[Apocalypse World] Naming conventions?

edited June 2010 in Story Games
Somewhere I read that the names and looks in the playbooks are all you can choose for a given character type. I'm trying to test out a pbp game on a forum, and I have a player (maybe two) rebelling against that and wanting to choose a very ethnic Japanese name for his Japanese character. I'm trying to avoid that -- that world is gone, there's no reason for you to have such a name, pick one from the playbook, right? He's a Battlebabe and says he really doesn't like any of the Battlebabe names.

What the hell do I do? I can't think of a good reason to bar him from making his own name other than "I think using the set list of names is friggin' sweet".
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Comments

  • He should use "Alita".

    I think it's about theme, feel, the specific names.

    But seriously? If it makes your player literally unhappy? I'd say fuck the list of names.
  • Maybe not one from the playbook but something that resounds a little better within the structure of your game. Something pop-cultur-y or twisted. I find that stuff local to the area that could have been misconstrued and taken as a name is always good.
  • edited June 2010
    He chose Fetish! I like it a lot.

    The Chopper chose "Butcher Bird". I guess I pushed too hard -- these guys know what they're doing!

    Yeah, in retrospect I was being a tool. Thanks for the advice. :)
  • The names are as hard a choice as anything else in AW. Because when he rolls to read a sitch and none of the questions are appealing to him he's gonna ask if he can ask a different one. You're going to be tempted to say Yes. But you should definitely say No.

    As my girlfriend said to John Harper, as comment on some peoples reactions to AW, "Sometimes you just need to stop being a whiny little bitch and BRING IT."
  • Yes, this is one slippery slope we want to avoid at all costs.
  • Too late, I caved. Won't happen again, and it won't happen in the tabletop game I'm gonna run. Managing a crowd of forumites is hard.
  • A Japanese name for a Japanese character is not appropriate for Apocalypse World.

    That said, names are special and it's important that a player like the name of the character they're going to play for a number of sessions. If I want to amuse myself by naming my latina hardholder Columbus and my MoC says "list only," I'm gonna tell them to stop whining so I can BRING IT. ;)

    I personally like the creative constraint of AW's small name lists though. None of the Brainer names really captured me but I went with Brace and soon I had a concept I liked of a young woman with crutches and leg braces, one hungry for real affection and for someone not put off by her physical disabilities nor her psychic talents.
  • Posted By: framweardToo late, I caved.
    I think that's the right thing to do.
  • Yeah, see, I love the set list of names, but I couldn't get this particular player behind it. And he's known for arguing and bringing in all sorts of logic as to why it's rubbish and how he's right. Not a bad player, but kind of a dick sometimes.
  • I'm playing an ethnically Japanese character (Actually I just said he looked Japanese, and then Elizabeth thought he should look like Takeshi Kaneshiro, and so does.) He was a Maestro D' at the initial character creation and I picked the name Rose. Maybe's he's got a Japanese sounding last name. It's never come up.

    My first AW character was a Brainer named Mary, not Marie as dictated in the Brainer book. She was illiterate anyway. Maybe when her lover taught her to write her name he spelled it "Marie".
  • Look, all of you people are missing the important point here.

    Japanese characters with Japanese names?

    Nope, Japan.

    Also, I sort of like the pick-from-a-list nature in part because it forces you to do a little creative work to make the character and the name meet somewhere in the middle and in part because I feel like, due to all the shared AP and various reports of games all over the internet, there's a kind of parallel-universe situation in play.

    My Iris was an angry teenaged-boy Brainer. Who is to say who your Iris is?
  • My own personal rule as an MC is "If you have to ask, you have to pick from the set names. If you don't bother asking and just pick a different name, you don't."

    It's worked so far.

    In that specific situation, I'd follow that up with provocative questions. Like "Okay, so, you're strongly culturally Japanese, and hell if any transpacific flights have been going on in the last 50 years. What's up with that? Your grandparents and parents feel strongly about keeping their culture alive, maybe at the cost of getting along with the other survivors? They still around, or did they get run out of the holding, or worse, for being different?" Perfect setup for a "Custom" threat, too.
  • Posted By: framweardWhat the hell do I do?
    I would have written him a custom list of authentic japanese names to choose from:
    Anime, Seppuku, Samurai, Tokyo, 4chan, Tomigatchi.

    And when he bitched, I would have said, "the Japan you knew is gone. This is what remains. Pick."
  • Posted By: McdaldnoPosted By: framweardWhat the hell do I do?
    I would have written him a custom list of authentic japanese names to choose from:
    Anime, Seppuku, Samurai, Tokyo, 4chan, Tomigatchi.

    And when he bitched, I would have said, "the Japan you knew is gone. This is what remains. Pick."

    Holy shit, 4chan is awesome, especially because when it's spoken aloud it sounds a lot like Fortune.
  • Posted By: skinnyghostand in part because I feel like, due to all the shared AP and various reports of games all over the internet, there's a kind of parallel-universe situation in play.

    My Iris was an angry teenaged-boy Brainer. Who is to say who your Iris is?
    Oh yeah! That's another huge bonus feature. Same with the MoC's name list. It's a little like when 4E came out and many of us were going through Keep on the Shadowfell. Or GHOST/ECHO. "Who was your "GRIP? Was that a name or a 'Class' for you, or what?" And then there's Regina Sutton, of course.

    Dog Head... man that is one scary dude. In our universe... What's your Dog Head like?
  • "You play Apocalypse World, too?"
    "Yeah, totally."
    "Cool. What's your Balls like?"
  • edited June 2010
    Posted By: nemomemeWhat'syourDog Head like?
    A cult leader. Unsettling eyes.
  • Yeah, I'm with Mcdaldno. If you deviate from the game, the MC should do it. Players should never be creating the fictional elements of the game, which should all come from the rulebook's lists or from the mind of the MC. Even allowing them to make up their own names leads to the slippery slope where the MC loses control. Players should only be saying what their characters do, not adding to the setting.

    Obviously, I'm being sarcastic.
  • Posted By: JohnstonePlayers should never be creating the fictional elements of the game [...] Players should only be saying what their characters do, not adding to the setting.
    I think there's a balance to be struck, here.

    When players say "Right, well I guess our best option is to retreat to the old shed," and that's an act of pure creation, I'm not going to counter by reminding them that I never mentioned a shed.

    Instead, I'm just going to take it and own it. "Right, so you guys retreat into the shed. So, have you ever encountered a rotting carcass before? Do you know what they smell like? Yeah. That's what the interior of the shed smells like."
  • edited June 2010
    I was about to go "Uh, what? Half of the first session is the players creating the world."

    But Johnstone's got some hidden text following his comment...
  • Heh. This is some food for thought. I really enjoy the list of set names, and I also really like Ben's rule. I'm going to incorporate that next time.

    When Vincent gets some story-games time, I'd like to hear what he has to say on the matter.
  • Posted By: skinnyghost"You play Apocalypse World, too?"
    "Yeah, totally."
    "Cool. What's your Balls like?"
    Adam Dray actually sabotaged Camp Nerdly this year to avoid finding that out.
  • Posted By: nemomemeI went with Brace and soon I had a concept I liked
    This happened to me with my Brainer Cybelle. The constraints like name and look took me to places I wouldn't have arrive at on my own.

    And this:
    Posted By: skinnyghostI feel like, due to all the shared AP and various reports of games all over the internet, there's a kind of parallel-universe situation in play.
    Is awesome. I can't wait to start playing more and seeing how my universe diverges from John's or Matt's or whoever's.

    But I guess this is preaching to the choir as far as Joey was concerned. What's done is done, right? And I can think of several people I've played with in the past who would have balked in exactly the same way.

    So how's the game going, Joey? I've got to admit, this phrase sends all kinds of worrisome tingles up my spine:
    Posted By: framweardNot a bad player, but kind of a dick sometimes.
    Peace,
    -Joel
  • People get worked up about the silliest things.
  • So....are names the new stakes?
  • I made up my own name for my Angel and the rest of you can SUCK IT.



    (Bizarrely, someone else on the AW forums recently posted some AP featuring another Angel with the same name. )
  • edited June 2010
    The game is going swimmingly. The players are really into it, coming up with all sorts of crazy shit.

    The best part is, it was a random forum post on a forum I visit regularly and I got six hits within an hour, five of which turned into regular players expressing interest and three of which turned into preorder sales for Apocalypse World. They're that excited!

    The cast thus far is:

    Butcher Bird the Chopper
    Fetish the Battlebabe
    Mother Superior the Maestro D' (formerly a Hardholder, player got the preorder .pdf and really liked the Maestro D' so the character was remade)
    Pain the Brainer
    (unknown) the Gunlugger

    So I've definitely slipped into the "choose thematically appropriate names", but if any other characters are introduced I'm going to enforce the set names and see how that goes. I do really like the parallel universe vibe all the AP reports give; it's really awesome!

    Expect regular updates, questions, and possibly some advice on running AW in a a pbp environment.

    EDIT: Also, mind you, this forum is huge on D&D and the Storyteller (White Wolf) system. That's pretty much all that's played, with a hint of Shadowrun, GURPs, RIFTS, and Amber (one game each). BESM used to be big, but ugh, BESM. Thus far I've successfully started In a Wicked Age and 3:16 (although I learned that I really don't like 3:16 in the pbp environment, so I canceled the game). In a Wicked Age is a big hit, though.
  • Dear Joey,
    Keep fighting the good fight.
    Love and kises,
    Orly.
  • My own personal rule as an MC is "If you have to ask, you have to pick from the set names. If you don't bother asking and just pick a different name, you don't."
    I love this rule.

    Do people think Vincent designs these things deliberately? He just downs half a bottle of vodka and writes whatever comes out. This is the whole key to understanding his games: his rules don't really matter.

    Adam, why can't you pick a Japanese name for a Japanese character? I'm genuinely interested. If you can have Rose, an English name, why shouldn't a Japanese name have survived the apocalypse? Is there something cultural about Japan that I'm missing?
  • I think Adam is getting at the fact that no one has any particular culture anymore. It could incidentally be the case that a Japanese person has a Japanese name, but it wouldn't be because the character is Japanese. It would just be like any other name -- something someone found cool and decided to adopt as a moniker or bestow upon a child.

    Shit head is called Shit head because someone thought it sounded cool or something, dig?
  • Posted By: framweard(unknown) the Gunlugger
    The Gunlugger With No Name. I like that!
  • Some players have thought they should choose a name from each of the two paragraphs, the way you choose one item from each paragraph under Look. I explained that last names were one of those golden age things that went away, like birthdays where people had so much stuff they'd give you some of it just because you'd stayed alive another year. Those times are gone.

    Or here's a custom move:
    When a player requests a name not in their playbook, they roll 2d6+barter spent, on a 10+ they can choose any name they like. On a 7-9 they can choose a name similar to the ones on the list. On a miss the MC will choose a name for them and I promise you won't like it.
  • Oh man. Oh man oh man. I like that custom move. Buying yourself a name, that's pretty sweet. On a miss, maybe the NPCs all refer to him by the MC's given name, but the player insists on being called something else. The jingle didn't take though -- sorry, Shit head, your name is Shit head.
  • That is a lovely move. It hardly needs "and I promise you won't like it".
  • "Hey boss, Jackal is here to see you."
    "Who the fuck is Jackal?"
    "You know -- Jackal. That fucker who came into town throwing jingle around like it were growin' offa bushes or someshit."
    "Oh, you mean Lady boy. That idiot. Let 'im in -- could use a laugh or six."
  • edited June 2010
    Posted By: Joel

    So how's the game going, Joey? I've got to admit, this phrase sends all kinds of worrisome tingles up my spine:

    Posted By: framweardNot a bad player, but kind of a dick sometimes.
    Peace,
    -Joel

    It's going well enough, as far as the early stages going. I'm trying to think of a way to simulate the 1st Session. Maybe a prologue thread where I just let them start things off and then start poking and prodding and angling for fuckery.

    The player in question, though, is kind of a tool. No one else has a problem with him, though, he just likes to get up on a soapbox and explain to people why they're wrong and should just stop arguing. If I have to shut him down, I will, but I don't like to be rude. Trying to let things simmer and see where they go.
  • Thunder God: You mean Gally? (Admittedly I like Alita better...and how do you pronounce GUNNM?)
  • Alita :P

    And you pronounce it "Gunmu", apparently. You add a "u" to most words from English, sometimes other vowels?. "Kissu-kissu!" is always amusing to hear in anime. Of course, it may actually be how they say "kill" in Japanese, but I somehow doubt it.
    I guess Andy or Ewen could tell us better, or one of the other people around who speaks Japanese.
  • edited June 2010
    Yeah, Japanese syllables can't end in a consonant except for one exception (n/m). I think there's only one exception. I took it back in undergrad and am currently a student of linguistics, so I think about these things a lot.

    Anyway. Apocalypse World and stuff.

    @Nathan: Also, thanks for the encouragement!
  • edited June 2010
    Sorry: the Battle Angel Alita aside:

    They picked the questionable but cool-looking (to them) "GUNNM". But the kanji is 銃夢: Gun (Juu) and Dream (Mu). They decided (maybe because of the mixed culture of the setting?) to use one in "English" (Gun; in Japanese they say "Gan/Gahn" for Gun) and the other in "Japanese" (Mu). So the "correct" (lol) pronunciation of this bizarre mismash is "GAHN - MU".

    And yeah, Tim gets bonus points for knowing that her name is actually Gally. :-)

    EDIT: Similarly, if you're familiar with Nihei Tsutomu's "BLAME!"... The katakana under the title indicate that the pronunciation is "Bu-Rah-Mu". Like "Blam"; the comic book sound of a gun going off. I dunno if they didn't realize at the time that if they threw an "E" on the end it becomes a totally different word. Anyway, enough of an aside...

    -Andy
  • I think Joe's solution was the best solution.
  • Posted By: Ice Cream EmperorI made up my own name for my Angel and the rest of you can SUCK IT.

    (Bizarrely, someone else on the AW forums recently posted some AP featuring another Angel with the same name. )
    Kim is a name from the angel list, dude.

    Dou, Bon, Abe, Boo, T, Kal, Bai, Char, Jav, Ruth, Wei, Jay, Nee, Kim, Lan, Di, or Dez
  • Posted By: framweardI think Adam is getting at the fact that no one has any particular culture anymore. It could incidentally be the case that a Japanese person has a Japanese name, but it wouldn't be because the character is Japanese
    The thing about there being a really Japanese name is that it implies some stuff about the setting that doesn't feel very Apocalyptic to me. I mean, I guess it's because the game is really euro/americocentric (NOT EVEN A WORD) and throwing Michiko in amidst Rose and Iris and Jackal sort of seems weird to me. It makes me feel like "why is this chick's name so different?" It makes her "Japanese" instead of "the Brainer" in some small way that irks me.

    Or maybe it's just deviation from the list that irks me. Like Johnstone said - I think unless the MC asks you to contribute to the world (ie "I don't know, where DO you get the food from?") then the players should just focus on playing their dudes. So to speak.

    I'm sure I'm not explaining myself well enough. It's early.
  • Posted By: framweardThe game is going swimmingly.

    EDIT: Also, mind you, this forum is huge on D&D and the Storyteller (White Wolf) system. That's pretty much all that's played, with a hint of Shadowrun, GURPs, RIFTS, and Amber (one game each). BESM used to be big, but ugh, BESM. Thus far I've successfully started In a Wicked Age and 3:16 (although I learned that I really don't like 3:16 in the pbp environment, so I canceled the game). In a Wicked Age is a big hit, though.
    Good to hear the game is going well. we're all rooting for you!

    Thing is, too, that AW is a REALLY easy sell to a more trad crowd. All the story-games-ness of it happens behind the MC's Dark Cloud of Fuckery - all the players have to do is play their characters and answer some questions.
  • Posted By: skinnyghostI mean, I guess it's because the game is really euro/americocentric (NOT EVEN A WORD)
    Hmmm.... is it?

    I've been assuming that names like "Rose" and "Jackal" are just, you know, the words for roses and jackals. So, while we're *playing* the game in English, the people in the fiction could be speaking Japanese or any other language.
  • Posted By: Paul T.Posted By: skinnyghostI mean, I guess it's because the game is really euro/americocentric (NOT EVEN A WORD)
    Hmmm.... is it?

    I've been assuming that names like "Rose" and "Jackal" are just, you know, the words for roses and jackals. So, while we're *playing* the game in English, the people in the fiction could be speaking Japanese or any other language.

    This brings up some interesting ideas that I am too ill and brain-damaged from lack of sleep to elucidate on. Basically, what I think is that if Apocalypse World were set in India or Japan or China or the like, that the cultural detritus would be different. People wouldn't have names like Smith or Jones or Burroughs or Jackson.

    Or is what you're trying to say is that they're only called that because we're interpreting their world in english? That their names could actually be Nakamura or Kimiko or Mizu?
  • I see! That could be. Aren't there also names like "Boo, Bai, Jav, Wei, Nee" (from the Angel list, above)? Those don't sound Euro/American to me.

    Why assume one as more focal than the others?

    (I don't have a copy of AW to look at, so I'm honestly asking because I'm curious; I'm not trying to make a point with this.)
  • I think that those names are there to create the dissonance that's so prevalent (at least, to my eyes) in the naming conventions. It's part of what makes the world so weird and foreign but keeping it familiar. For example, in Apocalypse World, it's totally possible that someone's name could be Wei, maybe. If that person is of Chinese ethnicity and they have a Chinese name because of it, that's boring. That's boring and normal.

    If the dude is white, or black, or latin, that's way more interesting. It disconnects the normalcy. You look at, for example, a guy named Balls and you think "Where the fuck did that come from? Who names their kid Balls? Where did his parents come up with that?" and it sets off all these interesting questions about the setting. Whereas an ethnically Japanese character with a Japanese name strikes me as dull and doesn't ask any questions at all.

    I mean, sure, there's going to be some normalcy. A white girl named Kim. A mexican mercenary named Jiminez. I just think that sticking to the kind of naming conventions that would apply to the real world sort of steals the character of some neat hooks.

    But that's just me, right? My favourite thing about post-apocalyptic settings is the juxtaposition of the familiar with the strange. People named Television and locations or objects being re-purposed or having their original purpose misconstrued.
  • edited June 2010
    You guys are totally being prescriptive about your descriptive.
  • Posted By: Thunder_GodYou guys are totally being prescriptive aboutyourdescriptive.
    Well, yeah. Of course. But that's all you can do, right? It's not like this is Exalted where I can say "The Empress is X" and have X be a canonical thing. There's only an implied setting (in the name lists, the maelstrom rules, etc) that I can say "In my Apocalpse, X"

    When I said "because the game is really euro" I should have said "because my interpretation is that the game is really euro"
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