Monday, 3 May 2021

Fantasy Names from Scrabble and Other Word Games

There’s nothing clever or original about this blogpost but it might help you to be clever and original. 

What is his name?

Sometimes I lose games of Scrabble because I’m making up fantasy names instead of playing the game properly. I’ve used Scrabble, Upwords, Bananagrams and Bananagrams Duel (which uses letter-dice rather than tiles) to make names for characters, places, creatures - anything nameable for my campaign. You should do it also. Using actual game pieces works better than using purely random letters rolled up online as these word games are cleverly designed to have an interesting and useful distribution of letters as well as being much more manipulable + tactile. This fun little name-game is good because it forces you to create names you wouldn’t normally think of; names that are often outside the familiar linguistic phonemes and cultural naming conventions that you might be used to (especially if you get an unusual combination of letters). This cognitive jolt is good, an unforeseen prompt in a game of guided daydreaming. And a self-imposed 7 letter limit restrains your syllable count and helps ensure the name's memorability too - never use apostrophes. 

I have used names generated using this method in my campaign. Names include Atzorig - a well-traveled, would-be conqueror leading the scant survivors of a rootless barbarian-folk, Yuban Yu - a red-white clad dignitary from the Southern Continent and the Tone-Men - a militant, copy-cat faction of martially inclined colour-cultists.