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Acquiring Accents for RPGs

Accents are one of the most powerful tools in a role-player’s arsenal. Using them can make characters stand out at the gaming table, and differentiate between in character and out of character comments. They can also be the difference between a good GM and an incredible GM who truly immerses players in their world. Why narrate a story? Bring out your inner thespian and BECOME your story.

First of all, research whatever accent you’d like to try, or shop around for an accent that you can mimic fairly well. One of the best tools for listening to accents is the internet, specifically videos. Search for “regional dialect meme” on Youtube and you will get a ton of options from all over the world. This meme is particularly helpful because it includes many words and sounds, but it also includes regional terms. For example, is it “soda” or “pop”? These terms can be awesome little details to add to your characters and really unify a group of characters that are from the same place.

Remember, it’s ok if you aren’t perfect at first, and you really will get better as you go. Hell, it’s an RPG! Unless you are playing a historical game, who’s to say your accent isn’t perfect? Maybe the people from that land over the mountains sound exactly like your bad Jamaican accent. There are a large number of Russian/Irish accented characters in my games… who start to sound more Irish as I drink. Go fig.

Why do we all sound the same?!?

Accents are regional, not racial. In a recent season of the Happy Jack’s RPG Podcast, another host started speaking like a southern character from one of our games. The character was named Windy Drawers, and he was a sloppy, overeating, unintelligent politician. We instantly started receiving angry emails from people who were upset that we were depicting such an unflattering African American stereotype on our show, however we had never mentioned Windy Drawers’ race on that episode of the podcast. In our game he was actually a rich southern white man, but listeners drew their own conclusions based on their own racial stereotypes. Let me say it again, accents are regional, not racial. They are determined by where you grew up and lived, not by your ethnicity or species.

This is a very important distinction that is often overlooked in gaming… and in the media. The stereotypical dwarf may have a Scottish accent, but if he was raised by elves (oh, the horror!) he will sound more like an elf than his dwarf kinsmen. Humans from different parts of the world should have different accents, and drow should not sound like surface elves… unless they were raised together! A good player or GM will use this in their games. An NPC shows up claiming to be from a local town, but speaks differently than everyone there… clue #1 for the party. Maybe it’s your half-elf’s first adventure with this band and you’re getting to know them along the way? Your Irish/British/Russian/common accent tells them that you were raised by the human side of the family, not the elves. They add depth and complexity to a character instantly, that could only otherwise come from sharing written back stories or long in-game explanations.

Here are some easy tips for mastering an accent:

- Find a phrase that will immediately bring you back into your accent. Usually, this is something very stereotypical that you almost can’t imagine being said in any other accent. For my Irish accent I use the phrase “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!” because it’s VERY Irish, and it’s easy to fit into many different situations. It’s like hitting the refresh button on my Irish lilt.

– Listen to your chosen accent as much as possible. Watch Braveheart 4 more times, or whatever movie has the accent you are trying to mimic. Audio books are also a great option since they are easy to get and reasonably priced. The more you hear the accent the easier it will be for you to imagine it in your head later when you are trying to use it.

– Practice! The more you use your accent, the better it will sound. Talk along with your favorite movie character with that accent, repeat commercials on the radio or read street signs while you’re driving in the car. I practice in the car a lot because nobody can hear how awful I sound.

– Anticipate what words you are going to use a lot in the campaign and practice them extra! For example, if you are a German spy in a pulp game, you might be dealing with lots of military equipment, location names, etc. You will probably never have to use the words “elf”, “dwarf”, or “dragon”, so stick to what you’ll need. Bonus points for learning and using regional terms or words from their native language!

– Did I mention that you should practice? Seriously, do it. You don’t want your first try at an accent to be while you’re sitting at the gaming table. Trust me on this, I learned this the hard way.

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Hollywood & Heroes Charity Event

The Emerald Knights comic and game shop is hosting a huge event this Sat, June 9th from 12pm to 7pm. The event supports the Shriner’s Hospital for Children, so join us for the fun and some good karma. It will be a day of games, signings, photo opps, and much more! Lots of geek-famous actors will be there, including members of The Guild, and over 40 cosplayers, including myself! There are also items being auctioned off on the EK auction page.

I will be dressed as Wonder Woman all afternoon. I will also be playing in some RPGs, spreading word about the Happy Jack’s RPG podcast, posing for pictures, and visiting with everyone. Rumor has it that I may also be running a DC themed Wild Talents game…

I hope to see a lot of familiar faces on Saturday! More info can be found on the Emerald Knights website, or by contacting the shop.

RPG Podcast Listener Survey

The 2012 RPG Podcast Lister Survey is up! Please visit rpgpolls.com to fill it out. This information is very useful to podcast hosts and gives great information on the demographics of our audience members. It should take you less than 5 minutes to fill out and doesn’t ask for any personal contact information.

The 2011 survey gave us some very interesting information about RPG podcast listeners. According to last year’s statistics, RPG podcast listeners are between the ages of 26 and 29. 51% of them are married and over 66% use iTunes to download their podcasts. D&D was still the most popular gaming system of listeners, but had dropped 2.3% while other systems such as Savage Worlds and GURPS gained ground. Overall, listeners spent an average of $621.92 on RPGs and gaming in 2011. Women made up only 6% of respondents in last years survey, however the actual number of women who took the survey increased.

Happy Jacks RPG Podcast did very well in the 2011 survey. Over 27% of the gamers surveyed listened to our podcast!! We actually ranked 3rd in the list of top 20 RPG podcasts! Most surprising of all, Happy Jack’s was the favorite RPG podcast of women who took the survey. Over 33% of the women who completed the survey listened to our podcast! This makes me very happy, since I am a huge proponent of women in gaming.

I am eagerly looking forward to the results of the 2012 survey! Please share this info with your gamer friends! The more respondents, the more accurate the data will be!

 

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Thou Shalt Not Play with Assholes

Should subjective tabletop RPG rules be eliminated since they can allow the GM’s biases to influence the game? This rather hot topic has arisen lately, especially regarding mechanics where the GM can reward players for their role-playing. This discussion was started by site called Gaming for Women and we recently discussed it on an episode of the Happy Jack’s RPG podcast.

While misogynistic behavior was the main concern of the article, any time you allow the human element into activities it opens the door for prejudice. I will be the first to admit that this can lead to horrible situations in games and in gaming groups. However, I argue that this subjectivity is imperative to gaming and especially vital with reward mechanics. The human element is the reason we play tabletop games. Otherwise, we’d all just go play video games since they are available whenever we want and don’t drink all the beer when they come over. I have seen reward mechanics bring quiet role-players out of their shell and bring games to a whole new level. If a numbers mechanic regulated the use of rewards, rather than the GM, the same people would always get the bennies! Only the subjective judgement of a GM can evaluate the amount of effort a player is putting into the game.

Some people (read: self-proclaimed feminists) chimed in on my twitter feed and claimed that women may need all subjective rules to be eliminated in order to insure total fairness in all gaming groups. WTF? Seriously? I cannot begin to describe how insulted I was by the idea that women need rules to protect them in RPGs. If you are in a group where you need rules to protect you from a GM’s vindictive actions, get the fuck out of there! We play games FOR FUN! If you are playing with people who treat you unfairly based on your gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, beer preference, or anything else, it isn’t going to be fun. Nobody should ever stay in any type of relationship (romantic, friendly, gaming, or otherwise) where the only thing protecting them from abuse is rules. Being empowered includes the power to remove yourself from a bad situation. Find another group, or start checking out online gaming options if the pickings are slim in your area.

Remember Kimi’s golden rule of gaming: thou shalt not play with assholes!

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OrcCon 2012 – Laser Ponies Game for Adults

I didn’t know what to expect when I ran my adult-theme Laser Ponies convention game at OrcCon 2012. Convention games are an unpredictable beast. You never know who will show up at your table, or if they will buy the concept that you have spent endless hours prepping. This concept was especially risky with Laser Ponies, but I hoped that anyone who signed up for a twisted game of alien ponies would show up ready for anything.

My table is all set up and ready for the players!

I love having an amazing setup for my players when they arrive. I also like the players to be surprised by the characters that they get. Usually, my players have little clues when they arrive at the table, but nobody gets to see their character sheets until everyone is seated and we get started. For this game, each player had a bag waiting for them that contained their character sheet, a map, a set of My Little Pony stickers (just because they were fun!), and a customized toy version of their character. On each bag was a picture that represented the character inside, and that was their only clue.

The customized ponies were the biggest part of my prep time for this game. Lots of people were very excited because of the crazy description and because we’d been talking about the game on the Happy Jack’s RPG podcast for months. EIGHT people were signed up, so I had to make a lot of ponies! They took about two weeks to complete, but I loved the challenge and the creativity involved. I sanded small toy horses that I bought at the Dollar Tree. Then painted each one with spray paint and puffy paint to make them look unique. I was thrilled that the players were so excited to get them.

  

  

 

 

I was supposed to co-GM this game with my friend Casey, however he fell ill about 10 minutes into the game intro. Things went smoothly and the players bought into the crazy concept that we had created. Basically, the home of the Laser Ponies is being overrun by a drug cartel. The only ponies who can take a stand against this threat are the P-Team. Yes, we ripped off the A-Team, but damn did it make for a funny game. Each character had weaknesses, like uncontrollable lust, war flashbacks, drug addiction, fear of flying, and more. These weaknesses have to be rolled so the players never know when they will kick in. It made for a very adult, but very funny addition to the game.The players got so into it they started rolling their weaknesses, even when I hadn’t asked!

The rainbow afro that the players created. They did this completely on their own! Lesson: Always provide crayons for your players!

The game went incredibly well, and was one of the most fun games with which I have been involved. The players were what really made it magical. They were incredibly creative and energetic. The started making creative props of their own and kept acting out scenes using their toy horses. The insane plot ideas that they came up with were so unexpected, but it really made the game. Multiple times in our 4 hour game we had to stop because we were all laughing too hard to speak. I feel bad for the other Happy Jacks games that shared the room with us, but holy cow was it fun! The 4 hours flew by, and the game timed out perfectly, ending 10 minutes before the cut off time.

The one thing that I wasn’t prepared for was combat. I had planned to co-GM, and Casey is a numbers guy. I had read the rules a few days before, but I couldn’t recall the exact damage rules once it was obvious that Casey wasn’t coming back. I was subtly trying to look up damage rules while I started the first scene. It didn’t impact the game for the players (as far as I could tell!) but it made those first few moments stressful for me. Lesson: Always have the book/PDF with you (huzzah! I did that!) and always read the combat rules before the players show up if its a new system to you.

This was a REALLY amazing game. REALLY. I won’t be sharing any plot points here since I may have to run this game again. I might have to retire from adult Laser Ponies forever though, because I doubt any game could live up to the original P-Team.

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Laser Ponies RPG

For the next Strategicon gaming convention, my friend Casey and I decided to run a game called Laser Ponies. No, I’m not kidding. It’s an actual RPG game that you can buy. It was mentioned in the first season of the Happy Jack’s RPG podcast (which I often host) and has been a running joke since then. We thought it was a great idea to design and run an X-rated Laser Ponies game.

What can I say? We were very, very drunk at the time. Never promise to GM a crazy game on-air during a live podcast when you are inebriated. Trust me.

I don’t want to give too much of the story away, but I did want to comment on the PDFs we bought to run this game. We bought the Laser Ponies PDF and the QAGS System PDF from Drivethru RPG. The Laser Ponies book is less than $2 right now, and you can actually run the game entirely from this book. You will also be able to enjoy the amazing artwork that comes with this book…

 
Stop laughing! I’m not kidding! It is really a system book!

The QAGS (or Quick Ass Game System) book is one of the most entertaining system books I have ever read. I know that isn’t the hardest thing to do, but it is very funny at times. It starts with the very basics and moves on from there.

How to use diceActual image from the QAGS Book

The system is pretty simple and can work for any setting. I haven’t play tested our game yet, so I will hold off on my review until I’ve run something with it. However, I will say that for under $10 you can get both of these PDFs, get drunk, and have a lot of fun coming up with insane ideas for the most warped Pony-verse ever.

 

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