10 Character Voices to Inspire Your Next NPC for D&D
Non-Player Characters' (NPCs) voices can be difficult to quickly create or make truly unique, between the variety of personas the Dungeon Master (we call them Quest Masters) must personify. By borrowing voices from other iconic characters in the media, Quest Masters can easily develop and maintain voices on the fly. Below are some iconic voices you may be interested in using for your next NPC!
Scar from The Lion King is voiced by Jeremy Irons. Scar’s deep, gravelly voice is iconic for villains. He easily transitions between a rich, sickeningly charming tone and a menacing growl which thinly veils the monster inside. His frequent and jarring mood swings are reflected in his tone of voice, as is beautifully reflected in his solo- "Be Prepared." This voice is perfect for charismatic, manipulative villains who thinly veil their evil nature.
Jeremy Irons is a prolific actor and voice actor, known for his incredibly rich, deep, emotive voice. He has even acted in a film called Dungeons and Dragons, based on the role-playing game, which premiered in 2000.
2. General Iroh
General Iroh from Avatar the Last Airbender is voiced by Mako Iwamatsu. With a deep, calm voice, Iroh’s speech flows easily, with no particular rush or insistence. He rarely raises his voice, and even then only in dire situations. Iroh has achieved an inner balance and spirituality that is reflected in his unrushed demeanor and his wise advice, which he freely lends to anyone who will listen. Iroh’s voice could be used for a monk, trusted advisor, or a wise man of the forest.
Kaa from The Jungle Book is voiced by Sterling Holloway. During the iconic song "Trust in Me," Kaa’s voice fully embodies that of a charming snake, softly and soothingly luring its victim into a state of complacency. This voice would be perfect for a charming yuan-ti character.
Sterling Holloway is most famous for being the original voice of Winnie the Pooh.
Graves from League of Legends is voiced by Kyle Hebert. Graves is known for his deep, gravelly voice, similar to that of a western character. He sounds like the quintessential cowboy, using phrases such as “dead man walking”, in a thick, Texan accent. This accent could be used for a ranger or a sheriff character.
Ursula from The Little Mermaid is voiced by Pat Carroll. Ursula is a master manipulator, using her promises of help and dark magic to take advantage of desperate individuals. Her voice reflects her personality, with an overdramatic voice, sickly sweet when sympathizing with her victims and brash when mocking her enemies. Ursula uses her voice as a tool to influence and manipulate her victims. Ursula’s voice could be used for a sea hag, a persuasive village herbalist, or even an entitled noble.
6. Rick Sanchez
Rick Sanchez from Rick and Morty is voiced by Justin Roiland. Rick is a mad scientist of sorts, with too much intelligence and not enough to do with it. He is known for his very dry sense of humor, and frequently monologues on the inner workings of his latest invention while condescending other characters. His vocal tone is incredibly dry and known for being punctuated by belching. This voice is versatile and would fit well with a zany character, such as an old tinkerer gnome.
Justin Roiland also voices the other star character of the series, Morty Smith. Compared to Rick, Morty is insecure and cautious, peppering his speech with filler words, and constantly second-guessing decisions. Morty’s voice would fit well with an insecure NPC or young child.
Genie from Aladdin is voiced by Robin Williams. Genie’s voice is iconic as being humorous, upbeat, and animated. The amount of exuberant inflection used in his speech serves to excite the audience and create a buoyant atmosphere that is both encouraging and memorable. Genie’s voice would fit well with an enthusiastic shopkeeper or event planner.
8. Princess Azula
Princess Azula from Avatar the Last Airbender is voiced by Grey DeLisle. Azula has a calm, calculated voice, which lets through no hint of emotion unless she wants it to. This character is known for her ability to manipulate others, adjusting her tone and actions to get what she wants. She is a mastermind at predicting others’ actions and knows exactly how to change her tone and speech to get what she wants. Her steady, purposeful cadence is perfect for a high-intellect villain who enjoys manipulation.
9. Claude Frollo
Claude Frollo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame is voiced by Tony Jay. His voice is cold and calculated, quick to viciously condemn those who disagree with his doctrine. His full conviction in his doctrine of beliefs enables him to say what he wants with no fear of reprisal. This voice would fit well with a leader who has been hardened over the years and has no qualms with their actions.
Iago from the Aladdin franchise is voiced by Gilbert Gottfried. Iago is known as a comic relief character, and Gilbert Gottfried’s voice acting certainly highlights this role. The voice is absolutely unique, with a squawking quality that is entirely fitting for a talking parrot, making this character memorable. This voice could be used for any slightly-annoying character you want to be remembered.
For a quick reference of Gilbert Gottfried’s unique tone and inflection, check out his reading of 50 Shades of Grey (rated for mature audiences)
These voices and many others can be quickly used and reused for NPCs. When in doubt about an NPC’s voice, simply imagine a similar character from a TV show or movie and borrow their voice for the character. Chances are, your players will never notice where the voice is from, and it will result in a more immersive and memorable gaming experience.