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What do you do when your PC wants to name their Demon Snail Gary?

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  • What do you do when your PC wants to name their Demon Snail Gary?

    So what do you do when a PC wants to name a Demon Snail Gary? I want to give the players freedom to do as they choose, but this is a very borderline case. I mean names are always iffy, with a drastic steer clear of standard American names. I guess the PC being from Thedas, the Dragon Age Setting, may have heard the name Gary there, maybe.

    It just a very borderline situation, like when in Critical Role they name their castle Greyskull Keep, or their dragon Lockheed.

    Before I this in my first game I allowed a player to name their character Black Donald, a pirate in the west because he liked it as a seldom used name for the devil. But in the setting currently they are in a very Indian themed setting, with one PC from the realm, one From Thedas, and the rest from the local area.

    Where do you draw the lines with characters making pop culture references. I mean it certainly colors the situation of having a gigantic demon snail resembling a gross giant tongue with a shell made of wreckage when that snail shares the name of an overrated cartoons resident pet snail...


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  • #2
    There's nothing particularly wrong with "Gary" as a name, given its roots in older tongues where it basically meant "Spear."

    It's that they chose to make an immersion-breakingly blatant pop culture reference to a kids' cartoon that's the problem.

    Talk to your players and explain that you prefer to be a little more serious than that. Maybe ask if they can at least dress it up a little. "Garett" or "Garth" or "Gareth," perhaps?

    I'll admit to some similar past frustration in this field - I used to have a player who tried to just copy-paste in cast members from various shonen anime when making characters, from Natsu to Blackā˜†Star (yes, including the star; yes, every time), before I asked him to cut it out. Even then, I think he just got more subtle about it.
    Last edited by TheCountAlucard; 02-20-2017, 08:45 AM.

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    • #3
      Misread the title and thought this was about a PC named "Demon Snail Gary".
      I thought that would be a very evocative name for a character, actually *thoughtful*

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      • #4
        It sounds like you need to have a chat with your players about how serious to take the game. It appears to be a recurring point of friction, so I'd really suggest trying to get make your feelings on the matter clear and try to find a compromise that works for everyone.


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        • #5
          Being a demon, there is no reason it should have a local setting appropriate name.

          Seems a lot of people getting bent out of shape about what the player thinks as a cute name for his pet. It is short, easy to remember, and yes based on an American, kid's cartoon but so what.

          I have horrible time coming up with names, when pushed for a name I must come up with immediately then Bob the 'whatever' is born. The only Exalted character I ever played was 'The Sound of One Hand Clapping' only because he was martial arts based and I thing that is some kind of Buddhist saying or something.

          Now if they go with the whole Sponge Bob thing beyond a name of a snail then I might step in, but one name of one pet, I would not read a whole lot into it and just go with it. What is his characters name?


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          • #6
            Try to find a way to turn Gary into a badass acronym?

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            • #7
              ST's put a lot of effort into making a game feel real for the players, and it can be irksome when a player decides to kick the verisimilitude in the nuts. Generally, players aren't trying to be jerks, but often these real-world references distract people, or subtly shift the theme of the game in ways that frustrate the ST.

              I would just be upfront with them about your goals for the game, and what's appropriate in keeping with those goals. If the player just has problems coming up with names, there are plenty of name generators on the internet to help with that.

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              • #8
                Having a player blatantly using a pop-culture reference for something in my games is kinda like getting gently tapped in the boys. Annoying at first, but it eventually gets to the point where I (and usually, the other players at the table) are grinding our teeth in frustration/irritation.

                I tend to run pretty serious games, and so long as they are at least somewhat grounded in reality ("Gary" as a name I would have no problem with, so long as the character came from a quasi-Germanic culture, as the word "Gar" (Ger/Kar/Ker) is Old English for spear, as described above, and Germanic peoples tended to have names like that), they are alright by me. It is when references are blatant, and not in line with the tone and theme of the story, that I tend to get ..... "aggravated" for a lack of a better term.

                In the case described in the OP, I would first take them aside and talk to them about the tone and theme of the campaign. If they refused to change (or even consider change), I would ask the other players to bring it up at the table (if they haven't already). If that didn't work ....... it might be time for them to find a different game. They are just going to cause problems.

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                • #9
                  I tell my players no direct references to cartoons or anything else that would destroy the mood of the game. If they try anyway, I again tell them no.

                  In your case, I would definitely inform my player that it's rather upsetting that he has such a poor opinion of the game that he believes it would enhanced by throwing in a running gag referring to Spongebob Squarepants of all things.

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                  • #10
                    First I'll agree I was one who from the title thought the player wanted their PC to be named "Demon Snail Gary."

                    As a lot of others have said just tell them it's a bit too blatant for your taste and ask if they'd modify it. Hell give it another name that's longer and more complex. You know Garieveialous sel Nethenrial mest pretoliano. With the pc just going, "Right I can't remember most of that and I'm not sure I can pronounce some of that, so I'm gonna say Gary for short."

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                    • #11
                      The demon snail already has a name, and it likes it's name and it does not appreciate being called Gary, which it finds condescending and diminutive. It visibly winces every time the PC calls it Gary and after a while it starts referring to the sorcerer by an even more insulting name. It also find a motivation to find loopholes in the PCs commands to make their life a bit more difficult, and when the demon finally returns to Malfeas it spreads the word about this annoying and disrespectful would-be-demon summoner. Hijinks ensure.


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                      • #12
                        Seems like what the ST wants for theme/tone and what the player enjoys for theme/tone are different. It happens. The most boringly reasonable solution is to simply talk to the player and lay out your assumptions/expectations for the kind of game you want to do. Being clear up front helps everyone to understand what kind of a game you're intending to run and presumably helps them find their fun in there.

                        The advantage of the reasonable, boring solution is that it looks less arbitrary and will come across to your player more like "This is what this world is like for me" and less like "I enjoy shutting your ideas and tastes down".

                        It's always tempting to use IC events to motivate OOC behavior. I've been gaming since the 1990s and I still can't think of a single instance where that didn't make someone angry. Just be clear and up front and you'll avoid a lot of pain.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Epiphany View Post
                          Seems like what the ST wants for theme/tone and what the player enjoys for theme/tone are different. It happens. The most boringly reasonable solution is to simply talk to the player and lay out your assumptions/expectations for the kind of game you want to do. Being clear up front helps everyone to understand what kind of a game you're intending to run and presumably helps them find their fun in there.

                          The advantage of the reasonable, boring solution is that it looks less arbitrary and will come across to your player more like "This is what this world is like for me" and less like "I enjoy shutting your ideas and tastes down".

                          It's always tempting to use IC events to motivate OOC behavior. I've been gaming since the 1990s and I still can't think of a single instance where that didn't make someone angry. Just be clear and up front and you'll avoid a lot of pain.
                          Well, sure, if you want to be reasonable about it...


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                          "If only I had an enemy bigger than my apathy, I could have won" - I gave you all, Mumford & Sons

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                          • #14
                            I know, right? That way lies madness!

                            Clearly, 'Gary' was the nickname of a Third Circle Demon's favorite Solar toy thousands of years ago and it'll be a death sentence on the snail if word gets back to the demon realm, so the snail can urgently beg the player to spare it's inevitable destruction by calling it something else.

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                            • #15
                              Its a borderline thing, because I guess it wouldn't be inconceivable for this to be a name, I mean a short name like Gary could made up by many cultures, and Thedas does have access to such names even if Gary would be rare. I don't mind doing what Avatar does, you know when they had a character named Ju Di, and I have used things like Chocobos and Chocobo Eaters because I feel they were setting appropriate. But I didn't think anyone in my group even liked the show spongebob, and I think the player was just unoriginal. But I'll at least make them play it seriously, like their character thought it was a nice name. The idea was they wanted to keep this snail as a pet since they actually screwed up the Demon Summoning and it is unbound on Creation, and has a very simple animalistic intelligence and no name since it is a 1st Circle Demon. Giving it a name allows them to help it grow into an individual and if sent back to hell allows them to resummon it.


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