Are you a dungeon master who wants to use character voices in D&D in your game, but are unsure how to do so? Are you trying to learn how to use voices for some other purpose? If so, this article is for you! Here we will look at how people create and use voices to personify different characters.
When using character voices in D&D listen and try other voices, use all of your body, visualize the character, and don’t be afraid to feel silly.
As a little disclaimer beforehand, I am not a voice coach but I do use voices in my Dungeons and D
Listening and trying
The first step in trying out different voices is to pick what accent or voice you want to emulate. I know this may sound simple, but once you have found the voice try speaking like that person. I have no doubt you will fail at first, but that is okay.
Remember the first time you tried anything? Walking might be a bit too far back, but what about riding a bike or kicking a ball? Were you the absolute best at these things when you first tried them? The answer is no. We have to work on making ourselves better in any chosen craft, and this is no different.
At first you might butcher the voice or accent and that is okay. You will fail quite a bit, so fail at home in private. Play with your voice, and try to find out how you can manipulate your vocal cords to give the result you desire.
Practicing by ourselves can only so far, and that is why I will give you some general tips on how to manipulate your voice. These tips are meant to help you when you practice, but you must still continuously practice!
Use your chest and chin.
Let’s start with an exercise. Say ‘how are you’ while sitting straight up, back against the chair. Now say ‘how are you’ when you are slouched. Your voice should be a little deeper once you slouch. This is because you are now pushing the air out instead of making it come out naturally.
In addition to your voice being deeper, there should be a gravely sound to your voice. This is because the air is being pushed out on the top of your mouth. You should be able to feel this effect, and if not try it a few times.
Do you want to sound deeper? If so, put your chin as close to your chest as possible. Now speak. Your voice should be a bit deeper than normal. Do you want your voice to go higher? Be a snob and put your chin up really high! This will make your inflection change and your voice tone go up a little bit.
Breathing and using your mouth
If you breathe normally and talk normally you will speak normally. If you change any of this, your tone and voice will change. Try speaking while pushing air out. Now try speaking while breathing in air. Your voice should change drastically in either case, and you now have a demon voice to use!
You do not need to go to these extremes. Instead, try talking while lightly exhaling air. There should be a minor difference from your usual voice, but a big enough difference to matter. You can gain all kinds of tricks with changing the air flow, and by changing where you breath.
Now try breathing through your nose and talking right afterward. There is another minor difference, but big enough to count. Speak after pushing all the air out of your lungs. You now have an old or sick man. Try varying how and where you breathe to change your voice in practice.
Mouth and tongue
Try saying again, ‘how are you’ when you position your jaw to the right. Some words are completely different and cannot be pronounced normally. Now try saying ‘how are you’ with only a small opening in your lips, and do not move your lips. The sound should be a little deeper, but harder to understand.
Manipulating your mouth can cause a variety of different tones and voices, but that is not all you can do with your mouth. In your mouth, you have a tongue and teeth. Close your teeth and try speaking. It is hard to say some letters, and changes the way that you speak yet again. Play with your teeth and try different angles/degrees of an open mouth.
Your tongue is the last part of your mouth. Stick the tongue to the bottom of your mouth and speak. Do not let the tongue move, and you will find a very different accent than normal. Manipulate how you curve your tongue and now you have a bit of an
Elongated and shorten words
If you say ‘how are you’ in quick succession, that gives off an impatient tone. If you say ‘how are you’ in an elongated tone where every word is stretched out ‘
Elongating or shortening words can help you change your voice and tone, but now try doing both. Elongate your words and say them much faster. A new voice or accent is created.
Making new voices or accents so far have just been about trial and error, keep testing these things and you will gain even more voices!
Using your throat
In order to change our voice, using your throat seems like the most basic approach, but it is much harder than using your chest and chin. If you shorten your neck, you can sound like a possessed
If you scrunch your neck and try to expand your throat you can make a strang but yet deeper voice. This most likely will hurt a bit and is the reason why I caution using your throat when you are practicing. If something hurts, stop and do not strain yourself. This will only damage your voice and not help you if this voice is used for extended periods of time. (Unless it doesn’t hurt, then all the more power to you)
Using your throat will take a lot of practice, but it will not solve all of your voicing problems. I recommend to watch some videos if you want to use your throat for the specific accent, but I have a little bit more for you here.
When using these techniques, you must also visualize your character. Is that character a brash orc? Is the orc aggressive? If so, try to say ‘what you want?’ If you visualized this character, you probably learned in when speaking.
Once you have a vision of the character in your head, your body naturally wants to fill the requirement and sound like that character or ‘person.’ Character voices in D&D are not just the voice, but also your body language.
Completely personify your character when you perform character voices. If you do so, everyone will love your character even if your voice isn’t perfect. The tips above are to help you refine that character voice in your free time, so practice if something seems a little bit off.
Don’t be afraid to try
At first, you may think that your players will hate you for performing the imperfect accent. The truth is, they themselves have not tried these accents and are awed that you would try. In addition, most of them think this is awesome fun (unless you are a teenager playing with other teenagers).
Your character voices also help bring your characters to life. Remember how you are supposed to visualize the character that you are speaking for? If you visualize your character, your body will follow suit. Once your body follows suit, your players get invested.
Even if your accent is terrible and you try to change it later on, players will not like the better accent. The new accent changes the voice and mannerisms of the character, and thus your players will not like it.
Players recognize characters based on the mannerisms that you perform rather than the voice that you give. The voice is just a great addition to bring your characters to life and immerse your players.
You will feel silly
When you first do character voices in D&D you will feel silly wither at home or with your group. But for all the reasons above, do not give up on this. Your players are your friends or at the very least socially awkward nerdy people like yourself. They will love it.
How can you not love a person’s attempt at personifying people when you can see the effort they are putting in? And I am not talking about academic effort. The effort you put in should be shown on your face and in your hands, arms, eyebrows, everything.
When a person is putting that much effort into making a character come alive and not caring about how cool they look, others will get sucked in. I started off doing absolutely terrible voices, and people still loved it when I sold those voices.
The only time people did not like voices are when I was timid. I thought the voices were silly, so the players did. But when I threw away the notion of silliness and became confident, the players absorbed it all and loved every malformed character.
Female voice issues
If you are a female dungeon master you may have a tough time speaking in a man’s voice. First, know that this is okay and natural since our bodies different. Think about the tips above. What can you do to make your voice become deeper?
If you thought about bringing your chin inward and then speaking, that is one brilliant way to do so. Do not overextend and try to force a deep gruff voice. If you force the voice too much, it will turn out terrible.
Just use the tips above to experiment and find a bit deeper voice for a man. Once again, if you force it, things will not go well so speak normally, but with technique to change your voice.
Male voice issues
If you are a male dungeon master, you may have a tough time speaking in a woman’s voice. Instead of copy and pasting the woman’s section here with some words changed, just know that you should not try to force female voices. Our bodies are different, and if you force a female voice you will become shrill.
Instead, think about the techniques above. How can you make your voice be just a little bit higher without going full screeching hag? Focusing on the air in your nose is a great method. If you focus on the air in your nose, your voice will naturally rise just a little bit. You will need to practice speaking in this tone, but eventually, you will be able to speak normally.
Lastly, if you felt a slight pressure in your nose, you can try to focus on your head. This is using your head voice, but I would recommend you practice in private and be extremely careful. If you are not careful, your voice will become that of a screeching hag.
Stick with the nose if you are unsure, and try things out on your own.
First, keep some water handy. You are talking in a strange manner, and your throat will want recompense. This recompense will be water. Just drink to avoid injury, and stop if you are ever hurting. Figure out what caused the pain, and either doesn’t do it again or fix it.
Build on what you know. If you already know how to do an accent, figure out what makes you speak the way you do. Once you deconstruct this, you can apply this to other actors. Deconstruct what they do and try to replicate the voices that you want.
Lastly, have a keyword or mannerism to get you into a character’s voice. I myself sometimes say ‘yes’ or ‘how about you’ when I am testing my voice. Other times I push my shoulders forward or sit up straight. This helps you incorporate the previous tips and mentally gives you that half second to transition into the new character voice.
I hope that this little bit of help in making your own character voices in D&D is helpful. I once again say that I am not a professional by any means, but hope that these tips can help you use character voices in your game.
Character voices in D&D are not just some funny thing that makes a character distinct, it causes you the dungeon master to fully personify your characters. This gives them a new sense of being alive, and thus makes the world feel more alive. Speaking of making the world feel alive, I believe that this content goes hand in hand with making NPCs. If you use both of these articles, your world is sure to become more alive.
This has been Wizo and keep rolling!