Posted by okcstephens
The very first professional RPG writing of mine that was published was the elven name generator in Dragon 251. I’d done (and even been paid for) freelance work prior to that, but none of it was published before that issue hit the stands. It was the beginning of one of my early series, RPG name and language articles, which included the seven By Any Other Name, Cry Havoc, and Dragontongue articles in Dragon Magazine, What’s In A Name in Pyramid magazine, Call Signs in Star Wars gamer magazine, and some work on the online D&D name generator for 4th edition.
One of the things I am proudest of about the majority of those articles is that in addition to allowing random creation of appropriate-sounding names, the articles have just enough definition to allow the meaning of the names to be determined. It’s rough of course—this is designed to allow some fun details for RPG characters and stories, not create full constructed languages like Klingon or Dothraki. But I’ve found being able to tell someone their magic sword is named the dwarven name for “Dragon’s Bite,” and for the player to then use the article to name a back-up weapon “Dragon’s Fire”, adds a lot even with the fairly lose rules.
But while the elven By Any Other Name in Dragon 251 was the first of all of those to get published, I actually pitched (and wrote) a dwarven name generator first. It eventually got accepted and published in Dragon 261. I never felt “done” with that name generator, but honestly I felt like it was the best of all the ones I did (though the kuo-toa name generator is a lot of fun, too).
But I am always thinking about other ways to do similar things (even though, in the age of the Internet, I don’t know if there is any need for yet more simple name generators). I have wondered, for example, what the shortest possible useful name generator is.
I have made a dwarf name generator, with hints for definitions, with ten elements.
I suspect that is too short.
But it’s worth floating and see how people react to it.
To use the generator roll 1d10 twice, to determine the prefix and suffix of the name. for example, a y and then a 3 gives you Mhordun, which could mean Fire Rune, Scholar of Dragons, Treasured Scroll, Destined to Rage, or any other combination of similar words you like.
If you roll the same number twice, ignore the second result and instead do three word elements. For example if you rolls 10 and then 10 again, ignore the second ten and roll twice more (still ignoring 10s). If you got a 1 and a 8, your name is Wularnhar.
With these rules and just 10 intermixable name segments, you end up with hundreds of possible names, with definitions, to use for anything dwarven. If you want male and female names to be different, you can add some feminine suffixes (-a, dot, -gurd, -hild, -ir) to either use in place of some name segments below, or to add to the end of a name generated using the standard rules.
- ar – warrior, axeman, weapon, sword, spear, pick, retribution
2. bal – armor, shield, guardian, ward, abjuration, iron
3. dun – dragon, rage, fire, treasure, gold
4. fel – thief, spy, shadow, darkness, assassin, death
5. grym – ring, sorcerer, warlock, magic, eldritch
6. kar – servant, slave, secret, traitor, lock, binding
7. mhor – scholar, wisdom, scroll, rune, destiny
8. nhar – battle cry, thunder, bard, horn
9. thyr – ice, frost, calm, silver, cleric
10. wul – craftsman, craft, skill, beer, mead, art, artisan, beauty
No, it’s not another set of dwarven name segments (though it could be — just use a d12 instead of a d10). It’s the main way I fund writing content for my blog. If you enjoyed this post, please consider backing me. 🙂