Friday, December 15, 2023

Seeking Alternatives

An adventurer by Zhu Bajiee

There are four "basic" human character classes in Secrets of sha-Arthan: the adept, the scion, the sorcerer, and the warrior. There's also a fifth class, which occupies a middle ground between the sorcerer and the warrior – a hybrid fighter/magic-user that I've dubbed the adventurer.

The truth of the matter is that I've never been completely satisfied with the name "adventurer." It's very generic and, more than that, its usage for a specific character class prevents my using it as a broad term for all classes, including the non-human ones. Consequently, I'm forever trying to come up with a better name, one that's actually evocative of what the class is, namely, a fighter/mage.

So, I'm turning to my readership to ask if you have any ideas. What would you call a character class of this sort? A coveted Grognardia No-Prize goes to anyone who comes up with a good alternative.

35 comments:

  1. I'd go with Wanderer or Rogue.
    If I was feeling whimsical I'd go with Jo-at, an in-setting term that notoriously describes persons with many interests but lacking the willpower to master any single subject

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    1. I must admit: I rather like jo-at, since it sounds "right" for the kind of setting sha-Arthan is. Plus, the little joke appeals to me.

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    2. Rogue is the equivalent in Tunnels and Trolls!

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  2. "Spellblade" (or some variant weapon of choice) is about as evocative as it gets, albeit a bit on the nose. If "jack of all trades" (translated to whatever languages) has the same cultural meaning in the setting, then "jack" is a perfectly acceptable and more subtle evocation of what a fighter-mage is. "Generalist" would be accurate but exceedingly dull.

    If you want to imply some of the footloose elements we associate with adventurer, then words like quester, seeker, wanderer, searcher, or sojourner could work.

    Or you could just abbreviate the class to venturer and reserve adventurer for all classes.

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  3. Esoterist, Cabalist, Arcanist, Occultist, Mystic, Paladin

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  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. I would stay well clear of words that Hasbro's legal staff might lay claim to.

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    2. I can't see the comment you were replying to, but... individual words including names aren't copyrightable, and trying to leverage a copyright into a monopoly on things that copyright does not is illegal and can result in legal penalties. WotC would be foolish to risk that to punish some random Internet commenter.

      Trademark is a different subject but it's hard to imagine how anything in the deleted comment might have infringed a trademark, unless they were pretending to be WotC.

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  5. arguably, this is what a paladin is. Or a Bard even. what would an arcane paladin be?

    how about a Vindicator?

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  6. How about "pankratiast"?

    A pankratiast was a practitioner of the ancient Greek martial art of pankration, which meant something like "all of power" or "all of force". ("Pan" was the Greek word for "all" while "kratos" meant "power" or "force".) Pankration incorporated both wrestling and boxing and, like the eastern martial arts, included a mental/spiritual component as well. The term "pankratiast" therefore seems appropriate for an all-around warrior type whose martial abilities extend beyond the physical world and into the metaphysical and mystical realms. Pankratiast also sounds exotic while having an actual, historical lineage.

    (And it isn't anyone's IP either.)

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  7. "Wanderer" perhaps? Though that's not really evocative of either fighter or magic user, except secondarily in that it evokes ronin or a gandalf-esque wizard type. Could work if society in the setting frowns on practicing either magic or violence without an authority's sponsorship, making the wanderer a pariah. "Pariah" could work as well if this rationale applies.

    "Journeyman" maybe? Could be used to evoke someone who's pursuing magic on their own, and so is not as advanced as the sorcerer?

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    1. Heh. That's the adopted name of a character over in the Grrl Power superhero webcomic, and therefore evokes some interesting images. As an extradimensional succubus cross-disciplinarian who does high-tech and magic and melee she actually fits the class concept moderately well, even if she's kind of bad at actually being a sex demon. By sex demon standards, anyway.

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  9. I have always wanted to see War Wizard used properly in a game book. 🧙‍♂️🧙‍♂️🧙‍♂️

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  10. Adventurer? That comes from the old Dungeon boardgame eh :)
    How about Warlock or Wyrd.

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  11. How about 'skald'? Egill SkallagrĂ­msson is often identified as a skald.

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  12. How about polymath? Monk might also be an option.

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  13. From Advanced Fighting Fantasy, we have Dungeoneer, Demi-Sorcerer and Star Pupil, to name but three.

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  14. 'Spellsword' is my preferred term for an arcane analogue to the Cleric in early D&D, given both the surface reading, and allusion to the 'sellsword' with its mercenary connotations.

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  15. I think you're going for something that more evokes the 'Adventurer', rather than specifically the 'Warrior-Wizard'. The class is proficient as a fighter and a magic-user more out of a spirit of "whatever skills I can pick-up and use to further my goals".
    In that vein, yeah, "Adventurer", or "Rogue", or "Grey Mouser", so maybe something like:
    Opportunist, or Freebooter. Although Opportunist sounds a bit generically slimy and Freebooter sounds distinctly "Medieval/Renaissance European".
    Have you considered coming-up with a word unique to sha-Arthan? I know you've done some language work on it, especially regarding place names. And your non-human classes are sha-Arthan names.
    Although such an approach might seem a little weird, at first, for those playing the game it would become natural and self-explanatory pretty quickly, I would imagine.

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  16. What's the sha-Arthan term for "murderhobo"?

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  17. Maybe "Seeker" - implies a sort of active, treasure-hunting wanderer who collects knowledge and skills rather than focusing on a single calling?

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  18. The word "brandish" comes to mind, a neologistic usage vaguely recalling both the sword and flame meanings of our Germanic word "brand", while also sounding a little exotic like a "dervish".

    Unfortunately, the savvy video gamer would easily know that I think of this because there is a reasonably successful series by that name.

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  19. The problem I have with Dabbler or Adventurer is that they don't invoke the specific idea of a hybrid of Fighting Man and Magic User. Spellblade sounds too specific, Warrior-Wizard too obvious. You want something that suggests a Magic User but not a dedicated Magic User.

    Conjurer comes to mind for a couple of reasons. Partly because one interpretation of Sorcerer is someone who summons spirits to do his bidding and Conjurer sounds like a lesser version of the same. Partly because of the old OD&D level titles where Conjurer is inferior to Sorcerer. Magician is another possibility - aside from the level title reference, Magician just sounds to me as less serious than Sorcerer. Enchanter might work as a Harold Shea reference.

    Some of it depends on exactly how the class relates to the Sorcerer - is this simply someone who isn't as dedicated as the Sorcerer? Or someone with a different relationship with magic?

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  20. Make up a sha-Arthan name, like ilu'Tharn or oth-Hathara, omm-Gann or ul'Tar and simply include the term "warrior-mage" in the description.

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  21. Some further thoughts about what a given class title might suggest about your Fighter/Magic User:

    Conjurer - This is a sorcerer from an inferior tradition - he learns sorcery at a slower pace as his training is less deep and thorough and he lacks skilled teachers. On the plus side he has more time to develop other talents. True sorcerers regard him as inferior in both skill and status.

    Magician - This character combines mystic and mundane knowledge. He is to the sorcerer as a combat medic to a doctor. He progresses more slowly simply because he is not as focused in mystic training as he is expected to help in fights and other mundane tasks. Sorcerers regard him as a fellow student albeit not as dedicated.

    Mystic - This class has an intuitive grasp of magic & needs little formal training. However, he progresses more slowly in mastery of magic since he is essentially self taught. The advantage is he need not devote himself to learning sorcery & can acquire other talents. Sorcerers regard him as a little suspect due to his lack of discipline.

    Rogue - This class is a bit disreputable & has acquired mystic knowledge in a haphazard fashion. He might be a common adventurer seeking an edge or an aristocratic who dabbles in the occult. Either way, he progresses more slowly in sorcery due to lack of formal training & focus, but he is superior in mundane abilities. Sorcerers regard him as a menace & thief of mystic knowledge.

    So I would decide what exactly the place of the class in the world and name accordingly.

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  22. Jack of all Trades (Master of None, tho ofttimes better than Master of One) or Dilettante ...or Bard!

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