April 25, 2015

Tales from the d20: Tabletop Dialoguing 101

Source: Wikimedia

It was since Boris joined the party that our characters gained voices. Boris' player sat down at the end of the table, Diet Coke in hand and drawing paper positioned between his hands. We all sat in wait, wondering exactly how he'd manage his character...From the moment he opened his mouth, Boris was filled with life. A rich accent topped a complex set of personality traits, and I was immediately introduced to the rough-and-tumble of the roleplaying portion of the game.

Source: Wikimedia
From there, it's been a journey of trials and failures; Funny moments and word flops; And above all, lots of exploration on who exactly Lylien Ziandiel was. And who was she, really? 

I didn’t have much from which I could base my assumptions. I had my six statistics that I’d rolled up some months ago and a rough idea of what an adventuring elven mage would act like. Fifth Edition D&D had a nice way to roll personality bonds and flaws, which added to the texture of Lylien’s wants, but I’d never really taken these into account. Essentially, I’d put my own brain into that of an elf…and let me tell you, I make a really ineffective elf. It wasn’t until Boris convinced me to step out of my shell and reprogram Lylien’s personality to take a concrete form with correct inflection and word choices, one that had wants and desires outside of ‘not die in this battle’ or ‘test out that spell’. 

I'm pretty sure it started with the eyeballs. We were traveling through Thunderspire Mountain, having found a long, dark corridor that looked perfect for a team of adventurers to go looking for fame, fortune, and Melody’s mother upon. It wasn’t long before we had an encounter: Three humanoid zombies, one of which had a dark cloak and glowing eyes. Perfect, right? Right. Through a rag-tag strategy of smashing, bashing, bolt-slinging, and burning (that was me), the creatures were disposed of quickly. The cloaked figure simply disappeared, leaving behind only the two eyeballs of interest, both having lost their glow. 

“We should leave them alone,” Melody decided, keeping her distance. 

“Want to squish them?” Boris suggested, “I want to squish them.” 

However, I parted the crowd. Yes, these were great squishing material. “Let’s keep one.” 

“No way!” Melody responded. At this point, we were all laughing at speaking like our characters. I’m sure the rest of my table has done this before, in so many years of play, but it was my first time, and the awkwardness was kind of relieving. A few rolls later, the eyeballs met Boris’ boots with a dissatisfying squelching noise. My teeth gritting together, we continued. 

source: Wikimedia
I wasn’t sure if I’d have an experience like that again. However, as we discovered an ancient Underdark market deep within the reaches of the mountain, the DM was quick to implement another opportunity. Very quickly, Lylien happened upon a magical relics shop run by a Drow named Gendar. I stepped into the shop and recognized the charm Gendar had placed upon all who entered. I smelled perfume. Perfume and trees. Perfume, trees, and…book glue. 

“No way, they know mom’s meatloaf recipe!” Boris exclaimed, almost knocking something over. Nostalgia charm. Perfect. Though I laughed, Lylien produced a snarky remark. Soon after the pleasing sensation, though, cold fingers met my collarbone. A Drow.

The conversation went down something like this: The Drow was the most charismatic I had ever met, and his flirtatious style was something that even my stubborn-as-steel elf could get used to. The DM and I went back and forth between paraphrasing actions and glancing through items. My speech faltered between the delicate sarcasm of Lylien and my own diction, but I made the best out of the situation as I could.

This week, I learned that I would have to visit the Drow again. "You should visit Gendar," merchants kept saying to me when I approached them with a magical artifact I had found, "Have you visited him." Oh, had I....
source: Flickr
Overall, I had discovered something else I could love in D&D. Already having voiced characters in Kentucky Route Zero on my stream and having such a close connection with my presence in Eidolon, I knew that I'd eventually give this a try and probably like it. I'm even more excited now to go to the Renaissance Faire in costume this year, as well as try some LARPing or something similar of the sort.

My thoughts towards players who want to try incorporating roleplay is to really work with the DM about it. The DM will often be the other speaking party, and bringing up thoughts about roleplaying will be crucial to getting it going. As well, developing an intricate, complex personality for your characters will foster a voice and diction. Boris is a human raised by pirates, for instance, so he speaks rather roughly, not conscious at all of his lack of INT. Lylien, however, was raised in the elven upper-class before her training, so she's slightly more sensitive and has the tendency to like her words with extra syllables. However, the fiery attitude to match her magical specialties also results in her short temper, making her snap easily. It depends on not only your character's race and class, but their background and how they orient themselves in the world.

Roleplaying should be a fun experience that livens the game and brings a new level of richness to getting yourself lost in the world of D&D - or wherever you are. I suggest giving it a shot.

"I think I will be now taking my leave," Lylien said, dipping her head slightly in respect to Gendar. She knew they would likely never again cross paths. 

Gendar passed a sobered look to her. "Until we meet again, my lady," he said, picking up Lylien's hand in his and kissing the back of it. 

As if a spell was broken - though not a single one was - Lylien retracted her hand like an animal would its injured paw, her eyes boring a hole in his skull. She said not a word more as she walked away briskly, snatching Boris' elbow with a unknown source of newfound strength, planning never to return to this place. 

1 comment:

  1. I just love your writing style. You always make me feel like I am there and ready to take my turn next. You pull me right in. Well done.


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