How do you guys come up with fantasy names?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by SCG4473, Jun 19, 2019.

  1. SCG4473

    SCG4473 Villager Member

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    Hey guys, hope you're all having a wonderful day!
    Anyways, I'm making a game with a medieval-fantasy theme and I'm having lots of trouble coming up with fantasy-sounding names for things like mythical creatures, places, people, factions and the like.
    I've tried looking everywhere online but, what little I've found hasn't helped me much.
    So I've decided to ask you more experienced game makers, how do you approach coming up with fantasy names that sound good?
    Thanks in advance!!!
    (sorry if you guys have gotten this question like a billion times before lol)
     
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  2. kirbwarrior

    kirbwarrior Veteran Veteran

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    My solution to fantasy names is basically making it up and seeing if I like it. I do this most in roleplaying since I often improvise. If I can't come up with something in a few seconds, I'll usually look at my keyboard and just start with whatever letter I see first.
    But for the bolded, I usually look up things with the theme I'm going for. Existing myth can easily be warped and changed to both keep a feel that's already there and mixed with the feel of your setting. If your setting is also similar or based on a pre-existing one (for instance, medieval europe is common), then you can look into those places to find a similar feel of names.
    I also sometimes come up with systems. One species in the setting I'm working has a simplistic and somewhat formulaic system for their names; 4 letters long, consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel, with a few more little things. I realized I was already accidentally doing it, so I came up with thirty names just stringing letters together following that rules and all the names worked perfectly for the feeling I wanted.
    Working on a new language can also help. A ton of work goes into that, but you can use that language for naming things even though your game will (presumably) play in an IRLth language.

    The simple answer is basically "Do I like this name?". You can ask others what they think, you can think of why you like the name, you can come up with names and switch them around to see how they feel on different things, but for me it comes down to that simple question. Once I like it, I'll explore why later but keep it until I come up with a reason not to.

    However, I don't know much about consistency of names. I absolutely know that my fantasy names don't always feel like they come from the same setting/culture/what have you.
     
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  3. shockra

    shockra Slightly Crazy Programmer Veteran

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    In my experience, it's best not to overthink it. If your instinct tells you something about a name, listen to it. For instance, while a name like Sordinarkus might fit the fantasy aspect, it sounds ridiculous, especially if the character is human. Something shorter, like Sordin, would fit better.

    Consider the character who has the name. The type of creature dictates a lot about if a name works, as well as their background. For instance, a ninja-style character may have a name like Tokira, with its roots in the Japanese alphabet, while a more barbaric character may have a name like Harkoth, a tougher, less-refined name. Still, don't think too hard about it. In most cases, simpler is better.
     
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  4. MushroomCake28

    MushroomCake28 KAMO Studio Veteran

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    My secret: Google translate English -> Latin or Greek.
     
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  5. CoryH

    CoryH Veteran Veteran

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  6. TheoAllen

    TheoAllen Self-proclaimed jack of all trades Veteran

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    Option 1: Combine two random nouns or literally with an adjective or even verb. I'm not even the native but I've seen many "fantasy names" use this kind of format. Like... Stonerock (Redundant, but eh), Widowfall, Cloudpeak, Skyward (I used this), Northreach, Windhelm, Whitehelm, etc.

    Option 2: Use whatever word then add either of these suffixes "-ia" or "-ium". Numidium, Erandia, Erantopia, Almanera, Eremidia (I used this) etc,

    Option 3: Translate whatever word into a Latin version.

    Option 4: Just use name generators.
     
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  7. Nekohime1989

    Nekohime1989 'Monks Are Awesome' Veteran

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    Why not just use normal names?
     
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  8. woootbm

    woootbm Super Sand Legend Veteran

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    Like this?
    XD

    Just to throw on what's already been said, I also make sure to use different starting letters with each important character, as well as other differences between structure, length, origin of names so that each character is distinguishable from another. Like in my game, there's Xavienne, Ilyich, Hernandon, and La. I guess I just hate stories where I mix up who's who because of similarities that I just do everything I can to avoid it.

    It's also definitely good to draw on real world naming conventions. I do Google searches and bring up lists of names to get a feel for how a given place would name their people, and have lands based on those areas in my game that can mimic them. In my next game, I have names inspired by Greek/Latin, then some names from Scandinavian (Swedish/Norse), some that are kinda Welsh/Gaelic... and some are honestly more like fantasy nonsense.

    I like a diverse cast :hwink:
     
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  9. SCG4473

    SCG4473 Villager Member

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    Thank you guys, I've been looking into your suggestions and it's helped me a lot!
     
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  10. kirbwarrior

    kirbwarrior Veteran Veteran

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    I think a point here is that shorter names generally sound better. A strong, long name is often a rarity, usually being a single grandiose villain or the mystical area. For instance, with the above, Sordin is what I'd expect a PC or normal NPC to be named, while Sordinarkus sounds like a villain or big-time leader; Lord Sordinarkus. It carries a similar weight to Voldemort or Ganondorf.
     
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  11. xaev

    xaev Veteran Veteran

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    Right. It's like picking a cool IGN for characters LOl. My type of aesthetic would be uncommon words with meanings that relate to the game.
     
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  12. Tigerawr

    Tigerawr Veteran Veteran

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    For places, factions, etc, you can fuse two words together, like they do in WoW or in Skyrim.

    For people, I just use normal names. I find it quite unpleasant to have everyone have the same kind of generic fantasy names. If I create an aztec-ish people, I give them nahua names, while chinese-ish people get chinese names, and boom, variety. For a generic medieval setting, I usually go with latin or greek names, since I'm not a fan of actual medieval names.
     
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  13. Lornsteyn

    Lornsteyn Sleepy Dragon Veteran

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    I usually look at historical and mythological stuff. (Name of gods, explorers, locations)
    The wikipedia about known explorers and scientists is a really good place for good names.
     
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  14. Faye Valentine

    Faye Valentine The Mapgician Veteran

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    Pretty much what everyone else said. Though I am more to call my characters with normal names. Even common names, like Rose, which I used for the protagonist of my game, Heartland. Naming is so important when it comes to characters, it somehow can tell about their personality. Or maybe that's just me making things up haha. But at least it's like that for me. What I will never use is names in my own native language.

    I don't know if it happens to anyone but I also name characters by looking at their graphics (i.e face graphics, portrait, drawing etc.). Like, I define its name by its looks. Most of the times it just comes to me, like some sort of random naming inspiration.

    By the way, very off-topic but I liked @Lornsteyn name a lot.
     
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  15. kirbwarrior

    kirbwarrior Veteran Veteran

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    It's a quick way to tell the audience some about the character without actually saying much. It creates an subconscious connected with the character when it's a known name, especially in a language where names have connected meanings (it doesn't always work so well in english, flowers and gemstones work as names but Cloud and Lightning not so much).
     
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  16. ufomonster

    ufomonster THAT kid Member

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    when it comes to fantasy names specifically, you can convey a lot about a character or place not just by using pre-existing words but also sounds! when you come up with a name, think of the amount of consonant and vowel sounds, syllables, etc.!

    for example if you have a character you want to seem very sharp, quick or harsh, K, T, X or long vowel sounds with only a few syllables will convey that kind of quickness! if you have a soft, quiet and slow character, F, S, H or short vowel sounds over a longer name conveys that as well! there are also some other things i can think of that i'm not sure apply to everyone or just me (D, P and G sounds give me a vibe in between the earlier examples, V, Z and R sounds as more "mysterious," idk) so there's a whole lot you can potentially come up with if you just start babbling sounds and see what happens. not that i trust wikipedia but this experiment done with shapes and consonant/vowel sounds pertains to what i'm getting at a little bit!

    i also like punny names personally! like in shrek, "farquaad" sounds like a totally normal fantasy name until you say it with a british accent:kaoswt:i like fantasy names because they're so versatile and so easily created just by manipulating your language of choice a bit!
     
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  17. kaukusaki

    kaukusaki Awesome Programmer Extraordinaire Veteran

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    Gary Gygax's Extraordinary Book of Names XD
     
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  18. AsuranFish

    AsuranFish Veteran Veteran

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    For places and abilities, I also frequently use Google Translate.

    For named enemies, I usually just make them up - but have a theme for each "race". If I was going with an Orc type enemy, I'd use something like Skulltaker Kagomak or whatever. The less "human" an enemy, the wilder I'll get with the names. There's a weird demonic tentacle monster in my game which is called something like Desecrator Xolitz. For things like basic, sentient enemies, I'd name them something like (Tribename) + (Job Class)… Koaka Trickster, Iroki Flesher, etc...
     
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  19. ave36

    ave36 Veteran Veteran

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    Most of names in my project, Legend of Terra Firma, come from specific cultures. For example, there are the lands of the Ruritanian Empire, Blanchion, Zitania and Four Cities. Ruritania is faux Germanic, Blanchion is faux English, Zitania is Romance and Four Cities are faux Eastern European. So when you see someone named Countess von Schlacht, she must be Ruritanian, a Captain Seawolfe must be from Blanchion, a Father Inigo must be Zitanian and Miroslava Aurorinska is from the Four Cities. Some anime inspired characters, such as the ninja maid party member and a catgirl recurring antagonist, have inexplicably Japanese names.

    For elvish names, I use the Grelvish conlang inspired by Tolkien's languages, and for Dark Elven, a letter-substituted form of Grelvish that makes it sound dark and menacing.
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2019
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  20. Eschaton

    Eschaton Hack Fraud Veteran

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    I can only tell you what you shouldn't do. Try to avoid consonant-on-consonant contact. Compose your names out of syllables rather than individual letters.

    Names like Midna dont roll off the tongue as well as Midina.
     
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