What nickname does the heartless bounty hunter in my sci-fi campaign go by?

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In summary, the man playing darts is nicknamed Kneecap because he once killed five unarmed grunts with silverware. He tells the strangers that if they want to play, they need to join his table, or else they are not welcome. He also warns them that Shortstory is a dangerous man.
  • #1

DaveC426913

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I'm developing a bounty-hunter character for a sci-fi campaign. I'm am looking for a nickname (what others call him, not what he calls himself).

He wears a trenchcoat over his armour, and is never without a matchstick in his teeth, just like some gumshoe out of a film noir from days of yore.

But that image is shattered because it is impossible to ignore his defining feature: the charred crater-streaked starburst that spans the entire length and breadth of his chest and much of his four armoured limbs - all converging on the gaping, char-edged hole, dead centre of his left breast plate. It is mitigated by a half-inch thick bolted-on plate of raw steel, which - due to an armourer with a sense of either humour or cruelty - is vaguely shaped like a heart.

Rumours have spread wildly about how he got this perforation, perhaps sprinkled with grains of truth about of a treacherous turncoat wife and a stolen starfighter whose weapons are normally meant to put holes in other spaceships rather than hapless husbands caught on-foot in the open desert.

So he's picked up a bit of a reputation. Everyone in the bar is afraid of whispering to their agog comrades "Oh Jeez. That's the guy who got his heart shot off." They just call him "________".

...

Currently, I'm looking at well-known literary references to characters who have had their heart removed, but this history, backstory and story are fluid, so some nicknames from other inspirations might work on more than one level.The best I've come up with is Tinman.S1: "Oh Tanj. It's Tinman!"
S2: "Tinman?"
S1: "Got no heart. Let's skedaddle."

Roughly:
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  • #3
jedishrfu said:
Why not Matchstick or Starburst or Craterface?
Hm. But not really a lot of double-entendre or irony to work with there. I'm hoping that it will provide fertile ground for some seeds of drama about his reputation (as ruthless) as well as the relationship with the women who may become his nemesis over the story arc.
 
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  • #4
Pick one and keep writing the story. Don't get bogged down by a name your editor is likely to change.

Maybe something better will come to mind later.
 
  • #5
Billy Ray (Valentine) from Trading Places, if it is meant to be humorous.
Pumpkin from Pulp Fiction, if it shall carry failure.
Snake Plissken from Escape from L.A., if it shall be martial.

You can change them a bit to avoid copyright issues.
 
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  • #6
Captain Beefheart?...I guess you need to be of a certain age...
 
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  • #7
hutchphd said:
guess you need to be of a certain age.
Do people live that long?
 
  • #8
hutchphd said:
Captain Beefheart?...
Some wiki author is in LOVE with that guy and has a LOT of time on his hands.
 
  • #9
This is not the story you are looking for...

Word travels fast in this shithole of a town when your looking. The doorman had led us to the table in the dark corner, past the bullet ridden post that half concealed the view of anyone sitting there. Something about history in the making I vaguely recalled. Before we had had a chance to test the concoction, the stranger was right next to us before we knew he was there.
"You boys like darts? I'm going to have a game. You're either here or you're not here when I get back. Only invites get take up space at my table."
With that he turned and left, twisting his ass in my friends face, deliberately, causing annoyance, and as I could see blood rushing to his face and tensing of muscles.
"Hey buddy," I shot out, just before buddy was to make the last movement of his life, "try this out," waving my glass at him, " this horse piss is better than suckin on your sister." Buddy glared at me, but I could see the pulse on his neck was dying down."
"You're a jerk. Who is that jack of ...?"
"That's our man. Apparently he has some sympathy with our cause."
"Wha.. "
"We are still able to walk, aren't we."
Buddy took a sip of the drink, and grimaced with disgust, " Yeah, I think your right. May the blessed angelic soul of my sister rest in peace."
"Lookit, Kneecap will help us out for a price, .."
"Kneecap? I thought his name was ..."
"Short story, back in when he was still just a young kid, he kneecapped five grunts with silver ware, and a sixth through the heart. Ambushed him and his girlfriend in his parents house. Parents weren't home. It's they who they wanted. Wrong place, wrong time for the six."
"That's bullshit. Siverware against grunts. Grunts don't come unarmed."
"Well that's the story. Believe it or not. But, neither could anyone else. Belijus news if you want to look it up."
"Why the sixth through the heart."
"He ran. You'd run if you saw 5 of your buddies lying on the floor done in. So he ran. Got only 50 yards before a butter knife flying through the air pierced his heart. "
Buddy look perplexed. "and the girlfriend."
"Kneecap doesn't let harm come to those he cares about."
"Some kinda superhero then...
"Not quite. The sixth had two brothers lookin out for revenge. And they kinda got it, in a matter of speaking. Family is a matter of the heart as they say."

Before I could go on the stranger reappeared.
"You tough boys still here, eh. I guess you like the company." Motioning for another round, he pulled up a chair, sat and leaned back. " Troubles at home?" he quizzed.
 
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  • #10
jedishrfu said:
Pick one and keep writing the story. Don't get bogged down by a name your editor is likely to change.

Maybe something better will come to mind later.
I'm usually of the 'shut and write' school when it comes to questions of plot and narrative, but not with character names. They have their own mental gravity, emotional tone, and personal characteristics such if you change their name, you change their story.

I changed a character name on request about 200 pages into my last novel. Quite apart from the drudgery of the edit itself, the slightly different name just wasn't right and I killed her off soon after just so I didn't have the niggle of "that name is wrong" scratching at me as I wrote.

Get the nickname right before you go much further, @DaveC426913, because it's as much a fundamental attribute of your character as their sex and physicality and you will write differently for a different nickname.
 
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  • #11
"Harry Kari?" Sounds like a "Harry" to me...but, I'm a Dresden Files fan...YMMV.
 
  • #12
Vanadium 50 said:
Do people live that long?
That's a good point, @Vanadium 50. Any nod at a current social reference will seem contrived centuries upstream. It would be like us making a reference from the 1700s and then being surprised that nobody gets it!
 
  • #13
jedishrfu said:
Pick one and keep writing the story. Don't get bogged down by a name your editor is likely to change.

Maybe something better will come to mind later.

Melbourne Guy said:
That's a good point, @Vanadium 50. Any nod at a current social reference will seem contrived centuries upstream. It would be like us making a reference from the 1700s and then being surprised that nobody gets it!
But we do know all sorts of people from the 17th century. In fact, some of our strongest symbols go back millennia to Greek legends
 
  • #14
Melbourne Guy said:
I'm usually of the 'shut and write
It shouldn't matter much but this is for an RPG campaign, not a book.
 
  • #15
DaveC426913 said:
But we do know all sorts of people from the 17th century. In fact, some of our strongest symbols go back millennia to Greek legends
Agreed, but not so much cultural references of the kind suggested in some of the nicknames. Do you think the Kardashians will be nodded at in 2385, or whenever your RPG is set?

DaveC426913 said:
It shouldn't matter much but this is for an RPG campaign, not a book.
And that changes everything 🤣 In that case, ignore everything I've said, @DaveC426913, the expectations in this genre are different, amusing / ironic cultural references well used can generate chatter and are seen as sly humour.
 
  • #16
Ironheart
 
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  • #17
Melbourne Guy said:
Agreed, but not so much cultural references of the kind suggested in some of the nicknames. Do you think the Kardashians will be nodded at in 2385, or whenever your RPG is set?
Not the Kardashians, but others will. And history will determine who.
Shakespeare, any of dozes of classical musicians, painters, scientists and philosophers.
Much of our cultural references have roots in people hundreds - even thousands - of years dead.

If you fell into a coma and woke up centuries later, I think you'd find a lot more familiar references than you expect. It's not like anyone's going to forget Einstein, Newton, Einstein, Bach, Shakespeare, Da Vinci or Plato just because a few paltry centuries have passed.

Melbourne Guy said:
And that changes everything 🤣 In that case, ignore everything I've said, @DaveC426913, the expectations in this genre are different, amusing / ironic cultural references well used can generate chatter and are seen as sly humour.
Yeah. It's a little more forgiving. My audience are also my team.
 
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  • #18
fresh_42 said:
Valentine
Right, or maybe just "Val." I like that one.

Nicknames can be sarcastic (the three-hundred pound* guy is "Tiny"), or refer to a physical characteristic ("Joey Two Fingers").

*140 kilo; 21 stone
 
  • #20
Tinman, as you said, is an option. It works with him being armoured too.

Davy Jones has no heart in the pirates of the carribean movies, but I don't know if that's just their own creation rather than the actual myth. A quick google suggests the former!

"Romeo", because he lost his heart to a woman. Literally.

"Jovi". Shot through the heart...

"Bennett", he left his heart in san fransisco

The Grinch - they say he only survived because the shot missed his heart, because it's two sizes too small. Or perhaps his heart shrivelled but was repaired, so it genuinely is two sizes too small now.
 
  • #21
DaveC426913 said:
I'm developing a bounty-hunter character for a sci-fi campaign. I'm am looking for a nickname (what others call him, not what he calls himself).

He wears a trenchcoat over his armour, and is never without a matchstick in his teeth, just like some gumshoe out of a film noir from days of yore.
Bogie or Bogart.

Trench coat (20th C.) same-same Duster (19th C.).

"Duster, you SOB. You killed my brother!"
... extreme violence ...
"Yep. And now I've killed you!"
DaveC426913 said:
But that image is shattered because it is impossible to ignore his defining feature: the charred crater-streaked starburst that spans the entire length and breadth of his chest and much of his four armoured limbs - all converging on the gaping, char-edged hole, dead centre of his left breast plate. It is mitigated by a half-inch thick bolted-on plate of raw steel, which - due to an armourer with a sense of either humour or cruelty - is vaguely shaped like a heart.
...
Currently, I'm looking at well-known literary references to characters who have had their heart removed, but this history, backstory and story are fluid, so some nicknames from other inspirations might work on more than one level.The best I've come up with is Tinman.
No. Unless it is a play on Tiananmen as in Tiananmen Square.

Kurt as in Kurt Cobain "Heart Shaped Box".

Wyatt. It worked in "Westworld".
 
  • #22
Heartless.
Ferrus (as in Ferrum, or Iron).
 
  • #23
I have an ancestor named Fergus (Scots-Irish side of family)
 
  • #24
Its a cool name.
I've known a couple of Fergi.
 
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  • #25
Slightly off topic but by "Tinman" you all mean L. Frank Baum's character the Tin Woodsman?

AFAIK Tinman comes from the song by America.
"Oz never gave nothing to the Tinman, that he didn't already have."

The Tin Woodsman, despite his strength and ferocious axe, remains a model of rectitude and kindness in children's literature. He only killed in defense of weaker creatures, never for bounty.
 
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  • #26
Heh. Jovi. Shot through the heart
 
  • #28
Klystron said:
Slightly off topic but by "Tinman" you all mean L. Frank Baum's character the Tin Woodsman?

AFAIK Tinman comes from the song by America.
"Oz never gave nothing to the Tinman, that he didn't already have."

The Tin Woodsman, despite his strength and ferocious axe, remains a model of rectitude and kindness in children's literature. He only killed in defense of weaker creatures, never for bounty.

I don't recall the Tinman ever killing anyone.

https://oz.fandom.com/wiki/Tin_Woodman

They mention in the wiki that he was also known as Nick Chopper or the Tin Woodman or the "Emperor Nicholas III of the House of Chopper" .
 
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  • #29
The Tin Woodsman is also a really disturbing story. Summarised, his axe was cursed to keep cutting bits of him off, which he replaced with tin.

He later encounters a man made of all his own parts that he cut off.
 
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  • #30
There’s a beautiful 20 min movie on the Tin Woodman’s origins on YouTube

HEARTLESS The Story of the Tin Woodman
 
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  • #31
"The Ton Woodsman"
Now I'm imagining an immensely fat woodsman XD
 
  • #32
jedishrfu said:
I don't recall the Tinman ever killing anyone.
Perhaps I am conflating the Woodsman character from "Little Red Riding Hood" who saves Red from the Wolfe character using his mighty axe. I prefer SF to fantasy to this day.
jedishrfu said:
https://oz.fandom.com/wiki/Tin_Woodman

They mention in the wiki that he was also known as Nick Chopper or the Tin Woodman or the "Emperor Nicholas III of the House of Chopper" .
FTR I am not a Baum /Oz expert or fan. His books were long out of print when I was a child in Cupertino. I grew up reading SF author Robert Heinlein who in turn was a giant Oz fan. I mainly know Oz from movies and references in novels by later authors.

"Tinmen" was a popular term for salesmen and installers of metal and plastic siding for houses, also the name of a funny movie by Danny DeVito. Also was a joking term for kids needing breathing assistance --so-called 'iron lungs' -- in the hospital IP wards when I was a child during the 1950's polio epidemic.

Ambulatory polio kids often wore clunky leg braces that made us walk not unlike the character in the movie "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz". Nurses and therapists would (pretend to) "oil our joints" so we would move freely. Hence my request for disambiguation.

Now, I have grown to like the nickname Tinman for DaveC's hunter-killer character.
 

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