Master Mines

We’re digging RPGs

Why the Name Neoborn Genesis Honor Blade?

Someone asked me why Neoborn Genesis Honor Blade.

Here’s the short explanation.  I thought is sounded cool.

In a longer explanation, I was reading about the various Robotech series and their original titles: Super Dimensional Fortress Macross and Genesis Climber Mospeida.  (Not sure if Mospeida is spelled right.)  I was also thinking about Neon Genesis Evangelion and started to realize there was a pattern.  Mecha anime titles largely seemed to be composed a few real words and a word that was utter nonsense (macross, mospedia, evangelion.)

So I got to thinking about what words I wanted and came across avalon and genesis.  Battle, honor, and blade soon followed.  Then it was merely a process of combining those words together to see which ones evoked the proper feeling.

I thought about Avalon Battle Blade, Genesis Battle Slave (slave being a slave both to battle and destiny, but it just seemed like a choice that would largely backfire.)  Also, I was missing the nonsense word.  Avalon Honor Blade and Avalon Honor Slave were also considered.  At one point, I thought I might just call it Boomers.

So I started thinking about NeoGenesis Avalon Battle Blade.  NeoGenesis didn’t seem right somehow.  In my mind genesis (birth of a universe) and born (birth of a human) seemed to make some amount of sense.  And before long, Neoborn was … born.

I’m interested in getting feedback on this naming scheme because I don’t think NGHB is going to make it to publication because it is too close to Neon Genesis Evangelion and admittedly I had NGE on my brain when I came up with NGHB.  I am looking for something which evocative of mecha badassery and would not mind suggestions at all.


March 3, 2008 - Posted by | Mecha


  1. This is purely my opinion, but I see three distinct problems with the name: 1) its nine syllables don’t trip off the tongue, 2) “neoborn” has issues, and 3) “Neoborn Genesis” *is* too close to Evangelion.

    In reverse order: here’s a quick (?) history of Neon Genesis Evangelion. The Japanese title is “Shin Seiki Evangelion.” “Evangelion” is a made-up word that’s been equated to “evangelist,” “messenger,” or “gospel.” (I’ve seen varying accounts.) “Shin” here means “new,” and “seiki” can mean “century” or “generation.” So it might be translated anything from “Gospel of the New Century” to “New Generation Evangelist.” The story is that the studio (possibly the director, Anno, but I forget) insisted the American version be called “Neon Genesis Evangelion.” WTF? (There are no nonsense words in the titles you reference, BTW – “Macross” referes to Macross Island, where the SDF lands, and “Mospeada” is an acronym for the Cyclone armor, if you check the Wikipedia entry.)

    Second, “neoborn” isn’t a word. The word is “newborn,” which admittedly sounds silly in this context, but “neoborn” seems deliberately obscure. “Avalon” is a bit sexy, depending on where you take it, so something like “New Avalon” could be cool.

    Third, four words and nine syllables just don’t sound quite right. Two of your three examples have three word titles, and there’s a lot of room there. The biggest stumbling block is probably “Neoborn,” since it isn’t a regular word. The trick to an anime-inspired title is that it sounds nonsensical until you are familiar with the show itself. “Evangelion” = name of mecha, “Super Dimensional Fortress” = ship, “Genesis Climber” = what the bad guys are basically up to. So figure out what your game is about, and come up with a cool name from there. Look at Ben Lehman’s “Bliss Stage” – meaningless without context, but perfect once you know what the game is about. You definitely have the tools. For my money, “slave” has some mileage – the mecha in the “Full Metal Panic” franchise are called “arm slaves” (or “AS”). And the word “robot” comes from words meaning “servitude”…

    Ultimately, here’s the real trick: all of the shows you reference are commonly referred to by one name (“Eva” or “Evangelion,” “Macross,” “Mospeada”). What one word refers to your game?

    Comment by Matthew Gandy | March 3, 2008 | Reply

  2. I’d love a short explanation of where “Avalon” came from. It’s neat, depending on how you use it, but it’s the one part that is a proper noun rather than a regular one.

    Comment by Matthew Gandy | March 3, 2008 | Reply

  3. Thanks Matt.

    I’m trying to address your points in order, so they may seem a little shotgunish.

    First, to explain my usage of “nonsense.” My thought there was that Macross and Mospeada are nonsense insofar as they would not exist without the fiction of the series. I think we’re in agreement, it’s all semantics. Made up might have been better.

    Your post made me have a thought: with “Super Dimensional Fortress = ship” even calling a large vessel a Super Dimensional Fortress instead of just ship I think is interesting and at some level follows the rules for three word titles. Super Fortress makes sense, though “Dimensional” only takes on meaning once your realize the ship can fold space.

    I realize the neoborn is word, but I think that it evokes newborn or something created or the start of an adventure and I like it. Most people just end up calling the game Neoborn, though when I try to figure out what the game will be called when I go to press…Neoborn is the first word to go.

    Avalon, to me, is one of those worlds that has multiple meanings, though usually paradise or heaven. I believe King Arthur’s court was sometimes called Avalon (though I may have picked that up from a StarGate episode) which always made me think of humans creating paradise on earth through their labors.

    Part of the reason I liked Avalon Battle Slave is that to me it evoked an idea of mecha pilots fighting to protect paradise and perhaps unable to enter because they are fighters.

    Still, ultimately the game has morphed away from the hardcore character arc game that it was (and that is largely a nod to Seiyuu…) to a game where mecha combat and the interactions between human and mecha are more important with combat being a very large part of that.

    So I’m open to suggestions as to what the game could be called.

    Comment by commondialog | March 3, 2008 | Reply

  4. If you’re iffy about “Neoborn” making it to print as a title, why not have that be the handy design codename for the project: “What are you working on right now?” “I’m designing Neoborn.” The full actual title can come to you later, unless you’re one of those freaks (like me) who need a title to move forward?

    Comment by Matthew Gandy | March 3, 2008 | Reply

  5. Here’s a thought. Maybe NGHB is a good idea because it is close to NGE in name. Anime fans will see the name and be drawn to look at it.

    Comment by orklord | March 5, 2008 | Reply

  6. I wonder if NGE’s lawyers will feel that way. 🙂

    I think the real issue, which is something that Matt and I touched on over GChat is that to me, NGHB is evocative not of my game but perhaps of a setting. “Neoborn Genesis” makes me think of cloning warrior troops.

    I need to take it back a level to where NGHB is now, which is less setting specific.

    Comment by commondialog | March 5, 2008 | Reply

  7. Chris, I say this with love: I have a shitload of settingless games. What makes yours worthwhile? Sell me on why I should pick up your settingless game, rather than, say, GURPS or PTA or FATE or Tri-Stat.

    In Mythender, I have a setting. I’m also intending to have a chapter telling you how to use the game without the setting I provide.

    I’ve already gone on before (I think) of why setting is good. I’ll be working on a settingless game with Paul in the future, but (at least from this end) I’ll be looking at setting as a vehicle to get people to check it out. Look at what Spirit of the Century did for FATE.

    Comment by Ryan Macklin | March 5, 2008 | Reply

  8. Chris, I think Ryan gets at the heart of what seems to be the problem with your game: what it’s about. If it’s a generic game, then you really need to bring in the options and analysis of your subject matter. (I say this as a guy working on a ‘generic’ game himself.) If the game is about mecha, focus on that. If it’s about a setting, marry that setting to your game mechanics.

    Comment by Matthew Gandy | March 6, 2008 | Reply

  9. Matt,

    I think my game has grown a lot since some of my earlier posts. A lot of the growth has come as I have put pen to paper. To answer Ryan’s question, I believe that I have done a lot to capture the options and analysis of the subject matter.

    I don’t think I need to tell one single story to make the game worthwhile. My goal is to really distill mecha anime into a game and present the rules for it. To me, NGHB is not settingless like GURPS is settingless. If anything its settingless like D&D is insofar as when you pick it up you know you’re going to be playing swords and sorcery. The shared imaginative space is already a bit predefined.

    With that being said, I think there needs to be some awesome to latch on to and right now the game will have somewhere between 2 and 5 settings to play in with a section similiar to Ryans on how to build your own rules.

    Comment by commondialog | March 6, 2008 | Reply

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