As you well know, Fitz loves random generators. For some things I’m ok with them, for others, I don’t really care for them. Honestly, they are great if you are absolutely stuck … as long as the result doesn’t continue your being stuck on how two put together seemingly random words to describe something.
However, the reason I get hung up on names is simply that as a GM I have to make a decision on whether a place or a character is a disposable or if it is going to have a lasting home in what I’m doing. If the name is throw away, it doesn’t matter if it really fits the person/place in question. However, if it is sticking around, the last thing I want is a name that is going to gnash my teeth every time the chronicle revisits that person or place.
So what to do?
The best suggestion that I have seen (and oddly haven’t really used to date because I saw it after I stopped running my last campaign) has been to make during your prep time a list of names. One for places, one for people. (Maybe more than one list for each depending on how diverse you want the naming conventions to be … like a list for names for characters of particular races or nationalities.)
For example, in one campaign I had the following areas and places as possibilities:
- Haven – Haven’s Inn, Havensgate (used as a city name in one of my campaigns — I’ll probably use that one again)
- Moonlight – Moonlight Market, Moonlight Tavern, Moonlight Amphitheater
- Jester’s Court (a haunted/abandoned tavern or an event nobles attend)
And here’s a list of names in the same world with a Russian-sounding starting point for people living in an area like Northern Europe and the Steppes:
- Ilyana Ravenswood
- Ivan Grimtooth
- Boris Bonesnapper (Can’t claim this one as mine, it came from AC2 Shady Dragon Inn (basic D&D))
- Marina Skystar
On this list you don’t merely want to cross off a name once it has been used, you want to make a note of how you actually ended up using it. Even if the character or location is completely throw away.
The goal is to make your world feel in motion … have the character or place come up again in later sessions. As Fitz knows, I thrive on trying to make my world feel like it is alive and that while the story is about the characters, there are plenty of things going on outside of what they can possibly perceive.
So what is your name? My name is Forged and the last tavern name that I came up with was the “Iron Phoenix Tavern.”