1. Welcome to the Fantasy Writing Forums. Register Now to join us.

Using real names for chemical weapons?

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Amanita, Dec 16, 2012.

  1. Amanita

    Amanita Maester

    714
    127
    43
    Probably, no one else will have this problem on a fantasy-writing forum but I'd still like to get your opinions.
    Do you think it's better to use real or made-up names for chemical warfare agents in a fantasy story set in an alternate world where trains, cars, computers and mobile phones are common.
    Making names up would probably be the less offensive way but it would also require unnecessary explanation. At the moment, it's only for a conversation between the characters where they're discussing if they can protect themselves with their elemental powers or not.
    For the elements, I've stayed with real names to avoid confusion, dyes, pesticides etc have made-up names. I didn't want to get into trouble with any company there.
     
  2. Gurkhal

    Gurkhal Auror

    1,072
    295
    83
    It depends on. If you have made a lot of new names for all manner of different thing, like cars are autocarriages, then I would make some new names. However if you have primarily used our world's names for things, like calling a car a car, then i would probably not make up any new names for these weapons.
     
  3. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

    1,824
    714
    113
    Hi,

    As above I think. But don't forget that most chemicals have at least two names - the chemical name, which may or may not be an actual formula, and the trade name. Round Up for example is a trade name, Glyphosate is the chemical name for the weed killer. Also remember that chemicals come in classes. For example Organochlorines and organophosphates are two classes of pesticide.

    My advice, think of the toxin you want to use, then research it. Use the common chemical name or better yet the class, and avoid actual trade names.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  4. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

    1,474
    434
    83
    On the other hand, I think a variation of the Rule of Cool is that when you create a specific kind of power, it's cooler if you make it your own with its own name and a few of its own features and history, taking a moment to introduce them. You may not rename the idea of "cars," but you probably have your own names for the world's makes of them, especially what the hero drives and why it's faster or tougher than most things. And it doesn't take much effort to look at lists of real weapons and create something similar to the first three you find rather than quoting one. If your hero doesn't drive a "Ford," he should he really be trying to ward of "VX gas" when "RaspV" would be so easy to write?
     
  5. Amanita

    Amanita Maester

    714
    127
    43
    Yes, I'm using the word "car" but I've made up brand names for various purposes. The internet will probably get another name but I haven't really mentioned it yet, because the main character doing the world's equivalent of a Google search to get her information wouldn't be very interesting to read. ;)
     
  6. RTGerardson

    RTGerardson Acolyte

    9
    0
    1
    I'd say that if you were using chemical names, just use those that already exist. If you are going to use names for certain things (like Zyklon-B, Sarin, abbreviations like VX), I would suggest you make up your own. Apart from that, you might opt to give them names based off their function, or tie them with the companies that produce them. On the whole, like worldwalker said, you would probably be best off continuing the direction you are going with different car brand names and an alternate search engine.
     
  7. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

    4,369
    947
    113
    Not to highjack the thread, but on a related subject...

    I keep wanting to use the word "rocketed." Is it too anachronistic for a medievel fantasy setting?
     
  8. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    11,294
    3,699
    413
    I wouldn't have a problem with it in the narrative itself. You are, after all, using modern English to communicate your story to modern readers. It may look out of place in dialogue if the character has no in-world reference to a rocket.
     
    BWFoster78 likes this.
  9. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

    1,474
    434
    83
    Have to disagree with Steerpike. Language is all a matter of degrees, of course, but my 2 cents is that even in narrative this one comes too close to calling up a specific image that's jarring.

    (Unless you've established that this is a "Europe that trades with China" or otherwise has its alchemists that have made basic rockets. It worked for Tolkien. :))
     
  10. Sheilawisz

    Sheilawisz Queen of Titania Moderator

    3,456
    1,230
    163
    Amanita, you should keep using the real-world names for chemical elements in your worlds... but when you talk about complex substances like many chemical weapons are, I would suggest to create new and scary-sounding names for them.

    Then, you can give clues and descriptions of the weapons in question so the readers can try to guess what they are (especially if they like chemistry!) that could be fun, and I am sure that I would try to guess what Fallarun really is if enough clues are given about its properties =)

    The name Sarin is not as scary as the name Tabun, so you need to come up with some original and scary-sounding names for the chemical weapons that appear in your Fantasy world.
     
  11. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

    4,369
    947
    113
    You're probably right. I'll just have to find another synonym.
     
  12. SeverinR

    SeverinR Vala

    3,531
    535
    113
    RespV might be better for a breathed poison.

    Just look at what we have and make it yours, adjust the effects to fit, if you use real poisons then reasonably you should make the poison actions fit as the real one does. Where as the made up poison could act as you write it.
     
Loading...

Share This Page