Names Are Important, Now If I Only Knew How

edited October 2012 in Game Design Help
I am currently working on the fourth iteration of my game Criterion City. During the course of playtesting I realized my game no longer did what I wanted it to and I set it aside for a while to work on other projects. I have now moved back to it with renewed vigor, and I think that I am moving in the right direction. I have run into a bit of a snag though. Everything on my character sheet is a trait that can be used to gain a die for a roll, save for the Name. I know I could just leave the name as a non mechanic, but as the setting requires that each person have a name of importance to the character, the name actually means a lot in fiction. I would love for it to mean a lot in the mechanics as well. I just can't seem to suss it out. How do I make the name not less vague, while still giving them the freedom to pick a name that they want?

Thoughts? Or was I too rambling in my questions? If I need to clear it up in some way I can certainly try.

Comments

  • edited October 2012
    This could be a bit shallow, but in a friend's game the players always got a die when then declared their character's actions in third person, because it was a story being told rather than a character being played. So instead of "I'm climbing up..." they said "Sunflower is climbing up...".
  • In Blood and Honor, you get a bonus if your name's meaning, which you work out when you create the name, is related to the risk you're doing. It's pretty cool.
  • You say "name of importance" and "name means a lot in the fiction"... how? What makes the name important? What makes the name meaningful?

    The simplest solution is probably to have your name be a "reputation" mechanic. "And of course, I assume these curs have heard of me, yes?"
  • This sort of relentless symmetry can sometimes be more of a problem than its worth, in my opinion. But if you're committed to it, I'm sure you'll figure it out.
  • Does "Do: Flying Temple" use name as resolution mechanism?

    :) Snake_Eyes
  • So John is being subtle, but Agon has a great name mechanic. You assign your Name stat a die (starting at d6 or d8), and you roll it with every single roll, because, being a Greek Hero, your name is everything! It's your legend, your reputation, your recognition, etc. As you progress in the game, you can bump your Name die up like any other stat (and, because it's rolled every single time you do anything, there's a pretty good incentive to do so). It's also a really elegant solution to making sure a player always has at least one die to roll. And there's no requirement to, like, have a specific name, you just make up your name and then assign the Name die separately at character creation.

    Another inspiration could be Burning Wheel's Circles. Specifically, treat the Name die (or whatever) as an always-available thing to roll to know if you know someone in the scene, or to find someone you need to find. As it gets bigger, it means you have more reputation and ability to find people you need in a pinch.

    Hope that's helpful.

  • Does "Do: Flying Temple" use name as resolution mechanism?
    Actually, your name in Do is basically your entire character. Your name has two parts, which are symbolic of the actions your character takes. The first part tells you how your character gets in trouble. The second part tells you how they help people. So Yellow Bag might get in trouble by being frightened (yellow = cowardice) while he helps people by always having the right object on hand. Sleeping Tiger might get in trouble by being lazy or narcoleptic, but help people by being stealthy or cunning.

    You could take that into other genres by changing the example names. Lots of fiction uses names as symbols for the characters personality (see Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman, Sawyer on Lost, Grima Wormtongue in the Lord of the Rings, etc.).

    So you could easily work something like this into many RPGs: "Name your character. Explain how that name symbolizes an aspect of your character's personality. When you act in a fashion that your name symbolizes, you get your bonus die (or whatever)".
  • I meant "doesn't", not does. Oopa

    Sure esp. if you use titles such as "... the Lionheart" or "... the Conqueror" that could be used as the given name.

    :) Snake_Eyes
  • The flipside of names being powerful is names being weaknesses or targets. A character revealing their name to another could be a sign of trust. In the Mountain Witch, let's say the ronin all use pseudonyms and slowly reveal their names in the story. Ayaka tells her name to Ichirou, who realises that Sanshirou, whose name he also knows, must be the samurai that razed her village to the ground one year ago. Does he keep them apart or try to bring them together? Does he reveal the truth (or, at least, his suspicions) to one or both? Does he berate or attack Sanshirou (or Ayaka)? Does he blackmail Sanshirou? How is this knowledge established by the players?

    You can add to this - people can lie about their name, for one thing, and perhaps there's a difference between relying on people and trusting them, in which the former could be used to describe physical or mental capabilities and the latter is about someone's personal disposition and relationships. Knowing the capabilities of your supposed allies changes the way you approach problems even if you don't fully trust them. To take the tMW example, Sanshirou just watched Ichirou dispatch a particularly fearsome ogre guarding a gate in the fortress. He can rely on Ichirou to kill things with ease, but can he trust Ichirou to side with him in the final battle? Can Ichirou rely on Sanshirou to be dead weight and watch from the sidelines?
  • Another inspiration could be Burning Wheel's Circles. Specifically, treat the Name die (or whatever) as an always-available thing to roll to know if you know someone in the scene, or to find someone you need to find. As it gets bigger, it means you have more reputation and ability to find people you need in a pinch.

    Hope that's helpful.

    I think I like how that works...I may use something along those lines thank you!


    Here is my first thought on this. Your name represents how people view you/how you interact with them. rolling it lets you make up a new NPC or develop new pieces of an existing NPC. I think that will work...What do you think.
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