Thursday, October 7, 2010

Power of names

Names are funny things. They have such power, and not just in the mythological/magical sense where if you know the name of something you can control/summon/kill it. (Sidenote: Speaking of the power of names, the Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss is excellent and highly recommended.) I’m referring more to the mundane power of a name simply sticking in your head. Likely it comes from associating it with emotion, or a positive/negative experience. But sometimes it’s because you think the name just sounds cool.

Take my obsession with Myern, for example. Originally it was a made up name for a homebrew campaign of mine. The name belonged to a tyrannical city-state that espoused law and order, through any means necessary. Unlike most fascist states, though, they did not discriminate based on race. Everyone was equal before the law (those in power were more equal, obviously).

On a slight tangent: The homebrew campaign was built around the sandbox premise, where major locations were marked on a hand drawn map, and the players could go where they will. Or rather, after a couple of levels, they could go where they wanted. We played through a few of the original 3.0 adventures. Namely the flawed, but classic, The Sunless Citadel and the great final battle in The Forge of Fury. My wife just started playing DND and those adventures were a fun way to introduce her to the mechanics.

From then on, whenever I have the opportunity to make a city again, or a realm, I likely choose the name Myern. Only the name is the same, the internal workings of the city (i.e. tyrannical rule) are not necessarily used. The name Myern resonates with me and breathes life into the location. I’ve used it in the Battlemaster online text wargame for a realm I created (and then abandoned when the character got bored with it), I’ve used it in other campaigns, and now I use it for my blog.

If I ever get the opportunity to buy a large plot of land, you can bet I’ll name it Myern.

What (fantastical, self-created) names resonate with you?

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