Thoughts, Tone, and Action

Hello everyone and welcome to this week’s installment of Only On Tuesdays! This week is special because I am using advice given to me by my dear friend Stormaggedeon Norris, in order to help write this piece. Stormaggedeon was one of the first players I had and it quickly became apparent that he was a natural actor as well. His characters were entertaining, zany, and most important of all were very memorable. Here is some of his advice (along with my own) on acting in D&D.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Change your Thoughts

One of the first steps in achieving great acting is by changing the way you think. The NPCs that live in your world have very different ideas of reality than what you as the DM have. A happy go lucky villager may be oblivious to his surroundings, and will largely ignore what people say and instead interpret things based on how he feels. Subtleties go over his head, and he is the kind to speak first and think later. Alternately, a Lizardfolk chieftain is as cold emotionally as his own blood. The Ethos of rhetoric will not apply to him. He is the kind of character who will demand attention as soon as he walks into the room. 
When acting out characters such as these, knowing how they think about the world can give you great insight into what their voice may be. The villager’s voice will be lighthearted and cheery as he tells you about his wonderful day, while the chieftain will hardly acknowledge your presence, instead opting for non-verbal communication. For him it’s not important what he says, it’s how he says it. Part of bringing these characters to life is how you interpret their voice, which brings us to our next topic. 

Change your Tone

When you first begin to breathe life into these characters that you have dreamed up, it is important that you distinguish them from yourself. If every single character in the world has the same voice as you do, it not only becomes boring but it ruins the suspension of disbelief. Simply changing your tone slightly for even something as insignificant as a shopkeeper will help to make your players feel more immersed in your world. It is also ok to change your tone as you voice the character until you are able to find the voice that fits the NPC just right. Finding the right voice for your NPC can often be an important part of characterization, as something as simple as their voice can infer a lot about the character.

A character with a gravelly voice filled with sadness will explain to your players that he has lived a hard life, without you having to say anything about the character! A character with a very formal tone and an impressive vocabulary will communicate everything the players need to know about the character, even if they were wearing rags and threads. Using the voice as a storytelling tool falls into the realm of Show, Don’t Tell, and is a very important tool that you can use to communicate information to your players without the need for plot dumps or boring explanations. Showing your players the character instead of telling them leads us into our next point.

Change your Actions

In the realm of acting, showing instead of telling is one of the most important things that anyone can learn. Show your players the emotions of your characters by acting them out yourself. Instead of telling your players that the gentleman is impatient, show it by have him checking the time, tapping his foot repeatedly, and huffing when things don’t go his way. Mannerisms are also another excellent way of developing character, without you having to say anything about them. A twitch above the eye and an intense stare can easily clue your players in on what kind of scientist they are dealing with.

Acting out the characters not only helps your players become immersed in your world, but it also helps you become immersed in the character you are playing. When you become immersed in your character you can then begin thinking like that character. Thinking like that character will then influence how you speak, and this will then influence how you behave. This cycle of thoughts will help you quickly solidify the character and will make for a better game for everyone as everyone becomes more immersed in your world and it’s characters.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Thank you for reading the article this week! I went for a shorter piece this time, and I would like to hear what you guys think of the different length. Would a TL;DR at the end of the posts be a welcome addition to my usual style of posts, or should I make an effort to condense the information like I have, into a smaller post? I’d like to hear your guy’s thoughts on this matter, so feel free to comment below. As for now have a great week, and an amazing Tuesday, and good luck with your acting!