Monthly Archives: July 2010

Beyond “Fred”: Anglo-Saxon Names for Characters

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Finding a good name is sometimes the hardest part of designing an NPC. You want something more exotic than “Fred the Fighter”, but “Frewxyque the Grand Thunder Duke” becomes too hard to say with a straight face after the first first time.  Baby name books can help, but some of the best names come from real-world sources. Beyond ‘Fred’ is a series that lists names from various sources broken down by region and/or time period.

We’re doing Anglo-Saxon names this time. Some of these names are still in use, but others are as unusual as any gamer-made names. As usual, I’ve separated them out into male and female names.

Name Structure

Historically, Anglo-Saxons had no surnames as we would think of them. Sometimes, a person (usually aristrocracy) would be identified by a trait or play on words  (Aethylred the Unready, for example) or by a connection to a famous ancestor. If your game setting requires a character to have more than one name, you can always use a place name (“of Meadowbrook”), a profession name (“Smith” or “the Baker”), or “son/daughter of” and a parent’s name (“Oswynson”).

Note: many Anglo-Saxon names use the letter “eth” (Ð, ð). Since I’m not concerned with historical accuracy here, I’ve substituted “th” for any eth in the names below.

(Photo courtesy of Flickr, ©Snake3yes 2006)

Male Names

  • Acwellen
  • Aethelred
  • Aethelwulf
  • Aheawan
  • Badanoth
  • Baldred
  • Beornric
  • Caedmon
  • Cælin
  • Cenhelm
  • Ceolwulf
  • Cuthen
  • Delwyn
  • Denewulf
  • Eadfrid
  • Eadric
  • Eanlac
  • Elwyn
  • Fremund
  • Frithulaf
  • Godfrith
  • Grimbald
  • Guthred
  • Hardred
  • Hereric
  • Horik
  • Horsa
  • Idmaer
  • Ingwulf
  • Irminric
  • Leofric
  • Liudolf
  • Merewald
  • Morcar
  • Ordmaer
  • Osred
  • Oswyn
  • Raedfrid
  • Rægenhere
  • Reduald
  • Romund
  • Saeward
  • Selred
  • Sigeric
  • Sighere
  • Stithwulf
  • Swithun
  • Theodgar
  • Thrydwulf
  • Thunor
  • Trumwin
  • Turec
  • Waldere
  • Wihtlac
  • Yric
  • Wulfhere

Female Names

  • Aerlene
  • Aethelthryth
  • Alduulf
  • Alodia
  • Anlienisse
  • Baldeth
  • Beadohild
  • Bregusuid
  • Burwena
  • Ceolwynn
  • Cynethryth
  • Cynwise
  • Domneva
  • Eadwynn
  • Eanfled
  • Eanwin
  • Eoforwine
  • Frigyth
  • Godwyna
  • Golderon
  • Hendina
  • Hild (or Hilda)
  • Hrotsvitha
  • Mildgyth
  • Modthryth
  • Oslafa
  • Osthryd
  • Rimilda
  • Roswitha
  • Saewynn
  • Somerild
  • Sunngifu
  • Tonild
  • Tortgith
  • Turgiua
  • Wenyld
  • Winfrith
  • Wulfrun
  • Wulfwynn
  • Wynflead


Other “Beyond Fred” Posts

Growing the Hobby

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For this month’s blog carnival Mad Brew Labs has posed the question “Challenge: Growing the Hobby”. Since I started playing in 1980, the hobby has grown exponentially and shows no sign of stopping. Sure, in the general population interest flares up, wanes, and fares again but the sheer number of people who play RPGs has grown considerably since its beginning. Do we really need it to grow more?

I think that before we can really answer the question of how to grow our hobby, we need to define exactly what hobby it is that we’re trying to grow. It’s RPGs, of course. But what, exactly, are RPGs? Tabletop games using traditional rules systems such as D&D, GURPS, Storyteller, Savage Worlds, etc. are obviously RPGs. But tabletop games have grown away from the table or were never there to start with. Are LARPs (live-action roleplaying games) RPGs? I think most of us would answer “yes”, simply because they’re usually based on a tabletop system.

But that being the case then, do the How to Host a Murder games that were popular in the late ’80’s also RPGs? I tend not classify them as RPGs for the simple matter that they involved reading lines from a set script. But what about the murder mystery trains and interactive theatres? How about re-enactment and re-creation such as the Society for Creative Anacronisms and black-powder rendezvous? What makes them different from LARPS?

Moving back to tabletop (in a way), we come to Play by Mail, Play by Email, and Play by Post games. Are they also RPGs? I think most of us would, again, say “yes” because they’re still playing something we recognize as an RPG. But that, then, leads us to open the big can of worms … MMOs. Are MMOs a type of RPG?

My point here isn’t to spark debate about what is or isn’t an RPG. My point is that the hobby may already be more mainstream and wide-spread than we frequently think.

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