Star Trek: Stargazer
DVD Extra - The Graduates
Jason Brown, Game Master:
…yeah, character names are often a pain. They can be an exercise in frustration or futility.
Naming any character can be like pulling teeth. You want to evoke something. With naming sci-fi & fantasy characters, you are trying to open the alien mind while not going too far into the deep end. The one thing you don’t want to evoke is laughs!
A seriously alien idea would be to make aliens with names that are just a bunch of vowels: “Iiiaeei” – but these names start sounding like something out of Lovecraft or just what someone would scream when surprised.
In the case of The Graduates, I got a wild inspiration. I’m a fan of Law & Order, especially SVU. And since I’m male and heterosexual, this means I am attracted to Mariska Hargitay.
Her name, Romanian in origin, already sounds like something out of sci-fi to an American ear. I snipped off the first bit of her last name for the family name, Harga. I first named Tay Harga, the Governor Executive, by simply switching around some syllables.
I knew Tay would have a brother. Mariska plays Olivia Benson on SVU, Olivia’s partner on the show is named Elliot. Removing one or two letters from a name to make them more alien sounding is an old trick and Ellit Harga was born.
When I thought about a foil to these characters, I considered a third brother. But, to be entirely in opposition, a sister seemed perfect. Change Mariska to Marizka and you have the sister. I went out of my way during the game to not say “Marizka Harga” – but eventually the group was going to figure it out.
Just a week or so after the game where I introduced these characters, I started reading a Star Trek novel for inspiration. One of the characters was named Morgen – you can see what I mean about switching letters. He’s this serious warrior figure who can stand toe-to-toe with a Klingon and is being crowned king of his people – which is all well and good. Unfortunately, he held the Starfleet rank of Captain. Every time they introduced him as Captain Morgen I pictured him standing with his knee up, foot planted on a chest, handing someone a bottle of rum. I give up!