Where’d ya get that name?
by Traci Thompson

So, how do you come up with a character name for a role-playing game? Here are some ways that people I know have come up with them.
  • Random collection of letters
  • A character name in a book they read
  • Something that they made up that just sounds cool
  • A character’s name from a movie
The main way that I choose character names is based on my association with the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA). Previously in the SCA, I held the position of herald—specifically, a book herald. In the SCA, a book herald is a person who researches names and/or coats of arms to make sure that they are in alignment with the actual naming practices (or coat of arms creation practices) of the Middle Ages.

So, my characters tend to have relatively authentic medieval names. I say relatively authentic because I, being a fan of all things Irish, generally choose Irish Gaelic names for my characters, and there are certain rules for those names that I try to follow. However, there are times when I find out that I did not create the name exactly right.

Being a former herald, I know many sources of free information to find these medieval names. Good places to start looking are the SCA’s main heraldry page (http://sca.org/heraldry/laurel/names.html) and the Academy of Saint Gabriel’s list of name articles (http://s-gabriel.org).

Examples of character names that I am using in my Dungeons and Dragons Online (DDO) game (for pronunciations, a single vowel means the vowel is short (a = a in cat), a double vowel means the vowel is long (aa = a in crate). Some of the vowel sounds are not exact…so I had to improvise a bit. I use a short u to represent the schwa--http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/schwa):

  • Temair Ban
    • Pronunciation: Tu-maar Bon
    • Meaning: Temair the white/fair
  • Cahira Fhind
    • Pronunciation: Cuh-heer-uh Find
    • Meaning: Fair Warrior
  • Eadaoin inghean Chathaoir
    • Pronunciation: A-deen een-yen Cuh-heer
    • Meaning: Eadaoin daughter of Chathaoir
  • Lasairfhiona Dubh
    • Pronunciation: Loss-ir-een-a Duuv
    • Meaning: Lassairfhiona the black (this is a Drow character)

All of these names (with the exception of Cahira, which is 17th century, I believe) are names that can be traced to the Middle Ages, usually around 1300 AD to 1600 AD, and all are names (again with the exception Cahira) that I found from those websites that I have listed.

Many cultures are available with these sources. Mongolian, Indian, Byzantine, Croatian, Czech, British, Scandinavian, and Russian are some of the cultures available on these websites. Happy hunting for new names! And if you need advice or help, feel free to contact Cahira: cahira_of_bonwicke@yahoo.com.♦

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010 © Ladies of Hack/Kenzer & Company

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