Whenever I’m talking with a group of people who are just learning about playing stories for the first time, the topic of speaking as one’s character invariably comes up. “Do I have to speak in their voice?” “Do I have to say what they would say?” etc.
So today’s newbie Tuesday post helps answer those questions and give prospective players an idea of how to “act” (or not!) as your character.
Speaking as Your Character
To put it simply, no, you are absolutely not obligated to speak as your character. You neither have to have a unique voice for the character nor dictate their exact words when it’s your turn to speak. So let’s put those concerns to rest!
When it’s your turn, all you have to do is dictate what your character might say or do. So for example, if you’re negotiating with a local lord for permission to hunt a criminal on their land, you don’t have to stand at the table, look at the GM and say, “M’Lord, may my humble party of adventures and I have the honor of permission to hunt that notorious criminal on your sacred hunting ground?” Instead, you can most definitely stay seated and just say to the GM, “I’d like to have my character try and persuade the lord for permission for us all to be able to find that criminal on his hunting grounds.”
The GM might respond something to the effect like, “Sure thing. Go ahead and roll a Persuade check,” or perhaps, “Would you like to persuade him? Or rather, deceive or intimidate him?” Either way, you don’t have to come up with a highfalutin speech or create this awesome voice out of thin air; you progress the story by simply dictating your character’s desired actions and rolling the dice when prompted by the GM. It’s literally that simple – no stress!
Now, you certainly can give speeches and/or create voices – for many, that’s super fun! But the point here is that a) speaking as your character is absolutely not an expectation and, perhaps more importantly, B) it is not required to positively progress the story.
But What if You Want to Try?
When you start to get comfortable with the idea and process of playing stories as a group, you may get curious about trying out speaking 1:1 as your character and/or, perhaps, even giving them a voice. At first, you may feel silly or not quite know exactly what to say. And that’s OKAY! For many folks, providing those talk tracks or doing voices doesn’t come naturally. But that’s the thing – for most of the folks who you see giving speeches and/or providing a voice, it necessarily didn’t come naturally to them either.
If you’re new, the only thing separating them from you is playing time – and the courage to give it a try. Yes, at first, you may feel a bit out of your element. But I promise the more you have the gumption to try, the more comfortable you’ll feel speaking as your character – and yes, even giving them a voice! You probably won’t be professional at first – but you WILL improve. So take a deep breath and, if you’re curious, give it a shot!