Monday 11 January 2010

Roleplaying Accents

When I first started writing this article my intention was to give some pointers on how to achieve different accents. But it soon became apparent that this isn't as easy as it sounds (no pun intended). I asked for some feedback from my group and what the Evil GM said pretty much summed up the experience of all our group. "Once I tried a different verbal style for my PC. It lasted one sentence. By the time the other players had stopped laughing I'd already decided never again."

So how can roleplayers enhance their character with an accent that doesn't leave the other players rolling around on the floor? Here are a few tips to creating a basic accent for your latest Character.
  • Pick a famous person with an accent and focus on imitating them. Mimicry is actually a universal talent, it just takes a little practice. Unless you are very very good (in which case you need to change your job) nobody will know who you are imitating.
  • Another approach is to try using Dialect to mimic an accent. For example using 'Aye' instead of 'Yes' or 'Och' as an exclamation of surprise to simulate a Scottish accent. Using the odd word like this makes it seem like your using an accent when your not. But beware of stereotypes.
  • Change the pitch of your voice. Higher or lower. It'll sound different from normal and will stand out as an accent in its own right.
  • Change some letters in the words you pronounce. Russian for instance can be simulated by deepening the voice and replacing the strong V's with W's... so Vodka becomes Woodka.
  • To create a disciplined, Teutonic accent (German) you do the opposite and replace the W's with the V sound, so. Welcome would become Velcome for instance. Also replace the Th sound with the D sound so Thank You would become Dank You.
  • Sometimes not saying anything is an accent in itself. Our gaming group had a rather thick Half-Orc character that said little, and when he did it was monosyllabic. I always considered that Character to have an accent, although nothing formal was used.
  • Use the Internet. It always helps when trying to recreate a dialect or accent to hear it for real. Use YouTube and other sites to listen to the accent you are trying to develop.
  • Getting an accent perfect isn't as important as making your character distinctive. If you remain consistent in your approach, even if you only apply a subtle touch or phrase, you will create a successful persona for your character that will be memorable.
The only other advise I can give you if your determined to go whole hog, is practice, practice, practice. I guarantee that your Character will be remembered long after the game has ended.

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