View Full Version : Need help with names

Guinea Anubis
2008-10-08, 07:51 AM
So I know a a lot of other DMs suck at coming up with names as much as I do, so I was thinking that if we could start thread names for places and people we have used and what race they where for.

2008-10-08, 08:42 AM
I don't have any available off the top of my head (I suck at them too). There are hundreds of random name generators available online. When I start a new campaign I google for a new name generator. Usually they'll give you a list of several dozen random names. I write the best ones on an index card and then request more names. I do this till my card is full and then I clip the card to my DM screen.

2008-10-08, 08:52 AM
Other languages or archaic forms of yours works fairly well.

Example: For the setting I'm making, I needed a name for the equivalent of the material plane as well as three ancient-sounding names for cities made by the fey. For the plane, I picked one of the alternate names for Earth, Tellus. For the cities, I looked up the Gaelic translations for (Cardinal Direction) City and picked the nicest-looking three, getting Cathair Oirthearach, Cathair Iartharach, and Cathair Tuaiseartach. It's probably not how it's grammatically set up in the language in question, but I know neither I nor the people I play with really care in that regard, it looks/sounds good enough.

Alternatively, just look for lists of medieval names or just random name generators, both of which are quite easy to find online.

Thane of Fife
2008-10-08, 08:59 AM
I would argue that this (http://www.rinkworks.com/namegen/) is one of the best random name generators available, in that it allows you to generate random names with fairly specific formats.

I've gotten some good ones from it.

2008-10-08, 11:29 AM
I've never really obeyed the "appropriate names" school of thought. If I happened to have an appropriate one, well that's fine.

I've had a dwarf named Brody, a half-elf named Erolos, elf named Lou, a gnome named w/ a long spanish name and a nickname of Tim, and a human named Broteas. I've had more but I can't remember them all.

Lord Herman
2008-10-08, 11:33 AM
I used to have the same problem you have, until I found Gary Gygax' Extraordinary Book of Names (http://www.amazon.com/Gygaxs-Extraordinary-Gygaxian-Fantasy-Worlds/dp/1931275564/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1223483573&sr=8-1). It's a great book for all your naming needs.

2008-10-08, 12:09 PM
When in rush just pick a word and read it backwards, little tweaking and you'll get a great exotic name. Works for me when I introduce NPCs made up on the fly.

Another method I use is just tweaking normal names a bit. One of the best NPCs I've ever had was a fat (like there's any other kind) innkeeper called Gomer. Gomer loved meat and donuts, and especially beer. Mmmm. Beer.

2008-10-08, 12:13 PM
My preferred method of name generation comes from pouring over the spam senders in my gmail account. Lately, they haven't been as good, either being arab/hispanic names or just random letter/number sequences, but in the past they were often pretty good for fantasy characters. Some might need a little tweaking, though.

Edit: Oh, and there's also the old "star wars" name thing. First name is the first 3 letters of the person's normal name + the first two letters of their last name. The last name is the first two letters of the mother's maiden name and then the first three letters of their birthplace.

So, for example, our current president's name would be Geobu Rotex (or some variation thereof). You can generate all kinds of fun stuff with that method.

2008-10-08, 12:43 PM
First, read The Giant's (http://www.giantitp.com/articles/ieXLOFKij6eMmNIwTcy.html) thoughts on the matter. With that in mind, what I do:

1) First choose your "linguistic flavor" for the region/race. This not only helps with naming everything, but it adds a subtle for of cohesiveness to the various regions of your world, even if your player's know nothing about the corresponding culture.

2) Do a Google Search for "Baby Names" or "Surnames" as you need. Baby Name and Genealogy sites usually have nice lists. This should be used for pre-planned NPCs and locations. If that's too limited for you, check an English To X Dictionary and thumb around for interesting words.

3) For on-the-spot situations, make up something that sounds like the other things in the area. If your PCs are in Sturmhalten and you suddenly need a name for the gate guard at the castle, how about Sergeant Karlos Bergen? If they're in New Riverfeld, then he'd be Sergeant Ryan Coopersmith.

2008-10-08, 01:17 PM
I used to have the same problem you have, until I found Gary Gygax' Extraordinary Book of Names (http://www.amazon.com/Gygaxs-Extraordinary-Gygaxian-Fantasy-Worlds/dp/1931275564/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1223483573&sr=8-1). It's a great book for all your naming needs.

Agreed; that book has been an excellent resource.

2008-10-08, 01:48 PM
I've never really had a problem coming up with random names, though sometimes I end up making up one that sounded innocent to me, but made my players think "Wait, WHAT!?". But I do kind of follow some kind of naming rules in my mind. To me:

Rough, mean, brutal, mean kind of qualities inherit names with hard sounding syllables, or even accents, such as Gok'Thul, Thuvkot, and Hizat.

Elegant, smooth, beautiful qualities usually have long names, or names that roll off the tongue easily and nicely, or both, such as Enorellyn, Ronairelli, and Trawine.

Brave, strong, honourable names tend to have very little syllables, and fit somewhere inbetween my first two there. Such as Deen, Arith, and Vidine.

I've also found that sometimes if you have this idea of what you want a place or character to be like, but you just can't seem to think of a name that suits it, it helps to choose a single (or sometimes 2) words that go with the place, and then add/pull out letters until it seems just right to you. For example, I had a cleric once that I couldn't think of a name for. So I took the word "divinity" and messed with that. I ended up getting something like "dirini" and thought "Yeah that'll do"..Mostly cause I was lazy, but dirini caught on.

And I made up all those names on the spot... ^_^

2008-10-08, 01:50 PM
Agreed; that book has been an excellent resource.

Wait... seriously? From the guy who loved to use anagrams for names?

Lord Herman
2008-10-08, 01:57 PM
Wait... seriously? From the guy who loved to use anagrams for names?

Yes, seriously. It's a brilliant book. It's got oodles of names from all kinds of different real-world cultures. Anglo-Saxon, Phoenician, Aboriginal, Mongol, you name it.

2008-10-08, 01:59 PM
I usually look through names in religion, as they're sufficiently interesting to me. I've taken from the names of Greek deities, the sons of Jacob, dead gods, etc. It's not all that original, but it saves time and generally results in something with a little flavor to it.

2008-10-08, 02:13 PM
Mindarthis Silverburg - Eladrin Taclord 4e
"Foreman" Pellarin Kaldiest of House Mason- DL Silvanesti Noble/Bard 3.5
Fingolfin Nailo - Elven Duskblade 3.5
Ariketh - Neraph (Planar Handbook) Barbarian