A Wiz By Any Other Name...
Feature

I got to thinking about personae names the other day. You know, it's another funny little aspect of the game. Many of us agonise over choosing a new name, or get unwholesomely attached to one, like “Tethys”. Jeez, you would think I’d come up with something new. It’s all quite pathological I’m sure.

So I decided to try a little research project. I gathered up all my courage (which is legendary) and MUDmailed all of our illustrious wizzes asking them if they would respond to three questions:

1. What’s the story behind your name?
2. Any other names you used in the past that have an interesting story behind them?
3. Any names you would rather forget? How come? (Could be yours or others.)

Imagine my surprise when not a single one FODded me for cluttering up wizzly mail boxes with impertinent nonsense from a mortal! In fact, I was a little overwhelmed by the response I received. Here is what they told me. I swear I didn’t make any of this up.

Many thanks to the wizzes, I hope everyone enjoys reading this as much as I did, and you have the advantage of not being taken to limbo! [Tethys conducted his interviews while he was still a mortal, not an almighty arch-wiz. --The ed.]

Tethys


Hester

Conference room.
You are situated in a fine, Edwardian-period conference room, its perfect
acoustics and lack of distractions being ideal for private, cosy chats.
(Hester the witch) is here.
(Hester the witch) asks "Have you ever read Nathaniel Hawthorne's 'The Scarlet
Letter'?".
*"never actually read it, heard of the story
(Hester the witch) says "It's classic American literature".
OK, Tethys the necromancer nods.
(Hester the witch) says "I don't know about Great Britain".
*"nor do I, I’m Canadian
(Hester the witch) says "Well, Hester Prynne a main character".
*"seamy tale of adultery and such
*(Hester the witch) says "Right".
OK, Tethys the necromancer tsks.
*(Hester the witch) smiles.
*(Hester the witch) says "Worse, it's set in Puritan New England".
You act as if Tethys has been to Boston
*zzz
ZZZzzz...
*(Hester the witch) laughs.
You have just been woken up!
(Hester the witch) says "So I had to wear a scarlet letter 'A'".
*" disgraceful treatment for a witch!
*(Hester the witch) says "Well, I carried my dignity throughout the course of
the novel".
(Hester the witch) says "Indeed, I was the one to admit myself".
*(Hester the witch) says "As opposed to my PREACHER lover".
*"btw, steer clear of Salem …
*"big old pile o lit brands, weird villagers, cant be a good sign for a witch
*(Hester the witch) smiles.
*(Hester the witch) says "Right. Of course".
(Hester the witch) says "Witches aren't too well-liked by Puritans".
*"what do they know?
*(Hester the witch) smiles.
*(Hester the witch) says "Right".
OK, Tethys the necromancer nods.
(Hester the witch) says "The character is quite honorable".
(Hester the witch) says "Well, I must be off".
*"ok, thanks a lot
*(Hester the witch) says "I'll tell you about some other names of mine, later".
(Hester the witch) says "Maybe I'll mail you".
*"sure,
*"so long then, thanks
*(Hester the witch) says "Of course".

Innocent

I started out on BL as JenWill, a variation of my real name, but I took so much from the teases (e.g., "Oh yes? What exactly will Jen do???") that I quickly started looking for a new name.

My kids, in Catholic school, were studying the Popes. Pope Innocent (actually, I think there were 3-4) were major manipulators one of which actually encouraged and sanctioned the Spanish Inquisition. The name seemed to fit BL perfectly: I was tortured, manipulated, killed. I honestly thought the name Innocent would bring fear and respect to the hearts of the killers. Alas, no one seemed to know their Catholic history <big sigh>. So....instead of being a major manipulating, cruel, torturing type person, I was quickly labelled sweet, loving, pure. I have no clue why!

I did have a second persona in my mortal days: Naivete. She was a slut of the worst kind; Innocent's complete opposite. She was so naughty with one Dragon wiz that she got him fodded by an arch. Unfortunately, with all her male admirers (I was the only female mortal on Dragon at the time! <wink>), she had little time to learn the game (MUD2 that is) so she never amounted to much in the game. Innocent was the intent, studious, dedicated player so it’s no wonder she was the one to make wiz.

Now I did have a killer persona but her name shall remain unknown. I never had enough time to really develop her personality and hope one day to have that time and have her name join in the annals of the great killers. So watch your back, Tethys! You never know when my schedule might lighten up! <big grin>

Innocent the White Witch----*

Panther

I was working in London for a private investment banker. His wife had given me a cigarette lighter in the shape of a panther's head and I had it sitting on the computer base. Part of my job was getting his entire enterprise on-line, so when I installed the first modem, was trying to find out if the damned thing was working, saw a tiny advertisement for something called "MUD2" with a local telephone number. So I called it, via modem. Connected, first try. It asked me what I wanted to call myself, noted the cigarette lighter and answered "Panther".

Richard

Hi, I'm trying to write an article for an upcoming issue of the Admiral bombows Chronicles on personae names.

That should be interesting!

1. What's the story behind your name?

It's my real-life name. As an arch-wiz, I find it more useful to have some reminder of reality when I play, so people (wizzes in particular) are aware that I do have some real-world powers over the game and am "not as other wizzes". I occasionally argue that I use my own name because I'm perfectly happy with who I am and don't need to role-play, but generally I only do that when I want to get someone's back up...

2. Any other names you used in the past that have an interesting story behind them?

Well there's POLLY, but this is a really long story. It harks back to the very early days of MUD, when I'd just taken over programming it from Roy and was fleshing it out and deciding what to do with it. I haven't ever told this in public before (you'll see why when you read it, it's a little manipulative) but I guess 20 years is a long enough period to exceed any statute of limitations...

When I took over programming, I had a clear vision of what I wanted MUD to be. I knew it had potential way beyond that of "normal" games. I knew that I could use it to provide people with a tool to explore their own identities, and to experiment with new traits of personality (didn't think I was that aware, huh?). I had done enough D&D-style role-playing to realise how this could liberate people. What I wanted to do was to give individuals that kind of freedom: to be whoever they wanted to be. I don't mean what passes for "role-playing" today, where people choose a destination (half-elf fighter/magic-user/thief) and then drive their character towards it; rather, I mean encouraging people to try out new things, to explore in multiple directions, and to reach destinations they hadn't even considered before.

Sorry this is all metaphor; it's just how I "see" it internally...You'll recognise the argument from some of my postings on the wiz BB. (umm, if I ever get there. --Tethys)

The reason I wanted to provide this was mainly because of my friends. The hacking community at Essex was strong and vibrant; there were some really nice people there, and we were all great friends. However, with no females whom we could treat as females (the few girls we knew were of the "honorary men" variety, ie. we didn't think of them as girls, we thought of them as people), most of us were desperately short on social skills. We didn't have the opportunity to build the necessary abilities, because we had no means to practice. The girls on campus were all far more sophisticated than us, and we felt it was just pointless attempting to hit on any of them: we didn't know what we were doing, they completely out-gunned us, and so we just suffered in silence. The topic was taboo.

This really angered me. I saw these decent, honest, likeable guys becoming more and more set in their defensive, insular ways. Nowadays, it would probably have some label like "nerd syndrome", but whatever, I saw I could do something about it. Through MUD, they could begin to free themselves from their self-imposed shackles - not in a sexual way, I hasten to add, but in the area of personal growth. If they could see themselves achieving things by behaving in ways they wouldn't do ordinarily, and which they maybe even liked, then this could equip them with the necessary means to do a similar job in real life. All they needed was for someone to show them what to do, and to let them know it was OK to do it.

The "OK to do it" part was where the manipulation came in. I realised that if I wanted to encourage people to explore their personalities in even a small, incremental way, they had to have "permission" from their peer group to do it. The easiest way to demonstrate it was OK would be to give a demonstration of an absolutely massive gulf between persona and player, and the best way to demonstrate that was to gender-switch; it may be a simple, Boolean flag, but its effects are anything but Boolean... Also, this being the late 1970s, I knew that simply offering a "sex: male or female" option wouldn't alone work: the default activity would have been for people not to cross genders, and to make disparaging remarks about the sexuality of anyone who did. This would have extended the rules of the group from the real world into the game, so we'd have been no better off.

When I first took over the programming of MUD, there was no gender in the game. All the characters were male. This was entirely due to Roy Trubshaw's rush to write as much of the core of the game as he could before he finished his final year at Essex University; he felt that gender could be added later, whereas things like communication had a higher priority. The fact that we had no female players (this was in a computing department in a UK University in the late 1970s: women were a scarce commodity) was not a contributing issue; Roy was, and is, strongly against blind prejudice of any kind.

So, I started work on a secondary character called "Polly", ostensibly named for a stereotypical parrot. If I just wanted a second persona to test the game (and it happened I DID want one anyway) then a parrot who just stood around and repeated what it was told was a reasonable enough approach. After a while, I announced that I was going to add gender to the game, and, because Polly was a female name, I'd make Polly the first female persona. Everyone knew it was me, and everyone knew I was male, but I had sufficient kudos from being the best hacker and the person who was writing MUD that they accepted it as OK. "If Richard is playing a female persona, well hey, maybe it might be fun to try it myself?". Thus, people began to act with a freedom in MUD that they couldn't have in real life. To this day, I remain rather proud of the fact that playing a character in a MUD with a gender different to one's own does not suggest anything about a person's sexuality, just one's readiness to spread one's wings and fly.
As for whether it helped, well, to be honest, it was too late to help my friends. I genuinely believe, though, that it did help players who came afterwards: it de-nerded a lot of them.

I'd like to emphasise that crossing gender was not done as a means in itself: I was attempting to show what role-playing was, and that it was OK; gender was just the mechanism I used to do it. The fact that researchers always write about crossing gender as if it was something amazingly special (whereas playing a 90-year-old ninja elf is something people have no trouble with) continues to bemuse me.
So now you know the story of Polly's birth...

3. Any names you would rather forget? How come? (could be yours or others)

No, I'm usually pleased with the names I use. The most annoying one was when I worked up a persona from deep undercover called CEZANNE, after the impressionist artist. I had the back story designed, and I'd reached necro undetected from a "complete newbie" start, then all of a sudden the Tate Gallery in London decides it's going to hold a Cezanne exhibition of national importance, with 71 Cezanne paintings from across the globe assembled in one place. Somebody went, button-holed my character in the game, and started asking questions about the difference in light and shade between the early paintings and the later ones where the brush is angled, and found out that I actually knew very little about Cezanne and was therefore likely to be an impostor.
I choose my mortal names more carefully these days...

Zedd

I've had several names in MUD over the years. Rather unadventurously, almost all of them have been taken from books I'd enjoyed reading at the time.

I originally made wiz with ALLANON on Essex MUD (a character from Terry Brook's _Shannara_ novels). This led to quite a few interesting conversations with people who assumed I was a recovering alcoholic -- rather amusing, since in fact I'm tee-total! At Essex MUD, the tradition was for wizzes to have two personas, a wizard and a witch, and my witch was called ADARA (from David Edding's _Belgariad_ series).

A few years ago, when I started playing MUD2 on IPlay, I found someone had already taken the name ALLANON, so I went to my number two name, ADARA, which in fact I used to make witch. Once I'd finished my wizrun, I discovered to my surprise and amusement that quite a few IPlay players (it was, after all, an American site) assumed that I was female too, not realising that older MUD players tended to switch genders at the drop of a hat.

To avoid further confusion, I changed my wiz name to ASTERIX; I've always been a fan of the Asterix cartoons, and happily, it hadn't yet been snapped up.

Sometime later, IPLAY closed down and I found a new home at Kesmai's MUD2 (which later moved to mud2.com). With a certain sense of deja-vu, I noticed that someone else had already taken ASTERIX, so I was forced to find yet another new name!

I decided this would be a good opportunity to go incognito for a while, so I settled on the name ZEDD (from Terry Goodkind's _Sword of Truth_ series). Unfortunately, this was a particularly ill-chosen pseudonym, since it is almost identical to my real-life name, EDDY. Consequently, most people who knew my real name assumed that (1) this was indeed me, and (2) I was obviously NOT playing incognito. Sigh...

My intention had been to switch to a "proper" name by the time I reached wiz at Kesmai, but in fact, when I got there, I discovered I'd grown quite attached to ZEDD, and so I kept it on. As a name, it's nice and short (always handy when you're talking to other wizzes!), easy to type (which suits me), and easy to remember -- what more could any wiz ask for?

Jillithe

To answer your questions...

1) My name came to me whilst I sat in the kingdom of MathClassium. I sat pondering Shakespeare and wondered what my name might be if I lived in Shakespearean times. "Jillithe" seemed logical. It is pronounced JILL-ITH. Anyone who asks me, or whom I overhear asking, "Jilly the what?" is subject to an instant FOD.

2) My main alter ego was Tarara. Tarara is my sister's cat's name. She (the cat) was in turn named after a part my sister played in the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, "Utopia Ltd.", that of Tarara, the Public Exploder. She ran around blowing stuff up. :) Tarara the cat and Tarara the mudder are/were rather quiet types, however. Tarara the mudder did have a little disagreement with the dragon once after it ate her 75k warlock.


As for other names, my friends may remember my string of Little Old Ladies.. Then there was one of my favourites, Tilex the perma-swordswoman :) Tilex was created for the sole purpose of annoying Mildew, the horrible evil creature. After a certain incident, Tilex took to bothering the thief as well. She also spent an entire reset inside the grandfather clock, once - an experience she recommends highly to anyone else!

3) Well, the persons most disliked by me in my mortal life were: Sepultura from Iplay (he's a wiz now, so is of course perfect, but back then he was rather nasty), some nasty person whose name started with an A whom I recall insulting at some length in the insults BB... go back and look for yourself. Then there was Prophet, who was just plain ANNOYING - I'd beat him up and he'd still goad me from the tearoom, calling me a coward because I had the gall to attack him when I had the advantage... I suppose I should have thrown away all of my wafers and weapons and gotten the sharks to chew on me a bit before fighting?... Lastly there was Mildew, everyone's favourite fungus, who just made me so MAD!

As for my own names - I was always perfect, why would I want to forget any of my names? :)

MacLeod

*Without warning, a rowdy party of Scots bum rush you from behind and knock you out. You awake in the place known as "Limbo".
Limbo.
Everything around you is a glowing white, and there are no walls you can focus on. You feel as if you are floating on air. You are. With fierce gusts of wind blowing through his long hair and his trenchcoat flapping about wildly, Macleod the Highlander wizard floats above you, glowing with violent blue energy carrying an ancient katana.
*Macleod the Highlander wizard says "Hiya.".
*Macleod the Highlander wizard smiles.
OK, Tethys the necromancer gasps.
*Macleod the Highlander wizard asks "You had some questions to ask me?".
*You hear the sounds of bagpipe music from the Highlands.....
"I did indeed your immortaltude
*Macleod the Highlander wizard asks "What were they again?".
*Macleod the Highlander wizard says "And I'll answer them.".
"First, whats the story behind your name?
*Macleod the Highlander wizard says "Well, Connor Macleod is from the movie Highlander and he is Immortal.".
OK, Tethys the necromancer nods.
*Macleod the Highlander wizard says "He gains power and knowledge by killing other Immortals and gets the Quickening from them.".
"*You hear the sounds of bagpipe music from the Highlands.....
*Macleod the Highlander wizard smiles.
"Sean Connery right?
Macleod the Highlander wizard says "Chris Lambert was Connor actually but Sean was in it.".
*"Mac killing folks!?
*Macleod the Highlander wizard says "Yup....I did plenty of that as a mortal.".
*Macleod the Highlander wizard says "So the points gathered from killing players is like my Quickening...of points that is.".
OK, Tethys the necromancer grins.
*Macleod the Highlander wizard asks "That good for the first question?".
"Sure, second one was, any other names you’ve had with interesting stories?
*Macleod the Highlander wizard says "Hmmmmm...".
*Macleod the Highlander wizard says "Cherrybomb was a good one.".
*Macleod the Highlander wizard says "Got that name after a song by Joan Jett.".
*Macleod the Highlander wizard says "But Billyjoel was more interesting than that one.".
*"big rock fan arentcha?
*Macleod the Highlander wizard snickers.
OK, Tethys the necromancer grins.
*"i think i recall a Billyjoel
OK, Tethys the necromancer snickers.
*Macleod the Highlander wizard says "Billyjoel was a hero when I besmited an annoying warlock named Yahni.".
*Macleod the Highlander wizard says "He challenged me to leave the tearoom and fight him at the rapids barehanded.".
"he was the warlock?
Macleod the Highlander wizard says "Yup. Warlock.".
*Macleod the Highlander wizard says "So I did, singing River of Dreams while going to the Rapids.".
*"and you got him?
*Macleod the Highlander wizard says "I killed him barehanded with 90/100 stam.".
*Macleod the Highlander wizard snickers.
*Macleod the Highlander wizard says "Became an instant champion.".
"who said there was no justice in the land?
*Macleod the Highlander wizard snickers.
*Macleod the Highlander wizard says "Anyway, I built Billy up and sung out loud giving hints of who he would kill and where by the song I sang.".
*Macleod the Highlander wizard says "River of dreams....Uptown Girl......Innocent man...".
*Macleod the Highlander wizard says "etc...".
*Macleod the Highlander wizard snickers.
"how did he die? disco?
*Macleod the Highlander wizard says "Video killed the radio star.".
*Macleod the Highlander wizard snickers.
OK, Tethys the necromancer grins.
*Macleod the Highlander wizard says "Actually he was killed while fighting a player name Brinkley a few or two ago.".
*Macleod the Highlander wizard says "Ironic as it may be.".
*Macleod the Highlander wizard snickers.
"OK, third one, any names you’d rather forget? Could be yours or others.
*Macleod the Highlander wizard says "Okay...shoot.".
"any names you’d rather forget? could be yours or others, and how come?
*Macleod the Highlander wizard says "hmmmm....".
*Macleod the Highlander wizard says "I guess mine in way.".
OK, Tethys the necromancer boggles.
*Macleod the Highlander wizard exclaims "When I became a mortal again, everyone was out to kill the wiz!".
"not EVERYone surely? ;)
*Macleod the Highlander wizard says "I still made it to mage in little under 2 weeks but man, was everyone after me.".
OK, Tethys the necromancer nods.
*Macleod the Highlander wizard says "That and anyone I ever killed or had a grudge with was on my shitlist.".
“I took a whack or two, with another char ;)
*Macleod the Highlander wizard says "Also been plenty of killer names I've had that I wish would go away.".
*Macleod the Highlander wizard smiles.
*Macleod the Highlander wizard says "But giving those away might compromise my safety.".
*Macleod the Highlander wizard snickers.
"fair enough
*Macleod the Highlander wizard asks "Any other questions?".
"that’s it, thanks much, I’m getting a ton of stuff, should be quite interesting
*Macleod the Highlander wizard asks "How many other wizzes answered so far?".
*"6 or 7
*Macleod the Highlander wizard asks "Which was the best one so far?".
*Macleod the Highlander wizard waves his FOD finger around.
*"richard
*Macleod the Highlander wizard snickers.
"good answer huh?
*Macleod the Highlander wizard says "Good enuf.".
*Macleod the Highlander wizard smiles.
*Macleod the Highlander wizard says "Back you go now.".
*Macleod the Highlander wizard has just given you a painful kick (119/120).
*Without warning, a rowdy party of Scots bum rush you from behind and knock you out. You awake in the place known as "rapids".
Rapids.
*It has started to rain.

Kyric

KYRIC is an anagram of my real name - RICKY.

LEOPARD is a name I used before and one I am known for... I'd rather forget it!

Fodrules

Hmm, I do have a little story, I guess:

I got the name Fodrules when I was playing on the old BT VAX many many years ago. I'm afraid to say I was playing drunk (something which is never a good idea - especially if you value your persona!) I'm afraid my memory fails me, but for some reason or other a wiz (an evil one, of course) fodded me.

I'm afraid, being drunk (and quite young) I didn't take this too well and came back on with a persona name which was mildly insulting (to the wiz.) You guessed it, fodded again! I tried a few more names with similar results, and ended up choosing Fodrules (FOD rules) This time I didn't get fodded, and the name stuck.

So, in answer to your question, my name is a statement of fact. In MUD, the FOD rules.

Tobias

I play under the name Tobias for two reasons, only one of which I'll reveal just now.

The apocryphal Book of Tobit (part of the Old Testament not accepted by the Jews as being of the Hebrew Scriptures) tells a most unusual romantic story. Tobias was the son of Tobit and Hannah. In 720 BC, when the Jews were deported by their conquerors to the Assyrian capital Nineveh, Tobit and his family were among them.

When asleep one evening Tobit became blind. He prayed for a long time for his eyesight to be restored. His prayers were finally answered through the adventures of his son Tobias. Tobias, a fisherman, was watched over by the archangel Raphael. One night Tobias landed a fish but was instructed by Raphael to keep its heart, liver and gall. The archangel led Tobias to Sarah, who was unmarried. Her previous seven husbands had been killed by a demon. Tobias married Sarah and drove out the demon by burning the fish's heart and liver on a incense fire in the bridal chamber. Tobias returned to his father and placed the gall on his father's eyes, which restored his sight.

When I was a child I had a picture of Tobias and Raphael in my room. Knowing that Tobias was an adventurer who was looked over by an "arch" (all be it an archangel!) I could hardly resist the name, especially with the mention of incense, chambers and demons!

I don't think that there are any names I would rather forget. The only name that I once wished I had never heard was "Carpetcraw". I first played MUD2 in the eighties when MUSE ran it on BT Vax in London. At that time I hooked up my home computer (a BBC "B", ah, fond memories..!) to the game with a modem borrowed from my school. I took the modem home every Friday evening, and returned it every Monday morning, before anyone noticed its absence.

As I approached my final months in the school's 6th year, I knew that the end of my time in The Land was close. I spent many a weekend hacking & slaying, reaching the level of warlock. On the last ever Sunday evening I finally changed level to mage! My first mage! Naturally there was much celebration. I delighted in having a fond memory to leave The Land with. After many congratulations in the tearoom my fellow mortals urged me forth to help with the icons one last time. As I passed the path outside the Gravedigger's cottage I was suddenly set upon! The blows came thick and fast; I couldn't type; I fumbled with useless spells; my stamina plummeted; I fled, but too late. The last I saw of The Land until 1996 were the words "Carpetcraw the mage has killed you.".

Trefle

Well are you sitting comfortably?

Trefle is a French word - meaning clover. It is also the closest meaning in French to "shamrock" which as we all know if the three leafed emblem of Ireland. The shamrock is a powerful plant that, in Christian theology, represents the Trinity - Three in One. However, the power of Three is known in many religions not least the Druidic culture in which Ireland's Celtic past is steeped. There are three faces of the Goddess the Celtic chief deity representing the Earth - the three faces are the Ancient Crone or Wisewoman, the Mother and the Maiden. There is also a darker fourth face that is less often mentioned even in Celtic lore - the Evil One - and the shamrock often was used to represent this trio that could sometimes be four as it too sometimes - though not often - is made up of four leaves.

In my first days stumbling around the Land with dreams of Immortality I chose the shamrock as my emblem and "Trefle" as my name - to reflect my Celtic roots and also the mystical power of Woman.
At the moment I attained Immortality I paid the price to the Evil One that I had known would be due - not that I knew what it would be. To that effect whenever the Land recycles and we are all reincarnated on the Wheel of Life I am born again as one of the many hued ones that you know as Trefle. This is represented to the mortals of the Land as a change of hair colour and eye colour but is a much deeper and sometimes darker change. Like the Goddess I too have a dark side and every so often a reset comes when Trefle is the Evil Witch with no care for life or justice or continuity.

Therefore while I am most often benevolent there are times when I will turn against all living things - and on those resets let all beware!


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