I don't normally participate in Blog Azeroth shared topic suggestions, but I realized that I'd never touched on this.
Character names are very special to me. I will never reroll a character on another server with the same name because it just doesn't work that way. The name is not an all purpose alter ego for me. Though I go by Hana in WoW circles, it's only because Hana is my main. For all other internet purposes I use something else.
In June of 2005 I was given a trial run of WoW and knew that I wanted to be a tauren. I picked the druid class and needed a name. I thought about it for a bit and selected Hana, a delightfully concise name with a druid-appropriate meaning. It was immediately accepted without complaint (ah, back in the day when good names were still readily available) and she entered the World of Warcraft.
Hana is Japanese for "flower" and it is pronounced "ha-na" not "han-na" as I often correct people. To my endless amusement, it's also Japanese for "nose" when the inflection is slightly different. Being tauren with a sizeable snout I can't help but chuckle. It's perfect for her.
Gillien's name is a longer story.
I can't create a character without a concept. I don't "I want to play an arms warrior" and then just start one up and go. Each character has their own personality, their own individual mission in life that affects what they do, what quests they take, and so on. If I don't get into their personality I stop playing them.
So I wanted to play a paladin, but couldn't start one until I had a good idea of who he or she would be.
Then, I was rereading an old story of mine which had a particularly machiavellian character named Gillian. The original Gillian was a politician, and willing to do whatever it took to secure his seat of power... so that when the time for disaster came, he would have the ability to do what it took to make sure humanity survived. The original Gillian made his share of enemies and doomed a lot of people, but humanity did survive, and largely because of his duplicity. After their survival was assured, Gillien resigned from his position, no longer trusted by his constituents and his career destroyed. He had been a heartless bastard in many ways, but he'd done everything for the right reasons and ultimately his act was a selfless one.
I realized that I had my blood elf paladin.
Unfortunately though, the name "Gillian" was taken by an orc on Skywall. I think it was a rogue or a hunter. Initially I was disappointed, but then I realized the pronunciation shouldn't change if I just slipped a letter over and made it Gillien.
Thus, Gillien with an "e" entered the world.
Gillien originally hewed closely to the concept that he was the original Gillian if he had been born a blood elf in WoW, but as time wore on he became his own person, the hard edges smoothed and he became more introspective. Much of this was because of my entries into the Blizzard Glboal Writing Contest, but it really started with the conclusion of the Sunwell event, which made the blood elf paladins, who had previously thought they were being all uppity about stealing the Light, realize that they hadn't fallen as far from the Light as they thought.
I don't consider Gillian and Gillien to be the same person anymore. They would have common ground should they ever meet each other, but they would behave differently under similar circumstances.
My final 80's name is a result of what happens when there isn't time to pick a name.
Darkker was created to join a group of coworkers on another server. They told me to reroll Hana on Dark Iron. I said no. Hana was a different druid. The one on Dark Iron would have to be a new one. And since Dark Iron was a PvP server, this was going to be a vicious druid that hated the Alliance (and with good reason considering how much she eventually got ganked). This one was going to be darker.
So I named her Darkker.
Yes, I decided to toss in an extra "k" in there just to change the spelling a little. I'm not terribly proud of it, but Darkker rather suits her name.
I know some people like to have theme names, or start/end all their character names with the same few letters so they're instantly recognizable, but I have to individualize all my characters or it just doesn't work. Even though they're both druids, Hana and Darkker are different people to me and I can't imagine ever going kitty or PvPing on Hana just as moonkin is an impossibility for Darkker.
What's in a name? Quite a lot. It's not just a name. It's an identity.