View Full Version : Names - Gamerstable Episode 60

06-05-2012, 09:38 PM
Like the perfect ascot (or other necessary accessory) brings an outfit together, the name you give a character can complete them in a way that the total package is memorable for years to come. The reverse of that, the wrong name, can ruin even the most brilliantly planned and rounded character.

We discuss some the naming conventions that we have used in the past and some that we plan to use in the future.

Please click here (http://gamerstable.com/names-ep60/) to listen to the episode.

06-05-2012, 10:35 PM
Okay, I'll argue...

I've known a woman with the name, "Chiffon" - that was 220 pounds and it was almost all muscle - she looked like a linebacker (she was a farm-girl from the upper Mid-west). I have a cousin named "Gwendolyn Gertrude" - and she was OMG hot (don't go there... she's over 60 now!!).

Names CAN make the person, but in other situations the person makes the name. Yeah, for every Dick Trickle, there is a Les Nessman, for every Rock Hudson, there is a Harvey Milk.

For my campaign, I assign family names (Your family name is Smith, because your family has always been working at the forge), or descriptive names (Your "last" name is "Greenvalley" because that's where your family established your homestead). The First name is up to the character - and most end up getting nicknames based upon exploits (i.e. Freda Orcslayer, Boranton Dragonbane, or Payne Darkwater the Bloody)

For unimportant NPC's, I have the simple gaming convention of calling them all variants of, "Bob". I've had Sir Robert (the brave, brave!), Rob Royal, Bob the Smith... and my players know that this person is unimportant. And this includes the much loved, Don Roberto, sword-master of Stormhaven, that has taught characters the finer points of swordplay... and he started his (non) life as a throw-away NPC.

I've banned players who insisted on Sorcerers named Tim, and warriors named Conan, based upon the clear fact that it is SO easy to come up with names. Sitting here as I type, I can see a can of Drain-o on the kitchen counter. From there, I can come up with Darno, Darian, Raina, Orain, and probably 20 others within a minute. There is also bust of William Shakespear (pick a spelling) at my desk - and get OMG numbers of variants of William, then Shaken, Esperian, Willaspear and many more. Come on!!

Regarding Robert Jordan - you need to actually look at English grammar and pronunciation - and read the names out loud - then start Googling the phonetic spellings of those words. Every name in there is based in our own history, mythology or religious background. There are even words that are used straight up - Aes Sedai - Celtic for "Elves of Light" - as opposed to Ban Sedai (pronounced BANSHEE!!) for Dark Elves or Women of Darkness... Try it.

Regarding cool names: You forgot "Wolf Blitzer" - who gained fame because all of the "real" journalists were sent out to cover the first Gulf War, and he was basically the only guy left behind to cover the news. He's done a great job... but, DAMN!

I have a friend on FaceBook who's name is, "John Moist"... and that is his REAL name.

My real family name (from my Step-dad) translates as the farming implement, the hoe - or the person that uses it (don't go their, either!). Most of immigrants with it were renamed as "Farmer" at Ellis Island, so I was adopted into a family of farmers. My mother's maiden name translates from Norwegian as, "Farmer." My Grandmother's maiden name translates from Dutch as, "Farmer." G'ma's dad's name translates from Scottish as, "Farmer"... and it continues for as long as I've been able to research. I am the product of a HUGE family of farmers.

And I ended up as a sailor. Go figure!

Regarding the Dueces naming convention: "Some call me... SPAM."

06-07-2012, 12:53 AM
Very good examples!

I too think that naming is easier than we (gamers as a collective) make it out to be. Maybe we do put too much emphasis on coming up with a ‘bad-ass’ name. But in my experience there is a certain satisfaction with coming up with a name that just fits. When you can mention a name and have the players wince with recognition of the beat-down they are expecting, that feels good. That applies to the opposite as well. No matter how menacing he is, Lord Flounder is not evoking a lot of fear.

I really like the idea of assigning surnames. That would alleviate a lot of grumbling and/or ridiculousness at our table. Basing them on upbringing or trade is very much like the origin of many modern surnames, so doing so in a RPG makes perfect sense.

Thanks for the insight into Robert Jordan’s naming techniques. That is really cool. It gives the names much more gravitas is my opinion.

The only other thing I have to say is, poor John Moist…

As always Malruhn, thanks for the input and thanks for listening.