Names for Nimrods

Just wanted to quickly throw is article out there, no meta-jokes about the blog being dead, no graphics. Let’s get to it.

It occurs to me that a lot of people who run/play RPGs have trouble naming things in their games. Characters, cities, or organizations, they all need a catchy name that the players will easily remember. Maybe it comes easier to me, because I don’t really place too much overall importance on it, but I’ve known players that took days and days to come up with a name for their character, looking for that perfect one. But names, like any other idea, are cheap, and there are a few methods for coming up with names that I’d like to share, in hopes of alleviating some of that “perfect name” stress.

  1. Syllable Smashing – The first because it’s the easiest to do, syllable Smashing is just that. While you’re doing your writing, just start stringing random syllables together until you come up with something that sounds vaguely like a word. The stress and “softness” (or hardness) of various sounds can say a lot about the setting, for instance, I find that a lot of harsh V and K sounds are good for more sinister or uncivilized settings, and G’s and Bs are better for more “traditional” people or places. Like if I were to say “Revik of Varkara and Gorel Gabriath met to discuss a truce”, you could probably guess (given proper context) That Revik is a goblin.But obviously, there aren’t a lot of aspects to this method that could be considered hard-and-fast rules. Pros: Easy, Quick. Cons: Can sound like baby-talk if not handled carefully. More examples: Dorgenallen Xerxesian, gnome archmage of The Xermesa Mages Alligiance, located in the city of Tongadall.
  2. Translate-Speak – Arguably one of the better ways to name things (if my opinion matters at all), Translate-Speak is when you come up with a name of a person, place, or thing by first coming up with an important aspect of that thing, be it a physical or personality trait, taking that aspect, and running it through Google Translate in various languages. For instance, say I want to create a knight. Let’s say that this knight is a loose cannon, a champion for the people who doesn’t always play by the rules. So, I choose the word “headstrong” to represent him. Let’s see……how about Welsh? Google Translate says that headstrong is “bengaled” (ben-yal-edd, says the computer voice) in Welsh. We can take this couple of ways. I could go the redundant route, and name him simply “Bengaled The Headstrong”, or it presents me with the syllable “ben”, so why not name him “Bennett Yaled”, or even simply “Benya Led”, and so on… Pros: an easy way to tie in a character name to something about them, which can reinforce the trait in your (and possibly everyone else’s) mind. Cons: if you make it too on the nose or too silly (Sir Adonde S. L. Banyo),  it can break immersion, but still I trust you. Example: Serkefele Sango (the words for “blood” and “veil” in Tolkien’s Elven language, Quenya, and the Esperanto word for “blood” as well for good measure. Better than Bloody McBloodguy) The Vampire Lord, Master of house Sango, residing in Castle Makilo (a corruption of the Arabic Translation of the word “Stronghold”)
  3. “Adjectiveverbing” (or verbadjectiving) – Plain old English. Nothing simpler. If not very exciting. This is simply the act of throwing English words together in an order that comprises a name. Many Star Wars characters have this naming scheme. Luke Skywalker, Biggs Darklighter, Bendak Starkiller. But you can use the scheme in a different way, one that sounds more at home in fantasy, such as: John Redfeather, leader of the Elmstar Watch, Lady Michaella Whitetower, Pierre Halflace, Grodep Skullbasher of Fort Blackstone. ‘Nuff said. Pros: Easy, descriptive. Con: can get repetitive when everyone has 4-5 syllable names with the same inflections.
  4. Actually Doing The Research – I don’t mean that to sound sarcastic. Because it isn’t actually a better or worse option than the others. It can crossover with #2 if you’re dealing with a homebrew setting, but most established settings in D&D (and other games, I imagine) have lists of names you can choose from based on race, or country of origin. For the longest time in my early days of gaming, my friends would just go down the list of name suggestions in the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting book (page 11, if you care) and grab from there. The Forgotten Realms specifically was great for this, because of the wealth of cultures within the setting. within my groups, this lead to names like Roland Lamstrand, Kwallu Leedragon, and Nicos Nathos. Pros: Setting appropriate names. Cons: not always a large pool of names to choose from. Examples: Wulgar Skulldark, Dwarven Champion of New Ammarindar, Umbero Domine from  Alaghôn.

I hope this brief rundown of fantasy naming might help you or your players avoid tearing their hair out over the finer details of character creation. I want to end my article with a list of names I’ve used in the past in my games. You can use them, I guess, but why would you want to? Names are a dime a dozen, and you’ve got all the tools at your disposal now.

Cities/Places:

Gandwal, Tongad, Rog’Alev, Godshand Mountains, Estonteca, Cleora, Ironspen Range

Names (people/entities): Fangiris Mirikai, Omaro Balthasar, Jack Redwave, Sopena Wren, Kertiek, Ojarak, Kerrik (of course),  Lasseter The Plucked, Taproot Burrfoot, Jogan Mallow

Names (Groups/Races): The Fauka, Sons of Pasatheon, Kuudzufae, The Song/The Voice,   The Mago’wa

Back again and again

So, I’ve decided to at least attempt to get back on the horse. A few changes are in order. New blog name, soon a new look, I’m going to go back to the well hopefully. I’ve at least seen some new films that I suppose I could talk about. But I’ve always been saying that I want to get into videos. I have the equipment, and I need to ditch the excuses. I might throw up a few experimental forays into the medium randomly over the next few months, but my life has changed a lot and there’s more of a demand on my time than ever, so we’ll see how well that goes.

I finally joined the modern world and got a Netflix account. It seems strange that someone who does movie related things wouldn’t have one. So I fixed that, and if you have any suggestions for movies under my bailiwick that can be found on that platform, please, let me know.

Goblin Interstitial: Me on movies. A short post.

I’ve been having an issue for the longest time If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, and are feeling particularly generous, you might say that I can write. I can put relatively good words in a good order. But the issue is that I don’t write…

Here’s me trying to fix that.

I want to talk about movies.In one of my earliest posts, I talked about what made a movie appealing to me. I had three points

  1. To be good a movie has to be interesting.
  2. To be good a movie has to have an internally consistent narrative.
  3. To be good a movie has to have a constant feel.

Let me give an example. Recently I rented Days of Future Past from Redbox. That movie is garbage. But I liked it. It was interesting. It had internal consistency within itself (ignoring the other films. Also, the time travel was bullshit, but at least they didn’t leave how it worked within the movie unexplained, even if it was horseshit), and nothing felt out of place to me. It was a fun film, if nothing else.

But that is a mainstream film. A lot of the films that I like to focus on are generally independent works. Can we really hold them to the same standards? Should they be given some slack because of their more humble roots, or can we hold them to the same standard as anything else, because the whole reason critics and criticism exist is so that an art form can grow?

Well, I would answer that question by saying that because I’m not truly objective, my goal here is to inform and entertain by recapping films I think you should watch, not to pass judgment (unless something really needs a smiting. Fuck you Gamers [2006]). My hope is that by bringing some awareness to these films, that you can be the judge. We need more movies that cater to role-players. It’s a pretty big subculture, and I’d like it if there were more references to my favorite hobby in pop-culture than a few throwaway lines in an episode of Big Bang Theory.

I think that’s all I have to say tonight. I’ve discovered a couple of new films. One I found is kind of pricey, so I hope it’s worth it. I’ll let you know. If you have anything to say to me, destructive or constructive, let me hear it here, via email, or my twitter account. I don’t get enough tweets. I wish I had friends….

I’m back, and I’m DMing…5th Edition D&D

So, it’s been an exciting few days for me. New shift at work, made some new friends, I find my blog has been up for a year now (which isn’t extremely depressing…), and I finally got to try D&D 5th edition in earnest. You guys ready for a long rambling story with no pay-off? Good! Let’s GO!

I had three players, and one of them had bought the latest starter set, so I was stuck running that. It was a perfect storm of mediocrity. Not the game itself (although….meh…), but it was 5 AM when we finally got rolling, I was buzzed (maybe a little drunk), and I had a whole group of newbies waiting eagerly for me to teach them a game I was only passingly familiar with.

Because I had nothing prepared, and was not familiar enough with the balance of the game to make stuff up, I decided to try the module included in the starter set. I usually do not like using modules because I find they make it hard for me to improvise, but I’d heard good things about it from my friends, and I’d watched a little bit of ProJared’s playthrough with his buds. So, I put on my best DM voice (which was weakened from an ill-advised attempt to sing Tenacious D a few hours previous)  and cracked open Lost Mines of Phandelver.

At a glance, it looked like a really well structured adventure But I hadn’t the time nor the patience to read the whole thing. The pre-made characters that came with the starter set are tied to various places and NPCs, giving your characters a more immersing experience. Given the lateness of the hour, we only made it most of the way through the first dungeon, the Cragmaw Cave before everyone went to bed. Actually, we WOULD have had more time, but the players ended up killing all the goblins in the opening encounter, ignoring a non-scripted goblin that I added to get them to follow it, even so much as leaving them a trail of goblin blood to follow. Instead, they made it to town, rested for the night, delivered the goods they were escorting, and only then remembered that the two dead horses they’d found belonged to Gundren Rockseeker, their dwarven friend who hired them.

They doubled back, found the trail of blood, and followed it to the Cragmaw Hideout. They spooked a goblin guard by killing the other one, and then followed him inside, where he ran straight through the wolf kennel and up the natural chimney to Klarg’s lair. After taking out the wolves, Our halfling rogue and our dwarven cleric (Tealeaf and Thoradin, respectively) shimmied up the shoot to an encounter with Klarg, the bugbear “warlord”. The rest of us took the long way around,  getting a nice bath when the alerted goblins opened two sets of floodgates to try and wash us out of the cave. after a brief and fiery encounter, Klarg was dead, and so almost, was our halfling.

At this point. I figured we needed to go to bed. We called a break for the night, and resumed, sans one player who had an errand to run. I took over Thoradin for him.

This is where I ran into a couple of problems. The way this dungeon flows, you can go wherever you want. east to Klarg, or west to the goblin living area, where an important NPC is being held prisoner. the way the adventure is written, the “right” way these events go down is west first, meet Klarg’s traitorous second in command who promises to pay you with Sildar’s (the NPC who was guarding Gundren) life if you kill Klarg for him. At this point, Klarg was already rotting away on the other side of the cave. I wasn’t sure how this should go down. I didn’t want to force another battle. The potions we found in Klarg’s stuff weren’t enough to bring everyone up to fighting readiness, and I didn’t want anyone to die on the first dungeons. I got the group to trade a whopping 600 copper pieces to the new chief for Sildar’s life. Specifically, the dwarf threw the chest with all his might at the wall, and all the goblins lept for the coins while we made haste to safety.

The game stopped here. I had trouble motivating my players to talk with the NPCs, and on top of that, I couldn’t find where in the module it explained what happened to Gundren, who has dissapeared, and I wasn’t feeling well. I want to play more with this group, but I want to play a system I’m more comfortable with. I had my remaining players create characters for 3.5. I managed to set up enough of a story that I can now actually prepare for the next session. I’ll let you know how that goes. Until next time!

Goblin Interstitial: The most powerful DM tool at your disposal.

So, throughout my tenure as a DM, I’ve garnered a few tricks of the trade that make my job just a little bit easier. I’m feeling charitable, so I’ll let you in on the biggest innovation in gaming since the to-hit roll. It may seem a little crass, but the sheer brilliance of it will blow your mind.

Are you reading intently by now?

Steal anything you can get by your players. And a few things you can’t.

I occasionally challenge myself to see just how much I can do to stretch immersion. If you wanted to say, slip the entire plot of Fight Club into your game. Do it. I have. It’s actually really easy, depending on how subtle you are, and just how many in your group have seen it. If I were to approach my players with “You hear the sounds of a scuffle around the corner. If you choose to follow it, you find a young half elf exchanging blows with apparently no one”. That immediately draws the whole group in. As soon as they learn that his name is Tyaldur Denn and that he runs the soapmakers guild/laundry, the players who have the movie fresh in their minds might get a little suspicious, and when he invites them to a secret club that meets in the laundry basement, that’s when the rest of the alarm bells will go off. The subtlety comes in when you space out this information, perhaps even over a session or two, at that point, by the time the jig is up, they rest of the players will look at you with a collection of looks that either say “this man is the cleverest guy on the planet”, or they’ll look as if you just told a really bad pun (and who doesn’t secretly love puns?). Either way, by this point, you’ve still given them an interesting set up, and from there, you can decide whether or not to stick to the movie, or throw them a curveball (hint, use the curveball. Keep those sons-of guessing). You’ve got whole universes of fiction to pilfer. Your players can’t have read all of them.

RPGs are the best medium for idea stealing. It’s not like anyone’s going to sue you over adding Gollum to your D&D game. Have some fun with it. Some call these “references”, or say they were simply “inspired by” a certain work. I say I just stole an entire dungeon from the ending scene of Freddi-Fish 3, and I’m extremely happy about it. Who the hell remembers that game besides me? They aren’t going to notice. Plus, saying I stole something of that type makes me feel like Carmen Sandiego. She stole locations too. and she loved it. Don’t you want to be like Carmen Sandiego? No? Liar.

If you’re not too amazed by my DMing savvy, and aren’t currently preoccupied scraping your brains off of the wall behind you, leave a comment or find me on twitter at @GoblinGilmartin and harass me. I don’t mind. I’ll get back to movie reviews shortly. I just need a LOT of time to recover from that last one…

Gamers (2006)…let me elaborate.

So I’ve had a couple of stressful days away from this film, and I have a few more things to ad. 

My biggest issue with this film is how very crappy the characters are as people. We’ve got (and I’m stealing most of this from the sparse tvtropes.org page):

  • Paul: A telephone relay operator who lives with his parents. 
  • Gordon: A low-level public television employee who lives with his parents.
  • Kevin: The GM. A musician (in the loosest sense of the word) who rents a room from his grandparents. Kevin insists on never fraternizing with the players outside the game.
  • Fernando: Sent to America from Argentina after he embarrassed his family by sucking at “the soccer”. Fernando supposedly learned English by playing DND. Lives with his girlfriend but suspects correctly that she is cheating on him. He jerks off horses for a living.
  • Reese: A late addition to the group who none of the other players much care for. Fills just about every stereotype of the annoying and creepy gamer. Lives in a one bedroom apartment with his mother.

These characters gave me nothing. NOTHING to care about. They’re either losers, creepy weirdos, or jerks (see what I did there?). They don’t even seem to like each other. Why should I care about them, or their gaming streak, or any of the weird, stupid stuff that happens to them? I’ve got my own problems, that involve real games. 

I may have issues with GamerZ ( which I’ll get too soon, i hope. Also, can we decide on something DIFFERENT for a gamer movie title from now on?), but at least I thought the characters were interesting, if not likeable. They were strange, but they were strange in a way that made you WANT to see what happened next. Gamers started right away with the gags and crappy jokes, and gave you nothing. I payed for this movie, with real money. Don’t waste yours. Or do, I’m not a cop.

Diceroller Flicks: Gamers (2006)

This movie sucks. I was originally planning on saving my negative reviews for video reviews, But I don’t have too much to say about this one.

This movie pisses me off. The cover is really presumptious. “5 out of 5 stars” says efilmcritic.com. “Old School funny” says John Gaudiosi of AOL Games. Based on the capitalization, I’m assuming they mean the Will Ferrel film? But the real doozy of a blurb is on the back. “Funnier than Knocked Up and Superbad combined”. I’ll let that speak for itself.

But the cover isn’t done name-dropping. Kelly Lebrock of Weird Science fame. William Katt, the former Greatest American Hero. John Heard. And Beverly D’Angelo. So a bunch of has-been cult icons and the dad from Home Alone. They’re top billed on the box (not even mentioning the main cast), and they’re all cameos.

The movie is shot documentary style and is about a group of losers in their forties, they live with their parents (or grandparents, as it may be). They’re all maladroit weirdos who care waaay too much about DND (Demons, Nymphs, and Dragons. Thanks copywrite!). They’re about to break the record for Longest Continuous Campaign, at 74,558 hours over twenty years.

If you’re a fan of dick jokes, you might like this film. If you’re a fan of homo jokes, you might like this film. If you’re a fan of gross-out humor, you might like this film.

I did not.

“Funnier than Knocked Up and Superbad combined”? Sure, if you took out all of the charm, and the likeable characters.

Portrayal of RPGs – 2/5

There ARE RPGs in this movie. They aren’t really looked at too closely. There are dice, and character sheets, and people sitting around a table.

The Plot – 1/5
To be fair, there IS a plot. It’s not that important to the movie.

 

It baffles me that it got as much as a 41 percent on rottentomatoes.com, and a 7.1 on IMDB. I had more fun listening to the answering machine gag on the main menu screen of the DVD than I did watching the film.

If you thought differently, I don’t hate you. If you like this film (available on amazon and the iTunes store), let me know. Leave a comment.