To name a character

28 March, 2008 at 9:32 pm (roleplaying) (, , , )

Name is always the hard part. Especially is searching for Victorian-era French names. Were anyone to know a source or appropriate names, I’d much appreciate if such could be shared.

For context, if such is desired, read these two posts by Thulen: 1, 2.

Character concept

An art dealer and thief living a normal (double) life with his family.

History

The illegitimate son of a French nobleman. Was accepted by his father (who was drunk or blackmailed or bribed or some such) as a family member, but not treated terribly well. Stole a few pieces of art from his family and traveled to England. Encountered and later married the daughter of a wealthy townsman with some artistic talent; has a child or three.

Modus operandi

The character is known as an art dealer with ways to get obscure items. He buys and sells as any trader. The obscure items come from certain contacts in France, though there are a few layers of people to ensure security. Extra income comes from an occasional art theft and typically selling the piece to France, where someone might actually buy it without getting policemen knocking on one’s door. An occasional English collector may also buy something stolen. These deals are never done in person.

Stealing a presumably valuable and well-guarded piece of art happens in few steps. First, the area is researched with as much accuracy as is seen necessary and practically possible. Second, the theft itself is done while masked and otherwise disguised. Normal clothes are stored somewhere nearby where they likely won’t be discovered. Third, assuming the person or institute stolen from is respectable, a work of relatively unknown artist may be left to replace the stolen one. Gameplay-wise, I am not terribly interested in lengthy planning scenes, so another solution, such as their near-complete lack or significant shortening, is preferable (as I and Thulen discussed in bus the other weekend).

For the purposes of this character, “art” consists of paintings, drawings, small sculptures, jewelry, and so forth. One should not be picky.

The family knows nothing about the illegal activities. The character would prefer it to remain this way. So, Thulen, if you are going to attack this aspect of the character, please let me affect the process somehow, if at all feasible. Otherwise it is likely to be just a random set-back and fall flat, like erasing Leon’s drawings in Like umbrella.

Aside

The purpose of the above section is to give Thulen an idea about how I think I will be playing my character, so that he can better prepare, if he desires so, and so that we will be on roughly the same page about the kinds of play I’d like to see. These are, of course, negotiable. Also: to give one clear point where my char can be poked for fun and profit.

Characterising

I’ll do this in terms of beliefs and instincts, just because I enjoy the format and find it both expressive and brief. Beliefs first. They tell about what I am potentially interested about in the character and about how I will likely play him. They are meant to be challenged.

  •  My father has no power outside France; I am safe here and will stay here.
  • My family thinks of me as honourable. I shall not let their trust down, for it would make them unhappy.
  • This one up for writing. If Thulen is cooperative and willing, “Stealing [plot-relevant] item will allow me to finally end the unlawful acquirings and live with no more deceit.”. Alternatively, when other characters are done, this one may be about one of them, is the player is interested.

And on to instincts. They tell about the character’s supposed behaviour is like and provide colour (detail, fluff, something to that effect). These are also flags: I want these to be relevant and apply in actual play. Up to negotiation, as always.

  • Always be courteous. (Some of this may occasionally be spoken in French).
  • If unmasked and among people, then act clumsy.
  • Always secure an exit. (That is, assuming no outstanding surprises, always knows at least one exit route that can be reached with only modicum of trouble, provided such exists.)

And on to the mechanics

I’m not quite confident enough with Thulen’s house system to deal with this stuf, as of yet. Thulen, we can handle this in person, through here or through other means.

1 Comment

  1. Consonant Dude said,

    Hello Tommi,

    When looking for historical names, a good resource is genealogy. A so-so substitute might be a phone book.

    Here’s a kickass, exhaustive website on names, genealogy and related things in France. It is very much in-depth. You can type names and find their origins and such. If you have difficulty navigating or need something in particular, let me know:

    http://www.notrefamille.com/

    Here’s a link from this site to the top 6000 surnames in France today: http://www.notrefamille.com/nom-de-famille-1/

    I am francophone. If you (or your GM) need some occasional pointers (specific sentences or such) I might be able to help occasionally. I am no historian but as I said on my blog profile, always willing to help translate tidbits for the fun of fellow gamers.

    I’ll check this blog entry for the next few days in case you need help.

    Good luck and take care!

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