Nov 3, 2009

List of Names for Fantasy RPGs

1373-Wood-cut-of-a-Knight-q75-500x433When it comes to character names in fantasy literature, movies and RPGs I've always preferred them to be genuine real-world names, or at least based on the rules for making real world names (eg. Tolkien's characters in The Lord of the Rings). I find "fantasy names" that are random syllables jammed together, and possibly sprinkled with liberal amounts of apostrophies for good measure, pull me out of the fantasy world. They break the 4th wall. They ruin the immersion.

I'd rather have characters with names like Roland or Cedric than something like Ch'Thonkal'iqfps. I know the latter name looks more exotic... but it's just not my thing.

There are a lot of great websites with old fashioned sounding names that would be great for an RPG, although wading through those lists can sometimes feel a little bit daunting. Picking names from too many different times and places can be just as silly sounding as C'ons'ona'nt names as well. I think it can help to make a shorter list with just a selection of names, and make that available for people to roll or pick from. Here's the short list I put together for our old school D&D nights:

  1. Edmund

  2. Samuel

  3. Barnaby

  4. Tobias

  5. Mathias

  6. Rowland

  7. Giles

  8. Gorste

  9. Biggles

  10. Hyde

  11. Pratt

  12. Finch

  13. Haguin

  14. Orrick

  15. Odard

  16. Brom

  17. Berk

  18. Mickey

  19. Bung

  20. Grundy

This table was originally intended for just the random hirelings the players might bring along with them, so I was sure to add a few "quirky" names to the list. Some players might find a character named "Bung" too much to handle, in which case you could allow them to reroll, or even replace it with something a bit more heroic sounding.

With a name table like this you can add replacement names whenever one is rolled for a character and enters use in the game. Whether you want people to roll names at random or pick from the list is entirely up to you and your group.