Monday, January 6, 2020

Names and Ethnic Origins of my NPCs and PCs

I mentioned yesterday that we've seen a fair amount of characters in my current game with very specific historical backgrounds. Roman, Carthaginian, Spanish, Viking (lots of those), English, African to name a few. We've equally had a large number of folks with fairly generic backgrounds and more "fantasy game" style names.

These days I often make NPCs off of miniatures, or reasonably close to minis I have. But I have had some very specifically ethnically-inspired characters in my own stable of NPCs, although they are mostly dead these days - Raggi Ragnarsson and Father Hans leap to mind. Even so, the NPCs are generally generic fantasy types or of some really strange made-up ethnic group. The Meeposian brothers, the folks of Cashamash (Prince Vlashkalabash III, Black Jans), even Brother Ike (who had a mostly-Zulu name but wasn't really Zulu) . . . they're not really from any Earth group. I tend to blend and mishmash on purpose.

I grab names from random sources - Prince Vlashkalabash III and Rangol Grot, for example, were both named by Japanese kids I taught English to. Gort of the Shining Force got named because someone was playing some video game during the game session - someone, I say, but I mean the now-player who runs Crogar. Crogar is the kind of name I'd choose, given half of a chance.

My own characters are like that, regardless of the campaign.

I tend to make my characters off an idea of options, potential weapon use, or just a straight-up lack of interest in trying out difficult rules or complications. My names are often inspired by fairly odd sources - Arnold Maytreks and Tarjan Telnar and Mirado the Black Warrior, say.

I also tend to make my characters fairly bland. I'm not a half-drow with a reverse gripped sword in one hand and a custom kukri in the other. I'm a human fighter with a shield and a sword with a dagger, axe, and spear to round out my loadout . . . and a bow if it's affordable. I don't make a mutant with super powers, I make a martial artist crime fighter. I'm interested in a simple character who'll let me interact with the world as I see fit, rather than either restricting my options or forcing the world to react to my very specific approach.

So I'm sure that translates over to my game worlds, and they feed each other in turn.


  1. The fantasy name generator site is excellent for finding authentic names from numerous cultures - as well as names for a ton of other stuff.

    I’m making up a fantasy story set in mythical Brittany during the early Middle Ages. The Breton and Norman names (and others) are invaluable.

    1. I use Fantasy Name Generator in conjunction with Behind The Name, which gives some history / etymology of the specific name. But that's for characters. For NPCs, FNG is the way to go--you can get ten names with a click of a button.

    2. I just make up stuff that sounds good. Historical accuracy is a minus in Felltower. ;)


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