I just got back from our trip to Walt Disney World. For the second time we decided to drive rather than fly and stopped in North Carolina along the way. Even before we started, our mini-van was filled with accents. I have a South Jersey accent (no, I don’t sound like Rocky or Tony Soprano, although I do pronounce that wet stuff as “wooder”). My in-laws are from the Bronx and Connecticutt, and my wife has that Midwestern “non-accent.” Needless to say I heard my share of Southern accents (in various forms) along the ride, and Walt Disney World is filled with accents from all over the world.
While driving along the 95 corridor and not being too distracted by “South of the Border” signs, I began to muse on accents and fantasy RPGs. I’ve been playing since 1982, and even now, in 2010, most fantasy campaigns that I have played in regularly are primarily set in a pseudo-medieval Western Europe. Generally, when attempted, the accents bear this out. I’ve heard my share of Scottish Dwarves, Viking barbarians, and French paladins. The only non-European accents I usually come across are either specifically foreign (e.g. a samurai steps off a boat) or the player simply uses her own accent.
This got me thinking. What if I populated my fantasy world with North American accents and dialects? Would it be jarring for dwarves to sound like English Canadians? How about Elves that sounded like they came from the Deep South? What if the people of a cosmopolitan city sounded like New Yorkers? Would it work if all of the members of a particular ranger order had Texan accents? What if the swamp-dwelling Halflings spoke in a Cajun dialect?
So what do you think? Would it be too jarring if your pseudo-medieval fantasy setting borrowed dialects and accents from North America (or heck, any other region of the world)? Have you run or played in fantasy settings that used diverse American accents? How well does it work?