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Picking a Great Name

Last Modified: July 28, 2010

Bugg Zapper
Bugg Zapper

Name First

Picking a name first is more rare, but can happen. As an example, think of anyone or anything. I'll choose "The Easter Bunny". You can immediately think of what the character should look like and what Travel-power to pick (Super Jump FTW). You also have a pretty good idea how to start the story. How about "Grape Jelly"? Do certain powers or costume ideas come to mind? Once you begin to pick powers, you can refine the name even more. Want radiation? The Easter Bunny becomes the "Halflife Hare" and Grape Jelly becomes "Purple Blob". Can you see how this can be an especially fun way to build a character?

Once the word "bug zapper" came up in a conversation and I thought, "that sounds like a good hero name" 🙂

Looks like a blank hero
Looks like a blank hero

Name from costume

Sometimes it happens. You're browsing around through costume options when you see it. "Was that a trenchcoat?" Suddenly, you think of name: The Flasher (not to be confused with "the Flash". Now you come up with a story and finish the costume for a mostly naked man wearing a trenchcoat. At this point, powers can come later, because you're having too much fun with the concept.

One time I was looking at the blank character on the screen and though, hey, maybe I could make a hero that actually looked like that and thus "Blank Hero" was born.

Name from story

A story is generally the best way to come up with a name. For example, I wrote a background story about an English Nobleman in the early 18th century who was killed in battle, but had his spirit called to the present day by a CoT ritual gone wrong. From this, his name had to be a stuffy noble British name and he became Edwin Huntington (though his hero name is Blade of Nox based on his actual powers).

ShockCicle
ShockCicle

Name from powers

Most hero names are based in their powers. For example, Gravitron would be a great name for a robotic (or paritally robotic) gravity Controller, but not as good for a fire Blaster. Shockcicle makes a good ice/electric Blaster. Speedy Swordswiper might be a Katana/Super Reflexes Scrapper. Screaming Gale was the name for my Storm/Sonic Defender while Rock Thunderfist might be a Stone Armor/Super Strength Tank.

Miss Smash
Miss Smash

Name from Archetype

Sometimes the Archetype alone is where your name comes from and not their powers. For example, I see a lot of healing Controllers or Defenders with Doc or Dr. in their name. Tanks tend to have tough names like "Beefy Boy" or "Miss. Smash".

Name from Origin

This is harder because you really have to understand Origins to pull it off. Some examples might be:

  • Mutation – Demented Stepchild – The outcast, Born different. Everyone treated him like he wasn't even part of the family.
  • Science – Hans Finkelstien – A Swedish researcher who pioneered the field of (whatever). Experiment A7D – A bioengeneered lifeform who escaped from his creators.
  • Mistress Allura
    Mistress Allura
  • Natural – (for alien) Greegot Xoen, (for trained human) Seth Roper – The key here is that either they come from a place where everyone has that power (the alien/other worlder), or they trained into their powers so they can have an average human name.
  • Technology – This is an exception. Since the whole point of tech is that your character isn't "super", anyone could be a tech user (minus names that are clearly other origins like Magic Bob, or Mutant Mike).
  • Magic – The Red Wizard or Mistress Allura. This is where you can bring in your vast powers of naming for fantasy characters (for those who come to CoH/V from fantasy games).

Perfect name… but it's used!

The important thing to note about names is that they have to be unique on the server (or across all servers… Not sure on that one). That means that if someone already thought of the cool name you want to use, you're out of luck.

A common way to deal with this is to use numbers or special characters to vary the name slightly. Examples:

  • Ravenclaw to Ravenc1aw (the 1 looks like an l in game)
  • Hotness to .Hotness (the period at the beginning makes it a different name. I've also seen periods at the front or in the middle of names).
  • RockSolid to Rock Solid (space between the words = new name)
  • Supa Fly to Supa_fly (underscore or dash is a common way to vary the name)
Some members of the Parallel Illusion Super Group
Some members of the Parallel Illusion Super Group

I once met a SG/VG where everyone seemed to have the same name. By using the capital "i", the lowercase "L", and the pipe character ("|"), they were able to make a nearly infinite variation on the name "Parallel Illusion" and have them all look like the same word. Note that the costumes were all identical as well to complete the picture. A very well organized group for sure.

Any special character used in a name makes it different than the name you couldn't get. Changing capitalization won't help you though. JackHammer and JACKHAMMER are the same as far as the game is concerned.

A better way to approach this is to stay with your original theme but use some creativity (and a thesaurus). Nightblade is taken? What about Blackblade? Darkblade? Sword of Darkness? Sword of Night? Blade of Night? Blade of Nox? Use different languages if you can and come up with something unique that still fits your theme (in Japanese, Nightblade could be "Yoruken").

Beware of copyrighted names

The lawsuit has the Devs feeling scared even though I think marvel didn't have a leg to stand on. Anyway, if you use anything that belongs to someone else especially if your character's costume resembles them, you run the risk of having both your costume and name generalized if caught.

Some knock-offs of real heroes
Some knock-offs of real heroes

For the record, the fact that Cryptic and NCSoft were forced to monitor and deal with this stuff is asinine. I can build Batman out of Legos, but does that mean that I'm going to get sued by DC or Lego? No. Like any intelligent company, they'll just say "thank you" for the publicity and move on. VCRs were confirmed as legal even though they could easily be used to pirate movies because they had a "substantial non-infringing use". The same is true for the CoH/V character creator. Just because if I have enough creativity and try hard enough, I can make a character look like someone or something else, doesn't mean that anything needs to be done about it.

Some very funny heroes that look like real people
Some very funny heroes that look like real people

I've never reported anyone and I never plan too. I'm very comfortable in the fact that my original costumes are better than a knockoff of some existing hero. But honestly, if someone wants to make a Baywatch version of "David Hasselhoff" as a hero, I'll let them enjoy themselves because that's just damned funny.

Anyway. Beware of having a character too close to something copyrighted by a big company. You may end up like this guy

Can't think of a name?

Even if you can't think of a name yourself, you can take what you do have and post in the BattleClinic.com forums and you'll get a bunch of good suggestions. .

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FTW

FTW is gamespeak for "For the win". It's another way of saying something is cool or awesome.

Circle of Thorns

Circle of Thorns is a cultist group of demon worshipers. Usually abbreviated because it takes too long to type the full thing.

Note that they are one of the most hated enemy types because many types of the CoT use status effect powers such as stuns, accuracy debuffs, holds, slows, etc.

If you're just starving for deep, detailed, information about the CoT, click the link below:

Archetype

Archetype is the choice of the type of hero/villain you will play. This determines your inherent toughness, power, and what Powersets will be available to you.

Origin

Origin refers to the method your hero/villain got their powers. Click the link for more details:

CoH/V

CoH/V is shorthand for "CoH or CoV" (or more simply, it means either City of Heroes, City of Villians or both)

Super Group/Villain Group

This is a group of heroes/villains who work together to build a secret base where they can build special items and such. Similar to what a guild would be in a different game I suppose.

Devs

Developers. The game designers.