Role playing can be intimidating, especially when you are trying out a new character! They have a whole new backstory, personality, voice and bearing compared to your own, and if you’re not accustomed to acting (like me), it can take some time to find the role. Once you do, though, the ability to explore the new perspectives and add to the immersion of your game can be really rewarding for everyone around the table!
Here are some quick tips to help you get started!
Think backstory. Where did the character come from? Where are they going and what do they want? Once you know what the character wants, you can figure out how they will interact with the other players and the world around them. For example, Bernie the Firbolg Druid (from Luminous Lake) is the intermediary between the people and the magical creatures of Runda, so when the Lake Guardian becomes upset, so he’s going to try to figure out why. He’s also naturally very curious and accustomed to helping others, so he will be inherently drawn to the adventuring party.
Using different voices goes a long way in selling the immersion and helping others at the table identify when it’s you talking, or your character. This doesn’t mean you have to use accents (though you could certainly try!), but even just changing the tempo, pitch, and speech pattern can help you create distinct personas. Laid-back Bernie speaks with a deeper register, and at a slower pace, while fast-talking Twig the fairy is likes to take the lead in conversations and poke fun at others.
The way a character holds themselves can say a lot about their personality. Are they bold and confident? Then they would likely hold themselves tall and proud, and not shy away from looking people in the eye. Are they the roguish type who try to avoid being recognized? Then they may stick to the shadows and keep their faces at an angle, or obscured. If they’re more reserved, their posture when speaking to others may be closed, with arms folded in front of them versus relaxed by their sides. Try to move and act the way your character would, and you’ll find that your mindset will slowly start to transform as well!
Does the character have connections to NPCs or members of the party? If so, what is the nature of that relationship and how does it affect social interactions? If you read my Game to Grow post, you might remember the note on Bonds. If a character had a negative experience with another character in the past, perhaps something happened to betray their trust, then they will be less likely to work with them now. Conversely, if there are familial ties or a bond of strong friendship, then your character may naturally gravitate to that bond, and even become protective if their bond is threatened in some way. Even outside of the party, if a character comes from a troubled past, think about how that may shape their actions and relationships within your game. How trusting are they? Does staying in one place for long make them uneasy? Or do they seek stability and companionship for their travels? The relationships we have as children help shape the relationships we have when we are older…your D&D character is no different!
These are just a few tips and tricks to help you find you character and explore different ways of role playing them! Don’t worry if it takes some time to figure out…for our group it can take a few sessions to find confidence with a persona, but the more you practice, the more comfortable you will become! It’s easy feel awkward or intimidated when role playing for the first time, so it’s important to be encouraging of the players around your table as they stretch their acting muscles. Remember: the goal is to have fun!