Newcomers to the Society all face the daunting prospect of choosing a persona name. While most novices usually have a definite idea of a time and place they would like to hale from, choosing a name appropriate to that time and place is often a difficult process.
Very frequently, a person with no persona name will use his or her mundane name until they have established a persona. This usually works since we all try to be courteous in our dealings with other gentles and it is considered rude to address someone as, “Hey you.” The exception to this, of course, is Lady Annoney whose name means “Hey you” in Japanese!
Because newcomers initially go by their mundane names, the mundane name often gets incorporated into the persona name. At the Kingdom of Ansteorra whose mundane name was John. At one of his first events he met another gentle who asked his name. “John,” he said. “Just plain John.”
“Ah,” said the gentle, “John the Plain.” The name stuck and since John lived on Salisbury Street he very barely became known as John the Plain of Salisbury!
In these days, a persona name must be documented as being in use at the time and place of a gentles persona. In the early days of the Society this wasn’t the case and as a result many long established members of the Society may have names which are not strictly speaking appropriate to their persona.
One of the persona names I find most interesting in its derivation is that of a Lady by the name of Nunyet. It seems she was asked If she had a persona name and she replied, “None yet.” The folk of her group took to calling her Nunyet and she rather liked the name so she kept it.
Another example of a name which would probably not pass muster today is Nerak. This persona name belongs to a Mistress of the Laurel currently residing in Gladenfeld and it was derived by taking the lady’s mundane name, Karen, and spelling it backwards. When Niels Erikson was considering a persona name he tried this trick but decided Sline sounded rather like an invertebrate life form.
Epithets are, of course, very period and many people have them: Gordon Blackwolf the Disrespectful, for instance. There were a trio of Vikings on the south shore of Gleann Abhann for whom I once came up with some very appropriate epithets. It started with Baron Ragnar Kaupmadr.
One day at fighters practice Baron Ragnar was demonstrating to a novice fighter a “bread and butter” shot known as the wrap shot. This particular shot is thrown facing your opponent, but the sword comes from behind, or in extreme cases on the side opposite your sword arm, comes around and hits his helm from behind. Baron Ragnar chose to demonstrate this shot on a convenient pine tree. The pine tree, unfortunately, was not as close to him as Ragnar thought and his shot missed the tree and hit the good Baron in the face. Since Ragnar wasn’t wearing his helm at the time, his shot broke his own nose.
I now ask you to fast forward to about a year and a half later. Lord Eryk Thurmansson was doing some woodworking, a hobby he had just recently taken up, and while using a band saw he accidently pushed his thumb into the saw blade. The cut was deep, requiring several stitches, but fortunately not serious.
Please fast forward again, about a month this time. I was doing my evening ablutions when I looked into the mirror and saw the lower right quadrant of my right eye had suddenly turned blood red! The diagnosis at the emergency room was that a small blood vessel in the white of my eye had burst, something that is frequently idiosyncratic, i.e. happens for no apparent reason, as was this case this time.)
I was reflecting on this curious happening a few days later when I decided that a good Viking epithet for me might be, Finn Blood-eye. Further reflection added Eryk Thumb-splitter and Ragnar Nose-breaker. While the epithets have the “we baaadd” flavor to typical Viking epithets, I did not press their usage. These epithets do afterall, reflect some of our less glorious moments.
This Vintage Tale was restored for your reading pleasure by Lady Bailey Rose, after it was lost in the terrible, horrible storm of AS40.