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The Douchey DM » Adventure Design, Advice, Alternate Views, General Gaming, Misc » Making Charcter Names: The Story of Naractes Chamter

Making Charcter Names: The Story of Naractes Chamter

One of the most threatening things for both players and GMs at the time they are creating their characters is the concept of creating a name. Often people will flake out and go with something that has absolutely no relevance to anything. Think about how many times you’ve seen the name “Bob” at the top of a sheet and wondered to yourself if this has to always be the weak link to your sound character concept. Well in this article I am going to present four methods to help create better character names, two specifically for a modern or futuristic setting and two for a fantasy setting.

A. Modern/ Futuristic
1. Combine Names of Others
There have been numerous instances where I have been stuck on an idea for a character and just so happen to be watching something on the television. One day it hit me that if I were to combine the names of some of these characters I would be able to have a very well made character name. For instance, one of the characters I used in my Post- Modern GURPS game went by the name of Drake Wright. For any fans of Gold the Series you will instantly recognize this as being a combination of two of the main characters last names, Jonathan Drake and Richard Wright.
2. Use Family or Extended Persons Names
Around the time that I started using a campaign service known as Obsidian Portal I also began running a Harry Potter game. For the first session I was going to need a name for the villain. I examined what my players listened to and watched and found one terrible fact; while most of my players listen to Happy Jack’s RPG Podcast none of them can remember the cast names. I decided to put this to my advantage and used the name Stuart Venable for the name of my villain. This method can be done with most anyone so long as they decide not to mock you for what they are named after.
One example of this going badly is the name of an organization in my Post- Modern GURPS game. My friends that I GM for are all heavily into video games so when I presented “The Rapture” as being the corporation that they were going to have to fight against they could not get past the name, making references to Bioshock even though I had not realized the similarities.
B. Fantasy/ Past
1. Combine Parts of Names
You may have been going through this article wondering what the name at the top, “Naractes Chamter”, means. Well it is there to illustrate another point of making great character names. What I decided to do was actually combine the two words “Character” and “Names”, moving the Na and es from names and the Ch and ter from Character. This method is an extremely easy method and can even be used when you are in a crunch for a name. Thus, Adam Sawyer becomes Saada Wyerm, who could very well be a traveller from the desert villages.
2. Play Off of Phrases
One of my most favorite characters I have ever played was a manic depressive mage named Ceumtheen Staraenge (pronounced Something Strange). When I was creating this name I was stumped so I decided to set out to create the funniest name but wanted to have it spelled out in a way that would make others think it was very sophisticated. When I came up with the idea for Ceumtheen I decided to think of creating an interesting way to spell it. This name has created hundreds of great roleplaying moments and has even spawned a whole generation of characters who names are as follows: Neutheen (nothing), Uatevar (whatever), and Heealoa (hello).

 

The opportunity for great character names is only limited to a person’s imagination. By taking these four simple tips into your character generation experience you will find that rather than having a weak character name that doesn’t do your concept justice, you will feel proud every time a character calls out your name as you deal that final blow.

If you enjoyed what you have read please check out Stillstead Publishing at drivethrurpg.com. We publish PDFs of many great resources such as traps, campaign settings, characters, and even entire systems. Also follow us at Twitter at @StillsteadPblsh!!!

Adam Sawyer
Lead Publisher, Stillstead Publishing

Filed under: Adventure Design, Advice, Alternate Views, General Gaming, Misc · Tags: , , , , , ,

5 Responses to "Making Charcter Names: The Story of Naractes Chamter"

  1. StorkNo Gravatar says:

    I tend to use the Dickensian method of naming. Its not unique to him, but it’s one of his hallmarks. Certainly JK Rawling does it just as well.

    What Dickens would do is name a character around what he did for a living, or his personality.
    Example In hard times there is a character named Professor Gradgrind.
    In great expectations the naive lead character is named Pip.
    Rawling has Snape, and Dumbledoor

    So armed with that, Ive had hobbit sorcerer named Gaiman Soulburner
    A pulp hero named Jonathan Havok
    An Fire based superhero named Nathan Burnhardt

    Part of the fun of naming a character, is finding that combination that sums him up, and sounds unique

  2. JazzIsBluesNo Gravatar says:

    I have a fondness for names from ancient history and mythology, particularly the norse cultures. (Hey what do you want my family is from Denmark) That did lead me to having a dwarf character named Snuri Orkskullsplitter.

    Good article great information very useful stuff.

    JiB

  3. A3No Gravatar says:

    “An Fire based superhero named Nathan Burnhardt”

    This reminds me of the joke in Spider-man 2: “Guy named Otto Octavius winds up with eight limbs. What are the odds?”

  4. JulietNo Gravatar says:

    I usually start by picking a real-world language in which to base the names of a given in-game culture. This should give them a unified “sound” so that they seem to belong together. Then I go through a name list for that language and either use names directly from the list if they sound sufficiently unfamiliar or change a letter or a syllable here and there to make them sound a little more otherworldly.

    A second method is just to decide on some characteristics for names in a culture. Then I design names that fit those rules. An example from a game I’m running: multisyllabic names, liberal use of apostrophes, ending in -lin (feminine) or -lan (masculine).

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