use and mimic. And three of us, three white men speaking into the Internet. So all of the biases that that implies. If someone came to my game, and did a like Russian accent I’d be like, “Okay, that’s probably fine.” If someone came into my game, and like white guy doing an Indian accent, like “Ah, no.” So to draw comparison to like, people who do voice acting professionally. Hank Azaria voices a bunch of characters on The Simpsons, or at least did. Perhaps most famously he voices Appu. Now, there was a whole documentary about this called The Problem with Appu. And the premise of the documentary was Apuu was like the only representation of Indian Americans in popular media. And it was voiced by a white guy, performing a stereotype of an Indian person. And while Apuu evolved as a character over time into like a fully fleshed out person with like, realistic hobbies and interests and friends, like he was a three dimensional interesting character. But a lot of people don’t see past that shallow, stereotypical representation of a real world person. Like Randall said, don’t punch down. And by that, like, general guideline that I’m stealing from smarter people. Does it target those who have been disenfranchised in a historical, political, social, economic and or psychological context? Like that is the idea of punching down. So if, if someone has been oppressed by another group of people don’t use that voice, because that could be considered punching down. And the last thing you want to do is pick a voice for your character that’s going to offend someone. With that simple hurdle cleared, there’s still plenty of options like you do not need to do a voice that’s going to offend someone to voice your character.
If you’ve listened to the Mork Borg review, or various other things in the past. It may have struck you that I use a lot of random linguistic terms. I love languages. As you try and create an accent for your character. If you are going to mimic off of a real world accent, make some changes. If you are mimicking off of the real world accent, understand the cultural context. Why am I, why am I doing that? A lot of what we think of as accents… In fact, basically, nearly everything we think of as an accent unless you’re getting like real regional dialect deed, like within an English speaking country, is because the person who is speaking this language is not a native speaker of this language and their native language does something different. That makes it hard for them to do this. Right, so I’m going to use a very famous thing that happens for some groups speaking English. In a language where there is not a difference between R and L, what that will sound like in English can be very easily construed as either sound. If you have a reason why, and this is something to world build, right? This is something to talk with your DM about, like what is giant like in your setting? What is elvish like in your setting? For some of those you can bring in other–there’s a word that I’m looking for and I’m not finding–like other representations of those languages. So like, if you want we’ll look at like Tolkein. Tolkien gets brought up a lot because it’s great fantasy context. Tolkien has two Elvish languages, which are actually based on Finnish and Welsh. But that’s a whole separate conversation. Right? But so if you want to look at like those and say like, “Okay, well, I want to base my, my Elvish on Sundar,” and we’ve got a lot of examples of it. And so I think that this Elvish is gonna sound like that. Okay, well, so that’s, that’s what this sounds like, I’m an elf character. What is my common sound like? What does it sound like when someone coming from that tries to speak this? And you’re like, well, okay, there’s a lot of like, sibilant sounds and, you know, and v’s and like, okay, well, so maybe I’m going to try and do something like that, and incorporate that somehow. Think about this as you’re building a character voice. Because if you just start based on just a really stereotypical real world accent, you’re probably not going to hit it very well. Any real world accent you do, unless you have put a lot of practice into it, which is you’re going to know a lot of the context behind it, probably. Right, like, I would hope. Unless you’re going to do that you’re going to be doing like an approximation of it. And the approximation itself, of anything, can be offensive to someone for whom that is important. Once again, like I talked about a lot, this is where the social contract comes into play. Like, be like, “Hey, guys, I want to you know, model my character’s voice like this. Is that good with everybody?” You know, that’s a great place to start. Now, again, there may be a thing where like, it just like we talked about, you know, recurring session zeros ask like, “Hey, you know, I’ve been kind of being an [horn sound] in this, in this accent for a couple of months. Are people fighting this? Okay, here, do it do I need to like tone this back, you know, both the mustache twirling and also being Scottish?”
I’ve created an anonymous inbox, so if anybody doesn’t like what I’m doing, they can just go and stick it in there. I do want to say I think talking about how giants speak. I’m pretty sure giants speak Klingon, right?
If that’s your world, I can’t stop you, I desperately want to.
One thing that I say I love the idea of if you’re going to use an accent, bringing it in and getting everybody comfortable with it. And then having the idea that yeah, if we meet people from this world, or from this part of the world, this is likely what they’re going to sound like. And then it becomes something that when you meet more characters, your GM is also going to have to hop in and they’re going to have to do the same thing with you. Which could actually be a lot of fun, especially, you know, getting to the point where like, you’re speaking you can’t actually understand each other. And you can have I think a lot of comedy. You know, something that was have folks seen Hot Fuzz.
Okay, Simon, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, yeah. There’s this fantastic scene where they’re out in the middle of the country. And there’s three different people all speaking to one another, where every time it goes up a notch, it gets closer to like what you would consider like a common English, because the accent is so heavy. But they’re all right. It’s, it’s the regional thing. They’re all into it. And like that was a great bit of comedy of like, you know, so he says this, so he says this in like, having to go all the way through it. And then the end, I think everybody finally understood the particular thing that was being said, I had a lot of fun with it. That’s all.
I think that maybe the first time we’ve talked about a movie on this podcast that I’ve actually seen.
Good, good. Tiny steps, tiny steps,
Yeah. Alright, so So we’ve talked about some accents to avoid and the context behind real world accents and using that in a way that’s not offensive. Probably the most stereotypical accent people tried to do in Dungeons and Dragons especially, is a British accent. Because D&D is based so heavily in western and northern European fantasy, that like you have the very much like, there’s a lot of influence from talking and like Arthurian legend and things like that. So a British accent feels like a very natural step for people voicing character, especially for the first time.
Is that really how you interpret this?
That there is Arthurian fantasy and Tolkien influences in D&D?
Well, and therefore that’s the reason that we do British. Okay, so I’m gonna I’m gonna pause for a second in my mind, in my mind, it’s because we think of the setting for Dungeons and Dragons as being old timey. And if you’re an English speaker living in America, obviously the old timey language is a British accent.
And I’m actually going to get a veer off that a little bit. I think that as soon as you try and put on a voice, you’re trying to like do something like putting on an air and so you try and go a little bit fancy. And a lot of Americans think of a posh British accent as fancy. It’s interesting, right? So if we try and think about like, even just Britain has so many accents, the UK as a whole, oh my God, there’s so many. Like you drive, I don’t know, 20 minutes and you hit three accents…
And a lot of consonants.
The further west you go, the more consonants you run into. Thanks Welsh. Another thing that we think about, right so a very stereotypical thing. Let’s think of, for instance 101 Dalmatians. Hopefully you’ve seen that one too?
The live action or animated?
The animated, geez.
I’m just checking, okay? Keep going, keep going.
The two thief characters at the beginning right, they are speaking in a pretty stereotypical cockney accent, which is also also a British accent. But a funny thing is that sort of becomes part of the cultural zeitgeist. Cockney is actually, so Cockney rhyming slang is the inspiration for thieves cant, and that’s been that way, just kind of forever. We talked about British accent, but there’s some English British accents. But yeah, so specifically this Elizabethan accent that you’re talking about very Shakespearean, very high drama, which really lends itself to a D&D game, right. We are play acting. And I say we hear glaring at Tyler. We’re trying to put on a story. And so stepping into that role of stage actor feels very natural and Elizabeth an accent as a great way to do that.
In addition to the Elizabethan Shakespearean accent, there is the concept of basic fair accent, which is kind of a faux British accent, that was, I’m not sure developed, but it is commonly used in American renaissance fairs. We will link resources in the shownotes because I am not adequately equipped to teach you how to do it on a podcast. But the accents are different, like the emphasis on syllables is different. The A in a lot of words is pronounced differently… use very hard R’s. It sounds kind of vaguely British and old timey, but at the same time, it’s very jarring. So that is an example of an accent that it is perfectly fine to perfectly replicate in your games and will not sound like your regular speaking voice because the pronunciation is so different.
I really hope it doesn’t sound like your regular speaking voice.
Or is that a comment on my regular speaking voice?
No, no. I’m just imagining going through everyday life. I guess if you know if you work at [garbled], this kind of makes sense. Okay.
Yeah. Yeah. So we’ll link some show notes, or we’ll link some resources in the show notes. It’s not super hard to learn. Give it like 20-30 minutes, and you’ll have an accent ready to go. And you can use that for all of your fancy British characters if you want. Alright,
So now we’ve talked a lot about accents. We actually haven’t talked about making accents. We’re going to continue to talk about, or we’re going to continue to not talk about accents. Affectations are easier to do, they’re more accessible, and honestly, it might be a great way for you to create the voice for your character.
Yeah, yeah, definitely. Yeah.
I see what you did there.
I like that, that was good, solid.
So a good comparison to draw here. There is, there was a series of sketches on Saturday Night Live about like a club of people who lie. I can’t remember the name off the top of my head. I should have written this one down. But the sketch is always a monologue by one character who is allegedly the president of this association of liars, and he has a very, very noticeable affectation. But it’s just like the actor using his regular voice. But every time he says something, he says, like he finishes saying something that’s clearly aligned, says “Yeah, yeah, that’s the ticket!” So you always know like, Oh, this is that character he’s doing because he has that very distinct affectation. Having something like that for your character can make it much easier to transition into your character’s voice without actually changing the way you speak all that much like just just using a few catchphrases or specific things that only your character says. Makes it very clear. Producer Dan with the save the sketches, President of Pathological Liars Anonymous, voice by Tommy Flanagan. Thank you, Producer Dan. We’ll link that in the show notes. It’s a good funny sketch. It’s a good time.
For me Tommy Flanagan is the character name my dude.
Well, you know, this is fine. I live in a dungeon. I believe you?
Jon Lovitz, but a good actor.
So having those catchphrases for your character can help you transition into your character’s voice in a way that’s really going to make it very easy for everyone else at the table to know who you’re speaking as.
With that said, please do try and avoid stereotypes. If you’re playing as the stealthy Rogue and you end every sentence and dattebayo I am going to kick you out of my game so fast. You don’t understand.
Wait, what was that sentence again?
It’s an Naruto reference.
It sure is. But there’s just like, there are things. So just like you can have an accent be problematic, you can have affectations that problematic, you know, particularly if you are doing something like a speech impediment. You know, lisps…, and it’s interesting because affected lisps are sort of a thing that happens even in modern English. You know, there’s this stereotype of very effeminate, like men, sometimes using that lisp as an affectation in their voice. And this is a thing that you see in some popular media. And just because it’s there doesn’t mean it’s a good thing to affect. Right. So this is a real speech impediment, stuttering also a real speech impediment. Now, if you want to handle this in a respectful way, that can be a really interesting thing. You know, if this is something where like, like I said, up in, in accents, if you talk with people, you’re like, “Hey, man, I really want to have this character that stutters and has worked a lot to be a spellcaster with their verbal components.” And if he if you can work in a good story, and you handle it in a respectful manner, that can be very cool, very memorable thing, but you have to be really careful with it.
Yeah, I think that’s actually a fantastic example. You know, imagine that when the person gets nervous, the stuttering problem gets worse, right? So hey, I’m gonna try to intimidate this person roll the die comes up at as a as a five, maybe that’s how you manifest the failure in what you say, in the fact that knowing that your intimidation check failed. Or again, like when your spells miss it isn’t that your spell actually missed and say you said the word wrong, like you didn’t get the verbal component correct. So it can be a great way of bringing into play acting. And then as you can imagine, at the culmination of the story, like, you’re in this, this character’s personal arc, you’re facing down the big bad guy, which is actually a person used to give this person grief previously in life. And, you know, at that final moment, they get the role. And you know, they stand up and they, you know, it’s like, oh, you know, what are you going to do? So to me, it’s like, no, I’m gonna kill you. And like, that could be a lot of victory tied into manifesting that and also being conscious of like, yeah, no kidding. How would this issue affect my character?
You should also be careful about mimicking real world speech impediments because that behavior can bleed over into your real world speech. Like, if you spent hours at a time portraying a character with a lisp, you might go home at the end of the day, and find yourself lisping in real life. Like, it doesn’t happen to everybody, but like, just like there was emotional bleed in acting. And sometimes in role playing, sometimes you might get into a pattern and then get stuck there for a while. So be conscious of that. If it starts to become a problem with you. Pump the brakes, stop doing it.
Just come back and say, hey, great news characters cured. What did you do during your downtime? It’s like, okay, you worked at the bar for a little bit. I think that’s great. You went and you made a bunch of wood because you’re a carpenter. That’s wonderful. You went to speech therapy, good for you. Good choices, gotten taken care of right away. I want to go back a second, you talked about catchphrases, and I actually, I can think of two separate things do you mean so one is like literally like things that you say all the time. So for instance, if somebody I don’t know, they were like, This is gonna get spicy, and then you know, things went on to get spicy, you might say that that’s a bit of a catchphrase. The other thing I could think about and we’ll get into this a little bit more talking about making voices. But I have, and there’s a word or a phrase for this and acting and I can’t think of what it is, you know, the thing that you say, when you’re going to try to put on a voice. So for me, for example, if I want to do Deckard Cain, from Diablo, you know, ‘you found a Roderick cube’ like that. So if I say that, then, you know, I can party I’m gonna stay a while and listen. Now I can do the voice because I’ve done the thing and like, I don’t know if anybody’s ever heard that voice. But But yeah, using like, you sent her on something, and you have like, this is my gate to getting into it. And then once you get going, you find that you can succeed. That’s, it’s a pretty common technique to use. And if it’s something that makes sense for your character, you know, all the better. So you found her Roger Creek, her Roderick cube? Probably doesn’t make a lot of sense, but stay along. Listen, yeah, that’s thing you said if people take we were already sitting down old man, but I guess I’ll continue to stay. I do think it can be a lot of fun to thinking about your characters where they’re from, what they’ve seen, and letting that help motivate the things that they say all the time. You know, let’s say you have a you’re a swashbuckler. You have a sailing background. You’re a sword fighter, this sort of thing. You’re probably not going to, like use overly long affirmations for things like, ‘Absotudely, dude!’ Like, that’s not the thing that your swashbuckler is gonna say. But maybe if you’re… who would say absotudely? Probably no one.
I played a Paladin of the Brocean who would definitely say that… you heard me…
Say that one more time?
Paladin of the Brocean.
You worship Broseiden, God of the Broceans,
Sure did. Both of ancients Paladin recited incorrect nautical facts.
About this character I am pleased
Played it in one shot. It was this guy’s first time DM’ing. I was trying to have fun with it. He is big on marine life and ecology and things like that, works at an aquarium like knows a lot about the ocean. So he had to deal with me stomping around as this idiot Paladin who very clearly knew nothing about the ocean. Me just like ‘what can I say about crabs that’s definitely not true! But absotudely!
Perfect. “Did you know when crabs molt eventually they become small whales. That’s absolutely why we have a whale shortage right now everybody loves crabs can’t get enough crab legs.”
Wonderful, spread that down.
With no context?
My initial falsehood that I thought of as soon as you said it, it’s like, you know, if you add up the mass of all the fish in the ocean, it actually weighs more than the water. Because you there are people who would think about that for a moment he like, ‘Maybe, I mean, fish are heavier than water. Right? That’s why they think.’
Did you know that if you stack all of the whales from the surface of the Earth to the Moon, they would die.
Wonderful. They don’t let it bleed into your real world speech. That’s good advice for an accent to write. And particularly if you choose an accent that is close to yours, which is going to be the easier one to do. You know, the accents that I’ve… I have voiced lots of characters. I did a Russian accent to Tyler’s point. And that one was very easy to switch in and out of. But then like, for the Paladin in the Strahd game that I talked about a lot. I basically just did my voice but deeper and a bit gravelly, because it was a Goliath. I mean, I would sometimes get basically stuck like that, you know? Like, if you’re on a break or something, I would just talk as [garbled] for a second then. No, that’s not how that goes. But then, of course, the real fun was when I would talk as that character as a werewolf because it would sound like the unedited version of what I did in the Mork Borg episode. So, there you go.
And that’s kind of a funny thing. Like if you’re doing the voice of the gravelly character, one of the things that does destroys your voice so then you sound like the voice in the tech. When did you start smoking? Nah, just played D&D this weekend, that’s all.
Yeah, those deep gravelly voices and things like that, sometimes you do have to be a little careful about the vocal strain. I am not a voice actor. I am not equipped to give good advice on this. But I have read that that tea with honey in it is really great for a sore throat.
That’s what big tea wants you to think.
Pretty sure big tea is a rapper, so that’s a weird thing for you to call out. But…
and he loves tea and honey.
There you go. So one of the things you can do, particularly if you’re doing this for like a like a one shot, or if you want to take something and then build off of it. Start with a popular character, and then go from there. And I will also say that some characters are better and worse in and of themselves. There’s if we want to start off at the terrible end. If you’ve watched the Star Wars prequels, they’re Anomidians. And Hoo, boy, that accent is, is rough as a real world comparison. Between that, and their culture, and clothing, and the rest the way that they’re represented. It draws a very clear real world stereotype that is a problem. But there are some other ones that are better.
Yeah. Futurama is an excellent example of a show with a lot of weird voices that you could just steal. And very few of the voices in the show. You could say like yes, this is a real world accent that they’re mimicking. Like, there are a couple of characters that are like a New York local accent. Yes, did beyond recognition.
Every lobster person except for Zoidberg.
You know, I’ll have to go back and watch that episode again.
One hundred percent like everybody has like the every what are what are they called?
I have no idea.
I’m gonna call them Zoidbergs. Everybody home. You know what I mean? Every Zoidberg except for Zoidberg has like the thick New York accent. To the point like at one point I was quoting like something at you and you’re like, ‘Dude, what are you doing? Why are you doing that?’ And it’s like, it’s free travel. It’s fine. Everything’s fine. The other one which actually like this was in one of the documentaries for Futurama. Hermes Conrad is Jamaican. Because they were doing the initial like pilots, they were doing the recording and somebody came in was like, ‘I don’t think what we’re doing is working.’ I think they had already cast the character like two or three times. So the actor who had landed the job, like knew that they had already like fired people. And I guess somebody came in the office and was like, you know, ‘Hey, I think we should do a Jamaican, can you do a Jamaican accent? Yeah, no, I’ll figure it out. Yeah, I can absolutely…’ and then went and did it and came back. And of course, they built something around that character. So it wasn’t so out of place alone. I don’t know. Like that’s that’s interesting. Professor, you know, ‘Good news everyone.’ Like that’s that’s a lot of fun.
Yeah. And there’s your affectation right there to get your right into the voice just ‘Good news everyone.’ God I did Deckard Cain again.
Aren’t they really kind of the same character though? If you think about it.
Really they are. In, in the early seasons, a lot of times. Professor Farnsworth sounds like softer and squirrelier or like they’re trying to talk about someone’s like, ‘Oh, yes,I, I had a dream about this. I’ve invented the button!’ Or like you know, then he gets any you know, he goes into his whole thing. So like later in the show went towards kind of became solidified. It was always that like, deep rolling your good news, everyone and then we go on we do these things. Yeah. Now there’s something good there. The future star cloud thing? Like you know, ‘I hope that you find peace,’ okay.
Anyway, so there’s your catalog of characters steal from, Futurama. Basically pick any any show you like with a bunch of diverse voices that aren’t just foreign accents, and you can steal from it. The Muppets perfectly fine place to steal voices from. Sam the Eagle very like just your voice but deeper and more American.
Like Kermit the Frog here.
There you go. Yeah. Kermit the Frog. Don’t do Beaker.
Wait, why not? Because awesome.
Remember, there you go. Yeah, it’s a little hard to communicate that way.
I mean, could be a little bit of fun. It’s like the it’s the R2D2. I guess you can’t do R2D2 either, can you.
I think just depends on how good you can whistle.
That sounds actually really good. Everybody around R2D2 always knows what he’s saying though. So it’s probably fine. Right? So by we’re just gonna veer way the heck off into left field for a second. So Droid Binary is a language that all of the Droids in Star Wars speak and is a language that you can learn as a human, including in, among other things, Final Fantasy. I did that on purpose. Star Wars. You can learn a like Droid Binary as a language. And that’s useful for communicating with things like Astromechs, they can only speak in binary.
Yeah, there are actual characters in Star Wars who don’t speak Droid Binary and get stuck in situations where like the Astromech is trying to talk to me. I know it’s trying to talk to me. No idea what it’s saying. And if I remember, right, Luke Skywalker doesn’t actually learn astromech binary until episode five or six. Like, there’s a scene of him flying in his X Wing off to Dagobah, and he’s having a text conversation with R2D2, because he doesn’t speak droid binary yet. Like it? Yeah, it’s a thing. Anyway…
But we collectively digress.
Yes. So I think this will be fun. So we’ve talked about all of these things, doing voices, how about we put it into practice? And we actually come up with some terrible voices?
And I think not just voices, but even also like, what are the, what are the things that these characters would say? Because of where they’re from and how they grew up? Like, what are the things that you could bring? Which you don’t use in your everyday that these characters would?
Yeah, absolutely. How about we use the characters from the One Shot series?
Okay, perfect. Perfect. So who wants to go first?
There’s going to be thinking here, right? So we take any Amiable Jack, and when I did his voice, I largely made it like my own voice. I tried to keep it a little bit. Intentionally softer. I tried to keep it a little bit. Boy, how do I describe that quality that I’m going for a little bit, kind of intentionally honeyed. I was really going… I was playing into the high charisma, right? So you look at your, your character for inspiration. So is a Bard, right? Very high charisma. I was looking for, you know, something to convey confidence. I was looking for someone to convey, or something to convey the fact that he’s very charming. And that’s where I kind of got those things. Now, looking at some other parts of the character inspiration, right. So he’s an orphan, so he’s going to have grown up around a lot of other races learning common, but with their own distinct anatomy as to how they pronounce things. So he’s going to have kind of this weird polyglot accent. Where and particularly if, you know, some of these orphans came from it. Like if they had learned their native language before being orphaned. If these are kids who are like, five, six, and then they end up in the orphanage, they’re gonna come they’re speaking Elvish, Dwarvish, even other like, you know, maybe more exotic things, maybe you get an an Half-Orc in there who was abandoned by their Orc parent after learning to speak Orc. You get some of that going in.
Adopted fathers an Elf?
Adopted father is I an Half-Elf. Half-Elf famously long lived half-elf. Apparently. There’s some stuff there, right. And so with all that, like I talked about a little bit that I that I went into the character with, but if I was going to try and make this something more intentional, I would try and definitely keep a, keep that a little bit like lower, not gravelly, not intense, but just lower, kind of sweet, very melodic tone. Also a Seder so you know, that the music comes naturally. And then maybe just try and throw in, like, like, a badly translated idiom that he loves. Like, you know, like, let’s say that, that and I’m just putting characters into your world and you can’t stop me except you can. Like, right let’s let’s say that he had a sister who was that that abandoned to Half-Orc. And let’s say that she, you know, she had this great Orcish idiom that just doesn’t exist in common and he absolutely loves it. And you know, he would just tell people like, oh, man, you have and this is Klingon but I can’t come up with something like Oh man, you have really stuck your leg in front of a Targ. Ah man, you have, you have done something intentionally foolish. You have put yourself in harm’s way. This is a thing that like he sees. I forget which version of G Name. You are in in the overworld I think they are there, yeah. He sees is Georg drawing his sort of like, Oh, you have put your leg in front of a Targ.
Wait, so did you say this was an Orcish adopted sister or was this a giant adopted sister?
Okay, well, it just it took a while. Right? Because they speak clean.
Good. So so my character Georg, the dragonborn Fighter in my mind, Georg, grew up in the orphanage and throughout his adult life has gone back and forth between being a mediocre soldier and a terrible Potter. He’s seen a little bit of the world. He’s done some things probably not especially well. And since I created Georg for that first horror one shot in my mind, Georg is a little bit skittish and anxious. So, in my voice acting chops are abysmal. So I don’t do this successfully. But in my mind, Georg voice is a little, like a little bit tight, like a little a little higher in the voice, like, I’m very uncomfortable with the situation. But hey, let’s roll for initiative. Because violence is easier than this conversation.
I l ike that though. Yeah, like even what you’re doing just now like I like that. And it’s distinct from how you talk to us every day.
Right. And it’s just enough like, I can transition in and out of that pretty easily, if I remember. And like I can do that for a reasonably long amount of time without hurting myself. So we had Hannah Culbert on from Dames and Dragons very recently and Hannah’s character Slake, uses kind of a similar voice, and I’m really hoping that I didn’t accidentally steal their idea. But Slake’s voice is a little higher, a little anxious, a little uncertain, but very eager. I mean, the closest approximation I can get is very similar but just because Hannah and I speak so differently in our regular day-to-day voice, it does come out very differently. So the characters come out sounding distinct from one another. Hannah is also from a different part of the country so like, the local idioms and affectations are a little different, like the go to phrases are a little different.
Like no, I think that’s great. Like the the voice that you’re, you’re talking about, it actually makes me think of Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Have you seen this film?
Okay. Do you remember the weasels?
Sir, okay, now I’m doing a bad job now. You do your thing. I’m gonna I’m gonna I need your thing. I need to hear it.
You want to tell me something that weasel so sound terrifying?
It was close enough.
Yeah, but it’s this this like, I don’t actually that’s what the dude sounded like or whatever. He was right, the judge?
The judge when he is, yeah.
Yeah. It’s like, what killed your brother? Talk like this like that?
Spoilers for a 50 year old movie?
Yeah. As a great film.
But yeah, like that would destroy your voice if you tried to keep that going for a long time, but maybe as a DM or a GM, like that’s a character you could certainly bring in. And then yeah, Eddie, anyway.
But one thing that I do just want to touch on before we get too much out of this. So if you are going to do this practice. If you’re voicing a character, if you’re a GM, think about, you know, what are these voices going to be and just just practice it. It doesn’t have to be a lot, but just like, go take 15 minutes to just think about, like, think about some phrases that really highlight the parts of their accent that matter. We get the various typical, the very stereotypical Boston accent ‘pawk the car in Hawvad Yad’, right? That extremely non-erodic R. And just, just do that for a bit and you know, doing that, and then like running that into a couple other sentences. And then getting back to that and then running into a couple of the sentences that can be your your touchstone as it were, like Randall was talking about for getting into the voice when you get there. But just like, start there, and even listen to some real world. If there are any, if you’re basing it off of a real accent, listen to some real world examples of it. Like I will take absolutely even this most tenuous connection to just say go listen to Bryan Singer. He is a dialect coach, he appears on the Wires YouTube channel a lot. He is brilliant. Go watch all of his videos, and then use that as some of the bases. And also you’ll understand more of the stuff that I randomly bust out when I talk about languages.
We’ll have links in the show notes.
Perfect homework. All right.
Randall. I think, I think it’s our turn to put you on the spot.
All right. I’m stoked. So yeah, we did a character and I did a voice for the character. But yeah, let’s talk about it. So Aurum is a dragon who also manifest as a man, and has been [garbled]. So far, we’ve seen about half and half. So he is fairly old, fairly large, fairly majestic. He is a gold dragon. And 100% I went for the Deckard Cain, you know, you know, there were a couple of times where I actually had to, like, you know, reach up, turn the mic off. And do the you know, [Garbled] goals. Oh, Georg, I’m glad that you’ve come. Like I really wanted to get that gravel in a way that I think Deckard Cain doesn’t have. And so the, you know, ‘I want things to roll.’ You know, and like really putting that out there was something that I worked on, and I tried to do as we were going through it. But I… I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about some of the things like the mannerisms, the things that Aurum would say. I guess the one thing that we did do is like during the combat where you’re fighting, but he doesn’t really want to kill you which spoilers, folks at home. But yeah, maybe soften your listen, they’re great. And they come back and you can listen on this too. But right, like, the whole it’s like, you know, wow, well met, you know, well struck, you know, this whole, like, encouraging you and being like almost crazy in the battle that like, you know, we’re actively trying to kill each other, basically. But I’m still going to encourage you and like welcome you because I don’t sense danger to myself. And I’m even a little bit stuck up or stuck up is not the right word. You very easily could have killed his guard.
And the character is just like, good job. You guys are so strong. Like that’s, you know, almost, it’s not a disdain for life, but it’s just being so far above it. Which as a dragon 100%, right? Like, they are worth what they’re worth. And the rest of us are pawns and everything that’s happening.
Yeah, I think you conveyed that pretty well through the character.
Awesome. Awesome. But yeah, I think I’m gonna have to be more thoughtful as we go forward. The other one that happened in that same episode, is we went to the docks. Or no, I just thought it was the next episode, we went to the docks. We met a character and I did not expect you to have to meet a character. So I’m like, I’m just going to do a voice very quick. And I feel like, I really don’t want to say I dropped the ball on that one. But I think it does kind of motivate the, like keeping a few things in your pocket as a GM so that any point if you want to give a particular voice, like ah, I rolled the dice, you know, I’ve got a voices table. It starts as a d2, because that’s all I’ve got. And over time you go to a d4, and a d6, and eventually, yeah, you can whip out a voice when you need to.
And then you’ve got a random encounter table of voices.
Perfect. All right. This week’s question of the week comes to us from @CyberColossus. Why is Eberron a hard setting to run for? Is it because the lore is so ambiguous for with regards as to who was right and wrong? If a good is more nuanced? Do the new errata make this more or less complicated?
So I think we got this question back close to when the D&D Errata 3.0 came out back in the fall. So we’ve been sitting on this one for a little while. So I apologize Cyber Colossus. So Eberron is not a setting that I’m super, super familiar with, so I can’t answer this perfectly well. But my understanding is they use unreliable narrators a lot. A lot of settings, do this, you have the concept of an unreliable narrator, where someone’s version of history within the world may not necessarily be accurate. And depending on where you are, or who you ask, you might get a different answer. So having that unreliable narrator can be a little frustrating for the DM at first, because you look at the lore of the setting, you’re like, I don’t know what actually happened, how do I run a game here? The answer is, pick the history that you like, and say, I’m gonna base all my decisions on that one being correct, and just go from there. And if you want to play a twist on your players, maybe partway through the game, change it, and just pick a different narrator and be like everything you guys know about the setting, very suddenly wrong.
Tyler hit on one really great point, which is the unreliable narrator. There is also another really big thing about Eberron, which is that while there is a lot of unreliable narration, there is just a lot of lore for it. And a lot of it is very different than kind of your your standard Fae Rune or Gray Hawk fare. There’s a lot closer to steampunk and that can feel very anachronistic in a generic fantasy setting, but it’s it’s so big, and it’s such an important part. And other things, Dragon marks like the whole concept of Dragon Marks. I turn 18, I suddenly have a magical five tattoo that tells me that I’m the best at apples. And now I can fly airships. And no one prepared me for any of that. Some of the Dragon Marks, so we talked about this in the flight episode. To fly the Eberron airships, you must have a mark of the storm it like it’s literally required. That’s how they’re built. And so if you express a mark of the storm outside of like the major house, suddenly your life takes a 90 degree turn. Having something like that having all of the like crystal shenanigans and dragon shards and all that stuff built into it like having all that… having all of that be something that everyone has to think about means that as you build your characters, and as you build your story as a DM, if you’re not taking that stuff into account, it’s not going to feel like Eberron. Like, why are you bothering to put this in Eberron? Why aren’t you just running it in a room where people can be more familiar with things. One of the other problems is because the the default setting for fifth edition is Faerune the default setting for 3.5 is Greyhawk. But Faerune was also a big deal. And then everyone was sort of like this side thing. So a lot of your players aren’t going to feel as comfortable in the same way that you as a DM are going to feel most comfortable. And that’s that’s a huge piece of what makes it so hard to run for.
Yeah, I think those are both great points. I guess there’s one more thing that I’m thinking about the fact that it is kind of this steampunk setting. I imagine as a GM not being sure how far to let the characters take that part of the setting. If we think of this as modeled after something like medieval Europe. So yeah, we have the mill, that is our great invention. We have the mill, we have the wheel, we have the plow, nobody is going to build like a cannon turret system to you know, mount on the side of their donkey in that particular setting. But as soon as you bring steampunk in, it’s like yeah, you know, we have these fancy mechanisms. You know, the same reason I think, honestly like the idea of having like an Artificer could be fairly complicated both for the player and for the DM. I kind of view this almost similarly of like, okay, well, given that we understand the bridge from, you know, mechanized tractor to Ferrari. How far am I going to let these players take things.
Eberron itself was kind of a setting where they asked that question and just went as far as they could. Like, in Ebberon is the genesis of the concept of Dungeon Punk. Like if you go on TVtropes.com and look at the dungeon punk page. The art for that page is just art from Ebberon. It is everything turned up to 11. It’s a little ridiculous, their lightning trains. Other than that, like yeah, and the stuff we’ve talked about the storytelling doesn’t necessarily need to be all that different. Just incorporate those Ebberon elements. Like use the higher technology. Use the abundance of simple magic, ride a lightning train. At high levels give them an airship, it’s neat. Other than that, like a lot of stories that you would run for any other D&D campaign, you can just drop right endeavor on, they work fine.
And with lightning trains, we will circle back to Delta hippo and then quickly leave it again. So the new Eberron doesn’t make this more or less complicated. The short answer is no. I understand the question there. You know, are we saying that okay, we’re we’re erasing some of the racial stereotypes inherent in things and then adding some vagueness and the thing is, already, this is literally a different world. The reason that, you know, Drow are so often stereotyped as as we talked about, back a couple of times, on your on a couple different episodes, right. Lolth says, go do things that most humanoid races consider evil. Great. We’re in Eberon, what’s a Lolth? Right? There’s nothing there. Right? So if without that, the simple fact that this update happened, shouldn’t really affect how things worked in Eberon because nearly everything that they talk about, given the default setting is functionally Faerune. There was no reason for your Eberron to look like Faerune in the first place. Now that Faerune has been both slightly more and slightly less homogenized. There is still no reason for your aberaeron to look like favorite.
All right. Okay. All hillbillies your Illuminati,
pale ale. Ale.
I’m Randall James. You can find me at AmateurJack.com and on Twitter and Instagram @JackAmateur.
I’m Tyler Kamstra. You’ll find me at RPGBOT.net, Facebook, and Twitter and Instagram at RPGBOT D O T NET and patreon.com/rpgbot.
I’m Random Powell, you’ll find me playing a Goliath Paladin sometimes. But no, mostly I hear on RPGBOT.net contributing to the podcast of course and some articles, and in places where you will play games I’m often Harlequin or Hartlequint.
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So I really do struggle with that Deckard Cain impression just bleeding into everything else.