Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Finding a name

Now it's getting hard. I've come to the point at which I'm not only annoyed by the fact that my module still shares the name with Michael's (and it's obviously his module name, not mine), but also need a real name to continue the development progress.

I've always been uncreative when it comes to names. When I make a NWN character, I usually hit random name until something shows up I can live with, sometimes I alter it a little, but that's it.
The names I chose for my cities are obviously historical names, and I'm incredibly proud that I found at least a name for the village of Niederhoeve. Yes, that's made up! Yay. Took me only a day or two... and I bet there's a real village with that name and I just forgot about it.

Nevertheless, now it's time to make up a name for the module. And that must be final. I can't open a forum with the name "Shadows of Whateveritscalled" and then rename the mod to "Light of Iknowwhatitscalled" later.

Don't think I've run into the problem just now... I was brainstorming since I made my first area, but still haven't come up with anything.

So here are my brainstorming results so far:

First off, avoiding clichées. Clichée words would be... (I'm sorry, SM)... Shadow... Dawn... Darkness... World... Sword... Hammer... Gate... Battle... Words and names from the Forgotten Realms, Words and names from nordic tales and history. Words that sound guttural like a rock (e.g. Rammstein).
Now of course I don't want to use anything that sounds like a pony farm either..., it's a dark world, so I'd avoid words that make you think of sunflowers and little fairies dancing in circles.

Then, of course, I'm trying to set this world apart with more european themes and features, something I also should try to "communicate" in the name.

From the features in my world I can't really use anything that describes the world...there's a huge forest in the center of my mod, but I don't know if it's enough to justify a name with "forest" or "wood" in it. After all a lot of the story happens outside the forest, in urban areas near the coast or in mountain areas... hmm... what about something... misty? Mist over... but no, there's also sunshine. But I like how Mist sounds... of course german players might think my module is Mist and move on... (ha.. ha... use an online translator)... haze... hmm... Mist over Darkwood... no.... Haze over the Black forest... hmm... well, I've been that far 6 months ago.

So.. how about you two additional lurkers who read this blog finally show up and throw in a comment? I need words... soon... I'm already googling for free forums but can't start one before I have a name! Dammit!

Edit: Hey, I just thought... Middle+Forest = Middleforest... is that a name? Does Middleforest sound stupid? "Tales from the Middleforest", "Mist over Middleforest"... something of that kind...


TravelligStar said...

Middleforest - sounds a bit like Mittelerde, doesn't it. I am still quite fond of using (and maybe varying) northern germanys atlantis saga of Rungholt. "Rung" by the way means lesser in the freesian language, "holt" means "Holz", wood. Somewhere in the mists of that legend I am sure you will find what you are looking for.

Casa said...

The problem is, if I use Rungholt people will expect the Rungholt saga to be a major component of the module, which it isn't. I use it more like a side reference, a cameo. But it's not what the story will be about, most of it will be around the great forest, that's why I thought about Middleforest.
But you're right, it might be far too close to Tolkien, something I want to avoid at all cost.

Keep it coming. :D

Michael A. Sinclair said...

Heh, no offense taken. Shadows & Silver is a name that has been with me for years, largely because it represents many of the dichotomies of the setting. Men versus elves, darkness versus light, science versus magic, cynicism versus faith, etc. It's a name for the setting, not the world, which I call Enna.

In finding a name for your setting, you probably want something that is evocative of your themes and the mood of your setting. One of my favorite RPG settings cuts right to the chase: World of Darkness. Now, it might sound cliché, but it is, in fact, the perfect name for the setting. It's our world, but darker, where the shadows are deeper and the days are not as bright and where people are oblivious to the monsters in their midst. Or, go with something about the physical features of the world. Terry Pratchett has Discworld, and that works wonderfully. Or maybe you want to focus on a primary conflict, like in the game Battle for Middle Earth. Another setting I love featured a plague as the main antagonist: Tears of Blood.

My one objection to the name Middleforest is that it's not really descriptive or evocative. Then, neither is my city of Midport, but it's not the name of my whole campaign. ;) Mist over Middleforest is a little more evocative, but doesn't make much sense. For a more descriptive name, look at FP's Shadewood. Of course, you don't want to get too close to Tolkien's Mirkwood, but how about something like Shroudwood?

"Mists of Shroudwood"? "Tales from Shroudwood"? *shrugs*

TravellingStar said...

Shrugs over Shroudwood? ;-)

I quite see Michael's point and I completely agree that the name of the campaign should evoke the right feeling from the start. And if there wasn't one of the most important games of the European Soccer Championship just going on the chance of me coming on with at least tolerable suggestions would be a much larger one.

I will come back at you, casa, as soon as Turkey succeded to fling us out of the tournament!

Casa said...

They will, they will... *refills wine*

Ben Harrison said...

I like the "Mists" and "Middleforest" theme, it's memorable and different enough to avoid the usual clichés.

The Mists of Middleforest
Middleforest Mists

Speaking of being memorable, that's (to my mind) an oft-overlooked aspect of naming a world -- cliché or not, I must admit to loving SM's Shadows & Silver, which is a name that calls attention to itself, comes easily to mind, and is unique enough to provoke interest; "Silver" is certainly less of a cliché than "Shadows" in any case. I find names that are literally names, with no implication or description to be too easily forgotten, or otherwise mispelled/misunderstood. "Hoggledseyhragville" might be an acceptable name for a server, but can any of your new players spell it right when they tell their friends about it? Does it sum up your world?

If SM wouldn't object, my suggestion would be to use Shadows & Silver as a base, and swap out words that seem to represent your setting without being too predictable, or too forgetable. Ideas:

Dusk & Darkness
Shadows of Evening
Eaves & Twilight
Twilight Eaves
Mists & Shade
Mists & Twilight
Dawn Under Darkness

(Possibly taking the high fantasy evocative stuff a bit too far, there...)

Myths of Middleforest
Tales of the Twilight
Mists Over Evenforest
Chronicles of Shadowood

I chose "Dark Dreams" (a land of...) for my own server (no longer online, as you know) and subsequent campaign setting, without being very mindful of originality or of making a particular impression, and it stuck -- the two words used in their general fantasy context (dreaming darkly/dark dreams) simply evokes imagery for me personally that is appropriate for the nature of the setting. It's also a term that pops up here and there in fantasy literature, and its intent is usually pretty familiar to people.

Anyway, I've rambled enough. I'll return tomorrow with more (possibly worse) ideas!

Michael A. Sinclair said...

Ooo... I like the dreams concept. It's one of the centerpieces of fantastic lore, and evocative of the fae. Now, I dunno how much you want that concept in your setting, but it's worth a look, I'd say. After all, dreams don't need to be happy and full of rainbows. The dreams that we tend to remember most are the nightmares, and those are the ones often presented in folklore.

Consider also that there are various ways to structure a name. Whereas I chose to have two evocative nouns separated by an ampersand (and yes, I would be highly offended if you chose to copy that, since I'm the only one to ever do it in an RPG context and am therefore copyrighting it.. eh? Dungeons & Dragons you say? Oh. Carry on, then. :P), you could also do "Tales from Somethingoranother", or something like Ben's "Dark Dreams" (quite catchy, btw). Nexus: The City Between Worlds had a good name because it said something about what you should expect from the server, told you the name of the main setting, and it could easily be shortened to the catchy Nexus. White Wolf's games all follow a basic pattern: the main character followed by a main concept (e.g., Mage: the Awakening, Vampire: the Requiem, etc.). Short, catchy, and easy to remember.

Consider also if there's something about the direction you want your campaign to run that you might want to have affect the name. For instance, suppose you went with Ben's Chronicles of Shadowwood idea. Make it "The Chronicles of Shadowwood: Curse of the [insert cliché here]". Do away with the clichés and you have something descriptive, evocative, and shorteneable.

Of course, you can also give it a name that has everything to do with the server and nothing to do with the setting: "An Exercise in Patience". :P

I'll have a couple of drinks and see if I can think of anything useful now... ;)

Casa said...

Hmm.. so far I like Michael's Shroudwood and Ben's Evenforest and Shadowood. Mists over Evenforest or Mists over Shadowood is not too bad. Although, I still have that simple Middleforest in the back of my head.

I just looked at the vault and saw a module name I liked very much: "The unapproachable East".
Of course if I used "the unapproachable Evenforest" now it'd sound like a rip-off.

As for "Chronicles of..." No way. It reminds me of Narnia, and that alone makes me cringe.

Now, fine... maybe I should reconsider my opinion about "clichéewords" a little, because you made some good points. Gates for example might work... Gates into Middleforest/Shroudwood/etc.
Although I'm still fond of some misty words... I love mist. Fog. Haze... it describes the feel better than shadow, darkness, black, night... fog is grey, just like the setting should feature more shades of grey than simple black and white.

Casa said...

Okay guys, I think I'm going back to the first idea, after re-reading Ben's comment and talking to travellingstar I begin to like the Middleforest Mist again.

But I need you native english speakers for the final touch:

Mist over Middleforest
Mists of Middleforest
Mists over Middleforest
(fill in) & The Mists over Middleforest

What would you prefer? Or does it all sound silly?