The Accent Trap: how not to do an accent.

Accents are Fantastic!

Everyone agrees a good accent is a delicious aural treat, it brings a character to life and imbued them with personality, it also serves to remind us that PCs can be vastly different from their players and not every NPC is just the PM being willfully obstructive.

At the same time there exists the “accent trap” where a player, group or PM start to do all manner of unfortunate things like break immersion, continuity or stretch suspension of disbelief with poorly thought out use of accents for character voices.

Now let’s not dick about the issue any more, even a flawlessly executed accent takes gamers into potentially perilous for the following reasons:

1.) You may be difficult to understand

Even with the best of intentions the most commonly attempted accents in most English speaking RP groups are Scottish and Irish, and while Scottish Dwarves and Irish Halflings are almost as much a core part of the game as stats and dice to some people these accents can make you very hard to understand.

My own fiancee has trouble with both of my (fairly convincing) South African and Scottish accents and she’s had them inflicted on her for seven years.

So before deciding to play a peasant with a strong rural accent for example please make sure you can still speak clearly enough for your group can understand you.

2. You might be imposing lore onto the world you’re playing in that your PM may not be happy with

Not every world has a nation/tribe/city of Irish/Scottish/French/Dutch/Russian/German/hammer horror vampire people living in it and if you adopt that accent without prior discussion you are forcing your character choice to be reflected in your setting without prior consent.

Which quite aside from being presumptuous and rude could be a real pain in the arse if your group goes to your home and the PM is forced to imitate your accent poorly for a session or two.

3. You may not be able to keep it up

Now this is both the most common and most understandable of problems, your fake Scotsman/Kalahari tribesman/Spaniard today might be aided by a sore throat, recent experience or a sizable indulgence in top-shelf beverages that may not be so reliable as to be present next time you try it

So for your group’s sake practice your accent, make sure you can say important words that will pop up in game while using it (I discovered recently I cannot say “Evil” properly in my South African accent.)

Most importantly ensure you can maintain your adopted accent, it’s all very well and good playing Johann Vanderheuvel but if your accent drops off after a hour you might as well have played John of the Hill.

Just a little food for thought there.

Everybody take a level of Suffering!


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