Finding a character’s name can sometimes be the hardest part of building a character. If you’re looking for something different from the usual fantasy sources and more pronounceable that a random name generator, you may find something here you like.
Beyond ‘Fred’ is an occasional series that provides lists of names from real-world cultures, both past and present. In other posts, I’ve covered everything from Italian to Ancient Egyptian. This time, we’re covering names from ancient Sumer. Some of these names are names of gods and goddesses, some are names of kings, and some are names of ordinary people. A few lists didn’t even have names broken down by gender or seemed to be used for either gender. For that reason, I’m including a third category I don’t normally use: unknown gender or gender-neutral names.
An important note: I’m listing names that I think sound cool for rpg game purposes. I’m not worrying about historical accuracy. If you’re looking for a name for historical re-enactment, please check out my list of sources at the end of this post. I also don’t usually cover name meanings, but again, most of my sources list those. Finally, I tend to stay away from names that are currently in common usage. I figure if you were interested in those, you wouldn’t be looking at this list.
Male Sumerian Names
Female Sumerian Names
Sumerian names of unknown gender (or gender-neutral)
This is the 4th post of my series on introducing new players to your game.
Most of the time, when you bring an new player into your game, you’ll be adding someone who’s already an experienced player. But whether she’s been playing RPGs for 10 months or 10 years, remember that she’s still a new player to your game and much of the advice given in my post on introducing a brand-new player to your game still applies.
In Introducing a New Player to an Established Group, I talked about knowing your limits. This is doubly important when you’re considering adding an experienced new player. Most GMs will realize that a brand-new-to-RPG player will take extra time and make them more likely to think twice before adding new players.
But it’s very easy to over-estimate how many players you can handle when adding an experienced new player. It’s extremely flattering to have someone wanting to join your game. However, while you can run pretty well with fewer than your optimal number of players, running with more than that is usually a recipe for disaster.
Figure out the maximum number of players you can comfortably handle and don’t exceed it. If you find you’ve got more people interested in playing then you have seats for, count yourself blessed. In this situation, you basically have two choices:
Never allow yourself to be pressured into adding a player if you’re not ready to. No matter how much your current player wants to add his new girlfriend or how much that new player you met at the last convention begs, keep to your limit. If you don’t, you’ll probably find that running your game becomes a chore instead of pleasure. Remember: if you’re not having fun, no one else will.
Before asking that new player to join, spend some time getting to know him. Meet outside of a game session and just talk. Ask him about his previous game experience, what he’s liked or disliked about previous games he’s played. Do this before you tell him anything about your game.
Ask about his favorite character and why it’s his favorite. How he describes his character can tell you a lot about his preferred play style. If you’ve got an entire group of Character Actors, and your prospective player starts telling you about his character’s stats and all the cool bonuses he’s gained and how much damage he can do in combat, he’s probably not the best fit for your game.
If this sounds like a job interview, it is, in a way. And like at a job interview, the player is likely to be on his best behavior. He’ll be eager to make a good impression and will probably tell you that your group’s play style is his absolute favorite thing. That’s why I recommend asking him about his interests before you tell him anything about your game.
The most important thing here is to listen to your intuition. Does this player seem a good fit for your group? Are you completely comfortable around him? It’s okay to feel a few jitters about having to talk to someone completely new, but if he makes you feel unsafe or even just uncomfortable–even if you can’t say why–thank him for his time and tell him you don’t think he’s a good fit for your game.
Tactful honesty is definitely the best policy here. You don’t want to disappoint him; because of that, many GMs will admit a new player, even if they’re not comfortable with him, rather than hurt his feelings. But no matter how hard it is to turn a player down, it’s still much easier to turn the player away at this point than it is to kick him out later when he turns out to be a problem player.
However, you’re not the only one who needs to be comfortable with new player. The rest of your group needs to be comfortable with him, too. If, after talking to him, you think he’d be a good fit for your group, ask him to sit in on a couple of game sessions. This will give him a chance to see if he thinks he’ll enjoy your game and give the rest of your group a chance to meet him.
After he’s done his “sitting in” time, ask each of your players individually what they think of him. If any of your players feel uncomfortable around him, try to find out why. If it’s because she “doesn’t like his energy,” pay attention to that; it’s probably her intuition picking up on something wrong. In this case, he’s probably not good for your game.
If, however, it’s because he looks a lot like her ex-boyfriend, but she knows she’ll be able to get beyond that after she gets to know him better, go ahead and add him. Players with minor concerns can usually tell you exactly what they don’t like about a player. Usually the group can work through these issues. But you never want to sacrifice a good existing player for an unknown new player.
Next time, I’ll talk about ways to actually add the new player to the game and Beg, Borrow & Steal (my newsletter) this month will cover six ways to add a new PC to your game. It’s a free monthly (roughly) newsletter of GM tips. You can sign up for that in the sidebar of any of this blog’s pages.
[Photo courtesy of jeffreyw via Flickr Creative Commons]
Looking for a character name that sounds distinctive but doesn’t look like it came out of a random name generator? How about one from Ancient Greece? Often the best names come from real life. Beyond ‘Fred’ is an occasional series that provides lists of names from real-world cultures, both past and present. In other posts, I’ve covered everything from Italian to Ancient Egyptian.
An important note: I’m listing names that I think sound cool for rpg game purposes. I’m not worrying about historical accuracy. If you’re looking for a name for historical re-enactment, please check out my list of sources at the end of this post. I also don’t usually cover name meanings, but again, most of my sources list those. Finally, I tend to stay away from names that are currently in common usage. I figure if you were interested in those, you wouldn’t be looking at this list
Everyone has trouble coming up with character names, at least occasionally. Especially GMs, who frequently have to come up with names on the spur of the moment. That’s what this series, “Beyond ‘Fred’” is all about: providing lists of names from other times and cultures so you can find a name that feels right for the time and place of your game.
In this series, I’m more interested in finding names that capture the feel of various game settings. Historical accuracy is not a factor here. In the spirit of my new Castle Falkenstein campaign, here’s a list of names common in Victorian England and America:
Biblical names were very popular in the Victorian Era, as were virtues (such as Chastity or Hope), and flowers (primarily for women). Both boys and girls were also given “nature” names, such as Forrest, Fern
Other “Beyond ‘Fred’” posts:
You can’t have a character without a name. Yet, sometimes, creating the name is the hardest thing about making a character. “Beyond ‘Fred’” is a series that lists names from history and other cultures to help you find that perfect character name.
This time, we’re covering Anglo-Saxon names again, they’re just that cool. I’m doing something I haven’t done before in this series, and that’s giving some pronunciation guides, along with the name’s meaning. That’s because Anglo-Saxon names have meanings that are so perfect for fantasy games. My pronunciations may not be exactly perfect, but they’ll work for fantasy games.
Because of that, I’ve repeated some of my favorite names from the first Anglo-Saxon names post, so that you have an idea of how to pronounce them. Of course, if it’s fantasy, you can pronounce these any way you want to .
As always, I am more concerned with “flavor” than historical accuracy. So, without further ado….
Æðelbald (A-thel-bald): nobly bright
Ælfhere (Alf-he-re. These are short “e”s, as in “red”): elf warrior
Ælfred (Alf-red): elf counsel
Ælfwine (Alf-win-e): elf friend
Æthelwulf (A-thel-wülf): noble wolf
Arlys (AR-loos): honorable
Baldric (Bald-ric): bold power
Banan (BAN-an): slayer
Baylor (BAA-oo-lore): horse trainer
Beorhtraed (BE-ore-tread. Short “e”, like “bed”): bright counsel
Betlic (BET-lick): Splendid
Boden (BO-den. With a short “o”, like “pot”): messenger
Cædmon (CAD-mon. With a short “o”, like “pot”): poet
Cæna (CHAIN-a): brave, fierce, keen, warlike
Canute (KA-noot-e): knot
Cedric (CHED-rick): renown leader
Dægal (DA-gall): dweller by the dark stream
Deogol (DE-o-gol): secret
Deorwine (DE-or-win-e): dear friend
Drefan (DRE-van): trouble
Eadmar (E-ad-mar): happy and illustrious
Earh (E-are): coward
Edwyn (ED-woon): valued
Faran (FAR-ann): advances
Firman (FIR-man): traveler
Frithuric (FRI-thu-rick): peace ruler
Fyren (FOO-ren): wicked
Galan (Gaa-laan): sing
Gar (GAAR): spear
Gifre (GIF-re. Short “i”, like “gift”): greedy
Gim (GIM. Short “i”, like “gift”): gem
Godwine (GOD-win-e): God’s friend
Grindan (GRIN-dan): sharp
Halwende (HALL-wen-de): lonely
Hengist (HEN-yist): stallion
Ida (ID-a): rich
Irwyn (IRR-woon): sea lover
Kenric (KEN-rick): fearless leader
Landry (LAN-dree): ruler
Leodgar (LE-odd-gar): people’s spear
Lufian (LUV-ee-an): love
Magan (MA-gan): competent
Merwyn (MER-woon): good friend
Nyle (NOO-le): desire
Osbeorn (OS-beh-arn): divine bear
Rædan (RAW-dan): advisor
Raynar (RA-oo-nar): warrior of judgement
Raulf (RA-ulf): house wolf
Rowe (Rah-we): red-haired
Sar (SAR): pain
Scead (SKE-ad): shade
Scur (SKOOR): storm
Seleferth (SELL-e-ferrth): hall life
Selwyn (SEL-woon): fitting friend
Sherard (SER-ard): glorious valor. I’m guessing this is actually “Serard”, since I’ve never seen an “sh” sound in true Anglo-Saxon. It’s usually a modern interpretation
Sigefried (SIG-e-fri-ed): conquering peace
Temman (TEM-man): tame
Þunor (THOO-nar): thunder
Thurgis (THOOR-yis): Thor’s hostage
Wassa (WAS-sa): satyr(?)–uncertain about the exact meaning of this
Wilfrith (WIL-frith): resolute peace (my actual guess would be “stern friend”)
Winfrith (WIN-frith): friend of peace
Wulfric (WÜL-frick): wolf ruler
Æðelþryð (A-thel-throoth): noble threatener
Ælfgifu (ALF-gi-voo): elf gift
Ælflæd (ALF-lad): elf beauty
Æryn (AR-oon): elf-like
Ardith (AR-dith): good war
Bemia (BEH-mih-a): battle maiden
Bysen (BOO-sen): unique
Cate (KA-te): innocent
Cendra (KEN-dra): knowledgeable, understands
Cwen (KE-wen): queen
Cyneburga (KOO-ne-burr-ga): pledge of kindred
Darel (DAR-el): little beloved
Eadhild (E-ad-hild. The first “e” is a short e): rich battle maid
Eadlin (E-ad-lin): princess
Edita (E-dit-a): joyful
Eldrita (ELD-rit-a): prudent advisor
Erna (ER-na): reserved, shy
Faina (FA-in-a): joyful
Frithuswith (FRI-thoos-with. Both “i”s are short): peace strength
Gisa (GI-sa): hostage
Hreða (HRE-tha. The “hr” is an unvoiced r. Say ‘H’, then ‘r’ very quickly): an Anglo-Saxon goddess
Hrothwyn (HROTH-woon. The “hr” is an unvoiced r. Say ‘H’, then ‘r’ very quickly): famous joy
Leola (LE-ola. The “o” is short, like in “pot”): deer, swift (as a deer)
Maéda (Ma-ee-da): maiden
Mildryth (MILLED-rooth): mild pledge
Muriel (Muh-ri-el): myrrh, perfumed
Ora (AH-rah): money
Orfa (AH-fah): courageous
Rowena (RAW-en-a): white skirt
Synne (SOON-ne): gift of the sun
Wilona (WILL-ahn-a): hoped for
Ymma (OOM-ma): work
Sometimes the hardest part of building a character is coming up with a good name. You can always take a name from Tolkien or other fantasy novels, but you’ve seen those names over and over and you want something a little different, but not way out there. How about an historical name? Or one from a different culture?
This time I’m covering German names. As always, I’m selecting these for use in fantasy games, so many of these names may be archaic or uncommon.
[Photo courtesy of kevindooley via Flickr Creative Commons 2.0]