I’m playing the name game of world-building at the moment. Despite how much of the world I’ve put together, I remain amazed at how many little but important places need at least a name before play begins.
Names are one of those facets of role-playing design that some people excel at and others just can’t do. I like to think I fall somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. Knowing that I do have difficulties from time to time, I regularly add new words to my commonplace books. These can be words that either sprung to mind or ones that I encountered while reading or watching the History Channel. Anything interesting or odd enough to catch my eye gets scrawled in as insurance against the day I reach creative bankruptcy.
I can be notoriously choosy about names too, which doesn’t help the process any. Oftentimes I think I’ve matched some feature with the perfect name only to go to sleep and awaken the next morning completely dissatisfied. That’s one of the benefits and curses of creating on the fly during a gaming session—with no time to second-guess yourself, you play what you’ve got. Unfortunately, in the case of a real stinker, you’re also stuck with it (and with the ribbing you’re bound to take from your players).
To further complicate matters, the perfect fantasy name has already been created and it wasn’t by me. I know that no matter how many more years I spend at these pursuits, I will never, ever top this single creation. And it’s not an overly obscure one either so I don’t even have the option of ripping it off.
What is it, you ask?
Just say it out loud and savor how it rolls off the tongue. With all due respect to the Professor, Fritz Leiber wins the fantasy name contest as far as I’m concerned. That’s one great name.
Of course names are highly subjective things. Just look at the current spate of Hollywood baby names: somebody thought those sounded good.
While I’m sticking with Ool Hrusp, anyone have a personal favorite from either literature or the home sandbox? Send it up the flagpole in the comments section and we’ll see if anyone else salutes it.