How to Break Bad Naming Habits?


Gamer Life General Discussion

Radiant Oath

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Hi, I'm Archpaladin Zousha and I play way too many characters whose names start with the letter "A."

How do I break this bad habit and begin developing an appreciation for names that start with other letters? They just feel so...unattractive...


Nothing's going to force you to find names attractive if you don't want to. That being said, there are plenty of ways to find names. Random generators, baby name sites and scouring your favorite fiction are all starting points. One I use in my own games is to pick an obscure language my players don't know, such as Hungarian or Gaelic, and then research root words relating to the NPC I want to make.

Got an evil ogre barbarian based around a Bite attack? Harapogonosz, where Harap is Hungarian for Bite, and Gonosz is Hungarian for Evil. The ogre's actual name is Bite of Evil.

Or you can just bastardize it to fit your needs. The same ogre could just be called Gonarp, or Harnosz. The key is to find something you feel good saying/thinking. If everything you feel good about starts wit an "A" no amount of suggestions is gonna change that.

Do you really WANT to like other names?


I keep a list of names. (Actually, several lists of names for various RPG genres.) When I come across or invent a cool name that I want to use later I'll write it down. (Keeping such lists in Google Docs makes it easy to reference regardless of what device happens to be most handy.)

When I use a name, I scratch it off the list. I keep these lists handy when I GM in case I need to give an NPC a name that's better than "Bill the bartender."

Those random name generators are great for inspiration, as well.

Radiant Oath

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

That's the thing, I have several of those kinds of lists scattered about various books, but the problem is when I use them, my eyes immediately jump to the ones that start with "A" because those just sort of seem to "look cool." Like, if I'm looking at Scandinavian names to name a dwarf, names like "Arngrim" or "Askstenn" jump out at me more than names like "Thorarin", "Vestar" or "Guthorm."

As for if I really want to LIKE other names, I feel like I need to be more flexible and have more variety in the characters I play. If my characters are effectively all the same person wearing different hats, that means I'm boring to roleplay with.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

I use a name-generating site where I can set the rules for how the words are generated. If I want a name that starts with a particular letter or dipthong, I can set up the algorithm to do that.

If it's just a matter that you prefer names that start with 'A', then you can either allow yourself to keep doing that, or make some rules for yourself so you stop.

Like a rule that says "I have to choose a name that starts with one of the first 5 letters of the alphabet."
Or a rule that says, "I can't choose a name that starts with 'A' again until I have characters with names that start with every other letter of the alphabet."
Or a rule that says "I'll roll a d100, and take whatever name from my list that is in that slot".

All kinds of ways to expand how you make your choices.


I actively try to either find real names or come up with names that do not sound like most of the Western European languages, and I do my best to not have them sound like Tolkien created them because quite honestly that has been done to death. Nor will I use an apostrophe in a name. Ever. And using something crude and thinking I'm clever is something I left behind a long, long time ago (for instance, a guy who wants to sit in with us wants to name his rogue "Chlamydia Stenchditch"). One of my players is a fourteen year old girl and that is definitely something her dad (who is also one of my group) would not find amusing. So I asked that he change it. I don't think he was too happy about that.

Like Mark and others have mentioned, I use baby name guides or look for words from other languages that can be translated into something that represents the character in some way. I've never used a name generator; I may give those a look-see.


Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
That's the thing, I have several of those kinds of lists scattered about various books, but the problem is when I use them, my eyes immediately jump to the ones that start with "A" because those just sort of seem to "look cool." Like, if I'm looking at Scandinavian names to name a dwarf, names like "Arngrim" or "Askstenn" jump out at me more than names like "Thorarin", "Vestar" or "Guthorm."

I have this problem with Greek names. I have a Greek mythology collection that gives the meanings of each name in the index, and I use that all the time to pull new names for the Greek myth game I run for my wife. But I have to page through so many "A" names when I'm just looking for something with a meaning that's appropriate to the character I just invented. And it's worse with women's names--at least a third of the Amazons she's ever meant have names starting with A, and that's with me trying hard not to overdo it.


Archpaladin Zousha wrote:

That's the thing, I have several of those kinds of lists scattered about various books, but the problem is when I use them, my eyes immediately jump to the ones that start with "A" because those just sort of seem to "look cool." Like, if I'm looking at Scandinavian names to name a dwarf, names like "Arngrim" or "Askstenn" jump out at me more than names like "Thorarin", "Vestar" or "Guthorm."

As for if I really want to LIKE other names, I feel like I need to be more flexible and have more variety in the characters I play. If my characters are effectively all the same person wearing different hats, that means I'm boring to roleplay with.

Adding flexibility and variety isn't so much in the name, but how you play them. I've played 3 clerics in my buddy's games: Carrick, Merick and now Larryck. One was in a 3.5 game and was a human, sword-wielding paladin wannabe. Carrick is a dwarf in a 5e game with the Tempest domain who believes in nature, and the weather, over everything, including morality (very Neutral). Larryck, the new guy, hasn't made it to the table yet but is a half-elf cleric in another 3.5 game, based around a god of magic and death, who wants to become a premier dark necromancer (so long as the other players are on board).

So Merick is sort of a square-jawed super hero type, Carrick is a gruff "survival of the fittest" outlander type, and Larryck is going to be doing a lot of dark scheming with an eye towards fame for his necromantic discoveries. 3 characters, some similarities, lots of differences, very similar sounding names.

Your character is what you make it, whether they're named Ahsoka, Ashram, or Athraxus the Cloven. If you want to change your naming habits, there's sites like this one to help with that. If you want a more diverse set of characters, that's a much bigger ball of wax.

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