View Full Version : Renaming Races?

2012-09-12, 05:00 PM
As I have been modifying things in the beta version of my Sci-Fi fantasy game, I was inspired to add additional flavor the the playable races, besides the new descriptions of their culture, government, and physical aspects by changing the names of the races to be more descriptive of the race as a whole. Examples are below, and I am interested in your thoughts. I'll be happy to expand on whatever you might be interested in.

The Race of Elves is renamed to: Sapiens
Sapiens is a latin word with the following definition: m, f and n (genitive sapientis); third declension meaning discerning, wise, judicious, discreet
(substantive) a wise man, sage, philosopher

The Dwarven race has been re-named: Höhlenmenschen (pronounced as houlenmenshen)
Höhlenmenschen is a variation of a German word meaning cave dweller

Gnomes and Goblins are of a single race called Hephaestins
Once there were only gnomes, but when they took to the water to live, build floating cities, and die there, some stayed on land and developed a separate culture and different physical aspects.
Abgallu’s Children: Gnomes / Sea-farers
Abgallu is the god of the Sea in my world
Enki’s Children: Goblins / Land-borne
Enki is the name of the god of the Stone, Soil, and Plants

Humans are called Addiscentis, and were named so by the Sapiens due to the ability to learn quickly and desire to learn as much as possible in their limited time.
Addiscentis is a latin word meaning learner.

Halflings are called Enligt Fötterna
Enligt Fötterna is Swedish for the words under foot

Another playable race is, at this time planned to be a type of Golem that reproduces by making new members of their clan. The Golem race is to be called Talosian.
I came up with this name because Talos was a giant, bronze automoton or living statue forged by the divine smith Hephaistos. Zeus presented him to his lover Europa, as her personal protector, after delivering her to the island of Krete (Crete).
There are two types of Talosians,
Lapis which are mostly made of stone
Ferrum Chalcitis made of different types of stone heavy with metallic ores.

That is where I am at now, and would really appreciate some reviews and opinions.

2012-09-12, 06:08 PM
"Enligt Fötterna" means "According to the Feet", actually. I'm not sure where you got that translation from.

2012-09-12, 10:11 PM
I like the idea of flavoring the names up a bit. The dwarves being German-y is pleasing and feels instinctively right on some level. I also like the Abgallu and Enki's Children.

That being said, I'm torn on the rest. I can't give any concrete suggestions without knowing more about your setting and what system you're using, but let's assume the standard D&D model where the Common language = whatever the DM and players speak in real life. And for now, let's assume that you and your players speak English.

Were there Germans and Swedes and Romans in this setting at any point? If not, why would their languages be randomly used for the names of races? Unless your players speak those languages, they're not going to understand the flavor you're trying to impart. Or rather, you'll have to explain what it means, and every time they hear the new names they'll have to think, "Oh, okay, that means Underfoot. Halflings, got it." You might be better off simply calling the race the Underfeet; it's more memorable and flavorful in the players' actual language, not to mention less of a pain to try to pronounce.

Unless, of course, the halflings speak Swedish for whatever reason. That might be a little more understandable, although I think you're still better off using an Anglicized term. Much as a book written using English names for things would describe a person from China as Chinese, not "Zhongguoren", a book written using ostensibly "Common" names for things would probably call a halfling a halfling (or Underfoot), not "Enligt Fötterna".

Sapiens is pretty okay, but it already has an English connotation with humankind, so it might be slightly confusing to use it for elves. It and Addiscentis fall under the same problems as the halflings—why not just call them Sages and Learners, if you want the flavor to be understood?

Alternatively, if you're dead-set on keeping very non-English-sounding words for race names, maybe try to name them something with the same "feel" of the language/culture you want to emulate, but less tongue-twistery and more memorable.

And despite all your hard work, don't be surprised if your players still call them humans and elves and dwarves and goblins, etc. etc. The names of Tolkien-y fantasy races are embedded deep in the genre, and players are quite likely to think of your new ones as nothing more than "halflings with silly names". :smallfrown:

TL;DR version: Some of the names don't seem like they add much flavor or meaning. Rather they just foreign and are hard to pronounce.

Edited to add: I didn't mean to sound so critical, my bad. I think it's a really really cool idea to change the race names to something with more cultural flavor; I just found some of the names a bit cumbersome. More Children of Enki, less Enligt Fötterna.

2012-09-13, 01:14 PM
historiasdeosos, Thanks for the comments. I will look into making the names simpler. No human languages are spoken in this world of mine which is ancient and has both magic and technology co-existing.
I suppose I could have certian races speak other languages for real. I may have to look into how that would affect game-play and DM duties. I am looking at making Latin the language for all magic, this giving the Elves a reason to speak it.

Waddacku, thank you for correcting the translation, I will notify Google of it immediately.