The Creative Process, Part 2 of 2

Earlier this week, I invited you into my mind, as I went through part of the process of creating a character for a role-playing game. The conundrum that I faced was twofold. First, what race should I pick for an adventuring scholar with a natural magical talent? Second, what should I name him? Until those two details are in place, I cannot begin to tell his story.

In Paizo’s Advanced Race Guide, I read each entry for the races I’d shortlisted last time: Elf, Gnome, Half-Elf, and Halfling. Each one presented interesting options for me. As I suspected, however, Elf was just a jump too far to the left, and the Gnome was just a step too far to the right. Halfling didn’t last much longer, either, for that matter. So, I settled on Half-Elf, especially once I considered his abilities and some of the options for the race from that book.

With race firmly established now, all that is left is to choose a name, and I can begin creating his history. What do I know about him? He grew up around humans, mainly, though he had some limited interactions with his father’s people in his childhood that left him with an utter dislike for most elves. I see his name sounding rather Dickens-era English. At least, I see his first name sounding like that. His last name feels like it should be English in style, be it a real name, a surname derived from his mother’s job, or maybe even a more elf-like English surname.

So, thanks to a web search, the surname is narrowed down to “Day” (a dairy worker), “Chandler” (a candle maker), and “Gardner” (a gardener). I also considered what his father’s surname would be, and decided upon the mystical-sounding, “Stargazer”. (Hey, it fit my criteria for Elf names from the last installment!)

Of course, choosing a first name is not nearly as easy. I search names for ones that have a certain sound as well as meaning. Fortunately, I found the name “Kyle”, which works with any of the three human surnames above, and also isn’t a completely bad choice for the elven surname as well. With that, I can safely rule out “Day”, for the rather capricious reason that it’s too few syllables. Of course, “Chandler” and “Gardner” both have points going for them, as either one would be a job that I could see a woman meeting an elf at.

“Kyle Gardner” has a ring to it, no? I see his mother as an herbalist, while his father was an elven scholar on his way to attending a symposium on alchemy in the Imperial capital.

So, I now know what my character is. Kyle Gardner, half-elven son of a human herbalist and an elven alchemist. He’s a Bard (Archaeologist), and has more magic than normal, thanks to his elven heritage.

Next time, I will share the one page profile I write up about Kyle.

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