May 14, 2010

Naming Locations

There are a multitude of lists and programs for creating names for NPCs and PCs on the internet. However, when it comes to world building there are a lot less ready made resources. What do you name the range of mountains to the north and make it unique? What about that river? How about that 10th village?

One trick I do is to use language translators online. Basically these will allow you to put in a word in English, such as “mountain” or “tall”, and translate it into a language of your choice.

Using I typed in “mountain” under the English to Finnish section. I got back “vuori”. I could name my mountain range the Vuori Mountains. If I need a second mountain range I can look up “tall”. It came back “korkea”. If I were to name the range the Tall Mountains, it would sound lame; the Korkea Mountains sounds a lot more exotic and interesting.

Another trick is if you stick to a particular language you can develop a theme in your names. Most languages have a similar sound and style to their words and by sticking to the same language you can add that style and sound to your world. If you have a culture or region that is similar to our Russia, using an English to Russian translator will give you names that fit into your culture.


Tourq said...

I found a subpage of an RPGish site, "RPG Tools." They have generators for towns, inns, and a few others. Sadly, no mountains.


Joe said...

I take a culture based approach to naming things. If I've decided a culture is similar to the Chinese, I make up Chinese sounding names from charts I've created. I took real city names from a given culture, chopped up their syllables, then looked at the syllable distribution (how many typically in a word; how frequent some appear) and made charts. Here's a link: