A person born there might have taken the name of his town as a byname, which later became a hereditary surname, thus recycling the personal name of the chief of yore. The name of an individual should ideally be an apt name, one that fits him or her like a glove. You might want to read the section on apt names and ponder on what sort of name would suit their personality, vocation, and social status.
Look at beginnings, endings, characteristic patterns, and so on. To create your own fantasy name to suit the background, a useful trick is to choose a real name of that sort, then alter it slightly by judiciously changing a vowel or consonant here and there, so the name still sounds right for the setting, but is unique.
You can be bolder and change entire names to invented ones the first is usually best for this. Some things may depend on the campaign. In a modern-day or historical milieu, simply choose a name you like from the appropriate section of this book to suit national origins and so on, as the campaign allows. If the world is a patchwork of medieval dukedoms and principalities, then Aztec names will hardly fit.
Appendix B shows current world name distributions. In a science-fiction campaign, you may want contemporary names for the near future, invented names for the distant future use the generic fantasy lists , or a mix of the two.
Aliens names can be generated using tables in the fantastic section. If you have a character of a particular fantasy race or species , then there may be suitable names suggested for that race in the book: choose a name from those or something close, and adjust as desired, perhaps supplemented by names from other sections. For instance, for that bucolic air, a homely sort of race might use the rustic family names listed in the English section, whether as family or personal names.
Most fantasy campaigns allow for a diverse range of possible options, usually a mix of real and fantastic elements. If you conceive a character to be a Samurai warrior or Gypsy fortuneteller, say, and the campaign allows for this, then choose a name you like from the appropriate section of this book.
This has the advantage that the information on how to put together a name of that type is right there, suitability is assured, and if you need to create a family tree, all the names you need are at hand. If you want a fantasy name that works for that type of character, then try to find one in the generic fantasy lists that sounds BOOK OF NAMES 12 To get a pure fantasy name for a human, choose from the lists of generic fantasy names, and try to convey something of the personality in the name. A straightforward Classical or Shakespearean hero should have a direct, plain name, as suits his temperament.
The more sardonic, sceptical, or even cynical Restoration hero should have some ironic or droll touch: you might have a Jandix Slaunce rather than a Ganthor, for instance. The time period may set the general name pattern: Dark Ages, personal name only; Middle Ages, personal name plus byname; Renaissance or Modern, personal name plus family name. There are no Renaissance name lists as such: just use a medieval personal name with a modern family name from the same culture. Regardless of pattern, a personal name is enough for everyday use among fellow adventurers, but some further distinction could be required, for instance, if questioned by a border patrol.
Without a family name, a temporary byname is usual.
As you can see from the examples, the boundaries between byname types can be blurred. Relationships mean choosing names of kin so you will have to get at least a rudimentary family tree done. Occupations could be former, as in Floxi the Tailor, or current—presumably an adventurer of some sort. If your game system has Classes or Orders with titles of level or rank that are more than just game mechanics, you could use those.
Tremble, puny ones! Nicknames can be anything that seems suitable, and can even substitute for the actual name. A glib character might have a hundred nicknames that trip lightly off his silver tongue. Where have you been?!! As well as the fine brushwork required for individual characterisations, a campaign requires broad swathes of colour for the background. Groups of suitable names provide the requisite colours for people and places. If you are using a prepared milieu, the publication may indicate at least generally, and perhaps in detail the cultures that predominate in various towns, countries, societies, and worlds.
If so, simply use the name lists that match those cultures, with fantastic names added as seems advisable. Herewith, therefore, some advice, dealing briefly with real-world and science fiction settings, then looking at fantasy in more depth. Contemporary and Historical For contemporary genres espionage, near-future, cyberpunk, superhero, horror, and so on , use the recent lists, taking note of naming practices.
For historical genres including alternate history and time travel , use the recent and historical lists appropriate to time, place, and culture. Cultural and historical diversity adds flavour to a game. After all, what superspy would not frequent exotic locations, rich with curious names? In the modern world, people travel and migrate reasonably freely. Centres such as Madrid or Hong Kong are cosmopolitan, but you can find people of any race and culture almost anywhere, and they will bring their names with them.
Local names will predominate, but will rarely be unalloyed. Appendix B gives a very rough mix of name types by country—this is as much detail as can be laid out here. You may wish to expand upon this in your own campaign to reflect localised patterns in different counties and cities. Names in smaller communities were likely to be entirely local. In historical settings, the big problem is anachronism. Fashionable modern names in particular will immediately spoil the illusion of time and place.
For instance, from the s, there has been a trend in the U. Hyphens and capitals may be left intact. Apart from some unfortunate results Drih-velle, LaTreen , this very recognisable sort of name immediately fixes its owner in the present. Check the lists, and avoid names you know not to be in period. This book lacks room to support the dating and placing of individual names within a time span. Often names waxed and waned in favour over years and lands, and may have been more localised than the lists might suggest. Some lists may also include names from literature and myth; and not all possible combinations of elements in some names Anglo-Saxon, Germanic, and so on have been recorded.
If you need strict historical accuracy, you will need to consult more scholarly sources, but the lists should be mostly right. Science Fi cti on Fic tio For settings in the not-too-distant future, use the recent lists for humans, with such changes in commonness of names, say as you think likely. Mix in a greater number of generic invented names as the setting moves further into the future.
Names for aliens can be generated using tables in the fantastic section, or modelled after recent or historical human cultures. As mentioned previously, the set of names in use in a society changes over time. Name distribution usually follows a power law like many social patterns , with a few names frequent and most of the rest infrequent.
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Changes in frequency occur more or less at random. In the future, new names will have been invented, and many current names will have fallen by the wayside.
Naming patterns may change, too. This logically carries on historical trends of cultural intermixing and name lengthening. This would be probable albeit not inevitable by the time human beings colonise space. After a galaxy-wide diaspora, names may well become localised again, this time by planet and system.
Current nations and cultures might continue to exist or fragment further in your future campaign, in which case, you could have worlds with exclusively Russian, Papuan, or Norwegian names. There is plenty of scope for almost any naming rationale.
To save work, you may want to keep names reasonably short. Simply avoiding common especially modish modern names may be enough to give a future flavour.
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If many national strands exist in your future worlds, employ some rationale for cultural crossover. In general, assuming trends continue, you should mix in a larger number of generic invented names as you move further into the future—these work equally well for fantasy or SF, and are as likely as anything else when it comes to predicting the eventual forms of personal names.
Numeric names Fred , R3-D3 are best left to clones and robots, unless perchance identity numbers have replaced family names, or people have unique alphanumeric database codes referring to their DNA.