Like many people, Iíve always made a point of renaming my RPG characters -- usually according to a theme, but not always. Iíll never forget the time that Joel, Servo, Crow, Gypsy, Frank, and Dr. F defeated Lavos and saved the future, for instance.

Final Fantasy III, nťe Final Fantasy VI, was no exception. My first playthrough of the game had a loose Star Wars theme inspired by the fact that the guys in the intro were named Vicks and Wedge (I thought it was a hilarious coincidence, not a dopey mistranslation), but I didnít exactly hold fast to that particular convention. Yeah, we had a slam-danciní, trash-talkiní moogle named Wicket, a vest-wearing rogue named Han, a white-clad lady in need of rescue by the name of Leia (a rather fortuitous coincidence given later story developments), a big furry dude called Chewie, and Lando, a gambler with an airship... but then there was Leaf, the green-haired demihuman girl.

Leaf was the product of another naming convention I observed, which was to name my characters with oblique references to people I knew in passing. Not my friends, because who knows what kind of drama that could give rise to should any of them have come across my save files and take exception to my use of their likeness for a video game! Nah, instead I went with the names of people I barely knew: classmates I never interacted with, or clerks at stores I frequented, that sort of thing. I have no idea to this day what prompted me to start this tradition in the first place, but it actually worked out pretty well -- it helped me personalize my party roster, but since I didnít really know the people in question, real personalities didnít overshadow the story.

Leaf was a weird one, though. I didnít actually know anyone by the name of Leaf. Instead, I named FFIIIís Terra Branford after a girl who occasionally worked at my college campus Pizza Hut. She was sort of cute in a quirky way, and extremely acerbic; I donít think I ever saw her say anything nice to anyone. Naturally, I developed a vague crush on her, one of those passing fancies that I had no interest in ever following up on. Its only real effect was that I tended to buy dinner at Pizza Hut when she was working the register, just to see if maybe she secretly thought I was awesome and would deign to make me the first person on earth sheíd actually grace with a kind word.

When I sat down to play FFIII for the first time, I had just picked up a mini-pizza for dinner and was amused when my first in-game act was to name a green-haired girl. See, for whatever reason, the pizza girl didnít have her real name on her name tag. Instead, she had the shift manager print her name as ďGrass.Ē I thought this was interestingly odd, so I decided to name Terra in her honor, obliquely, thanks to the green hair. But Grass sounded dumb, so I went with Leaf instead.

Later I was told that Grass picked her nom de pizza because she was a raging pothead with no goal in life except to be perpetually high, which killed much of the charm. Shortly thereafter, I stopped naming game characters after people I barely knew.

Final Fantasy VI Recollections: Leaf | Open House | Kefka's Domain | Retrospective