D&D 5E The Taxonomy of Species in D&D Next/7e

Kaodi

Hero
What creature names just have to go for you? And what would you replace them with? Those are the two basic questions that I would like to address in this tread. We all know they exist. Even beyond the fact that the naming scheme of monsters in 4E was notorious, a lot of names just sounded bad in addition to be kind of silly.

I think the the primary examples of this among the 4E races are " shardmind " and " wilden " . I am not a big fan of the name " dragonborn " either, but it is somewhat less problematic, and its survival would not be the end of the world.

The name " shardmind " is just weird. Nevermind that in my opinion their entire backstory is entirely uncompelling and completely one-dimensional. Their only redeeming feature is probably their tripartite outlook, a model sort of cribbed from Eberron's changelings (the " there can be only One " angle is kind of funny at least). But the name. Really, Wizards of the Coast; Google Translate is your friend. If you are having trouble coming up with names, look for equivalent words from other languages to fuse into a beautiful whole. Use so many languages that only the ghost of John Paul II would understand all the references. Shardminds could be " crystuque " or " kristuque " or " glastrite " or " isdyr " or " kyolang " or " anrotehk " ... Okay, maybe some or those are better than others, but I am sure at least one is better than " shardmind " ( and " shard mind " in Latin turns out to be something like " testa mentis " , interestingly enough? ).

" Wilden " , which does not really have a very nice ring to it either could also be easily replaced by a name based on a scientific name for plants (scientific names in turn being based on latin themseves).
From Wikipedia said:
The land plants or embryophytes, more formally Embryophyta or Metaphyta, are the most familiar group of plants.
Based on this, my first instinct would be to rename the " wilden " into the " phytanians " or " metaphetans " . I know it would be their second name change, but they still need it.

Dragonborn could easily be replaced by the name of other humanoid dragons from D&D history, such as the Dray, which they themselves replaced.
 

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Alzrius

The EN World kitten
I certainly don't want to see a prevalence for compound names for creatures - this was something I disliked a lot about 4E. I can deal with the occassional "mind flayer" (particularly as a moniker for a creature that has a real name, e.g. "illithid"), but having things like "orc witchbreaker" and "troll treesniper" strike me as being impossible to take seriously.
 

Klaus

First Post
What creature names just have to go for you? And what would you replace them with? Those are the two basic questions that I would like to address in this tread. We all know they exist. Even beyond the fact that the naming scheme of monsters in 4E was notorious, a lot of names just sounded bad in addition to be kind of silly.

I think the the primary examples of this among the 4E races are " shardmind " and " wilden " . I am not a big fan of the name " dragonborn " either, but it is somewhat less problematic, and its survival would not be the end of the world.

The name " shardmind " is just weird. Nevermind that in my opinion their entire backstory is entirely uncompelling and completely one-dimensional. Their only redeeming feature is probably their tripartite outlook, a model sort of cribbed from Eberron's changelings (the " there can be only One " angle is kind of funny at least). But the name. Really, Wizards of the Coast; Google Translate is your friend. If you are having trouble coming up with names, look for equivalent words from other languages to fuse into a beautiful whole. Use so many languages that only the ghost of John Paul II would understand all the references. Shardminds could be " crystuque " or " kristuque " or " glastrite " or " isdyr " or " kyolang " or " anrotehk " ... Okay, maybe some or those are better than others, but I am sure at least one is better than " shardmind " ( and " shard mind " in Latin turns out to be something like " testa mentis " , interestingly enough? ).

" Wilden " , which does not really have a very nice ring to it either could also be easily replaced by a name based on a scientific name for plants (scientific names in turn being based on latin themseves).

Based on this, my first instinct would be to rename the " wilden " into the " phytanians " or " metaphetans " . I know it would be their second name change, but they still need it.

Dragonborn could easily be replaced by the name of other humanoid dragons from D&D history, such as the Dray, which they themselves replaced.
Wilden aren't plants. They're fey creatures made up from composite of animal and plant elements. That's why they have cat-like claws on their feet, for instance. They *can* take on more plant-like qualities with the feats from Heroes of the Feywild.

For a plant race, my preferred name would be Cerritian (the genus for oak trees is Cerris).

Dragonborn, IMHO, is a great name. The official translation in Portuguese ("draconato") was also inspired.
 

Kaodi

Hero
Dragonborn, IMHO, is a great name. The official translation in Portuguese ("draconato") was also inspired.

I could live with draconato. One of the problems I have with dragonborn is that it implies too much; what ought to be an unnecessary relationship between dragonborn and dragons.
 

Tallifer

Hero
I disagree entirely and vehemently with any great shift from Anglo-Saxon naming to a bunch of made-up pseudo-latinate gobbledigook. I dislike names like Genasi, Eladrin, Illithid and Baatezu when there are perfectly good words like Half-elemental, High Elf, Mind Flayer and Demon.

Names like Dragonborn, Foulspawn, Boneclaw, Frost Hawk and Bloodseeker Drake make me think of the raw and heroic language of the Norse and Germanic sagas which Tolkien also loved. In such poetry the sea was the Whaleroad, a sailor was a Seafarer, a battle was Warplay, a relative was a kinsman, and great use was made of other spontaneous combound words like ashspear, spearrush and hearthband.

When I checked the Monster Manuals, it was actually harder to find such Anglo-Saxon names for monsters than the made-up names. It is true that monster blocks also have compound descriptors, but those are not names of the monsters, they are just tags added to each monster to designate their role in battle or in their society.
 

Snapdragyn

Explorer
For a plant race, my preferred name would be Cerritian (the genus for oak trees is Cerris).

Um, the genus of oaks is Quercus. There is a species of oak in southern Europe known as Quercus cerris; perhaps that's what you were thinking of?

So - Quercian? Of course, scientific names are properly pronounced w/ Classical Latin which would require a hard 'c', whereas modern English speakers would most likely use a soft 'c' w/ that spelling. *shrug*
 

Kaodi

Hero
I disagree entirely and vehemently with any great shift from Anglo-Saxon naming to a bunch of made-up pseudo-latinate gobbledigook. I dislike names like Genasi, Eladrin, Illithid and Baatezu when there are perfectly good words like Half-elemental, High Elf, Mind Flayer and Demon.

Names like Dragonborn, Foulspawn, Boneclaw, Frost Hawk and Bloodseeker Drake make me think of the raw and heroic language of the Norse and Germanic sagas which Tolkien also loved. In such poetry the sea was the Whaleroad, a sailor was a Seafarer, a battle was Warplay, a relative was a kinsman, and great use was made of other spontaneous combound words like ashspear, spearrush and hearthband.

When I checked the Monster Manuals, it was actually harder to find such Anglo-Saxon names for monsters than the made-up names. It is true that monster blocks also have compound descriptors, but those are not names of the monsters, they are just tags added to each monster to designate their role in battle or in their society.

Tolkien is probably the singularly worse example you could cite when it comes to retaining the " raw and heroic language of the Norse and Germanic sagas " . The guy literally wrote the book on made up " gobbledygook " .

Mind flayer, devil and demon may be preferrable to illithid, baatezu, and tanar'ri. But that does not makes half-elemental preferable to genasi (I am not even so sure that a genasi is half-elemental by blood), and eladrin and drow make it at least feel a little less like we have four thousand varieties of elves.

And if anyone ever said to me " there was warplay between Hezbollah fighters and the IDF today " , I would think they were some kind of freak.

And finally, even though I do not call maple trees acers on a regular basis, I also do not call them pointyleaf tallplant either.
 


am181d

Adventurer
I second the notion that compondnames should be fewer. Winterclaw Owlbear? Seriously?

Once you've accepted the divine lunacy that is the owlbear, I don't see how the appellation "winterclaw" makes it any better or worse. People get rubbed wrong by the weirdest things.

The problem with Shardminds and Wildens it seems to me is less their names and more that they're really, really niche concepts.
 

KesselZero

First Post
+1 to the compound-name dislike, with the addition that I'm sick of it being prevalent in personal names as well. I'm really tired of every single NPC in a published product being named Korvus Winterblight or Dargor Hammerfast or whatever. Not everybody should have a last name made up of two words from the modern language of the setting. Does nobody in D&D still have the same last name as their great-grandfather? I know I do.
 

S

Sunseeker

Guest
Yeah, so not interested in latin-sounding names, but I do agree that "treesniper" style names are a really bad naming paradigm that seems pretty consistent among everything Wizards has been making recently. It's especially bad among their MTG cards, or was up until the last set or so.

I would rather all creatures be called something fantastical than something scientific.
 



Hassassin

First Post
Once you've accepted the divine lunacy that is the owlbear, I don't see how the appellation "winterclaw" makes it any better or worse.

Owlbear is bad enough as a name, but as long as such names are few they are just irritating. If they become very common they turn ridiculous.

But it's not like this is a huge issue for me. Way down after getting all the iconic monsters, lots of monster ecology fluff, and short stat blocks.

Anyway, on a general level I'd like to see fewer planar beings and more fey.
 


Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
At some point in D&D's history, they started using the word "Planetouched" as a catchall term for all the races- Genasi, Tieflings, Aasimar, Azerblooded, Fey'ri, Mephlings and many, many more- that mixed standard & extraplanar origins.

While accurate and thematically appropriate, I felt it lacked poetry. I started using the term "Nephilim" instead.
 
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Mattachine

Adventurer
I frequently do not give monsters any name at all.

If a monster is first encountered by the PCs, or is generally not known to the populace, the PCs call it whatever they call it.

Likewise, a party encountering a group of orcs is going to call them the "chief", "the shaman", the "mooks with the crappy armor", and so on. It simply doesn't matter to me the name that appears in the MM, since that is often only a metagame term.
 

Ramaster

Adventurer
I frequently do not give monsters any name at all.

If a monster is first encountered by the PCs, or is generally not known to the populace, the PCs call it whatever they call it.

Likewise, a party encountering a group of orcs is going to call them the "chief", "the shaman", the "mooks with the crappy armor", and so on. It simply doesn't matter to me the name that appears in the MM, since that is often only a metagame term.


This.

Monster namings (and adjectives attached to them, I.E. Orc Dragonbane) can be thought of as metagame concepts. Plus, they can be sooo easily dropped that it seems like a waste to not include them.

To most not native English speakers they sound pretty cool, too. I'd rather fight a Gnoll Bowlord or a Drow Darkspear rather than a low level hyena dude mook or a mid level androgynous dark elf any day of the week. It makes me feel that there is some kind of purpose to the monster. Maybe they are using a particular fighting style, or fulfill a specific role on their society, or have a title, etc...
 

grimslade

Krampus ate my d20s
Noun Verbnoun needs to DIAF. It is lazy and too literal. Goblin Picador is great, descriptive and to the point. Goblin Throwspear or goblin vileharpoon is just terrible; it reads like a bad translation.
I like Mind Flayer and Illithid. Owlbear works because it is the creation of a mad wizard and sounds like something Dr. Doofensmirtz would call it with -inator at the end. Winterclaw Owlbear is too much stupid in one name though. Monsters with unique mechanics should have unique names. An arctic and cold themed Owlbear might be called the Beast of the Snowy Wastes or the Tundra King. Think of how we name modern cryptozoological critters, Loch Ness Monster, Champ from Lake Champlain, and Bigfoot. The is no call for Bigfoot Hairyman, or Longneck Lakelurker.
4E was the biggest culprit for this, because it needed a lot of names to differentiate several monster builds around a common core monster. So lots of goblin gobbogoblin.
Better bet take the evocative language down to a few examples, and list monsters by type and subtype in parentheses. Winterclaw Owlbear would be Owlbear (Polar) or (Cold). Let DMs build in purple prose or have suggestions for alternate names Bulette is often called a land shark.
 

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