Thursday, August 13, 2009

It's All in the Name

I am not a huge fan of fantasy names that are unpronounceable. I know when I am reading a fantasy novel and I come across a name like Tzrabroldvro the Wonderfully Dull, it becomes T or just plain dull. I would hurt myself if I tried to pronounce it. I say keep it simple and have some relevance linguistically and culturally. Too many folks just throw a bunch of letters together turn on the blender and make names out of the mess. You don't want reader to work that hard pronouncing names, but rather enjoy the story and adventure.

I know when I name my characters it's a critical step. A good name makes all the difference in how you play the character and how much you can get into it. The name become a part of that character's personality and how I play them. But I've made characters that I've never played in a game and use the names in stories, for NPCs and the occasional blog. The most successful names and memorable names I've had were just off normal a bit. Tastes of course vary, but my blog home, Gothridge Manor, is based off a character I ran called Vander Gothridge. Always liked that name. Used it in the MMORPGs I spent too many hours on. But the point is the name is easy to pronounce. No one will risk a sprained tongue saying it and it's easy to remember.

One side note, I just watched an interesting documentary on MMORPGs called Second Skin on Hulu. I think August 13th is the last day it will be on so give it a watch. It's pretty good.


  1. I have always thought the 'mundane' names are often overlooked as somehow 'uncool' and 'unfitting' for fantasy.

    But Samson or Robert can make fine character names in my book, and can be just as evocative.

  2. Ron Edwards points out in his game "Sorcerer and Sword" how most pulp fantasy characters in literature use real world names, though they may be archaic or from non-English speaking cultures.

    Tolkien's the only fantasy author I give a pass for made-up names, since he's basing them off his own linguistic template.

    Am I the only one who thinks "Drizzt" sounds like something mucous-y excreted from one's face?

  3. JB>Nope, you are not the only one.