Sunday, July 8, 2012

How to Name NPCs

Names can be the toughest part of NPCs. Somewhere (I think in Character Foundry), I mentioned that I created a template with various “sounds”. Six columns would each pick a random sound, mainly consonant sound, vowel sound, consonant sound, consonant sound, vowel sound, consonant sound. There were blanks in there too to come up with shorter names. I had a “base” one, and one I altered to sound more Germanic for the Rhum names. This works for huge lists of names, but remember, it’s still like I mentioned in the last post - This is only a spark of imagination - it does not control you. (I originally wrote this in BASIC in order to name all the folks who worked at the Rhum factories. You can see I have been using this technique for a LONG! time.) The other thing I like to do is translate English words describing the character into a language that sounds similar to where the character is supposed to be from. I never use the literal translation, but I alter it (normally into something I can pronounce). Combine words, split words, use pieces parts of the foreign words. I love how this works. For example: “black” “smith” is schwarz schmied in German and noir forgeron in French and zwart smid in Dutch. Well, I think everyone knows schwarz means black (probably because I had several years of German as a kid), so I’m not using that, but Zwart is a useable name in my mind. Murrisch means grumpy in German - now that will fit my Rhoric blacksmith: His name is now Murrisch the smith. Very few players will catch on, but the name fits the region. Eons ago I mentioned something along this line to the wife, and she changed it around and made it her own. The majority of her MMO characters have names that mean “evil” in various languages. She modifies them to sound more feminine, but the root words are still there and obvious to anyone who speaks that language. My biggest problem with this method? That I have no idea how to handle Greek and Russian letters, so I cannot use most online translators for those languages. The other one is that pretty much every Polish word sounds the same to me, so I don’t think I’m getting enough variety in my Velesan names.

1 comment:

  1. I often use place names from different regions to identify NPCs . For example, I used a bunch of the names of Athens metro stations as noble house names. For that culture I use mostly Greek names.