Friday, May 12, 2017

Anomaly: All the Best Names are Taken

As I look over the notes I have for Anomaly, I'm one again forced to look at the names I've selected. Names are a big deal to me, I put a lot of stock in them. Several friends of mine have reflexively trained me to come up with names that not only sound cool, but are difficult to mock. Just about every game I've written in the past two decades has gone through the "Playground Test" on many occasions.

Even so, a few names slip through unknowingly...

So what's my hang up today? Simply put, I'm trying to decide if these names are cool and evocative enough to keep, or if I should just ditch them and go with something else.

The Stellar Garden: This is the name I came up with for the region of space that the bulk of the campaign setting will be focused in. It's a somewhat isolated section of the galaxy, either contained within or cut off from the rest of the galaxy by a sprawling nebula.  I thought that calling it the Garden would carry a sense that this was a cradle of civilization and species development. A variety of races have evolved within the region, much more so than science or typical sci-fi would have you believe would occur within an area so small (galacticly speaking). I also thought it could carry an almost "Garden of Eden" vibe as well, the thought that within the garden are delights while outside the garden lie dangers to those within.

This is one name I'm on the fence on, but currently leaning towards keeping it. It's a sort of unique name, at least I think it is.  I can't remember any other sci-fi properties referring to a section of space as such.

The Union of Garden Worlds: Ugh...the more I look at this name, the more I want to drop it immediately. I just don't like it.  The abbreviation is too clunky (UGW). It looks ugly, sounds ugly, and feels cumbersome. I want this to be my United Federation of Planets, my Galactic Republic, my Alliance; but all the good names are taken. Federation and Confederation make me think of Star Trek. Alliance and Republic make me think of Star Wars. I could do something with League, I suppose, but I need to keep away from calling it the Star League (Battletech and Last Starfighter). Garden League sounds dumb. League of Allied Worlds could...huh.  That actually doesn't sound too bad as I'm typing it.  

"League of Allied Worlds"...huh.

I even like the anachronism; LAW.  I can come up with all kinds of nicknames for them, both as slang and as insults.  That could work, that could work well.

Drachon Clans: The Drachon are my klingons, my orcs, my Battletech Clans. The outsider warrior society that believes in might and prowess over political machinations, and yet cannot seem to get away from those within their society from having political machinations.  Physically, they're basically Dragonborn (a la D&D).  I don't hate the name "drachon", but I wonder if I shouldn't call the Clans themselves something else. Drachon Clans are basically Klingon Houses, or Orc Tribes; those all use the species name in their identifier.  Maybe Drachon Clans can stick.

Allef: My space elves, because every sci-fi game has space elves. I'm simply electing to merge my space-elves in with another trope; space cat-people. I named them Allef because they're basically alley cats at this point; something befell their homeworld, wiping out almost 90% of their population. They now gather in small colonies or travel the Garden alone, living off the scraps of society or stealing what they can to survive. Still, I'm on the fence about the name.

Bathalian and the Bathal Host: The main villains of the campaign, or the main obvious threat anyway. I got the name for these from a line of miniatures from Reaper Minis. They're mind-flayers/illithids with that particular name filed off, but they also have a real "Zerg Swarm" look to some of the more powerful members. That really inspired me to make them this massive horde that swarms over entire sectors of the galaxy, subjugating planets to their control. I like the name, and the idea that there's a religious component to their society (hence the name "The Host"). My take on religion in my games of late has been relatively minimal; the Force certainly counts as a religion, but it doesn't carry the same weight or presence as gods in settings like D&D. Having a religious motivator for this game will be an inspiring change.

Bodily-Function forthcoming"
Urnar: One of my council-member races for the League of Allied Worlds.  Their name looks and sounds too close to "urine".  Absolutely getting a name change.

The Dark One: Ah yes; this thing. The Dark One is the god that the Bathal Host is founded upon. It's the main deity of their entire belief structure. They receive "blessings" from this god, and use those powers to convert others to their beliefs.  I hate the name. It's too generic. I know I've ranted about this before in this blog too, but I can't come up with something better.  I sort of want the name to be a title, or an adjective, rather than some made up name like "Obliviax" or something like that.  (Although Obliviax sounds cool, I may need to use that name elsewhere...)

It's hard.  It's hard to come up with names at times, especially if I A) want to at least sound original and B) don't want to give away too much ahead of time. 

Names.  They're all taken, man.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Trinary is now Anomaly

Art by Leo Chuang
Welcome back to Fragments from the Rim; I was musing over on Facebook today that I needed to brush the cobwebs off this site and get it going again. Life has been rocky and rough lately, and my various forms of artistic expression have taken the brunt of my lack of drive and neglect. Part of me getting things back on track is getting my creative juices flowing again and enjoying the work I do. So; here's hoping this is a start.

Last October I posted an entire month of posts about "Trinary", a new campaign world I had kicking around my head that I finally attempted to get some traction on.  It's been a long while since I've made anything as grand as a campaign world; my Twin Worlds setting back in College was my last journey into world-building, and I had a lot of fun with that.  I poured countless hours of work into developing that setting for several Dungeons and Dragons campaigns that ran in the years following. Had many a good time and adventure that my players still talk about today.

I've had an idea for a long while, a theme that spawned the creation of a cluster of stars in the corner of a far-flung galaxy (no, not THAT Galaxy Far Far Away; I do enough campaigns in that one). The 30 Days of World Building exercise gave me a basic skeleton and a lot of ideas to work with. Looking back, I'm not happy with a lot of the names, but I am pleased with a lot of the ideas that exercise spawned.

Art by Luvisi
My biggest hangup has been the name; "Trinary". I had a few reasons for choosing that name, but it never sat right with me. It felt too clunky, too easy to miss-speak and call it "Trinity". Also, the name wasn't very evocative. I've been trying on other names for the campaign world for a while now; the name really drives a lot. Sure, I could try and develop a world and see if a name for the campaign pops out, but that's not typically how I operate. I try to put a name to the idea that I have, and everything that comes after is better designed to fall in under that umbrella. It fits with the themes and the stories I want to create for that setting.

I've decided on the name "Anomaly" for my game world.  The name hints at the fact that something is amiss and highlights the irregular, which for the most part includes most player characters. There are many anomalies in the game; social anomalies, stellar anomalies, cultural anomalies. Gravametric anomalies allow for Faster Than Light travel. Genetic anomalies hold the key for powers long lost to be reborn. There may even be a temporal anomaly or two that must be dealt with.

GM Phil's Anomaly (Yes, I know I need a new banner image...)

So now I've got a name I can work with. Next is trying to refine what I want into a very basic campaign setting that players can use.  I need to remember that I don't need to present them with the entire setting all at once, just enough for them to grasp the concepts of the setting, get a feel for the political powers, and understand the themes within the campaign world.

Here we go...

Art by Lino Drieghe