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How Unsolved Mysteries Helped Me Find My GM Voice

Today’s RPGaDay word prompt is “stack”. What definition of the word is meaningful to my own tabletop roleplaying experiences? Can bonuses be added together? Will poker chips or other tokens pile up? Something about the host of the original Unsolved Mysteries television series, Robert Stack?

I’m going to go with the last one. Because this challenge is open to interpretation, so I can.

Yes, Robert Stack and Unsolved Mysteries

Over the years I have developed what I call my “guide voice”. When I’m narrating scenes for players, they know it means they need to pay attention. I’m describing important things. It’s different from my “what is your character” doing voice, or any voices I use for supporting characters. I hit upon this voice from watching shows with a lot of voice-over work, including Unsolved Mysteries. For a couple of campaign, I had a loop of incidental music that I played to go along with it. Just to heighten the effect.

The first campaign I used it for was an espionage game, not unlike DoubleZero. At first it was a flashback mechanism; I used the voice of the player characters’ boss. They were in the field, but I was narrating what he had told them back in the office before the adventure began. It was a way to get directly into the action.

Having a specific voice — not so much an impression, as a cadence and tone –used only for narration worked well. If I was reading the “flavor text” from a published adventure, they knew that it was official information, not me riffing. It helped to keep things interesting, and got the players to refocus if there was starting to be too much table talk.

Robert Stack had great voice for it. Peter Graves was a close second. It was forceful and dramatic, without lapsing into camp or hammy overacting. There was a serious to it, but he could also be a bit tongue-in-cheek for some of the more outlandish stories.  Consider trying something like this out with your group.

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How Unsolved Mysteries Helped Me Find My GM Voice

RPGaDay is an annual event held each August. It asks tabletop gamers to use provided daily prompts to express something fun, interesting, and positive about the hobby. David F. Chapman (Autocratik), the award-winning game designer, created it.

About Dancing Lights Press

Dancing Lights Press is a lo-fi publisher of tabletop roleplaying systems and system-agnostic creative aids, including the best selling Building series, the DoubleZero action thriller system, and Hippogryph, a fantasy story game system with traditional  roots. Our products embrace a minimalist aesthetic in design and presentation because roleplaying is an activity, not a collection of expensive rulebooks.

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