Thursday, October 4, 2012

In Tolerance

I normally name my characters some variation of 'Werewolf' in any game i play. I have been doing so for the past decade and a half at least. In games which feature multiple characters or an extension of the main character like the spaceship names in EVE or the Mabari hound in Dragon Age, i resort to the names of various mythological mutts and of course, the lycanthrope myths. Lycaon, Cain, Fenris and Cerberus would be my most common stand-ins.

Given that LoTRO is set in middle-earth and i did not want to pollute this most excellent alternate reality with my too-nicknamish name of 'Werwolfe', i used my normal stand-ins as character names. Then, when choosing the name for each character's henchman used in certain instances (skirmish soldiers, to the initiated) i decided to adopt the ironic twist of naming each character's faithful soldier after the deity which screws over his namesake in the original mythology.
Lycaion, for instance, is followed by a soldier named Zeus
Garmri by Tyr
Fennric by Thor
Cerberin by Orpheus (i thought Herakles would be too obvious)
- and so forth.

It was all well and good until tonight, while playing my captain, Cayin. I had already named his class pet 'Abel' and attempted to rename the skirmish pet 'Yahweh'.
I won't bore anyone with the obvious conclusion. Suffice it to say that i tried 'Vishnu' as well, just to verify the pattern. One cannot take such lordly names in vain in middle-earth, at least not when that imaginary real-estate is being parceled out by Warner Bros.

Of course, i could settle for renaming Cain and Abel's companion Seth, but it's the principle of the thing. Seth was not the guilty party, the overbearing celestial father figure pitting his sons against each other in displays of filial piety, waiting for one of them to crack and play the villain. Cain's sword of Damocles is none other than Yahweh.

There are two aspects to the problem that i can see at the moment.

Reductio ad absurdum - let's pull out all the stops and keep every delusion of every peyote-addled clown in human history holy. Every charlatan who ever used the illusion of the supernatural to wring obedience out of his fellow man shall henceforth be given veto rights over our power of speech. Let none take the holy names of Pan the goat-footed god, Ma'at, Quetzalcoatl or Dionysus in vain. If the billions of humans who currently have no fear of the wrath of da gud lawd Jehovah (or Vishnu) have no say, then the naysayers of every other faith can be just as wrong. Let's kow-tow to every drunken buffoon who insists his 0.30 blood alcohol delusions are real and deny each other the use of every mythology ever dreamt.

There's no Yahweh in middle earth! I have never, ever, and i mean even for a second seriously considered naming any of my LoTRO characters, their pets, items or recursively imaginary friends 'Iluvatar'. In middle-earth, Iluvatar is holy. When i enter the escapist fantasy of middle-earth as an elf, i agree to honor the lord Eru Iluvatar, the Valar and Maiar and would refuse to trivialize their names by principle. That's middle-earth.
In A Tale in the Desert, i would never have considered naming myself Anubis, even though it is a name i have used in other games (take for instance my dwarf champion Anubin in LoTRO) because my character lives that mythology.
If ever i happen to play a bible-based multiplayer game, i would extend the same courtesy to Jehovah, Jeebus, his coterie of thirteen sycophants and any relevant saints, angels, archangels, demi-angels and para-angels.

But i should hope that i can name my donkey Eru in that biblical mythology, and the name of Yahweh should carry no weight outside the imaginary world inhabited by his followers.

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