Sunday, February 12, 2017

Names

I moved out of my house about 8 months ago, first into a sublet and then into an actual apartment with a roommate. Ironically, my roommate and I now seem to have -less- time to do things than we did when we lived separately. I consider her an on-the-go sort of person, but during one conversation she said she was amazed at how busy I was, bouncing between two households and my job and helping out other friends.

One of the things I'm working on is getting books out of boxes and onto shelves. It's a long process, because I don't want to fill every wall with books (at least not yet), but it's nice. I'm rereading a lot of material, including the First Law trilogy.

In the world of the First Law books, the Northmen have a concept of Named Men. Named Men are, literally, well-known fighters with established reputations. They don't have titles, but people follow them, and they in turn strike up alliances with other Named Men, or serve under them as de facto warchiefs.

Black Dow, Dogman, Caul Shivers, Glam Golden, Rattleneck, Crummock-i-Phail, and Harding Grim are all prominent Named Men. The Bloody-Nine is prominent enough to have a band of Named Men - those he's defeated in combat, but spared - as his followers.

It's essentially a literal, and more evocative, reading of reaching Name Level in D&D. Characters become famous, or infamous, enough to become a Name and attract followers. Most Named Men are fighters, but Dogman and Harding Grim are probably rangers, and Forley the Weakest could be a thief. (Forley was sent against the Bloody Nine by a village that wanted to send a champion, but knew it was hopeless - so they sent their weakest.)

I enjoy the First Law books a lot, but the appeal is really in the characters, not the world. Fading magic, burgeoning science, and weird-Earth history mashup cultures don't do much for me unless they're really well played. Top-notch writing, though.

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