Coming up with Fantasy Names

edited January 2010 in General Discussion
I am curious about what conventions people use to come up with names for the people and places that appear in their games. Being the stickler for detail that I am, I like the names in my game to feel like they have some sort of common linguistic background, especially when dealing with people from the same country or race.

I find this particular "name generator": very useful towards that end, because it contains a broad range of real-world cultures with many interesting names. You can even come up with interesting names for creatures like ogres and other savage humanoids by generating a mix of Wrestler and Witch or Goth.

I have also used the Rinkworks "Fantasy Name Generator": which is nice, because the advanced features allow you to specify specific letter and/or syllable combinations that you want to appear in your names. This makes it relatively easy to generate lists of names that sound like they come from a common culture.

I also have a couple of naming conventions that I came up with for my own personal amusement.

Clerics: In my game, I try to have my NPC clerics have a name that relates to the nature of their deity: e.g. Clerics of Pelor have included Sister Helia, Father Phaeton and Brother Saul. While clerics of Heironeous have names like Valarin and clerics of Kord, Olympos... etc.

Gnomes: I really enjoy this one! All the gnomes in my game are named by mixing and matchin odd location names on a map of the United Kingdom. e.g. Ipswitch Cogsworth and Wigston Muxloe.

What tricks do you use to come up with interesting, but consistent names?


  • Morrinn
    Posts: 166
    I emulate the Douglas Adams method of creative writing; Staring at a piece of blank paper until your forehead bleeds.

    Also, if you havent seen it, check out seventh sanctum ( ), They have a bunch of awesome name gen's.
  • DireHammer
    Posts: 21
    I use behind the name as well.
  • Isaac
    Posts: 1
    I find that fantasy names work best if they adhere to the rules of your native tongue regarding names. In English, it's rare for someone to have a first name over three syllables (if they do, it often gets abbreviated). Second, there has to be a flow to the name, using the conventions of your language. Toza comes out better than Ag-Urg because English speakers can think "Toe" or "Toy" when starting the name, whereas Ag-Urg sounds likes baby talk (in English).

    Lastly, no palindromes!
  • twiggyleaf
    Posts: 2,013
    I change from game to game. Sometimes I follow convention (e.g. using Drow-sounding names for drow) and other times I just go for the plain ridiculous (e.g. Tesco Carrier-Baggins). Usually, I like my own characters to at least have a simple first name so other players don't have any problems remembering it or pronouncing it. Whatever I do, I usually have some fondness for the name, even if others don't.

    "I met a traveller from an antique land....."

    CotM May 2016: Mysteria: set in Wolfgang Baur’s MIDGARD.

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