GM Tips: Voice Acting

edited October 2013 in General Discussion
Besides having a lackluster imagination on the fly when it comes to NPC names (I apparently have a city where half of the guards are named "Frank"), I have been informed by some of my players that my lithe female elf sounds very similar to my store clerk, who can sound similar to Two Guard #1, etc. etc. I see two have two modes: normal, and slightly gravelly. Any GMs here have tips on how to better voice NPCs, especially female ones? 'cause the only thing I can think of is just to go falsetto, and nobody wants to hear my falsetto. :P


  • pencilneckgeek
    Posts: 50
    One thing, if you don't have a wide vocal range (I don't either), is to change things up with mannerisms. That way, even if the voice is the same, the character stands out a little. Hand motions, "catch phrases", distinctive things like this can differentiate Guard #2 (who's slightly gravelly) and Guard #1 (who's also slightly gravelly but tends to talk with his hands).

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  • GamingMegaverse
    Posts: 3,001
    Voices come naturally to me- too much acting in my youth, so no advice there. However, as far as the NPC names there are a boatload of name generators out there- use them!
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    Just trying to help out.

  • Leonidas300
    Posts: 275
    I use the windows narrator female voice for women when I have to, otherwise I mix up accent and tone. My players are very fond of the Scottish accent I use for the NPC - McGregor - (some of them are not a fan of the frequency in which McGregor drops the F' bomb)
  • Thorvaldr
    Posts: 141
    Pencilneckgeek: I have been trying to do that a _little_... I like the idea of using gesticulations more. I could definitely put some more physical acting into my DMing.

    Killervp: Yeah, I just need to get better at having the name generator up and running during game-time. During prep-time though, they are a god-send. Also, I love the official D&D one. That's where I found "Lord Xavhorn Soulaxe, the Rising Hawk." :D

    Leonidas: Never thought of using a PC narrator program... does that affect the flow of the session at all?
  • Leonidas300
    Posts: 275
    Thor - Yes it does but that is somewhat due to my blistering typing speed of 28wpm, but it is a helluva alot less creepy and distrubing role-playing out those situations where the narrator is deemed necessary. (lol)
  • Thorvaldr
    Posts: 141
    Leonidas: I tried your idea of using a TTS (Text to Speech) program. I'll admit, at first I thought it was a silly idea. But, it did kinda work out, and my players were pretty receptive to the idea. I'll definitely have to download something (the online version I was using at first took too long to load), but I'll give you kudos. It was a good trial run, and will probably work better as I get more used to the idea.

    DM of "Tyellador":
  • Langy
    Posts: 364
    I don't quite do 'normal' and 'gravely' - I do 'normal' and 'LARGE HAM'. I do not do 'acting'. I only do 'overacting'.

    I don't have a high range at all, so female voices tend to be on the butch side; but I agree on mannerisms being useful. Or just not trying.

    Or playing in a text-only game.
  • Maesenko
    Posts: 325
    Talk, sing, etc. when you are alone for practice. Apply accents when possible, muffle a voice, echo, etc.
    If you've got the money, take voice coaching or singing lessons, or even full acting lessons.
    Voice or sound modulators work, too.

    I play around with my voice all the time, figuring out just the right shape, muscle control, and timing to pull off a sound or accent. It also extends my range, though I will admit I have lost a bit in the last year or two due to reduced vocal practice and activity. Breathing exercises go a long way, as do simply going over instrumental scales (pianos, harps, xylophones, and guitars are better for this I find, but really any instrument should do the trick).


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  • Thorvaldr
    Posts: 141
    @Maesenko: You sound like you would be an extremely fun DM! But my acting abilities are... well, let me put it this way. A friend filmed a movie for class once, I acted in it. My performance was called "Shatner-esque." :P As far as accents go, I have Thorvaldr, more gregarious Thorvaldr, and drunk Thorvaldr. I have to ask, are you in theater? 'cause those are legitimately really good suggestions, but just might be a bit more effort than I'm willing to put in. :P

    @Langy: I could work on my large ham! I know I have that within me! I just need to coax out my inner ham. :P And the text-only game almost goes with Leonidas's suggestion! It's like text, but everyone's together! :P I may have to combine the TTS program for female voices with the Elcor (Mass Effect) form of communication. I'll just preface everything with an emotive statement. :P

    [Seductively] Come young warrior, remove your armor and rest a while.
    [Rage] You killed my family! I'll cut off your heads and spit down your throats!

    All said with the same computerized monotone. I think this could work!

    DM of "Tyellador":
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