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D&D 3E
What is in a Name and the Lack of Creativity 
17th-Mar-2006 10:11 am
Ok this is to all those people out there who have played with people who just name their character the most unoriginal things. You know what I am talking about, A massive 8ft Orc barbarian named James, a High Elf Ranger named Juan and so on. Now yes it annoys me to no extent when people forgo being creative in the creation of their character, it is like a giant batsignal that this person will hardly add to the fun of the game. 9 times out of 10 I am right, the lack of imagination in the creation of a character usually spawns into lack of imagination in the game. I like it when people add flavor to their attacks and not just say "I attack the orc" O.o, how are you attacking it with what and where? Maybe I am just anal about this stuff but I like it when the game is fully of creativity. Has anyone else run into this problem?
Comments 
17th-Mar-2006 07:00 pm (UTC)
I'm totally with you. Now, there are exceptions. My Eberron character is named Roland Bhalish, with the nickname of "Six". These were names chosen from the Eberron list however, and with a nickname and a backstory complete. It's not in the name, it's where the name came from.

however, that said, there are cases where people are extremely general.. I think more details come from experience. Speaking of experience, reward those who do the things like this that add to the game. This way pretty soon everyone will be "slashing viciously at their opponent" or "Striking at his shoulder with my mace" or "Launching a series of stabs at my opponent's midsection". Also make sure to describe the NPC's reactions and attacks in equal detail.
17th-Mar-2006 07:03 pm (UTC)
Sounds like somebody is a fan of the Dark Tower series.
17th-Mar-2006 07:32 pm (UTC)
Yes I was actually.

It's funny, because the DM refers to me as "Rolund" all the time, and all the other players know me and think of me as "Six", so half the times it goes like this:

dm: You're right there beside Rolund
Player1: Who's Rolund
Me: Me.
Player2: I thought your name was six
dm: I refer to him and think of him as Rolund.
17th-Mar-2006 07:08 pm (UTC)
For the most part, I like people being creative in their naming; but remember that most people are named by their parents, who have no idea what their child will turn out to be like. Admittedly, an orc named James is unlikely, but theoretically the likelihood of a puny mage being named Thor, and a musclebound fighter being named Gandalf are equally likely.
17th-Mar-2006 07:10 pm (UTC)
Ten points for you.
17th-Mar-2006 07:09 pm (UTC)
I agree with you to a certain extent.

Depending on the overall tone of the game, names can be important. If you're playing a more serious game, then players should probably try to come up with a name more rooted in fantasy than in reality.

However, if you're playing a humorous game, Juan Don Pedro the Half-Orc Barbarian is a laugh riot. In one game I played in, a friend of mine played an Elven Ranger whose nickname was...Walker. I'll leave it up to everybody else to grab that one. ~.^

As for players describing their attacks...well...honestly, it speeds up game-play if they don't. In larger groups, or if you're strapped for time (of if you just want to rush through combats, if your game is focusing on other elements) you might want to simply "attack the orc" rather than "cord your muscles tightly and make a focused slash at the Orc's throat."

Generally speaking, actions speak for themselves. If you are "attacking the orc" you're assumed to be trying to kill it. Depending on your die rolls, you may or may not do just that. Example: you can say that you attack with all your might, and then wind up rolling a 1 for damage (+ Str modifiers, of course). This is obviously not all your strength. Many times the die rolls contradict what you've just tried to describe, therefore it's best to leave it up to the DM (or GM if you're one of these new-fangled people) to describe both your action, and the reaction by the target.

That's just my opinion, though.
17th-Mar-2006 07:21 pm (UTC)
Ok the ranger who is called Walker is a riot and as well creative, I just don't like it when people name a character "Steve" or some name they picked out of a baby name book.
6th-Sep-2008 07:23 pm (UTC)
Anonymous
ive been a DM for many many years...(no need to know how many)...and ive seen alot of names, both strange and common...i have a player now with an affinity for star trek...he has been in my last 4 campaigns using the names....James...Kirk....Bill...and currently..Tiberius....even i have fallen victim to the need to make a strange name....have a long lived Wizard named Styro Pyro...for his affinity to use fire based spells...but my favorite..was a friend who played a female valley elf named...Yawanna Hump......as if the name wasn't amusing enough..he played the entire 14 month campaign using a valley girl accent....as in...whats happenin Dude when meeting someone for the first time....in conclusion...i find its not the name that is given the character...but the personality that is given to the name that bring enjoyment in the game.....Good gamin all
17th-Mar-2006 07:35 pm (UTC)
I had a bard named Robert Dylan for awhile. Some people didn't even catch on when I started using the "Jack of Hearts" as my trademark and kept asking "Where have you been my blue eyed son"

Btw, if anyone is ever looking for a creepy prophesy to have sung to players, that song is it. The song is called "A Hard Rain's a Gonna Fall"
20th-Mar-2006 01:35 am (UTC)
For a silly game, I once played "Karbelle the Bardbarian." Halfling (half-dragon) barbarian/bard gestalt.

10 points if anyone catches the reference. :-D

I love names like this.
17th-Mar-2006 07:29 pm (UTC)
Well, I've just gotten through a campaign playing a two-headed dwarf named Ernest and Julio. (Ernest was the dour rouge who kept putting skill points in smithing; Julio was the flamboyant rouge/barbarian). Unoriginal, I know.

I don't see what was wrong when J.R.R. Tolkein gave us a hobbit Sam, when Stephen Donaldson named his fantasy hero Thomas, or when Mercedes Lackey introcuded us to characters named Rose, Kat, or Francesca.

In fact, I'd argue that --since we translate "the common tongue of man" into English throughout the game-- it's more appropriate to name someone "Sophie," rather than "Gerpla, which means 'wise' in her native tongue."
17th-Mar-2006 07:40 pm (UTC)
I actually have less of a problem with a character named "James" than with a character named after some minor character from the Silmarilion or something. Common names are just that--common. My campaigns are filled with Farmer Bob and Farmer Bill. If your character wants to have a commoner name, then that could actually help the character out. Tolkienesque names sound way to Tolkienesque (especially when the player starts correcting your pronunciation), making the character sound out-of place from 'normal' names, or at least what I think of as normal.

As the DM, I always give some massive description of the attack, without expecting the players to necessarily do the same. "I attack the orc" "I take a swing at the orc" "I slash at the orc." Usually some synonym for attack (just for variety) is good enough. The one difference in that is I love when spellcasters give more detail on their casting. "I cast magic missile" is lame; "I speak a word of magic and cast magic missile" is much better.
17th-Mar-2006 07:47 pm (UTC)
One of White Wolf's books makes fun of people that name their characters after themselves or real people. Quite amusing.

With some DMs, you have to simply say "I attack the orc", else they'll treat it as some sort of crazy called shot. Or at least, that's been my experience.
17th-Mar-2006 08:01 pm (UTC)
That happens with me a lot actually:

"I charge the orc"
"Are you taking a charge action or a move action and an attack action?"
"Oh, I'm just moving up to him and attacking. I'm not actually charging"

Part of it is because of what the game calls abilities.
18th-Mar-2006 12:00 am (UTC)
"I hack the orc viciously!"
"You mean you try. Roll to hit."
18th-Mar-2006 12:04 am (UTC)
Are you attempting to use your Hack ability?
18th-Mar-2006 12:10 am (UTC)
Yeah, I have an orc-hacking knife. It's +9 to hack orcs!
18th-Mar-2006 12:29 am (UTC)
But you're not here, you're at the bar!
18th-Mar-2006 03:03 am (UTC)
Where's the Mountain Dew?
20th-Mar-2006 08:47 am (UTC)
*sigh* Its in the fridge!! Right there!
17th-Mar-2006 08:14 pm (UTC)
Describing your actions is something I qholeheartedly encourage, and often give bonuses when players do it.

On the other hand, I let players choose whatever names they want. I once played a great and powerful Elven wizard named Steven, because I was just sick and tired of all the "Lyffwhynnryr" bullcrap faggy elf names. "Codifferous Silverfairy" and crap like that make my teeth grate.

Great heroes do not necessarily have to have great names, nor do all races have to follow traditional stereotypes. For example, I discourage people giving their dwarves scottish names and similar accents and "Adjective-weapons" surnames, because to me that is LESS original than naming the dwarf Michael Gondcjek or something like that. In fact, the only things that bother me more than sissy elves are drunken scottish "grod grodsson heavytoilet" dwarves.
17th-Mar-2006 09:50 pm (UTC)
You dare mock the legendary sorcerer Tangleberry Wafflemuffin?
17th-Mar-2006 09:51 pm (UTC)
Hahahah I once played a dwarf woman named Gazolga Happysugarpanties.
17th-Mar-2006 10:05 pm (UTC)
Gnome bard.

Tur Qibaistar
17th-Mar-2006 10:06 pm (UTC)
Human Bard: Guilliamo Wobblestaff
18th-Mar-2006 12:03 am (UTC)
Had a half-elf fighter/mage in my game named El Scorcho
18th-Mar-2006 12:53 am (UTC)
I had a centaur bard/fighter named Del Bakong =)
17th-Mar-2006 11:33 pm (UTC)
I dont think think up names and creativity have anything in common when it comes to playing D&D. For myself, when i have to think up a name my mind goes completly blank. However, give me a few minutes and i can think up a good 3 minute background story for you.
20th-Mar-2006 01:30 am (UTC)
Adding flavor to a campaign is great. Occasionally our DM's will flavor up a really spectacular event (maybe only made the Reflex save by one point or something) and describe it in detail. "You lean backwards and the Lightning Bolt whizzes past your nose, singeing a few of the hairs on your head but leaving you otherwise unharmed." Stuff like that.
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