We look into strategies on how to name your characters and places within a fantasy setting! Plus we include a handy list to pull from!
Fantasy is such a fun genre to create for. Whether you write stories, lead tabletop RPG’s, produce video games, or anything in between, there is so much to explore within a limitless world. But having such a wide breadth of creative liberty also creates its own challenges. One which is naming characters and things within the world. Where do you even begin? We put together this guide on some tried and tested methods to finding names to help you out!
Use a Baby Names Website
We are not parents, but we do use the site BabyNames.com frequently. Why? To find fantasy names! This site and similar ones are great because they offer a variety of ways to search for names across a huge number of ethnicities. That way you don’t fall into the trap of having all your names sound Britain-medieval.
A great strategy is to start looking up names based around their meaning. Are you naming an evil character? If you do a search for names that mean “Dark”, you will get a large list that includes names like Blackburn, Gethin, and Morrisa. If you do a search for “Brave” you will get names like Nuhad, Isamu, and Virika. This can help invoke a sense around a character based on their name meaning.
From there, you can also jumble up the name, changed the spelling, or even combine two names that you like.
Use the “Random Letter” Method
Another fun idea is to open a Word doc, close your eyes, and hit a random letter on the keyboard. You can stop there, or keep going as long as you’d like. Open your eyes again, and see what you come up with. If, on the off chance, you typed something legible, then great! But otherwise, try to get creative and sound out the word. Then, type it again into something that is easier to read.
Use an Actual Name You Know
Don’t be afraid to use a “real life” name. Including names like Jim or Nina will not detract from your fantasy world. It’s actually quite nice to occasionally read names we are familiar with in these vast fantasy settings. It is grounding.
Use a “Noun” Name
Noun names are nice, and can really sell something for the right character or place. Shadow, Jasper, Storm, or Primrose all have a nice vibe to them while not being completely made up. Try looking up really obscure names of flowers or gems or birds. These can be a lot of fun to pull from!
How We Named Our Thread of Souls Characters
Here was our strategy in naming some of our Thread of Souls characters:
- Taliesin – An ancient Celtic name rarely in use today. We heard it from Critical Role as one of the actor’s names.
- Jade – A gemstone that is fitting with a Druid character. Though we originally heard the gem used as a name in Jackie Chan Adventures!
- Sen – The character created by our friend Sean. He took out the “a’ in his name and used Sen.
- Unole – The friend that created this character is Cherokee and used the Cherokee word for wind.
- Artemis – Named after the Greek goddess.
- Ruuda – One of those names that just “comes” when you think for a name. It popped into Scott’s (Ru’s) head when he was thinking of a name for her.
- Zok – Our friend who created this character flipped his last name, Kozma, backwards to get Amzok. “Am Zok”. So he used Zok. (Yes, for the baseball fans reading this. Our friend is the brother of Pete Kozma).
- Skar – A “word” name just with a slightly different spelling. (Scar)
Here is a list of names by meaning to freely pull from!