Saturday, January 30, 2016

A Nomenclature of Planets

In developing the campaign setting for Shards of Tomorrow, I am working on names for planets and other heavenly bodies. I want something that sounds both familiar and unusual, classic and yet offbeat. I think I've come up with a solution that checks all the boxes and fits my personality... Shakespeare!

The suns would be named after the main characters for a number of plays, with the planets and planet-like objects named after other characters from the plays. These are easy to remember, evoke the right feeling, and actually suggest some of the relationships between planets or their nature... for instance:

Prospero is the original system of the Confederacy, and was once the most settled and prosperous, but now is (largely) in ruin. The vast celestial sea connects the thousands of small fragments of what was once the planet Ariel. The planet Caliban is a wild planet of monstrous lifeforms, and home to the kobo. Miranda is a settled and colonized world, the new home of terrans after the destruction of Ariel, and the homeworld of the gnorom.

Romeo and Juliet are binary stars. Two of the largest planets, Montague and Capulet, are powerful trade worlds in competition with each other. Tybalt is a planet at war, barren and hot. Friar is a small planet of deeply religious philosophers, and homeworld to the nuaru.

Hamlet is a system in conflict. Ophelia is a watery world, home to the Trog. Laertes is a tempestuous planet. Polonius is a gas giant. Claudius II is the new homeworld to the Orak, who were moved there as a prison colony, but they rebelled and took the planet over.

Macbeth is a dark and backwards system of savage peoples. The small planets orbiting this relatively cold star, Banquo, Macduff, Duncan, all share the qualities of being generally inhospitable and barren, with a variety of challenging climates. Malcolm and Donalbain are more hospitable but relatively unsettled planets, with rich natural resources and pockets of civilization.

Othello was the system of the Orak, but it is now destroyed. It serves as the location of the Shadow's Rift, the black hole leading into the Void. Two planets orbit the black hole, Desdemona and Iago. Both are barren worlds teeming with dark forces. However, both also have the remains of valuable artifacts and relics of the times before buried deep underground.

See? It just all fits together so nicely. Shakespeare provided such a nice variety of characters and settings for his plays, so borrowing these provides instant variety and consistency to the planets. That, my friends, is what you call a win.