Adventures with extensive backstory - Page 3
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  1. #21
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    In most fantasy fiction, names for characters and locations often don't seem to be that much of a problem. I wonder why a lot of adventure modules seem to struggle with it. Is it just bad writing?

  2. #22
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    It depends on the tone you’re going for. Fantastic naming conventions like Skywalker or Glasstaff are perfectly fine most of the time. I mean...it’s a fantasy setting; people can do magic and elves and dragons exist. Why is it so crazy to imagine that in such a world, they’ve adopted different naming conventions?

    On the other hand, if you’re going for a more “realistic” portrayal, then having names be more like those that we know makes sense. Like Martin does in A Song of Ice and Fire.

    But if you’re going with a published module and don’t like the names in them for some reason, then just change them. There’s no reason Gundren Rockseeker can’t be Gregor Rucklan or something similar.

    Personally, I try to keep NPC names fairly simple for the most part. Most of the time, the characters aren’t going to be around long, and the players will never see their name in writing, so I do what I can to make it easy on them. There are exceptions, of course....recurring villains or major allies that will last well into the campaign I’ll give more evocative names.

    Funny enough, Gundren Rockseeker is a long term ally of the PCs in our campaign. His name’s never been an issue, and our campaign has a very serious tone, overall.

  3. #23
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    Aug 2010
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    Quote Originally Posted by Imaculata View Post
    But try saying the name "Glasstaff" to yourself, and now say the name "Sharokina". Which of the two sounds more menacing? Opinions can of course differ on what makes a good name (and thats fine), but for me, it is definitely the latter that sounds better.
    I agree with you about terrible names and on the other hand the thought of being whacked with a Glass Staff sounds menacing especially getting the glass splinters out!
    Laugh Imaculata laughed with this post

  4. #24
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    Jul 2010
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    I was a history major before I found my calling so the backstory stuff isn't a problem

    However, like others have said - sometimes it feels like the adventure is secondary to the backstory in the writer's mind and I really couldn't be bothered to use any of it when there are 6 of us at the table regularly coming up with more than we could ever possibly use that's of higher quality (to us) than what's in the book.

    2c

  5. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by billd91 View Post
    Good names is often in the eye (ear) of the beholder. Many Gygaxian names are memorable because they sound ridiculous. Many don't roll off the tongue at all - if you can even manage to give them a reasonable pronunciation.
    I tend to go a different route in naming. I go on the assumption that the pcs are not speaking english and that we are speaking english. So, i often convert their names from the syllable-salad-sing-song to actual real names from modern day or historical earth cultures. Then i can adopt or appropriate earth cultures language traits and naming schemes for the various cultures or regions. Maybe elves use french or asian, maybe dwarves use germanic or irish.

    You get the picture.

    I find it makes the names to characters more memorable, more consistent etc and especially useful with homebrew worlds.
    XP Imaculata gave XP for this post

  6. #26
    I have a terrible memory regarding the names of persons or places. But that's what notes are for, right?

    Anyway, I typically only care for background information as far as it is relevant for the adventure.
    Iirc, originally the adventure path adventure modules were relatively sparse regarding background information.
    Separate Dragon articles were used to provide more of that for those who were interested in it.

    I guess, that was a superior approach. Alas, Dragon is now dead.
    XP S'mon gave XP for this post

  7. #27
    A backstory is more appropriate for a Campaign setting rather than an adventure in my opinion. Anything longer than a half-page for backstory should be put in the back as an appendix or a 'optional read' sidebar. The backstory should have enough info to 'charge' the GM's creative process so that they can create their own story with their players not follow a novel--which is hard to skim over 4+ pages to get that right name or location DURING play. The backstory should give enough flavor that the GM can sprinkle into rumors to create seeds--and if the players bite, then a story can be further fleshed out between the GM and players.

    My opinion--are you playing a game using your imagination.....or are you trying to follow an author's novel? Both ways are correct if it works for your group, but I prefer the former.

  8. #28
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    I feel personally responsible now. I felt proud to *only* have two pages of backstory for that N.E.W. alien adventure, versus something like seven for some of the later ZEITGEIST adventures.

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