Tuesday, April 17, 2012

N is for Names

A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet, but a bad character name can really stink up the joint.

Choosing a name for a PC is never easy. A good name should be appropriate for the campaign setting, as well as help establish the character itself. For example, when I was playing Engines & Empires, I played a fighter named Lt. Reginald Hornsby. The name was perfect for the character. First, it fit the pseudo-Victorian pseudo-England setting of the campaign. Second, the rank helped establish a sense of authority from a character that started with an 8 Constitution and a 9 Charisma. Third, the name was remarkably versatile in determining who was addressing him. Those that recognized his authority called him Lieutenant. To those who new him more formally, he was Reginald. To his best friends, he was just Reg. And you always knew when an enemy approached when they shouted "Hornsby!" By the time the campaign ended, he added "Lord Reginald" and "Baron Hornsby" to the list of addresses. It's of little surprise that he became the leader of the party. The only name that came close to my PC's in coolness was our party's scholar, Dr. Matthew DeVault. That was a name that said, "I am an erudite and cultured individual, and I slay monsters for a living." No wonder he ended up with the Sword of Dracus.

On the other hand, we had a few characters that naturally fell to the back of the pack. First there was Bob the gnome, a character that was sadly played by a woman who had no idea how to play an E&E gnome/tech. Bob's major contribution to the party was being cursed to grow an inch a week until he was 6'8" tall. Not exactly the stuff legends are made of. On top of that was one of the party's halflings. Engines & Empires replaced the thief class with the more versatile expert, a skill-oriented character that could quickly become a master of many things. Halflings were the demi-human counterpart to the human expert. So one would expect a character that made up for his lack of size by using intelligence and guile.

Instead we got Bayonetta, the halfling stripper.

Yes, a gaslight fantasy campaign filled with high adventure and political intrigue had a character named after a then-popular video game character whose weapon of choice was based on it doubling as a stripper pole. John eventually made the player change the character's name to something more appropriate, but I'll be damned if I can remember it. And why should I? The player obviously didn't give a damn about the game, and came up with a character that was only memorable because of some juvenile shock value. So it's no surprise that it fell into the ranks of the supporting cast. In the end, the party really consisted of four or five heroes and a bunch of glorified hirelings. and those at the front of the line were played by players that cared enough to give their characters a decent name.

After all, you can't make history if no one knows who you are.

1 comment:

  1. Names really do affect how we act! I'm trying to visit all the A-Z Challenge Blogs this month. My alphabet is at myqualityday.blogspot.com