Where The Adventurer Conqueror Name Came From

I am working on an email interview with Zachary of RPG Blog II, and one of his questions was “where did the name come from”. The answer is way too long for an interview, but I thought it might be of interest to folks here. When I went into my archives to see how we settled on the name, it turned out that the way that the way I wrote about this process at EN World is kind of wrong:

I wanted commas, but was told it made it sound like a firm of lawyers. Stabbem, Lootem, and Flee. Let's not even get into the effort necessary to prevent people from abbreviating it "ACK" like Bill the Cat expelling a hairball. Names are really hard - if every kid in the world had to have a totally unique name there'd be a lot of really tough scrappers out there a la "A Boy Named Sue".
Things I found out were untrue about this:
  • Originally we all liked it with the comma. I continued trying to do it this way longer than the rest, because I spend a lot of time adding the Oxford comma to things I edit in my day job; eventually the legal firm critique convinced me.
  • Alex originally thought that the "ACK" acronym was a plus. I think eventual unhappiness with this acronym explains why, in one of those backward steps that characterize any development process, by April 8 we had decided that Fighter, Conqueror, King was the way to go.
  • We gave serious consideration to "FCK" even after it occurred to us how the acronym would be pronounced; I think this is akin to the urge to give traffic cops the finger, or to jump when on top of a tall building. The convincing argument to the contrary for this and another leading candidate, Hero Conqueror King ("hack"), was that we didn't want to imply that characters were necessarily fighters, or heroes.
  • The decision to add "System", so that it could be abbreviated "ACKS" and pronounced "axe" as in "I Hit It With My...", came during a playtest at the home of GeekDad Michael Harrison and GeekMom Natania Barron, who put the final nail in Bill the Cat's candidacy.
The main thing that's true is that names are really hard. My email archaeology turned up extensive proof of same; check it out at the risk of being eternally sad that our game wasn't called King Rat-Killer, Lord of the Door Smashing.
On March 22, 2011, Greg wrote:
So after a search, it seems we threw a lot of names out there. Here are some of my favorites along with some new suggestions:
  • Sagas of the Shining Kingdoms
  • Exarch of the Empire
  • Campaigns of Adventure
  • Birth of a New Empire
  • Kingdoms of Glory
  • Paved with Gold
  • Hallowed God-King
  • Emperors, Elf-Lords, Dwarven Magnates
  • Emperor Goblin-Slayer
  • Forged House
Tavis:
Only "Birth of a New Empire" seems to have the zero-to-hero feel, and I'm not sure we'll deliver on its premise. What about "From Greed to Glory" as a way of pointing at the way that PCs start out with venal motivations and eventually wind up caring about things progressively larger than themselves?
Greg:
I like the sentiment, but From Greed to Glory feels like a movie about Wall Street. I was trying to get at something with the goblin-slayer name, that you start from distasteful tasks before elevating into caring about more. I didn't nail it. What about King Rat-Killer, Lord of the Door Smashing? We could also take ideas from our campaigns a la Gygax & Arneson. The Bloody Band, Founding the Bloodlands, Settlers of the Borderlands, Aura is Crumbling ...
Tavis:
"Emperor of Everything, Starting from Nothing"? EoE:SfN the RPG is in the honored tradition of LotFP:WFRPG...
Alex:
Here's a general survey of general categories of RPG names:
  • Acronyms: GURPS, CORPS, OSRIC, GORE, FUDGE
  • Single Words: Aftermath, Champions, Recon
  • Compound Words: Shadowrun, Stormbringer, RuneQuest, Battletech, Gangbusters, Swordbearer, Warhammer, Shatterzone, Greyhawk, Blackmoor
  • Two Word Phrases: Ars Magica, Top Secret, Gamma World, Star Frontiers, Hero Wars, Iron Heroes, Savage Worlds, Eldritch Wizardry, Boothill, Morrow Project, Lejendary Adventures, Ninja Burger, Nicotine Girls, Dragon Age
  • Two Words with Alliteration and Ampersand: Dungeons & Dragons, Mutants & Masterminds, Tunnels & Trolls, Castles & Crusaders, Villains & Vigilantes, Powers & Perils
  • Two Words with Ampersand: Chivalry & Sorcery, Ninjas & Superspies
  • Word Plus Colon: Vampire The Masquerade, Mage The Ascension, etc.
  • Word with Number: Twilight 2000, Space 1889, Tribes 8
  • Short Phrases: Riddle of Steel, World of Darkness, After the Bomb, Call of Cthulhu, Over the Edge
  • Long Phrases: Big Eyes Small Mouth, Amber Diceless Roleplaying, My Life With Master
  • Weird Places: Arduin, Jorune, Talislanta,
With this in mind here are a bunch of categorized ideas:
  • Single Words: Exemplar, Conqueror, Usuper, Dominion, Overlord, Glaive, Catapult
  • Compound Words: Swordmaster, Bladedancer, Spellblade, Swordpoint, Spearhead, Shieldbearer, Crownbearer, Battleaxe, Warlord, Goblin-Slayer, Shadowguard, Bloodshed, Crownseeker
  • Two Word Phrases: War Sword, Sword's Edge. [I think there are probably a lot of great names here we haven't thought of yet]
  • Alliteration: Swords & Sagas, Exarchs & Empires, Emperors & Elf-Lords, Bloodshed & Battle
  • Short Phrases: Feeder of Crows, For the Crown, For the Throne, Sword in Hand*, Blood of Heroes, Sword and Eagle, Sword and Crown, Blood and Throne
  • Long Phrases: Jeweled Thrones of the Earth, Campaigns of Adventure, Birth of a New Empire, Sagas of the Shining Kingdoms, Exarch of the Empire, Emperor of Everything, Adventure in Distant Lands; Cleric, Crown, and Conquest; Hero, Conqueror, King; Adventurer Conqueror King. Usurpers of the Unearth; From Adventurer to King, An Age Undreamed Of, The Price of a Crown, Throne by Blood, Feasting of Swords, Exultation of Battle, Clangor of Swords; Torch, Tower and Throne
Of these my favorites are
  • Feeder of Crows (just sounds cool! And the cover image and logo instantly pop to mind. Suggests the rise to power through fighting, and the wages of heroism being death)
  • An Age Undreamed Of (a Conan reference)
  • Trample the Jeweled Thrones (a Conan reference)
  • Adventurer, Conqueror, King (it says what it's all about, and it has an awesome old school acronym - ACK!)
  • Hero, Conqueror, King (as above, if we don't like ACK)
  • Torch, Tower, and Throne (simple TTT acronym, and it's suggestive of the three phases of an adventurers life)
Greg and I found that Adventurer, Conqueror, King leaped out at us and on March 22 we all decided to go with that. However, by April 8 we'd slipped back to Fighter, Conqueror, King; the decision about the acronym is what kept us twisting for several more weeks. I'm glad to see Zachary calls it a "snazzy title"!
 

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