I ran the first of my example “five shot revolver” scenarios for my gaming group, but started with the second of the one-shot adventures: a minotaur-led slaver caravan that the PC’s stumble across.
The players surprised me by opting to role-play through two combat encounters; they bluffed their way through one and paid off the monster in another. That shortened the gameplay down a bit, but that wasn’t really a problem. The pacing was good, it took the appropriate length of time, and the players felt like they had completed an “episode” that was still part of something larger. It was revealed that the slaves were refugees fleeing an ettin terrorizing their village (one-shot #1) and were being delivered to a Lamia (one-shot #5). It’ll be interesting to see if the players seek out the other plots or not.
So one thing I decided to do was name the minotaur “Black Angus” which a couple of the players didn’t immediately connect to the type of cow in the real world. The lamia is also called “Lady Ocelot,” which lent itself to an immediate connection. These seems corny, but I’m experimenting with the idea that villains and other NPC’s who have slight or not-so-slight subliminal connections to their identity are easier to remember than the more generic fantasy-named characters. This is true in other genres: Darth Vader was easy to associate with the black-hued villain because he name sounded “dark.” Thulsa Doom had “doom” in his name, for Pete’s sake. Actually a lot of the Sith Lords had pretty unsubtle names: Darth Maul, Darth Tyrannus, etc. So rather than just call them Lythraxus or something similarly boring, I thought I’d try to be a little less original without hopefully succumbing to sounding cartoony.
How do you name your NPC’s? Comments welcome.