What's in a name too?

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Recently we spoke about the names of NPCs, but what about your regular PC character? As the lead characters, surely they deserve great names as well!

One aspect to consider is finding a name that fits the tone of the game. If you are part of an entirely silly mini-campaign, it is probably fine to run with Bananus Curvington the Third, Largenose Groundsnouter of Smelburg, or the infamous senator Biggus Dickus (from Monthy Python). Such names probably have no place in a regular campaign though, as the joke will likely wear out by the third session and provide a rather ill contrast if the rest of the setting is grimdark themed.

Often when looking for good names for our characters, we look for inspiration in other sources - the key of course being to hide that source as well as possible. That way your character won’t be overshadowed by their more widely known counterpart. For example, everyone is will recognize the inspirations for Gandarf the Glad. By looking a little bit deeper into the source material it might be possible to find better alternatives: instead of Gandarf, why not use Mithrandir — the Sindarin name Gandalf used in Gondor, meaning Grey Wanderer. Much more obscure, and even those who recognize the name will not have as strong an association allowing your character to develop their own fame.

Another possibility is to use a random name generator for inspiration and there are many of them out there - some better than others, or to describe the key features of your character and translate them into an obscure language, be it a real one or a fantasy one. The translated words can often be mingled into a meaningful new name.

Whatever inspiration you use, it is an important decision and it should reflect your character. Elarina is a perfectly fine name, but would probably work better for an elegant sorceress than a 7 foot half-orc barbarian who crushes skulls for a living. Not that we’d judge.

As mentioned recently, RPGpad offers a nice feature where you can easily change the names of characters later on. For PCs, this also means that you can build your character first and decide on a name later. You can simply fill in whatever placeholder you want — including literally using ‘placeholder’ — simply save what you have created so far and continue later. Once you finish the character, you can decide on the name.

You can even use your placeholder name in various other pages already — want to list yourself as a new member of the party, or as an important figure in an organization? Simply list your character using your placeholder name, and once you decide what name you really want to be called, those links will all be updated automatically. Much more convenient that way!

To help facilitate this, we’ve also made it possible to edit character sheets immediately upon creating a new character — in the old version you had to first save your character before you could add a character sheet, but that has now been streamlined. For this and other changes, why not check out our changelog. And as always, we’d love to hear your feedback!