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Posts Tagged ‘naming’

Dice can be useful to randomize letters, say, when you’re making a cipher, or trying to write fantasy or science fiction proper names.  Ojmwrgm, the pirate, for example.

D20 Alphabet

Unless you’re trying for something like Drizzt.  Or any other name requiring a Q, U, V, X, Y or Z.  This is just a 20-sided die, after all.  (Though they keep the C, K and S, when they could have left out the C as redundant.  English is weird.)

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One curious component of my alt puzzle is the naming game.  I like to find names that are totally unique, with bonuses if they have meaning like “Sendoku“, a portmanteau of Sendo (death/crisis in battle) and Doku (poison) that I used for a Death Knight.  It was unique at the time, but has since been adopted by a pair of Trolls.  Still, for a while, it was mine and mine alone, at least as far as the WoW Armory reported.  (I wish there were such a tool for other MMOs, if only a repository of names, so I could see what has been used without firing up the client and getting a lot of “this is taken” messages.)

I’m not a heavy role player, but I like to at least have my handle in-game be something unique and interesting.  Bonus points if there’s a literary or artistic allusion or race/class connection.  Portmanteaus are especially fun, as a lot of high fantasy already dabbles in that arena with names like “Darkshore” and “Mindblight”.  Smoosh two words together and you might just come up with something good, especially if there is overlap like there is in “Sendoku”, with the “do” as part of both words.  It might be silly like “Toothchipper” or descriptive like “Shellspike”, but it’s still likely to be better than “Pwnzyu”.  “Khopeshi” hints at Egyptian warfare, and “Gruntle” just has a great feel to it, as if the character is never disgruntled.

Tools like this online translation dictionary can be helpful in deriving meaning from words used in names.  I worked backward for Sendoku that way; I dropped “death” and “disease” then “poison” into the Japanese/English translator, and looked for words that could interweave.  I lean to Japanese because I’ve loved Origami and other Japanese art for a long time, but you could almost certainly get some great stuff out of other languages.  Of course, I want to avoid  naming violations and offensive names, too, so scanning ahead can be nice there as well, as well as understanding the random-looking string of characters that actually mean something.  Accidentally including a curse word or crude term from another language can be troublesome.  (To be fair, that wasn’t Larisa’s guildie’s only problem, but it was a trigger for trouble.)

“Ouroborough” has literary allusions in Ouroboros and “borough”, with a curious mixed meaning of a town eating itself.  Death Knight, Shadow Priest or Warlock?  “Eurydiced” is part Eurydice, part “diced”… Greek tragedies could get pretty bleak and messy.  Rogue, maybe?  “Portlying” suggests a fat, sedate sort of character (or maybe a fat untrustworthy one) … Dwarven Protection Paladin, maybe (or Dwarven Rogue)?  Flicktwist and Knicktwist would make a great pair of Gnomes… a Mage and Rogue, maybe?  Bilgork and Bolgork sound like a pair of Orcish Warriors to me.  Gurubashed fits nicely with a stoner Troll Shaman.  Malinvest might be a fantastic Goblin name.

I was surprised to see three “Ashriver” characters… I thought that one would be unique.  It’s an intriguing portmanteau of “ash” and “river” with a curious effect of also having “shriver” in it.  It’s almost begging for some sort of fantasy treatment in a larger story, a bleak river, always filled with ash, that a local village throws its dead into as they clean up after a local volcanic disaster, perhaps.  “Charwater” is unique.  So is “Orcrunt” oddly enough.  “Dystope” is unique, and so is “Pointybit” (though we’re apparently not supposed to use phrases, for better or worse).

Not all of these will fit for roleplayers, to be sure, and some border on silly, but I’ll take them any day over “Cowzrool” or “Urmom”.

My current favorite though?

Aichiichisan

It’s a mouthful, but it’s effectively A113, and I can’t help but smile at that.  That it seems almost like a Japanese familiar diminutive nickname makes me smile.

So… is it just me that does this, prowling the Armory for unique and interesting names?  Do names mean anything, or are they just utility handles like “Il” for a Gnome Rogue to hide in the bushes with?  They are one of the few things in these games that we have a high degree of control over.  How do we exercise that control and why?

It’s noted in some fiction (and historical tradition) that naming something gives you power over it, or knowing the True name of something gives you power.  It seems to me that names can be powerful things… and I want to get them right and have some fun with them.

*I wrote this almost a month ago, and since then Larisa, Rohan and Faeldray wrote about naming too.  I’m sure there are other good articles out there as well.  I know Mama Druid had several, but sadly, her blog was deleted.  Names are important to a lot of people, rightly so, I think.  It’s your “best foot forward” as it were in the digital space.*

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Prompted by this post by Dragonchaser Pete calling for RSS feed friendly blogging, and recent discussions at work about naming projects we’re working on, I mean to muse a bit about the public perception of our products, in this case, games and articles.  More specifically, I’m interested in the nature of first impressions, especially in text and context. (more…)

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