The Value of Name Generators
Names are an important part of being a game master. You have to come up with names for people, places and things. And as a world builder, you have to do that a lot. Especially if your group is a curious one. I recommend having a list of character names on hand. That way, you can improvise random NPCs on the spot: the blacksmith, the town crier, the porter and so on. This is were name generators come in handy. Tools that auto-populate lists for you to pillage. They help reduce your prep time. Which is a great thing, when you are trying to be an efficient game master.
Over my years being a game master, I have found several different resources that I like and use.
Fantasy Name Generators
Fantasy Name Generators is a trove of name generators. Emily has put together an awesome collection. Fantasy names, real names, location names, and so much more. There are almost too many generators. It can take a little bit of time to get your bearings on everything on the website. Overall, its terrific and a frequent stop for me.
Fantasynamegen is another great name generator, what I like about this one is its focus. It has a few options, which keeps me from perusing too deep like I would at Fantasy Name Generators. It’s super simple to use, select a type and a name length and your good to go.
Dungeonetics’ Pathfinder Name Generator
Dungeonetics put together a name generator inspired by Paizo’s Pathfinder. Of course, you don’t have to play Pathfinder. Or play in Paizo’s world of Golarion to find value in this name generator. Navigate using the sidebar on the different races or ethnicities. Being Golarion specific, you may have to click through a couple and read the description at the top. That will tell you about the real world analogs. I like that I can get feminine, masculine or surnames generated.
Mithril and Mages
Mithril and Mages has a few different name generators available for our use. I like that it has options for locations. Tavern names, terrain features names are both great. A great trick is taking city names from real world nations. Mithril and Mages makes that easy to do with their city name generator. I don’t use this one as often as the others, but when I’m in a need of location names, this a place I go.
Behind the Name
Behind The Name is a great name generator that uses real-world cultures to produce names. Some people balk at using real-world names for their fantasy lands. But I’d much rather have King Phillip than King Zaggazymixor. That’s my personal preference though. My main complaint about Behind The Name is that I’m limited to generating a maximum of 5 names at one. Its easy enough to click the regenerate button. But, I draw inspiration by combining different names on the list. I’m limited in that capability here.
Xanathar’s Guide to Everything
The only book on this list of tools. Xanathar’s Guide to Everything is a popular supplement for 5e. One of its “lesser” features is an index at the end of the book that has lists of names. As a game master, I use that appendix more than anything else out of XGtE. That’s not saying the book is lacking, cause I use it a lot for other sources too. I just find the names that valuable for quick look ups.
I’ve read complaints online about how the names appendix was a low-effort page padding in the book. I won’t dispute that, but that doesn’t make it any less valuable as a source of names to me.
Power in Names
Names are an important part of our games. They breath life into characters, places and things. Rather than blacksmith #4, they become Aldren Bronzehammer. There is power in that. Find some resources that help you with naming your nouns. It will make your life so much easier and efficient as a game master.
Feature Art Credit: Ede László
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