How to Select a Name for Your Fantasy Roleplay Character
Whether the role playing game you choose is based on something well-known, like Star Wars or Lord of the Rings, or something more original like games produced by Iron Realms Entertainment, choosing a name is one of the most important things you will do for your character. That name will most likely be with the character its whole life! When you choose a unique name, you are telling other players, "My character only exists in this realm." That way, any time another player sees your character's name, they will only associate it with that specific, virtual realm. Here is some advice for selecting an original name for your character.
Literature provides a wealth of names, regardless of either time period or genre. Back in high school one assignment required reading To Kill a Mockingbird. It is little wonder that when time came to select a name for my neutral-good knight that I chose Attachus, inspired by Atticus Finch himself. Here are some well-known literary characters and a selection of possible role playing game character names for each:
- Harry Potter (from the Harry Potter series) - Harold, Henri, Pottar
- Philip Pirrip aka Pip (Great Expectations) - Piip, Philli, Pirip
- Sir Lancelot (various) - Lance, Lancel, Celot
- Elinor Dashwood (Sense and Sensibility) - Elinor, Dash, Linor
- Holly Golightly (Breakfast at Tiffany's) - Holley, Goligh, Holl
- Hamlet (Hamlet) - Amle, Hamle, Amlette
- Milo Minderbender (Catch-22) - Milo, Miloe, Derben
- Daisy Buchanan (The Great Gatsby) - Daisie, Hana, Daisanan
- Hannibal Lector (Silence of the Lambs) - Hanibbal, Lecto, Annil
- Zhao Yun (Romance of the Three Kingdoms) - Zho, Yuna, Haoun
With a little creativity, any character from literature transforms into a name that passes even the strictest RPG name policies!
Baby Name Websites
This is one of my favorite ways to select names for new RPG characters. After clicking over to my favorite baby names website, I usually dive into the unisex section and begin looking from there. Past searches have led me to choose boy names for female characters, and vice versa. Adding an extra letter and changing the letters around both lend a fantastic twist to an otherwise ordinary name. For instance, Penelope turns into Penelopae. John becomes Jhonn. Schuyler becomes Schleryuu.
I try to think not only about what my character's parents were thinking when choosing the name, but also about the character's future. Obviously, you want other players to take you seriously. A unique name is both the boon and the bane of the RPG player. Some real-life names just don't make good RPG names at all. Mostly, these are born of celebrities who used the dictionary instead of a baby name resource. Names like Coco, Bunny, Blue, Mars, and Prince just end up sounding silly. (The exception to this is the children of Bob Geldof, named Fifi-Trixibelle, Little Pixie, and Peaches Honeyblossom. I'm convinced that somewhere, Mister G has the alter ego of a level seventy-two light elf spellcaster.) Not to mention, these names could wind up becoming a problem if someone is hunting bunnies in the room where Bunny is standing. PUNCH BUNNY becomes less of a recreational sport, and more of a domestic violence issue.
Ordinary names can work, but the whole purpose of a role playing game is to escape from real life. Just the other day, I ran across a character named Bob. This reminded me that I need to call Bob, the auto mechanic, to have the back taillight replaced on my car. I have to do this because my inspection sticker runs dead at the end of the month. Also, before the end of the month, I also need to renew the tags on my vehicle. UGH. That means a trip to the DMV, which is right by the post office. So while I'm there, I may as well pick up the registered letter from the county clerk informing me that I have jury duty. Gee, thanks Bob. You took my whole afternoon of bashing orcs and goblins and turned it into a reminder of why I wanted to escape for a few hours in the first place.
Name Generator Programs
Websites like Rinkworks offer free name generators that spit out page after page of unique names. If creating a name is just too frustrating, or you are short on time, this method of selecting one is the way to go! Rinkworks allows users to select what kind of name they'd like to generate, including ones from serious (consonant heavy, short, and apostrophe names), fun (insulting, mushy, and very long names), or specialized (geographic, fantasy, and literary) genres.
No matter your method for selecting a name, the key to success and being remembered is to be original. Choose something that is unique, but also reflects your character's personality and lifestyle. And most of all, have fun!