Where do YOU steal your names from?

Dog Moon

I tend to pick a descriptive word and enter it into either etymonline.com or behindthename.com and choose something from what I find, occasionally modifying it. So if I was playing a Bard, I might choose 'Song' and then enter it into both of those sites and see what pops up.

As a DM, with NPC names, I tend to think of random names or to a random generator site to create numerous names at once. Making up random names doesn't work as well for me because there are too many similarities [like most names would begin with a, l, or s, and be like Selyana, Liliana, Rilyana, Alyana, etc. Very [annoyingly] thematic.

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First Post
Spammity, spammity, SPAM!

I get a lot of my NPC names from Spam (as in the unsolicited commercial email kind).

I have several levels of spam filter on one of my email accounts, and tend to vet the emails in the 'least likely to be spam, but probably still spam' spam filter personally.

Since I'm checking names and subjects, any good names (or suggestive names that with a little tweak work well) go into an ever increasing text file of names.


First Post
Dog Moon said:
Yes, like isbycolatpy, kmtqigx, douflsxud, and m.r.fontenot. :) [Wow, 1153 emails in that account].

Valentin Cleod, Tamra Iaglasts, Alvan Tidwell, Keven Varner, Keren Malina, Kristopher Whaley, Veola Crews, Dilion Castillo, Galen Hackett, Malinda Keck, Alejandro Pence, Jolyn Fichtner, Amado Zavanna, Alden Payne...

..ok, so some aren't as fantasy as others - but I find having names that are close to reality somehow adds to the verisimilitude.


First Post
I used to tkae them off a big map of Illinois that was next to my bed when I played during JHS and such.

Then I migrated toteh random syllable method with very very mixed results. Now I tend to go to translation dictionaries online of obscure languages. One town was Sioux, another Gaelic, another some african tongue. Works well.


I tend to use real names as well as those of literary, mythical, historical figures with a little tweak to spelling/pronunciation, or sometimes a transposition of a syllable. I've also used a name or two from ENWorld.

I generally don't steal names, but I'll use the appendix in the Return of the King for Elvish (or the Klingon Dictionary) to get something that soulds nifty, or use variations of names or language bits that appear in books. If I am completely brain dead, and cannot think of anything I roll dice. D20 for consanants, and a d6 for vowels. After a few combinations, I'll get a phoneme that will spart my creativity and then I'll go from there - I almost never end up with the letters I rolled, but it does start a chain that can get me where I want to go.


First Post
I go for normal names which wouldn't be out of place 1000 years ago. Haven't dubbed anyone "John Smith" yet, but I have done a "James Smith".

Thetford said:
I use a road atlas from europe, lots of names I never would of thought of

Well, the Iliad had a character called Paris :lol:

Seriously, I've seen some geographically named characters in computer games. Ultima VIII had Devon the fisherman, and Blizzard usually have a character called Farnham

Thetford said:
and some I can't pronounce.

Welsh names, by any chance?


I use a variety of sources. I have a baby name book that is very handy. I also use EBON from time to time. The campaign I'm currently running is based loosely on ancient Rome, Greece, Egypt, etc. Getting names for those settings are fairly easy. Watching the History channel, looking at history books, etc.

I have an old dictionary (published in the 1860s). it has a section in the back with thousands and thousands of names grouped into Greek, Arab, Christian, and others. I also have a couple self-designed methods for coming up with names. One is based on Welsh spellings and pronunciation, the other is based on German. I also use one for elves that is similar to native American names. Dwarves also have native American-like names but the words they use deal more with the earth and battle.

In my homebrew, I have all the names that are similar to each other associated with specific areas of the world. So, much like our own world, you can often tell where someone is from just by hearing their name.


First Post
Foreign language dictionaries with a little bit of tweaking here and there. I've also been known to rip off and combine names from Shakespeare.


First Post
In my new world elves have been using Celtic names, and the other races each get a distinctive 'sound' to them by choosing which letters of the alphabet they use most often.


First Post
I had good luck modifying common names, like Jacob. I change a few syllables so it’s Jakkob (Jack-KOB).

I like real names, but I have trouble pronouncing those "foreign" words. Any tips to Anglo-cize them?

Raven Crowking

First Post
Corsair said:
Let's be honest. Coming up with good believable names for NPCs, unique creatures, etc, is a chore at best, and nearly impossible for some people at worst. Many of us steal names from other sources. Where do you as a GM/DM steal yours?

For fantasy games, I like to steal good names off of forums like this one. "Alzrius" for one became the name of a mythical two headed ice beast in one game I play in. (Mechanically, it's a hypogriff with a two-headed cryo template)

For modern/sci fi games, I steal names of character from obscure TV shows, sometimes complete with personality when it comes to making NPCs.

For D&D, I use the Internet. If I want medieval Germanic names, I merely google "medieval germanic names". It works quite well.

For other races, I sometimes use a syllable list. My orc names, for example, are all variations on a few syllables and themes.

Baby name books are also often quite useful. Many include not only what the name means (good for developing hooks) but also the older versions of the name or cultural deviations.



I enjoy coming up with names. Sure, sometimes they will come from books, sometimes from movies, pieced together in a way or another or just slightly altered, but most of the time my names don't come from obvious sources besides my imagination and I like it! It's like a puzzle for me: finding the right name for the right concept, you know? :)

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