Back in my short rant about stat names, I remarked that rpgs often have the most obscure, unused names possible to describe their stats. This is usually a bad thing, and leaves people saying things like “wtf is Quiessence??”
On the other hand, some games get alot of flavor out in their mechanics. Deadlands is perhaps my all time favorite for this: no skill name ends in the letter ‘g’. You’ve got Tinkerin’, Shootin’, Fightin’, Climbin’, etc. etc. The lack of a ‘g’ goes so very far in getting people in that old west feel. Often, when talking about Deadlands with casual gamer friends, that’s one of the very first things they bring up that they liked about it. Most of the stats, edges, and the like also had very old-west themed names to them. Just skimming rules headings or looking at the character sheet, you knew what kind of game you were getting into.
(Some other games that do this more or less well: Paranoia with it’s attributes like ‘Hardware’ and ‘Management,’ and Agon, with it’s tight and well-themed skill set).
With the Age of Air, one thing I’d like to do is incorporate lots of air words into the mechanics, and bring that feel of the open skies right to the gaming table. It’s important not to overdo it, by giving everything a silly and awkward name, but the right word can go along way towards conveying the tone of a peice. (And I have a thread here for just the occasion if you’d like to see what I’ve come up with or join in the brainstorming.)