Whether you're creating a character for an MMO or sitting down to a tabletop RPG, the name part of character creation can be nerve-wracking. The last thing you want is to spend the next few hundred hours of gameplay smiting your foes and amassing riches while sporting a name other players will make fun of. But even with that in mind, there are several different approaches to naming a character.
The Hardest of the Hardcore
If you're a diehard fan of the game's setting, you might want to plunge into the lore and find the most appropriate name for your character. Spend some time flipping through your Quenya or Klingon dictionary. Think about typical Orlanthi names and how they tie into the society's complex religion. Remember -- if there isn't at least one "ae" in your name, you're doing it wrong. And if anyone mispronounces your 20-letter name, hit them with a lightning bolt.
The Terrible Pun
Terrible puns are a long and honorable tradition in fantasy game character creation. A 2011 survey reported that the most popular names for characters in "World of Warcraft" included howlers like "Cleaveland," "Sunderpants," "Executie," "Phailadin," "Backstabbath" and "Praystation." The ideal pun name might be slightly humorous the first time someone hears it, but by the 10th time, it should be a migraine in text form.
Another grand tradition among fantasy game characters is to choose a character by drawing on a player's real name for inspiration. For example, legend has it that notorious "Dungeons and Dragons" archmage Drawmij has a name inspired by one of the original "Greyhawk" players, Jim Ward. The name of "Call of Cthulhu" professor F. Ford Ratsegg is an anagram of the name of prominent game designer Greg Stafford.
The Obvious Swipe
Sure, you're not going to get away with calling your character "Wolverine," but what about Wolvereen? That's completely different! The occasional snob might disapprove of your calling your wizard character Barry Botter, but such people have never felt the agony of a blinking cursor in the "Name" field or a blank line on a character sheet. They probably own Quenya dictionaries.
This tactic works well for tabletop RPG characters. When the gamemaster looks your way and asks your character's name, pretend that your mouth is full or that you have a bad cough. For the rest of the game, just call your character "my character," "the fighter" or even just "I" and "me." You might go sessions without ever making reference to your character's name. If you're lucky, before you have to, the other players will give you a nickname that sticks.
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