What’s in a Name?
Welcome to – insert sim here-
Second Life Username:
Confession time. I will open up a character app and then spend hours trolling every baby name site for the perfect name for every player character, background character, and NPC. I recognize this is a problem and that not everyone is like me.
But still, the name is important. Sure – an awesome character may theoretically smell as sweet and all of that but are you really going to be taking the Dread Robot Buttercup seriously? Or how about Archmagus Tim?
Not usually, no.
Therefore, I submit for your consideration a handful of thoughts and resources for picking out the perfect name for your character.
Setting – Are you playing Modern Day? Post-Apocolyptic? Medieval? Medieval-Fantasy? Sometimes it doesn’t matter – “Elizabeth” and “James” may work across all of those platforms, but that is not always the case.
Sound – Say it out loud to yourself. Repeatedly. Perhaps you will mostly type it out but I guarantee you someone out there (if not most people you meet) will say your name to themselves. Does it flow or is it like chewing glass? Does it sound like a name or is it reminiscent of anything you don’t want? If your scary demonologist calls himself Roez the Unholy you will definitely be getting some snickers on the other side of the screen.
Shortening – In Second Life everyone gets a nickname. It’s not always solicited, it’s not always welcome, but it’s a fact of being on the grid. What will your name be shortened to? Because 99% of the time the people who say “I know my name is Buttansky but really, call me Sky” are not going to be called “Sky”.
Similarity – If your name begins with a common beginning or has a lot in common with other common SL fantasy names you may be in for a world of awkward as you are confused with other, long-term players (or, conversely, the ten newbies who show up who are also called Arwen or Jack). Take a beat, do some research and try to branch out from the expected.
Sanity – Please, for the sake of everyone, choose something the rest of us can spell within reason. An elf called Illiliel is never going to get her name spelled correctly and might be avoided like the plague until a nick-name kicks in to save those around her. In the same way someone called Har’dt’os P’eyl’l’wyn is going to be shot on sight for all of those apostrophes. We get it, you are fancy and ancient, probably. Tone it down. One or two apostrophes maximum, we beg you. Also, keep those nicknames in mind. How you cut your name with apostrophes may or may not have an effect on what you are called in OOC and in emotes. Good luck with that.
My Favorite Links!
A Top Three-ish name sources, several of which are name generators. Not every name generator is equal, but sometimes you’ll get a diamond from them. (After all if it’s good enough for Scanlan Shortholt*, it’s good enough for the rest of us mortals.)
- Behind The Name – my absolute favorite go-to website for anything. Need a name from a background you have no experience with? Or just one that perhaps isn’t quite as common as you’re used to seeing? They have your back not only with links for variants and original names but also usage in history and pop culture. They also have a random name generator that lets you pick fairly advanced parameters.
- Fantasy Name Generator – Does more than generate fantasy names, they have a wide selection of real world and place names. In fact, I prefer those by far to their ‘fantasy’ names. I have used this to generate entire casts of characters for works I later published.
- The Seventh Sanctum – the first and last stop for generating almost anything fantasy and RPG related. They will be on ALL the lists. Delve deeper when you have several hours to kill, it’s worth it.
- Fantasy Race-Specific language lists. Elven Names, a Drow Translator, Dwarven Names (And More Dwarven Names) Try not to pick a name that exactly correlates to your RL name, but feel free to play around with meanings and come up with something that suits your character.
What are your favorite resources? What inspired your character names? I’d love to hear them!
Go forth! And make fantastic, reasonably-named characters! Until next time, may your Grid be Peaceful and your RP Epic,
– The Trailblazer
- This is a shameless plug for my favorite web series – a game of live Dungeons and Dragons, played by fantastic voice actors from a lot of your favorite video games and anime. Youtube Playlist of Episodes, I recommend starting at the beginning or around episode 25, which picks up a specific character’s story arc and is what sealed the deal for me.
(Disclaimer: No Elves were harmed in the making of this post. Despite Elves and their various flowery-named cousins being picked on. The laments and laughter of several Elven and Drow leaders may be referenced in this post. )