Character Creation: “What’s in a Name?”

Character Creation: “What’s in a Name?”

Hail and well met fellow gamers! My name is Walter McEuen, new contributor here at Game Rebel specializing in Tabletop gaming and Paper and Pencil RPG’s. This being my first article I decided to choose a topic that I would dare say every gamer has tussled with: Character Creation.

The Name Game

On countless occasions, for immeasurable amounts of time have gamers stared at a blank spaces labeled “Character Name” wracking their brains for the perfect name that will reflect the personality of not only the character, but the player as well. I’ve spent more time than I would care to admit thinking of cool monikers for characters, hoping that it would help develop the character through RPing and gameplay. Not to mention being called something super cool like “Broken Bones Butch Magnus.”

First Impressions

Of course for many that is just the tip of the iceberg. Players (both video and tabletop) look forward to getting the appearance of their character to match (or deviate from) their chosen aliases. Height, weight, skin tone, scars, warpaint, eyes, etc, all add up to form our ideal adventurer.  A digital/fantasy self image that we insert into a game to make it a little bit our own. Either it be for comical effect, a sense of presence, or sheer intimidation factor, appearance is one of (if not thee) the biggest thumbprints a character can have. As the saying goes “The clothes make the man.”

In The Beginning…

Many of the digital players out there could probably disregard this next paragraph but if you are interested in tabletop games this is an important one. Backstory: it the (in my opinion) the biggest and most important factor when generating a character. No I’m not talking about writing a short story on how your character has lived life up to this point, but what makes your character the way they are. What’s it like growing up as a half orc fighter in a mostly civilized city? Why are they a fighter? What set them off on this adventure path? Answering some of these basic questions will help tremendously will RP aspects as well. Creating a sort of mold on how our characters would act in certain situations.

Your Thoughts?

Your Creation Mileage may vary no doubt, some games being much more generous in these regards than others. I ask you; the “Rebel Masses” why do we spend so much time on our characters? Them being nothing more than bits of code, or mere words scribbled on a character sheet, their existence bound to hard drives and scraps of parchment. Why do we feel compelled to perfectly capture our mental image of the ideal character? Maybe im just full of $hit and none of it really matters at all. Because by all means “A Rose by any other name, would smell just as sweet?”.

Im an Avid tabletop gamer and play nearly any chance I get. I enjoy playing Pathfinder, Dungeons and Dragons, Shadowrun, Call of Cthulhu, Battletech, Warmachine, and many others!

2 Comments

  1. Hi all,

    I think that we spend so much time trying to find that perfect name because in a sense they are an extension of ourselves, and trying to find a unique label only gets more difficult as time goes on. They represent how we would see ourselves in these alternate timelines, or maybe an expression of who we wish we could be instead of ourselves. I think the characters we create are in a sense art, we are given the tools of creation and we build a complete individual, in some cases with a whole history and psychological profile. We breath life into them as if we were god himself.

    The more games we play means the more names we make (unless you stick to just one) and each time we might feel the need to push the envelope to be more creative, more brutal, more cunning ect… This can sometimes take longer than that actual playtime (in modern digital games of course) but overall will leave the player with a much more sentimental and satisfying experience. The immersion factor is just much more present when you make a custom character in my opinion.

    Since the majority of us are not professional gamers, we aren’t limited to just one gamertag, and being faced with a seemingly infinite amount of choices can be daunting sometimes. We all have been there like you describe, staring blankly at the character name field, or at the character card waiting for the stroke of brilliance to spark into our synapses.

    Thank you for your time,

    -Samuel

    Reply
    • Very interesting points you made Sam. Maybe because as we shape ourselves and experience new things, our perceptions change as well. The evolution of what we consider the ideal “character” fitting into a setting. Is it a case of art imitating life?

      Reply

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