Thursday, August 2, 2012

Naming characters

For me naming characters is easy when I have time to put thought behind it. But sometimes when I have to come up with names quickly for npcs it can be harder. Sometimes using name generators is not possible or it feels just lame option after you have clicked dozen times and you haven't got any name that you want to use.

Problem with name generators:
It takes time to find a suitable name.

Then I start to look around. Author of the book scrambled or altered is a good option. Or taking a product name to use or alter slightly. One Vampire: the Masquerade sheriff's surname was Crusti. Crusti is a brand of chips, but it sounded like dramatic old European vampire name, and still does. One motorbike driving gang leader Brujah was Heller inspired by Hell's Angels. Heller is actual surname I found out later so it was good and suited him.

There are dozens of names for npcs I have created from different real person names and product names this way.

But name can be also from items or other things. For example Straw McCloud can be a Fading Suns Charioteer pilot (I have a straw next to me and it's been more cloudy than clear summer).

Few examples I do right now using my surroundings.
- Toby Diskos (Tobacco and Diskos sports club pennant)
- Ash Tray (that's lame and obvious but could work)
- Rod Ernest Orwell (Rodeo energy drink)
- Toby Yellow (Yellow table)
- Orlando Trax (X-Tra Orange Cakes)
- Evira Glass (Evira company sticker and glass bottle)

It is easier to create more fantasy type names than realistic names this way. These names could work with scifi or fantasy setting better than modern world. Fantasy names are easier to generate. Just scrabble a lot.

In comments you generate names using these methods!


Anonymous said...

If it fits the game world, check if your book has a list of play testers somewhere and nick a couple with just a few changes. usually enough to keep going for a while.

Or just try what I did...

Anonymous said...

The Usual Suspects plays off this idea to some extent. Great movie.

Philo Pharynx said...

Movie credits are my secret for modern names. If you've got a DVD in, just forward to the crawl and let the screen fill up with a hundred interesting names.

Philo Pharynx said...

Another idea... To get a semi-random set of letters that might inspire a name, just leave a comment here. The captcha for my last post was "Deddropp", which sounds like a hacker handle for a cyberpunk game. I've seen captchas that make great dwarven or draconic names.

Unknown said...

Haven't seen that movie, but now I gotta see it!

Unknown said...

For modern games I have used names from game books, usually mixing them taking random first name and random surname. It works fine and gamebooks are usually really close where gaming happens. With small twists you also get scifi and fantasy names.

Good post. I myself when statting npcs don't "create" them. Usually I give basic attributes (str, dex, int etc.) and write below where npc is good. So if npc is doing something where he is good he gets a bonus. I save lots of time when I don't have to detail every npc's every quality. But most of the time only stats npc needs are name, personality and outlooks. If they need to roll dice, I just use bulk people stats, or average/little under.

Unknown said...

Great idea when preparing a game. Not so handy during the game. But maybe well prepared GM has a list of names already so he doesn't have to generate them on the fly...

Unknown said...

Haha, immediately thought Inglip!

Jonas said...

I have often pondered on this very same topic. Recently I started small crowdsourcing thing for finnish scene on the subject.