Naming a character: why character names matter


Pathfinder Society

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Silver Crusade 5/5

Mine are all researched... Google translate and lots of hand wringing...

So here are the hi-lights, as I have WAY to many to list them all

Luthril Ironsoul - in his 4th iteration going back to AD&D... his backstory is well refined and polished, those who know me, know it well... at the Table and around the lodge he and I, as we have become one, are known only as "Luth"

Lev Vanka - horribly lazy Varisian Rogue

Tirlan - Halfling Summoner with a thick Aussie accent, and his Eidolon Simah (try saying "Simah" with the accent, it just rolls off the tongue)

Heydar Cassis - Kellish Conjurer (Heydar is Lion in Iranian) he summons only great cats

As a GM I tend to shorten your characters name to a nickname about 2 minutes into a session, especially if you have elected to not use any known language when constructing it or have gone off the gnomish deep end of the name pool... Gurnasdxxyl or some such. this Character would be referred to as Gurn forever more :)


My friend played a bard named Treble. Another friend plays Grognack the barbarian, and the worst of all.... was a human ranger named Dahawk... all one word

Sovereign Court 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Missouri—Cape Girardeau

What Dahawk!??

Shadow Lodge

Working on a redneck druid named Pervis Dukewoody and his alligator companion Percy aka Boots.

Shadow Lodge 5/5

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Those of us that are particularly picky with names have regular issues with this sort of thing. I just spent 3 hours last night researching the name for my GM credit character I'm playing this weekend. I have a first name...still looking for that elusive last.

Grand Lodge

My first pfs char name had to do with the fact he is a sorcerer of draconic bloodline and I wanted a irish/Scottish last name.

as for my second char who I haven't used yet I made it up while thinking of her backstory, a little girl who was adopted by the half-orc who killed her parents, who seemed to have respond to the her new father's favorite alcohol sake. so her name is now Sake Orcblood

Dark Archive 5/5

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
MisterSlanky wrote:
Those of us that are particularly picky with names have regular issues with this sort of thing. I just spent 3 hours last night researching the name for my GM credit character I'm playing this weekend. I have a first name...still looking for that elusive last.

How about

"Soontodie"?
"16 PP"
"Cribdeath"?
"Absorberofdamage"?
"Easybleeder"?
"Negativecon"?
"Arrowattractor"?

Any of those sound good?

I'm the gm for Mr. Slanky this weekend.

Lantern Lodge

I typically just use variants of Greek names, but now that I know so many people care I'm naming all of my characters after the first celebrity and company I see in a commercial.

I hope you're all ready to meet the bard named Alec Baldwin Capital One

The Exchange 5/5

jon dehning wrote:
MisterSlanky wrote:
Those of us that are particularly picky with names have regular issues with this sort of thing. I just spent 3 hours last night researching the name for my GM credit character I'm playing this weekend. I have a first name...still looking for that elusive last.

How about

"Soontodie"?
"16 PP"
"Cribdeath"?
"Absorberofdamage"?
"Easybleeder"?
"Negativecon"?
"Arrowattractor"?

Any of those sound good?

I'm the gm for Mr. Slanky this weekend.

depending on the first name it might be Get.

First name Tar.

The Exchange 5/5

MaestroVolpe wrote:

I typically just use variants of Greek names, but now that I know so many people care I'm naming all of my characters after the first celebrity and company I see in a commercial.

I hope you're all ready to meet the bard named Alec Baldwin Capital One

Madanna McDonalds?

Silver Crusade 5/5

nosig wrote:
jon dehning wrote:
MisterSlanky wrote:
Those of us that are particularly picky with names have regular issues with this sort of thing. I just spent 3 hours last night researching the name for my GM credit character I'm playing this weekend. I have a first name...still looking for that elusive last.

How about

"Soontodie"?
"16 PP"
"Cribdeath"?
"Absorberofdamage"?
"Easybleeder"?
"Negativecon"?
"Arrowattractor"?

Any of those sound good?

I'm the gm for Mr. Slanky this weekend.

depending on the first name it might be Get.

First name Tar.

Yeah, it's weird how I keep rolling all these Nat20s behind the screen here, must not be your day... Gosh I sure am sorry....


Drake McCliffer wrote:

My first pfs char name had to do with the fact he is a sorcerer of draconic bloodline and I wanted a irish/Scottish last name.

I tend to use Irish/Gaelic for my dragon based characters (hence the avatar name :)

The Exchange 5/5

You know... I might just like to see a couple PCs that were named by their parents, but are a bit mis-named now.

The Andoran PC named "Asmodaus Impmaster" or something.

People don't pick their names after they are adults - somebody names them when they are babies.

Anyone with a PC called "Junior"?


To me it matters
I try to keep them fairly short, pronouncable to others and in line with the flavor of my PC

Silver Crusade

nosig wrote:

You know... I might just like to see a couple PCs that were named by their parents, but are a bit mis-named now.

The Andoran PC named "Asmodaus Impmaster" or something.

People don't pick their names after they are adults - somebody names them when they are babies.

Anyone with a PC called "Junior"?

Actually, several of my PFS characters did name themselves as teens/adults.

Mash the Barbarian and Green Beard the Pirate are nicknames, but they do have real names that they never use, as well. In fact, speaking of your "Junior" question, Mash's real name is the same as his father's, but he's the family black sheep, so he doesn't use that name.

Corin LaDrock was just Corin as a child born into slavery, and later took the last name of the Andoren Pathfinder who freed him from slavery and inspired him to follow in his footsteps as a freedom loving, anti-slavery Pathfinder.

Also, I don't remember where I read it (probably Gnomes of Golarion, if I had to guess), but gnomes have a tendency to change their names to suit their whims, which is why it's hard to trace family lines for them very far back. So my two gnome characters may or may not have been born with their names. They are both the types to change them for fun. I can't imagine playing a gnome with a non-chaotic alignment.

As for Seamus Luckleaf, he was born with that last name, and it's not a coincidence he grew up (as much as any halfling grows, that is) to be a cleric of "Lady Luck" (Desna). She's the traditional family patron, and his family is known for their luck, which is the source of his last name.

5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Finland—Tampere aka Rei

I don't think anyone knows my half-elf character's full name because of just how ashamed he is of it. He always refers to himself as Skad, and no one ever suspects he even has a full name. An especially awkward one for a shadow-sneaking servant of Lao Shu Po who likes to consider himself a badass. (His mother is... a flowery woman. Hence her only half-elf child is named Escadreil Songwalker Acheron.)

Shadow Lodge

Mine aren't too bad. My worst offenders are probably my wizard's raven familiar Lester, and my barbarian, Rodrik, who took a rank in perform so he could be known as Roddy the Rowdy Piper.

I did name my rogue Alejandro just to see how many people would start humming/singing the Lady Gaga song.

Silver Crusade

Mystic Lemur wrote:


I did name my rogue Alejandro just to see how many people would start humming/singing the Lady Gaga song.

Being from Florida, I know more than one hispanic person named Alejandro, and I don't know Lady Gaga's music, so I would have just assumed you wanted your character to have a typically hispanic name.

5/5

I usually try to fit the flavor of the race or place of origin. I never research names though, but just make something up based on the sample names for the race. I often pick just a single name since it's all most people at the table will ever hear anyway.

Elan - Human Sorcerer
Daggid Ironbreaker - Dwarven Living Monolith
Telimah Quiddlesplink - Gnome Archaeologist
Latash Anakh - Aasimar Oracle (named when I planned to make him a Sarenite cleric from Qadira)
Arnipho - Wayang Alchemist
"Hawkeye" Pierce - Tengu Zen Archer - my token silly name
Ceville - Tiefling Sorcerer
Bahooley Gravestrike - Gnome Summoner
Fujiwara Boku - Kitsune Monk
Grackle "The Wild Grover" - Grippli Druid (once Gen Con rolls around)
Iorta - Human Witch
Juto - Nagaji Druid

Dark Archive 5/5

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
jon dehning wrote:
MisterSlanky wrote:
Those of us that are particularly picky with names have regular issues with this sort of thing. I just spent 3 hours last night researching the name for my GM credit character I'm playing this weekend. I have a first name...still looking for that elusive last.

How about

"Soontodie"?
"16 PP"
"Cribdeath"?
"Absorberofdamage"?
"Easybleeder"?
"Negativecon"?
"Arrowattractor"?

Any of those sound good?

I'm the gm for Mr. Slanky this weekend.

I was more prescient than I knew as Urska was all of the above save "Arrowattractor".

She avoided being known as "16PP" due to a fortuitous re-roll.

Grand Lodge

So I found an awesome resource for appropriating memorable character names.
Presenting to youuuuu,
THE DOTHRAKI DICTIONARY!
Url here: docs.dothraki.org/Dothraki.pdf

Shadow Lodge 5/5 ⦵⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Indiana—Southern aka CanisDirus

Matthew Morris wrote:

I'm thinking about a rakasha tiefling named kooshka. Has to be female though.

** spoiler omitted **Gods I'm old.

I loved when the show The Critic spoofed that on a regular basis.

Bard + Monk of the Empty Hand, perhaps...

Lantern Lodge

I wish I were better at names, but I am not.

My favorite names from others to date are:

Mewanna Snusnu - Female Barbarian from Miwangi
Dunderklumpen - Name is just too kool.

Grand Lodge 4/5 Venture-Captain, California—Sacramento aka FLite

I want a werewolf named Alucard. He lives in a spooky castle and eats anyone who shows up with garlic and holy water. :P


I normally use a website of deity names from different cultures pantheons. I look at what the god or goddess was known for (Apollo = Messenger of the gods, etc) and what sounds cool. If its relatively short, I use it as a first name. If its longer, I use it as a last name. Once I have one name down, I use a random name generator until something comes up that is easy for me to say, sounds cool, is easy to spell, and is easy to repeat when the GM says, "What was your character's name again?".

I know when some players try to do Samurai or Ninja or some other "Oriental" style class that they go for some name that is almost impossible for them to say, and the rest of us just refer to them as the part we can most easily say, which, while comical in some instances, breaks the mood in some others.

This is the website I use for deity names. http://www.lowchensaustralia.com/names/gods.htm

Hope this helps!

Liberty's Edge

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How about picking letters randomly to spell your character's name? You could use d% with 01-04="A", 05-08="B" etc. You could eliminate "C" to make things come out even. Let's see what happens. I will use "d25" for simplicity.
1d25 ⇒ 17
1d25 ⇒ 21
1d25 ⇒ 24
1d25 ⇒ 22
1d25 ⇒ 15
1d25 ⇒ 24

"SVYWPY"
O. K. Maybe not.

Silver Crusade

Theconiel wrote:

How about picking letters randomly to spell your character's name? You could use d% with 01-04="A", 05-08="B" etc. You could eliminate "C" to make things come out even. Let's see what happens. I will use "d25" for simplicity.

"SVYWPY"
O. K. Maybe not.

How about d20 for consonants and d6 for vowels (including "Y"), with a human decision about whether each letter will be a vowel or a consonant before you roll?

For instance, I'll go with two consonants, a vowel, another consonant, another vowel, another two consonants, and end with two vowels:

1d20 ⇒ 9
1d20 ⇒ 9
1d6 ⇒ 4
1d20 ⇒ 11
1d6 ⇒ 6
1d20 ⇒ 2
1d20 ⇒ 1
1d6 ⇒ 6
1d6 ⇒ 6

"Llonycbyy" - not much of an improvement, but at least I have vowels... sorta.

Liberty's Edge

For CMIX (kah-mix), name is important. Name defines entire character of CMIX. Tells where CMIX come from, and tells why he fight.

CMIX not know given name anyways, so CMIX is just CMIX.

Other Characters:
Most of my characters have a well thought out name, that goes with the character and are named before the character is designed, Zahir, Thistle, etc. On others, I have the character concept, and then develop the name, Milton, the Tiefling Inquisitor of Asmodeus is an example of this.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Mikaze wrote:
I will freely admit that if I ever play a Mwangi druid with a velociraptor companion, I'm naming the companion "Clever Girl" in Swahili.

I couldn't take it anymore - I had to know

Clever girl in Swahili:
wajanja msichana

Liberty's Edge 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Indiana—Martinsville aka thaX

OK.... I like to make something out of names...

My first character is a bunch of them. I took a character name from an NPC I had from 2nd edition D&D and added to it. Lemtwist Mallentwine turned into the Gnome Sparker named...

Lemtwist Bratham Mallentwine Flannelfoot Smyth Olgen Jeebs Nathers Bingham the Third.

My second character was a Kyra clone, so I took a name from Babylon five and added Smith.

Talia Smith

My Third character is a tiefling that I got a boon for, I got the name from a street sign

Forsythia Ramkin Pirce (Mostly just known as the first name)

My Fourth character was a Tengu boon

Krawford

My Fifth character is an Ifrit boon and I wanted the most unusual name possible. I figured that I would put an 'x,' 'z,' and 'v' in the name somewhere and came up with...

Zyvixis. (It is spelled how it is pronounced) He now has an Axe Beak named Axiseckra.

My sixth character was going to be a Synthiesist Summoner, but that got banned from Societal play, so he is a bard instead. I was basically going to make "The Mask" and the character talks in a radio dj voice. He is

Paul Mondoor (Paaaaaauuuuul MONDooor) Yes, he is a celebrity bard, from the puddles you know.

My seventh character is a Kitsune boon. He is a Planer Oricle with the Dark Tapestry mystery. He is a Bob...

Bob Betelgeuse (I also like the Beetlejuice movie, which was spelled proper when released in theaters, and Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy)

My eighth character is my fighter, and my only half orc. this character has leveled the fastest of all my character, his is less than a year old and close to 8th level.

Grog.

Now I have later characters

Stephen Direhart

Sharish (My Nagaji boon)

Zizel Lighter (My halfling alchemist that thinks he is a goblin)

Toad (Summoner with an Eidolon named Toad)

So...

Go ahead, say my first character's name 10 times fast...

Scarab Sages

Funny you should mention "Toad".


Fromper wrote:
Theconiel wrote:


"SVYWPY"
O. K. Maybe not.
"Llonycbyy" - not much of an improvement, but at least I have vowels... sorta.

I use something similar at the shop when someone is looking for a new book. I've modified it here to make a name.

1d4=number of vowels (Y)
1d12=number of consonants (X)
Yd6 (or Yd5 online)
X1d20 (or 1d19)
Arrange them in the order you rolled them switching vowels as consonants whenever it makes sense to you.

So My Red Mantis Assassin Assassin shall be named:
1d4 ⇒ 2
1d12 ⇒ 3
2d5 ⇒ (1, 1) = 2
3d21 ⇒ (5, 17, 19) = 41
A A V J Z
VaJaz
...Works for me :)

I will randomly take his other name from the core rulebook for his race 1d12 ⇒ 6 but shall have to wait until tonight to find out what name is the sixth.
EDIT: constanats should be d21 not d19: A A G V X Gavax also works

Sovereign Court 5/5 RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

Fromper wrote:
"Llonycbyy" - not much of an improvement, but at least I have vowels... sorta.

Amusingly I looked at all the ys and thought "Looks Welsh."


Well, the only groaner name that I have is my druid's animal companion. Yes, Tobias Briarroot's tiger companion is named Cat. And this is the second tiger so named.

My other names:

Ranosa Agrimon (beastbrood tiefling rogue)- Ranosa was an old name for an NPC from an AD&D campaign. It is 'sonar' backwards with an 'A' attached to make a usable name. I'm not sure where the surname came from, but it fits her

Bart Masterson (human pistolero)- Well, there was Black Bart and Bat Masterson in the western US in the late 1800s. So, I mashed names together for him.

Trade Prince Jared Helzberg (aasimar inquisitor of Cayden Cailen)- Two jewelery chains went into this name, and he trades gems and beer.

Ataru (human alchemist)- I'm a fan of Urusei Yatsura anime. I'm thinking of making a character based off of Lum, but I am not sure about that one.

And, one shout-out for a character I played in the Living Greyhawk game. My bard Euripides Burton. I remember being asked in an online game if I was Greek. No, I'm from the midwest US (Illinois), but the name sounded cool. Yes, his performance was dramatic acting.

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I'll be getting a boon at GenCon that will let me make a sylph character, so I'm considering the Sky Druid archetype with a roc companion. I'll probably name her Celia, and call the bird Witherwings. I'll be curious to see who recognizes the sources of those names.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Fromper wrote:
I'll probably name her Celia, and call the bird Witherwings. I'll be curious to see who recognizes the sources of those names.

Let's just say that the first one fits your board avatar really, really well. :-D


My tiger companion is properly named Hank the Tank. He likes it. He wishes more GMs would address him properly in the heat of battle, instead of simply "The Tiger".

Although most GMs have trouble pronouncing/remembering my halfing druid's name Catling (character from Sara Douglass fantasy novels, as are actually all of my characters' names). I usually just respond to anything that sounds similar (Kathleen, Kathy, Cat,hey you, Druid, etc).

As you can see by my first name, I'm totally used to most people mispronouncing my name. Lifelong curse...*sigh*

Silver Crusade

Mike Mistele wrote:
Fromper wrote:
I'll probably name her Celia, and call the bird Witherwings. I'll be curious to see who recognizes the sources of those names.
Let's just say that the first one fits your board avatar really, really well. :-D

Yes, it does.

Oddly, the bird's name is from a much more popular source, but it's an obscure enough name that I doubt many people will recognize it.

Sovereign Court 5/5

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Fromper wrote:
Mike Mistele wrote:
Fromper wrote:
I'll probably name her Celia, and call the bird Witherwings. I'll be curious to see who recognizes the sources of those names.
Let's just say that the first one fits your board avatar really, really well. :-D

Yes, it does.

Oddly, the bird's name is from a much more popular source, but it's an obscure enough name that I doubt many people will recognize it.

Oh no, I recognized it immediately.

Spoiler:
My house has one desktop computer and a ton of mobile devices. The desktop computer is called "Hagrid" and all the mobile devices are different magical beasts from Harry Potter. My family is kinda obsessed.

I'm pretty sure one of our laptops is called Witherwings, but I'm not sure which.

5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Illinois—Chicago aka thunderspirit

Iammars wrote:
Fromper wrote:
Mike Mistele wrote:
Fromper wrote:
I'll probably name her Celia, and call the bird Witherwings. I'll be curious to see who recognizes the sources of those names.
Let's just say that the first one fits your board avatar really, really well. :-D

Yes, it does.

Oddly, the bird's name is from a much more popular source, but it's an obscure enough name that I doubt many people will recognize it.

Oh no, I recognized it immediately.

** spoiler omitted **

I didn't recognize it immediately, but it didn't take very long. :-)

Silver Crusade

I knew I had heard the name before, but I read so much it was impossible to remember exactly where from.

Liberty's Edge 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Indiana—Martinsville aka thaX

It was also used in one of the movies, pointingly, cough, cough, hem hem.

Silver Crusade

A friend of mine used "Valspar", the name of a paint comapny. I'm gonna steal it for PFS...

The Exchange

I agree that interesting names are fun and I tend towards that direction, but let me play Devil's Advocate for a minute.

Many sessions are done in public places with people you don't interact with weekly. So if I name my character a combination of syllables or anagram to sound cool, the DM and other players have to remember that name, or its pronunciation if they write it down. That extra step can prove frustrating, especially with multiple characters with this problem, until suddenly it becomes a world filled only with pronouns.

Now you've taken even more away from the table feeling then if you named yourself Jack or Jill.

Obviously there's a lot of middle ground between "Bob" and "Ixdrangtoperine", but it's not an entirely one sided argument.

Personally, I've been writing other character names down for almost a decade of RPing, thanks to some players who got over excited with naming conventions.


Dinnae forget table tents for all those unknown/hard to pronounce names. :)

Dark Archive Venture-Agent, Washington—West Seattle aka melferburque

I don't see a problem with non-traditional family names. I usually stick to unusual or pun based names.

some of my faves:

kitsune bard: ta nooki, whose inspire courage song is the happy tree friends these (actually sung at the table)

dwarf cleric from the north: olaf moosittir (he eats moose, get it?)

dhampir inquisitor: wladimir krov (krov is Russian for blood)

human dim-bulb fighter: farmer ted (aka rube)

taldan human witch: the earl of wyndham (based on windhom earle from twin peaks, complete with an owl familiar and a grudge against a barrel-maker named dale. whittles chess pieces for a day job.)

and my wife has a female halfling mad dog barbarian named george, whose best friend is a boar named wilbur.

personally, the really difficult to pronounce names I just ignore... "hey fighter, you're up!"

Shadow Lodge 5/5

Well I've been on a silly name kick recently. Started up:

Mea Culpa, 6 int tiefling barbarian/black dragon disciple.
Annie Croakley, grippli musket master
Daine Jazoane, Thassilonian Evoker

The Exchange

lucky7 wrote:
A friend of mine used "Valspar", the name of a paint comapny. I'm gonna steal it for PFS...

I had a fighter named Bosch, like the power tools


Fantasy rule-of-thumb. Take a regular name and take away/switch out one letter.
Add an "iss" "iel" "us" or "ys" at the end.
It usually works.

Dark Archive

Well I do have a naming convention for my characters, basically it is that their character number should somewhere be in their name, so I have:

Charone - Half Orc Cleric
Tzwhy - Human rogue
Trey O'Malley - Halfling Gunslinger/Cavalier
Nigel Fire - Half Orc Paladin
Quintus - Teifling Magus (Skirnir)
Liyo - Tengu Monk (Weapon Adept)
Saith Llwelyn - Aasimar Inquisitor of Asmodius
Octol - Wayang Alchemist (Grenadier)

Works well for me, and I am learning to count in other languages ;)

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