Necessary Things: Reverb Gamers #7 & 8

REVERB GAMERS 2012, #7: How do you pick names for your characters? (Courtesy of Atlas Games.)

I’m influenced quite a bit by the setting–if there’s a clear analog to a time period or ethnic culture, I like to find a name that fits in the landscape. Just Google “baby names” and you’ll find all sorts of fantastic lists, often with meanings attached; www.babyhold.com has one of my favorites, with lots of ethnic names to choose from. I also read a lot, and books are fantastic sources of names. You might even keep a list of your own, with your gaming supplies, so you can remember the nifty names you come across in odd places. I’ve been inspired by names I found in alumni mailings, historical documents, garden centers, news reports, even on menus (I once had a pulp character named Wasabi Delmonico, after a steak description at a trendy bar and grill!).

And in case you’re the kind who does keep lists, here’s an incomplete list of character names I’ve used over the years (in no particular order): Selwyn, Rebekah, Julia, Rosemary, Margaret (aka Maggie the Book), Caledonia (Callie, for short), Bethan, Mercia, Anthea, Amara, Constance, Helga (the Wonder Nurse), Astrid, Marilla, Serafina, Lysimachia (Lysa for short; it’s the Latin name for Loosestrife, which is awesome for a fairy name), Stella Cordaric, Twink (the halfling barbarian with a soup pot for a helmet), and Freya. I know I’ll kick myself for the ones I’m forgetting, but if any of you dear readers can remember other characters I’ve played over the years, feel free to post names in comments!

REVERB GAMERS 2012, #8: What’s the one gaming accessory (lucky dice, soundtrack, etc.) you just can’t do without? Why? (Courtesy of Atlas Games.)

I’m terrible at sitting still; I have Busy Hands ™. So my essential gaming accessory is a craft to work on while the game’s in progress. Over the years, I’ve crocheted, knitted, cross-stitched, and made jewelry at the gaming table; I do this while visiting, watching movies, even during church services (thank the gods for circular bamboo knitting needles; no danger of a mortifying clatter when you accidentally drop your knitting). This is what I’m working on at the moment; you can see examples of my jewelry here.

Some people–even other women–this takes aback. From the reactions I’ve gotten from some men at convention games as I took out my tools and fibers, you’d think I’d just whipped out a breast instead. Somehow, it seems, my crafting was an unwanted feminine intrusion into their macho adventure space.┬áIn other groups, it was the norm. The battlemat was littered with scraps of embroidery floss, yarn ends, wire snippings, and stray seed beads. All the women around the table were industriously working away on their blankets, quilts, or wall hangings, stopping only to roll a handful of dice and briskly announce, “I kill it.” It was like the awesomest kind of quilting bee-slash-special forces raid.

I know that not everyone can deal with someone efficiently multi-tasking in their presence; it looks to them like I’m not paying attention as they play their part of the scene. What I try to make them understand is that I’m actually far less likely to stay focused on the action if my hands are busy. That physical occupation calms the restless, seeking portion of my mind, allowing the creative part to fully concentrate in the mental task at hand. I’d be curious to know how many other gamers on the ASD spectrum function better while stimming. I’m fortunate that my stim of choice masks what it’s doing for me in a sensory capacity. And when I’m done stimming, I have pretty things to show for it.

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