What's In A Name

In medieval fantasy games it was common for most people to have one name, a calling name that would be used in every day conversation (Bob, John, Sally etc). If the person needed to be further identified then modifiers or additional names would be used. One common habit was to name the person after the region that they came from (i.e. Sue of Winterhaven). Or the person may be named after their profession (John the Blacksmith) this could be shortened to another form over time (John Black). John Carpenter would be short for John the Carpenter or John Carpenterson for John, the son of the Carpenter.

Another common identifier would be an adjective or adverb that describes the person (Jane the Boastful or Jim the Wise, or Bruno the Giantslayer). Another way to name people came from their parent's profession; Titled folk would have a more complex name, usually preceded by their title (Sir Kay or Duke Atries). As families grew the name became a good way to honor their ancestors so additional names were added (John Alfred Black would be John of the Black family with a favored ancestor named Alfred). It also became fashionable to continue using the same name: Alfred the III was the third person in that family's recent history to be named Alfred. His father would most likely have been called Alfred Junior and his grandfather would have been Alfred Senior.

It was not until later in history that the used of last names designed just to be family last names came into wide spread use. This is beyond the scope of most AD&D campaigns. Therefore "proper" last names like Blake would not be used except for some long lived noble families.

Names can also be influenced by the character's profession. Most thieves like to use an alias as their working name. Fighters like to use intimidating names to scare their foes (Eric the Strong), and priests like to use a name relating to their religion (Albert, the Shield of Pelor or Boris of Gruumsh). The name could also be further modified by the priest's rank (if any in the church) like Eric the Scribe. Wizards think for the long term and favor names of power. Usually short names that can easily be remembered and used in folklore (The Wizard Tim is famous fire mage and very well known).

A famous saying goes; "To name a thing is to know it and with knowledge comes control." Many people have a secret name because of this. A "truename" known only to their loved ones and a few special friends. It is not known for a fact if this saying is true.

Another source for names can be the character's race. Dwarves like longer descriptive names telling of the exploits of themselves and their families (Burn Stonehammer of the Ironfist Keep, Son of Krobin Orc-smasher). Gnomes like names that are shorter than the dwarvish style and relate to the place where they come from (Grobin the Wise of the Vordue Plains). Halflings like names that relate to their beloved burrows (Louis Underhill). Halflings also like to use various pseudonyms and nicknames which they will sometimes keep as middle names. An older halfling will usually have a longer name. Elves believe the name should identify all the important aspects of the person; including place of origin, family history and something about the person (Evenrude Firehandler of Oshoon and the Bright Oak Clan). Typically the elf will shorten their name for ordinary conversation (Even Oak).

To learn the full name of an elf or dwarf is a high complement and evidence of a large degree of trust.

 
Titles (In Seagate)
The King Jonas Seabite (Recently inherited the throne from Thomas Seabite, his father)
Prince Eastwood Seabite current designated heir to the throne
Duke/Duchess title that can be held in Seagate
Count title given to an official in charge of a government department
Viscount title given to sub-department heads (not often used)
Marquis title that can be held in Seagate
Earls the first one is responsible for trade and the port, the second is responsible for legal affairs
Barons an honorary rank with a land grant.
Baronet an honorary rank without a land grant.
Ambassador Seagate is authorized several ambassador posts; including elven and dwarvish ambassadors.
Attaches work for the Ambassadors
Clerk of the Towers a title given to mages that are allowed to manufacture magic items.
Esquire an honorary rank assumed as a sign of approval.
Justice there are five senior judges.
Precinct Judge senior official for each city precinct
Ministers Legal officials, typically lawyers or official advisors to the King
Lords typically administrative officials, it is an honorary title given to nobles with no other title Thane; an honorary title given to someone of noble blood who has not other title.
Patrician Official title of a cult leader (although the cult's titles vary)
Police  
  Officer line police officer
  Corporal Noncommissioned police officers
  Sergeant Noncommissioned police officers
  Detective Investigative police (sergeants and lieutenants)
  Captain Head precinct officer
  Major Second in command of the entire police force
  Commander Senior most police officer
Army  
  Private line soldier
  Corporal noncommissioned officers
  Sergeant noncommissioned officers
  Lieutenant lowest rank officer
  Captain military officer in charge of a company
  Major staff officer
  Colonel military officer in charge of a battalion
  General senior military official of all armed forces
Valorous A title given to retired military personal.
Guard    
  Guardsman line member of the Town Guard
  Sergeant noncommissioned guardsman
  Lance Lieutenant officer
  Captain precinct leader
  Director of the Guard Senior Guard Commander
Warden Overseer of crop lands, forests, or other reserves as described by the government
 
Drives and Ambitions for Player Characters
A character is more than a set of stats. Here are a few ideas from (Mongoose Publishing's Classic Play Book of Adventures).

For some players, it is enough just to sit in the chair, roll the dice and move figures around. You can play as a war game.

"The real challenge and the real reward lies in the role-playing. Your character is not you, they are a separate and imaginary person with motives, objectives and dreams that you may not even like or agree with. You can create an idealized version of yourself if you want and almost everyone does this at some stage of their gaming career, but there is little challenge in doing this and adventuring is all about facing up to the challenge."

"Making characters come to life does not necessarily involve writing pages of background for each one or wearing costume to each gaming session. What is needed is a clear idea of what the character stands for, what his ideals are, wheat his background is and how he relates to others."

"Symbols, Scars, Dreams and Memories"
Events in the past are preserved into the present if a variety of different forms that the character can access. These then serve as reminders of the character's motivation and are referred to as motivation foci. You do not have to choose a motivation focus but it can help play to do so. You may have more than one, though too many will become confusion.

A symbol is some object that the character associates with past events. A typical example of this would be a medallion given to a paladin character when he was accepted into his order after a long, hard period of aspiration and trial. It represents his struggle to be recognized and to make a difference,. It also shows him, whenever he looks at it, that he was good enough, and that he can make a stand for what he believes to be right. By contrast, the same character might keep a child's doll, if this was all that was left when he could not save her or her family. The doll would represent a failure so terrible that he would never ever allow it to happen again.

To help with playing the character and keeping his motivation in mind, choose a dream, memory, symbol or scar that the character could look at or bring to mind in order to remind him of who he is and what his motivation is.

The following is a list of typical motivations that could be used to give more purpose and meaning to a character. Each once is expressed as a character's central though, were he to think about what motivates him. what truly makes him tick. Feel free to add other motivations; this list is not definitive and is only there to help you define your character's drives and goals.

"There Has to be More to Life!"
This is the typical cry of the young wet-behind-the-ears adventurer. He has seen comparatively little of the world, is dissatisfied with what his home has to offer and is desperate to expand his horizons. Characters with this motivation tend to be idealistic naïve and energetic. In the company of older adventurers, they can be eager to please, starry-eyed or even grumpily proud and insistent on being treated as equals. They have yet to have the corners knocked off them, so to speak, by the real world.

Characters with this motivation often fixate on a mental image. Their dissatisfaction with their home comes from their ability to compare it with somewhere much more exciting, so they must at least have heard of other places, possibly from traveling adventurers. A character might have heard tales of home awe0inspiring Eastern kingdom, of a land where the tall elves live among trees thousands of years old and weave uncanny songs in the mists of golden palaces, where cats are worshipped as gods and the best of all warriors found dynasties to outlast time. The character usually fixates on one such place as symbolic of all that is "out there" and determines to visit it one day. A character might also have an object as a focus, if it represented something exotic and alien to their humdrum life.

"I am the One and Only"
The character with this motivation wants power, power and more power. To him progress is all about having strength and enjoying it. He knows what it is like to be in control and relishes the feeling. Unlike other domineering the characters, he is not necessarily compensating for anything or conforming to another person's expectations. His grasp of power and wish for more comes entirely from his own habit of taking power for granted. It is a typical motivation for those who were brought up by noble families that cared nothing for those beneath them.

"This One's for You, Mum"
This motivation is instilled in the character at an early age. He is following the path that his parents laid down for him, either because he feared them so much that he allowed himself no other choice or (more commonly) because they taught him their version of right and wrong so thoroughly that he does not feel comfortable going against what they would wish of him. Many heroes, especially those of lawful good alignment, trace their morals back to what they learned at their mother's knee. When in times of difficulty or danger, they always think back to what their parents would have wanted them to do. Evil characters mock this "boy scout" attitude but find it practically impossible to prevail against.

"Duty Calls"
The character underwent formative experiences in service to an organization, institution, church or similar body. He has subsumed his own will into the collective will of the organization, seeing his primary purpose as the carrying out of his duty. This does not necessarily mean that he is a mere machine, nor a two-dimensional person. He simply knows his responsibilities and takes them seriously. This motivation is typical of military characters, those of a lawful neutral alignment an those who serve the public good though some kind of an ordered system, such as a governor or even a city guard. Duty is very often symbolized in an object, such as a uniform or badge. So strong are these associations that the duty-motivated characters are participants in socially beneficial groups; a gang member who is fanatically loyal is just as driven by duty as a patriotic soldier who believes completely in his cause.

"Speak Lord, for thy Servant Heareth."
Some characters are motivated directly by the gods, not by any earthly desire. They are usually very young when the spiritual powers contact them. They may exhibit greater than usual interest in the religious rituals attended by the family or feel that a given god has a special interest in them. It is possible that even a god who is unpopular with the community, such as a god of chaos or thievery or even a god of evil can appear to a youth in a strictly lawful town. A character with this motivation has a very direct and personal relationship with his deity. Such characters typically grow up to become clerics, leading a group of worshippers of the deity and acting as a divine mouthpiece, bringing the words of God to the faithful or paladins who answer the call in a martial manner. Those who feel the very presence of the greenwood or the soul of the earth speaking to them become druids. A character with this motivation has little self-interest, while his faith and conviction lasts; he sees himself as the deity's chosen instrument. This kind of motivation does not assume that the deity is in continual contact with the character. It is more of a measure of the character's devotion to a deity, which is a drive as powerful as a soldier's military discipline.

This kind of motivation almost always fixes itself upon a memory of an experience, the first time when the deity's presence fixed itself in the character's mind. This blazing moment is at the heart
of many a paladin's vocation and a cleric's calling to take the priestly road. Such characters also look to their holy symbols as motivational foci, as they are symbols of deity that are both general (used by other members of the faith) and personal.

"The Minstrels Shall Sing of Me."
This motivation has one thing as its foundation: fame. A character with this motivation burns inside with the wish to be sung of, commemorated, recorded in legends and eventually be the inspiration for some future adventurer. As he is motivated by glory, he tends to be narcissistic and arrogant. Successes are embellished and exaggerated, while failures are brushed under the carpet or explained away as someone else's fault. The wish to be famous can spring from exposure to heroic legends as a child or young adult, or from expectations placed on a person by his circumstances of birth.

Fame-motivated characters are often brave and frequently genuinely heroic, as they know that they eyes of the world are watching and that they cannot afford to let their future admirers down. The motivational focus for this kind of character is usually a dream or a waking vision, in which the character sees himself in an idealized form, as the hero he may one day become. This is a somewhat immature motivation and as the character gains experience and grow as a person, he may set it aside in favor of goals that have more to do with other's needs than his own. Characters of this kind often personalize their armor or weapons, so that others can identify them by their distinctive equipment.

"It's What they Would have Wanted."
This character is motivated by the memory of others who are now dead, to whom he feels he owes a debt of some kind. This motivation may be temporary, lasting only until the character believes the has paid the debt in full or it may last for his entire life. A typical instance of this motivation is when a character swears to accomplish something that a dying person cannot achieve and desperately wants to happen. The character need not have met the person who is responsible for the obligation; it is only necessary that they should respect or value them enough to take their wishes seriously. This motivation is often the root of a character's following in another's footsteps, such as a son taking up responsibilities that his dead brother left behind. The motivation focus is almost always a memory, though it may sometimes take the form of an object, a souvenir of the dead person.

"I am Needed"
This character resembles those who are driven by duty but who formulate their motivation in terms of dependence. His own needs are unimportant; others need him. This "other" may be a family, a group of friends, a cause, even a country. He exists only so that he can be useful. Such characters are extraordinarily unselfish, even going so far as to lay down their own lives so that others may live. They are fond of working in groups, as there are many ways in which they can make themselves useful. The worst thing that can happen for them is to fail to fulfill a responsibility. If they let one of their dependents down, they feel it acutely and will go to great lengths to make amends. This motivation is much more likely to apply to older rather than younger characters. As adventurers grow older, they often turn to those in the next generation and act as protectors, teachers or advisors, looking after their needs at the expense of their own comfort.

The motivational focus for such characters is usually a memory of a time when they were able to make a difference. A character could fix on a memory of being a provider for a family or even for something so small and simple as being the one who cared for an animal when nobody else would. Motivations do not have to be grandiose things. They can be spurred by an incident that anyone other than the character might find trivial.

"O God, Send Me Enemies of Quality."
This motivation drives those who seek conflict with worthy foes. The character seeks to test himself continually by challenging stronger and more skilled opponents. Adventuring is for him, a way to find danger and risk, with the promise of further conflict and greater growth. Such a character does not take his fights personally, unless he has some reason to hate his opponent or have contempt for them. It is the clash itself that appeals, the knowledge that once again the character has proven the better combatant. Not all characters with this motivation are fighter types; it can apply to any character who seeks out a difficult challenge just because it is different. These characters can become frustrated and bored at higher levels, when there is no longer anyone worthy to stand against them and they win too easily. They may go on long journeys and epic quests just to find what the bards call "a challenge worthy of their prowess."

The motivation focus for these characters is usually the memory of their first significant victory, along with any scars that they retain from their previous battles. The adrenaline, the sense of power and the sweetness of winning all infuse and give these characters of this kind can always tell you the exact circumstances of his first combat and how he won, whether it was on battlefield or the schoolyard.

"I'll Show Them."
One motivation that burns stronger and longer than others is revenge. There are two types of revenge-based motivation. One is that in which you seek revenge against someone specific and the other is that in which you are filled with hatred for anyone who reminds you of people who did you wrong in the past. Characters of this kind are often bullies and tyrants., though a worthy few manage to rise above the need to strike back indiscriminately and learn to prove themselves in other ways. These characters have been humiliated by those stronger than themselves and are now driven by the thought of proving their tormentors wrong. they sometimes have (or had when young) some physical characteristic that makes them stand out and thus makes them a target for mockery, such as a birthmark, a short stature, facial blemishes or similar.

The motivational focus for such characters is usually a scar, a memory or both. These memories haunt the character in his private moments, taunting him with reminders of a time when he had no power and no say in what happened to him. The harsher his past experiences were, the less mercy and temperance he is likely to show to others.

"Just Give me the Money."
To this kind of character there is only one thing worth aspiring to and that is greater wealth. The vast majority of old school, hack-and-slash style characters are motivated by a desire for money. After all, it is the easiest motivation to identify with (the majority of people in the real world seem to be materially motivated) and patrons are used to offering a financial reward for the completion of a mission. Most adventures consist of a party being hired to go somewhere and do something in exchange for a reward. Whatever character's other motivations may be, money is always a powerful one.

Characters who have a desire for wealth as their primary motivation can be very one-dimensional and straightforward to play but also tend to be unchallenging and predictable. They are not necessarily evil, as a love of money does not necessarily mean that you will do anything for a price, but they do have a harder time staying good than other characters, as the lure of material reward has nothing to do with the more spiritual principles. The motivational focus is usually a dream in which the character sees himself rolling in wealth or an object that he has seen in his early years and set his heart on owning.

"I Will Survive."
Characters with this motivation are concerned with their own survival above all else. This may seem incompatible with an adventuring lifestyle; however, survival-oriented characters are determined to live on their own terms. They may be people who have escaped a horrible accident in the past, were the only ones left after a massacre or represent the last members of a dying line. They generally adventure in order to gain power, wealth and renown, but their aims in doing so are not mere self-aggrandizement like many other characters. They are making themselves as strong as they can be, so that they will have the best chance of survival.

These characters often have physical scars as their motivational foci, reminders of times when they came close to death. Curiously, some are reticent about showing theirs, while others brandish them openly as if sharing the world to try to kill them again.

"You Killed My Father, Prepare to Die."
The quote, well-known as it is, sums up a motivation that is popular in heroic fantasy. The character is driven by a desire for revenge. This is much like "I'll Show Them!" only the character is living to take revenge for the wrongs done to another and only secondarily for his own sake. The most common scenarios for a revenge motivation is the killing of a dearly loved relative or dependent of the character. Parents, brothers, lovers and spouses are all likely candidates. More extreme cases may even involve the destruction of the character's whole home village or even his entire tribe. The character then undergoes a personality change, thinking only of vengeance, whatever may have motivated him before.

Revenge of this kind motivates a character only until those responsible for the atrocity in his life are tracked down and wiped out or until he achieves closure in some other way, such as by rising above the need to avenge himself on others and forgiving those who have wronged him, which is admittedly a rare occurrence. A character may adventure on quests that have no direct bearing on his pursuit of vengeance, as he will need to pay his living expenses and (more importantly) gain experience and powerful equipment so as to have the best chance of victory when he finally confronts his enemies. Characters who have seen a vengeance campaign though to its end can sometimes be left feeling hollow and purposeless, as they had built their whole reason for existence around a task that is now complete.

The motivation focus here is always a memory and sometimes also a scar or an object, each of which remind the character of who he has lost and how they were taken away from him.

"Never Again."
Failure overshadows this character, failure and the memory of something terrible that ought never to have happened. Characters with this motivation have already lost one important battle or neglected one crucial duty and others have suffered or even died as a result. He is motivated by the need to purge himself of the guilt of his first failure and the drive to stand between others and the fate that he now knows in his heart can claim them if he does not do what he should. He has as much keener grasp of his role than a character who is motivated by duty alone, because he has seen what happens if he fails and he never wants to see it there again. The character might not even have been able to prevent the outcome; he may blame himself even if there was nothing he could have done. The circumstances of the loss will vary from character to character and might include the death of a close friend or sibling, the murder of someone who was meant to be protected, the breaking up of a group or even the destruction of a sacred building.

Motivational foci here tend to be memories. The character fixates both on the times before the event, which he remembers as a happier and more innocent than the event itself and what followed. It is very common for characters with this motivation to suffer from nightmares in which their losses are relived."

What motivates your character?

 
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