Advice for playing multiple characters?

As I a fairly new DM I am finding it incredibly awkward and embarrassing to try play multiple characters at once in a scene, talking to myself just never feels natural. I am not the greatest voice actor. I try not to have too many characters with actual big roles together in a scene, I can deal with important guy and bodyguards or drunk people chiming in during a conversation in a tavern but my players have a weird way of brining narratively important characters together, any advice on making these moments flow naturally?
I also just don't like having 100% control over how these NPC's stories are going to resolve because it just feels like I am hijacking the game to play it with myself if the players haven't gotten a chance to actually care how their story goes

  1. 2 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Split the characters up. A huge group of people aren't all talking to everyone at once. If your party demands that npc A and npc B be in a scene at the same time, one is conversing with one half of the party, one with the other.

    Also, you can sum up. It doesn't have to be in character conversation the whole time. If two npcs are talking, I give the players the gist of what they are talking about, because I have no interest in talking to myself at the table.

  2. 2 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    >I am not the greatest voice actor.
    Don't voice act.
    Just use your normal voice, and maybe add a little detail for NPCs that your want to flesh out more. Maybe one talks a little slower or faster, or in a more familiar, overbearing way, or maybe one is more religious. But notice here the words "maybe" and "more". That is to say, don't assume a whole new personality, just little adjustments to the way you normally talk. Or even use indirect speech, it might make you more comfortable. "The baron tells you he'll have you hanged if you don't return the artifact in 24 hours."
    You already have a lot to worry about, don't add voice acting to the list.

    >I try not to have too many characters with actual big roles together in a scene
    Yeah, that's good. Stick to two NPCs at most. And have them talk mostly to the PCs, very little to each other.

    >but my players have a weird way of brining narratively important characters together
    Well, fuck me.
    OK, here's the thing: if there are two important NPCs in a scene with the party, that's because they each want something from the PCs. So they'll mostly be talking to the PCs.
    If two NPCs are talking because they each want something from the other, the PCs don't have to be there. Even if your players specifically need two NPCs to talk to each other in order to advance their plan, you can write a handout of the conversation, or just summarize for them how it went.

    >I also just don't like having 100% control over how these NPC's stories are going to resolve because it just feels like I am hijacking the game
    I'm not sure I understand this part. You only have control of what will happen if the PCs don't get involved. If they do get involved, the course of events will change.
    But also, the players can't be mother hens sticking their nose into everyone's business. Of course there's gonna be a lot that they don't have a say in. There's a limit to what they can do, and even to how much people want them to get involved.

    • 2 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      Every post here already gave solid advice on how to run conversations, especially
      NPCs talking among each other is something that should be limited to very brief comments or a summary of whats going on.
      Indirect speech should be something you use quite often. There is no reason why you should do special impressions of random townsfolk, merchants etc. it just tires you out. It's also good for characters which would have a very distinguished and grand way of talking.
      If you really want to act out a character then you should have a certain grasp where to go with him. Like

      just have fun with character archetypes. I have a stock of a dozen I reuse constantly, in voices, mannerisms and so. You can adapt them for each character but it's good to get into the mindset of each one:
      >fat amiable innkeeper
      >rough soldier/captain
      >eccentric wizard
      >coward shady individual
      >highbrow holier-than-thou attitude which works well with clerics and enemy villains
      >dumb small creature/pet

      really helps when characters start asking questions and you have to improvise, you are already in the mindset of the character. Having multiple characters is easy once you have the individuals settled in, you just have (please, for the sake of your players) short converstions between them.
      If you are in a long, contrived converation with yourself, you've gone wrong. It's much better to go "The Council of thirteen ends up deciding that you'll go to the Island of Doom", or have a spokesman representing the group.

      mentioned going with a certain archetype that can be painted with very broad brush strokes is pretty key. And since there isn't an endless number of these archetypes, you shouldn't waste them too much on characters that don't really matter.
      If you choose to act one out, then you should give yourself a short moment before switching into that role so you can properly play it out. Especially with big villains, kings and other important people.

      There is probably nothing worse than having the BBEG TOLKOVAR WARLOCK OF THE END TIMES jumble around basic words and use fools for the 5th time to describe the party because more flowery words don't come to his mind since the session is already running for hours. I've made that experience way too often.
      Getting in and out of direct character speak is very hard and challenging even for experienced DMs. You don't have to do it at all actually and delivering the cinematic critikal role experience is nothing a GM should feel obligated to do. You have your hands busy already with tard-wrangling the whole group most of the time.
      Go for it though if you feel like it could be fun with certain characters. Practice makes perfect.

  3. 2 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Have NPCs talk to PCs. No point to ever have NPCs talking to each other

    • 2 weeks ago
      Smaugchad

      This. For NPC to NPC interactions, just describe the gist of the conversation to the PCs. Bullet point that shit.

  4. 2 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    just have fun with character archetypes. I have a stock of a dozen I reuse constantly, in voices, mannerisms and so. You can adapt them for each character but it's good to get into the mindset of each one:
    >fat amiable innkeeper
    >rough soldier/captain
    >eccentric wizard
    >coward shady individual
    >highbrow holier-than-thou attitude which works well with clerics and enemy villains
    >dumb small creature/pet

    really helps when characters start asking questions and you have to improvise, you are already in the mindset of the character. Having multiple characters is easy once you have the individuals settled in, you just have (please, for the sake of your players) short converstions between them.
    If you are in a long, contrived converation with yourself, you've gone wrong. It's much better to go "The Council of thirteen ends up deciding that you'll go to the Island of Doom", or have a spokesman representing the group.

  5. 2 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    >I also just don't like having 100% control over how these NPC's stories are going to resolve
    So don't. Reaction tables, self control traits, and other "outdated autism for people who can't roleplay," is actually there for that very reason.
    Take your NPCs and scribble down some character flaws with target numbers. "Greedy 4, Prideful 12," whatever.
    When something happens that impinges on that trait, flaw, just roll to see if they give into it or not. Build yourself prompts and spontaneity into the system, and let NPCs 'act on their own,' a little more.

    • 2 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      >Take your NPCs and scribble down some character flaws with target numbers. "Greedy 4, Prideful 12," whatever.
      >When something happens that impinges on that trait, flaw, just roll to see if they give into it or not.

      Not OP. That's... that's actually a quite ingenious solution to the problem. I'm gonna do that from now one.

      • 2 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        Glad to be of service.
        It's just a core feature of gurps I lift for everything now.

        • 2 weeks ago
          Anonymous

          I should really learn that fucking game. I feel like it has so many mechanics that it must HAVE some that turn out useful without needing the whole system. Case in point: this one.

          • 2 weeks ago
            Anonymous

            The way it's structured a lot of its mechanics don't rely on the core mechanics in a way they're inextricable,because the core mechanics are pretty interchangeable with something else, in the grand scheme of things.
            The books are written in a way that makes it a little hard to learn, but it's dirt simple compared to the reputation it gets, and almost comically easy to GM once you learn it.

  6. 2 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    You don't have to do exact 1:1 word for word each time an npc communicates. You can summarize and add a tone descriptor.
    >the bartender eyes your group up and nods, the serving wench directing you to the table in the middle of the room
    You can add reaction rolls of various forms to give the npcs rough direction and interest they will try and pursue. Don't over complicate npc goals, most humans aren't very complicated in their desires.

  7. 2 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Be schizophrenic.

  8. 2 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    You don't need to do voices if you don't feel like it, nobody will judge you and if they do tell them to run their own game if they don't like it. Just narrate everything in the third person, you don't need to have an entire conversation with yourself if you can convey a point in a single sentence, doing so just brings the spotlight back to the players faster, which they will appreciate.

  9. 2 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    You just get used to it. Let the players interject as they like, if there's a long conversation going on between two NPCs summarize it for the players, give them a TLDR.

    more advice if you can handle it, play Digimon Digital Adventures. Not run, play. You play the human and the digimon both in that system, and it WILL make you a better GM.

  10. 2 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Description instead of acting.
    Described what the npc are doing and saying in 3rd person instead of trying to juggle several first person characters in one scene.
    It's as simple as "Bradic says...", "Then Urreal responds while walking up to Bradic...", etc.
    Maybe read a book or a few short stories that uses 3rd person limited as the writing style to get used to the flow of it.

  11. 2 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    If NPCs talk to each other don't have a conversation with yourself, just summarize the conversation. An example would be two nobles talking about the impending orc attack. "The two nobles sit down. Noble 1 says with his brow furrowed that the guards cannot handle such an invasion. Noble 2 brings out a map and tries to strategize but Noble 1 shoots down the idea. After a while arguing Noble 1 looks at the party and says" Then you can RP that noble. And you can do that with more than 2 NPCs as well. Just keep it to under 30 seconds, any longer than that and players start checking out of the conversation.

  12. 2 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    if it's an online game, you should absolutely exploit the everliving fuck out of text RP.
    otherwise, you can still throw out summaries and the like, nobody's gonna throw a fit about being given a summary of what they got out of eavesdropping unless they're a full-force CR fanboy with expectations that exceed even what Matt Mercer can do for his show.

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