Sunday, February 20, 2011
His Name is a Killing Word
I mean, the last thing I want to do is call a city Confluzel and have the players, for the rest of the campaign, call it "Floozy City."
It's really easy to slap two English words together. WotC seems to have made an art of it. Wintermist, Stonemarch, Gardbury, Dawnforge, Witchlight, and Ogrefist sit within the the Nentir Vale. So it's all pretty understandable and pronounceable to your average English speaking person. However, it lacks some of the foreignness I like in a fantasy world.
A while back, I thought it would be fun to make a world where Common was actually English, and that the culture had been around long enough that many of the place names were a lot older - Middle English, in fact. That would give the common sounds that would make the words easier to pronounce. It would also, in theory, pluck at the ancient etymological strings inside the players brains. WotC like to use this with the word "fell" and "dire" I think - fell-this, dire-that, fell-tonsils and dire-cabbages.
Making English the Common tongue also explains why any notes I give the PCs would be in English, and why you might have a character named Roger. I mean, if you look closely at the Middle Earth stuff, Tolkien did the same thing. Hobbit-speak evolves into English, and is basically a tweak on old or middle English. Good Old JRR probably explains it all somewhere, I'm sure.
So I've been working on names for some of the older towns and regions is the campaign staring region. I started with an English name and/or concept, and attempted to translate it (horribly, I'm sure) into Middle English. Here is a list:
Aloftgres (ME Alofte - on high + Gres - grass) a town on a elevated plain.
Duskenfaunt (ME Dusken - dark + faunt - infant) town of the dark child.
Dwergyen Doun (ME Dwergh - dwarf + Yen - eyes + Doun - hill) a town near the hill of the dwarf eyes.
Ernslak (ME Ern - eagle + slak - gap between two hills) the town at eagle pass.
Failham (ME Fail - dirt clod + ham - home) a town of sod houses.
Flumrys Brig (ME Flum - river + Rys - branch + Brig - bridge) a town near a river bridge.
Fultum (ME Fultum - help) a town built around a religious sanctuary.
Gobelyntur (ME Gobelyn + Tur - tower) Fortress built to hold back the goblins.
Hethwalle (ME heth - health + Walle - well) a town near a well with curative properties.
Kyndrecchen (ME Kyn - cows + Drecchen - torment) Where the cows were killed.
Lefdikuss (ME Lefdi - lady + Kuss - kiss) The town of the lady's kiss.
Nyrvylrem (ME Nyrvyl - little man + Rem - kinddom) land of the halflings
Pricketholt (Pricket - buck + Holt - wooded hill) a town built on a forest hill known for a male deer.
Rotenslade (ME Roten - Rotten + Slade - valley) the rotten valley.
Senginbergh (ME Sengin - singe + Bergh - hill) a town on a hill known for burning.
Senginerd (ME Sengin - singe + Erd - land) the burning lands (the elven Razing Zone.)
Vathloof (ME Vath - danger + Loof - rudder) The place of smashed rudders.
Now the next step is to say these names out loud in front of my son. If he busts out laughing, I know that it's probably not a great name. Hmm. Maybe that means it is a GREAT name. I need to think about this.
So how do you name things?