View Full Version : How do you come up with names?

2009-06-04, 08:00 AM
What's a good way to find names for a campaign setting?

It is not so much NPCs that trouble me, but landmarks, like mountains, rivers, valleys, and even villages, cities, and nations.

And of course, how does one go about picking a fitting name for the entire Campaign Setting?

2009-06-04, 08:03 AM
Random sylable or word combinations (In the tradition of things like Faerun, Oerth, Greyhawk and Ravenloft respectively.)

2009-06-04, 08:03 AM
I make people vote on the name for my campaign setting. Then I get mad at them for picking the wrong one. :smallwink:

Other names; I go ransack foreign languages and mythology, then I switch into "hey, this sounds cool" mode.

2009-06-04, 08:06 AM
I like to use translator sites, like babelfish (http://babelfish.yahoo.com) from yahoo. You can also do google searches to find online dictionaries and pick something that suits you, or you can name it based on a defining aspect of the campaign.

2009-06-04, 09:09 AM
Another good way, more specifically, is to go to English-Latin sites (not sure if Babelfish has it). Often times, you can then translate a meaning you want conveyed through the names, and get a result that sounds strange and exotic enough to be unique and memorable (yet still feasibly pronouncable), but still close enough to the meaning you want conveyed (through its connections to English and the Romantic languages) to give it depth. For example, if you wanted to have a name conveying lightness and swiftness, you might choose the word "Air," as it fairly well sums up the meaning. You would most likely get the word "Aeris." While this word isn't so similar to the original as to immediately show that it was taken from that, it still conveys the meaning, lightness and swiftness.

2009-06-04, 12:14 PM
I take a descriptor of what I'm trying to name and translate it into Tagalog. I usually use Google Translator (http://translate.google.com/translate_t#).

For example, I was trying to name these guys that absorbed power from other people (kind of like Kirby). So I thought, What are these guys like? Sponges! Absorbing! Buckets! Water! Take! Grab! Steal! I just plugged those words into the translator and looked at the Tagalog words that came out. One of them looked good, so I changed it a letter or two and got Munoks!

That sort of process is pretty much how I get every fantasy/sci-fi name.

2009-06-04, 12:31 PM
i look to Latin. Vitacruor meaning Lifeblood is a recent favorite of mine.

2009-06-04, 12:50 PM
Well... being Italian, I cannot use simple Latin veri often, as it is really similar to the current language at the table.

So, in some cases I mix Greek (any ancient dialect) and Latin. For example, I've called the main island of my "new and easy" campaign setting "Gensul", from "Gea" (Ancient Greek for "earth") and "Insula" (Latin for "island", using the pure stem). Or, simply, I use Greek; so, the god of war is called "Polemos" (war), the goddess of freedom "Eleuteria" (freedom), and so on.

I use Sanskrit, sometimes, and I was creating a campaign setting with names in Aramaic; however, not knowing myself the latter language, I prefer to avoid it in order to avoid mistakes.

I do the same for the names of characters and cities, sometimes choosing a name that remembers me their nature (Alchibis for an Alcibiades-like NPC, for example).

As a general rule, I use many "nomen omen" names, but in a way that for the players it is not clear the meaning of the name, i e choosing a language they don't know. Thankfully, I do not play with my university friends. :smallbiggrin:

Edit: I wrote PNG rather than NPC. Damn it.

2009-06-04, 01:29 PM
I browse Wikipedia's IPA-related pages to come up with sounds. Voiceless fricatives (sounds like f, s, sh, th, h, German ch, Hebrew ch/kh) with closed vowels (short i, long oo) tend to make creepy names. Stop consonants (k, g, b, p, d) are more powerful and ominous. Voiced sounds (d, b, j/g) are more powerful sounds than unvoiced (t, p, ch). There's a whole range of sounds that are lacking in English make use of the middle of your tongue that can lend a foreign sound (French gn or Spanish ņ, "soft" German ch, Russian ч, a wide range of L-like sounds).

2009-06-04, 03:00 PM
I go ransack foreign languages and mythology, then I switch into "hey, this sounds cool" mode.

This. Message is too short...

2009-06-04, 03:13 PM
May I suggest that you use this site/ (http://nine.frenchboys.net/)? Because itīs pretty neat.:smallcool:

2009-06-04, 04:06 PM
Sweet, so many ideas... Now I can speed up progress on the setting (if you tend to spend an entire evening trying to name your Baldur's Gate character, imagine how much time you waste when trying to fill an entire map with landmarks).

2009-06-04, 04:12 PM
Random generators can be pretty useful. I prefer to think up things myself, but I don't have that great an imagination for it, so here's a few I have used before:
Dire Press (http://direpress.bin.sh/tools/)
Seventh Sanctum (http://www.seventhsanctum.com/index-name.php)
Behind The Name (http://www.behindthename.com/random/)

2009-06-04, 04:16 PM
I like "The Everchanging Book of Names" (http://ebon.pyorre.net/) myself. It has a ton of different names, including names for Forgotten Realms (and Greyhawk), and names from the various Tolkien languages.

2009-06-04, 09:53 PM
EBON is great. As is minor changes to old names. Look up Ouranos sometime :) I also commonly use Sabis, Zanis, or Ollan.

2009-06-04, 10:25 PM
Everyone above has great ideas, I'm just gonna throw in that a a friend of mine and myself have found that anagrams can be very fun and interesting. (To steal one of my friend's examples, the capitol of a desert nation was named Serdet.)

2009-06-04, 11:41 PM
I go ransack foreign languages and mythology, then I switch into "hey, this sounds cool" mode.

Same here. I used to use Latin a lot; these days I've switched to using less common languages, such as Kartuli, Dari, and the like.

Lord Loss
2009-06-05, 01:04 PM
Try translating stuff into indonesian. believe me, it sounds cool.

For example monster is Rakasha, Evil is Jahat, etc.

2009-06-08, 02:06 PM
The fantasy name generator comes up with some cool sounding names.

2009-06-08, 02:40 PM
Ahem (http://www.seventhsanctum.com/generate.php?Genname=rpgnamer)

stupid minimum character limit.