What’s in a Name?

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.)

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3 thoughts on “What’s in a Name?

  1. Rahvin says:

    I don’t feel like registering into that forum right now, so I’ll just post here if no one minds.

    Of the terms suggested, the only one I really like is Thunder. It’s wicked cool.

    I like Turbulance, but Turbulance implies difficulty, not failure. Like the name of a penalty. (“Okay, you’ve got 4 points of Clarity, but 2 points of Turbulance, so you need two Thunders to Storm.”) (I don’t really like Clarity in that example, but it should be something opposite to Turbulance.)

    Gale and storm and stuff are cool terms, but imply some kind of EVENT or RESULT rather than bonuses, penalties, dice, or similiar mechanics.

    Oooh… we should name the dice, no?

    You could name a whole system using the Storm. For example, instead of rolling initiative in combat, everyone Gathers the Winds. Instead of combat, you Dance the Lightnings (a term borrowed from R. Jordon.)

    In fact, you could do a lot with a simple Verb/Noun combo. Lots of flavor there.

    Bubble doesn’t quite sound right for the die pool. I like it for the dice, a little, if we can’t find anything better. You could have small bubbles(d6), large bubbles(d8), and great bubbles(d10), for example. If it runs anything like DitV, then d4s could be “turbulance”. Or “turbulance” could be the opponent’s roll in an opposed roll. You could also call the dice winds, small winds, large winds, great winds, etc. Or even better, north winds, south winds, etc. if you need some combination to be successful.

    Alternatively, the four winds could be attributes or magical affinities, so a player could specialize in one wind over another. The greeks had names and characteristics for all the winds, which I’ll post below.

    I know Clouds are probably important for your theme, but sound too funky for my tastes. Although adding a verb, could make it better, such as Cloud-dancing, Watching the Clouds, Riding the Clouds, something to that effect. I don’t know. In most instances, I think you could replace Clouds with Sky or Skies and it will sound cooler, especially if you use the noun/vern naming scheme.

    Don’t forget the ever-important names “Flight” and “Fall” that might be useful for some mechanics. 🙂

  2. Rahvin says:

    Thanks wikipedia. 🙂

    In ancient Greek mythology, the four winds were personified as gods, called the Anemoi. These included Boreas, Notos, Euros, and Zephyros. The Ancient Greeks also observed the seasonal change of the winds, as evidenced by the Tower of the Winds in Athens.

    Boreas (Βορέας) was the Greek god of the cold north wind and the bringer of winter. His name meant “North Wind” or “Devouring One”.

    Notus, in the original Greek Notos (Νότος), was the Greek god of the south wind. He was associated with the desiccating hot wind of the rise of Sirius after midsummer, was thought to bring the storms of late summer and autumn, and was feared as a destroyer of crops.

    Eurus, in the original Greek Euros (Εύρος), was the Greek deity representing the unlucky east wind. He was thought to bring warmth and rain, and his symbol was an inverted vase, spilling water.

    Zephyrus, or just Zephyr, in the original Greek Zephuros (Ζέφυρος), is the Greek god of the west wind. The gentlest of the winds, Zephyrus is known as the fructifying wind, the messenger of spring. It was thought that Zephyrus lived in a cave in Thrace.

  3. mouseecstasy says:

    It’s like how RPGs name all their enemies; even all the different coloured species. I think being the person who names all the creatures in an RPG would be fun.

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