Back in June, I wrote a post about the process and subsequently created back story for a character I created in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim for the sole purpose of going through the Civil War quests on the side of the Stormcloak rebellion. Shortly after I completed that storyline, I created another character so that I could do the opposite side of the Civil War quests and join the Imperial Legion. This character backstory saw greater change from its initial conception.
First, I started off with a general idea of where I wanted the character to come from. In the Stormcloak quests, there was a mission to infiltrate an Imperial camp to deliver false reports/orders. This is where the kernel of the new character was created. I thought it would be fun to have a female soldier be chosen because she's a woman (but also happens to be a very capable warrior/soldier) in order to seduce an officer to wreck havoc in whichever camp she's infiltrating. While it's true that on both sides, not all officers/generals are male, I found this idea to be amusing (albeit somewhat clichéd). Thus began the process of creating a female character that would fight on the side of the Empire, how she found herself to be in the Skyrim province and most importantly, how she managed to be captured by the Imperials and threatened with execution at Helgen.
Since I wanted my character to be a supporter of the Empire and since I hadn't ever played as a native of Cyrodiil yet, having her be an Imperial was an easy starting point. I also needed a city/village for her to originate in and not having played Oblivion yet, I had to do some research on the cities of Cyrodiil and find the right city. Additionally, knowing that the citizens of Cyrodiil have Romanesque names, I felt that my character should have a name that at least sounded something akin to Latin.
The first story that I had concocted, was that the character (then unnamed) grew up in the city of Chorrol and when she was 7-8, she joined a local thieves guild and was involved in a robbery turned murder, left behind by her guild members and was arrested. Due to the fact that the people who had been murdered [a noble-ish family (second cousins to the Countess) consisting of three children, a mother and two maids], she was sent to prisons of the Imperial City. The girl was not executed due to her young age. My idea was then to have her act as a patsy for a noble, but somehow "performed well" and was sent to a minimum security ward and every so often, she would perform "dirty" jobs for various nobles who needed things taken care of secretly and couldn't be traced back to them if she were to fail. Eventually she would be offered a pardon if she would travel to Skyrim to help quell the ongoing rebellion there.
So where does the name come in? I had wanted to have her forget her original name and be given a name while in prison. Not knowing much/anything about Latin, I thought something like "Broken Child" or "Lost One" Latinized would be cool sounding. Alas, that was not the case.
As you can tell, the top half of the page was spent writing out the meanings of various words into Latin and a lot of what I was coming up with, not only did not sound very name-like to me, I also felt that I could not alter the names enough and still have resemble Latin and have a meaning similar to what I was aiming for.
Eventually I settled on the name of "Sola Rupita." The "Sola" still meaning one or only, but I'm not 100% sure what "Rupita" was a conglomeration of, just by looking at what I had written down. Perhaps the "Ruo" from "Fall" and the "Cantita" from "Broken?"
Either way, we all know that Sola Rupita ended up not being the name that I decided upon, as you can clearly see from the title of this post. I'm not sure where I found the name Aeliana, but it is infact a real name, being the feminine form of Aelius, possibly derived from the Greek word for "sun," "helios." This name, I apparently, and actually still do, find to be a better name than what I was coming up with.
The next stage of development was deciding that Aeliana would be in the Imperial City with her father, but still maintaining the fact that a family (now her family) was murdered. In this iteration, Aeliana had always been angered that her family's murder was never avenged. Aeliana and her father then lived just outside the Imperial City (why would they be in the Imperial City in the first place?) with Aeliana joining the city watch. Basically the Kate Beckett story. (I like to have a reasonable explanation as to how/why your character knows how to proficiently use weapons and fight in armor and this avenue gave me a good explanation for her abilities at the beginning of the game). Her father then decides to marry her off to a pseudo-wealthy land owner. Not wanting that life and the chance to avenge her family's death, she hides among a caravan headed for the Skyrim province; which doesn't then make a whole lot of sense.
The final iteration I wrote up, I did while at work and took some paper that we normally use for labelling washing machines and dryers. I maintained that Aeliana's family was killed by members of a theives guild, but this happened while she was somewhere else (I guess I still never came up with a reason why she wasn't killed. Successfully hid from attackers maybe?) She was then sent to live with her Uncle who was known to have lived just outside of the Imperial City; Aeliana was around the age of 12 at this time (4E - 200). At 14, her uncle deemed her too ugly to be marriageable and was allowed to join the city guard (in an auxiliary role). When she was 15 (4E - 203), her uncle found a boy for her to marry (a young 11 year old boy who had a sickly mother and dead father) as he wanted to expand his own land and holdings (element continued from previous version).
I thought then that she would disguise herself and escape to Skyrim upon a caravan, which is where she befriended a girl from Chorrol (hence all the backstory now belonging to someone else and does not apply to our character), but I didn't ultimately like that idea. I felt that being given the "okay" from a captain/sergeant from the city guard to leave with a regiment to Skyrim rather than be married off (as he felt that she would be too good of a soldier to lose to marriage). The captain/sergeant knows of a regiment heading for Skyrim to assist in the ongoing rebellion and thinks that after a year or two, she can return to Cyrodiil and continue the life that she not only wants, but one that he can see that she excells at.
I then changed the story so that the decision to have Aeliana as part of the regiment was a last minute decision, her name was not added to the "official" roster. The caravan/regiment was then ambushed by Ulfric Stormcloak, seeing it as a way of helping to furnish the Stormcloaks and harm the Imperial Legion at the same time. Ulfric then was ambushed himself and taken to Helgen. This then gave me an explanation as to why your character's name is "not on the list" at the beginning of the game when you are about to be executed with the Stormcloaks.
With all of that in mind, I present to you Aeliana of Chorrol.
Yes gentlemen, here's a lady who's not afraid to get her hands dirty:
I plan on playing her as a staunch believer in the good of the empire. While I might have her go through cities that side with the Stormcloaks, I won't have her spend money in those cities as she might feel that doing so supports the rebellion. She's that kind of a person. I could easily see her story becoming one where she sees the "dark side" to the empire, but that's not the story I want to tell with her. Aeliana believes that what she is doing will help to preserve the good and the stability of the empire.
Unlike Gherard of Farrun, I don't see myself altering Aeliana's appearance as she grows as I don't think she needs to grow visually as Gherard does. That's not the part of her story that is important.