Naming Names

In all honesty, I dislike the name of my game Amethyst. Back when it was a homebrew game, it could be excused, but as I developed the franchise, it made less and less sense that a dragon god be named after a gem that in legend staved off drunkenness. The other two volumes in this hopeful opus, Logos and Cradle, imply an ambiguity which Amethyst lacks in my opinion.

I consider myself deliberate in my choosing of names. I never pull them randomly from the internet randomizer or phone book, a practice I’ve caught my friends doing on more than one occasion. To that end, their names usually stand out from the trends in the campaign’s canon. The names in Amethyst’s framing fiction are direct pulls from original player names, but in these situations, I didn’t mind them. The player who created Aiden Camus had no clue of the similarity between his name and that of Albert Camus. For one, the player pronounced the last name differently. Since Amethyst supports various philosophical ideals, I figured naming a character after a philosopher made sense. I made an oath that further framing fictions would all include original names, even if based on actual player characters; this was due to their names being somewhat bland.

After I finished a short story for Foreshadows, the other contributors had praised the names I created. The main character was Talvin Pascal, his best friend Frank Finger. They were mercenaries working for TK Echo, a private security company in conflict with rival Kantis Neuri. Both were involved in a corporate war employed by the likes of Porto Energy Macrosystems and Drakensburg Resource Industries. I put a lot of effort in my names. On the few occasions I’ve been a player, I’ve named my characters before even rolling for their attributes. I need a name and a face before I can proceed, a practice not replicated by my friends. Some of whom have delayed hanging names off their characters until minutes before the game even began. Some of the names they’ve created sound downright embarrassing, open to immediate ridicule from other players. And yet, they never change them, even when against upfront schoolyard taunting.

I had one player name his character Trimodian, which another player misheard as “Choad Modan”, becoming his unofficial title from then on. Kimsey Bubbs went from American to Korean when everyone got to calling him Kimchee Bubbs. Even I was guilty of mangling a player’s name once or twice. The player which created Mischa Romanov wrote his character’s name in Russian, and me, wanting to poke a little fun, phonetically repeated his name as Mischa Pomahob. In my last game, a player naming his character “Tanya” decided to intentionally spell it “T-A-N-J-A-I-X” which I took to literally being called “Tanjax”. This was still better than another player who named his dwarf Giuseppe.

I never understood the logic of naming a dwarf the Italian translation of “Joe”.

I keep a reserve of names which I pool from, mixing them from time to time. By default, every male character I create in any game or book is named William Berlin. I still can’t remember where that came from. Eventually, most of them get renamed. I try to keep my names consistent within a genre. When I ran a game inspired by the Old West, the players encountered the likes of Harrison Blackwood, Reno Carpenter, and Crispin Bertram. For villains, I often pull names inspired by religion, resulting in Tasia Crufix, Evangeline Magnus, and Caleb Cross. I once named a character Face. That’s it, just Face. As for my fantasy characters, I prefer ones with no human origin. Ganahut Kanor, Amira Kloon, Zwordesky Parx. One of my favorite names I’ve ever given an NPC was Nephil Tempest. With the exception of the pagus in Amethyst, I avoid using apostrophes, which so many writers like milking.

But to this day, the most commonly repeated name in any game I’ve run is Osvaldo Carabilosso, which is based off a real guy, an artist whose work inspired some elements of the original Amethyst. Just because it happens to be the coolest name I’ve ever seen applied to a real person, Osvaldo has made appearances in every campaign I’ve run. Say it a few times; why wouldn’t you name all your kids that?

I hate normal names. I find my own name utterly boring. Being someone that works in an environment exposed to a lot of people, I have run across names I make a point of remembering. I know a girl actually called Katana, another named Novalee. I work alongside a guy named Talon. One of my best friends is studying to be a nuclear physicist, and his last name actually sounds like an explosion.

Yeah, don’t you feel ashamed of your normal common name?

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Chris Dias

Chris Tavares Dias is the literary equivalent of that crusty burnt cheese at the bottom of the fondue pot. Some people claim he looks like Mathew Perry. He would like that to be true. It's not. In 2010, Chris co-wrote and created Amethyst Foundations, a 4th Edition setting based on the previous version under 3.5. It has received critical acclaim for integrating science fiction into classical fantasy. In August of this year, Chris was last seen staring at a dead raven that had fallen beside his car. Two months later, his watch and notepad were found in the stomach of a basking shark that had washed ashore off the coast of Florida.

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