Five For Friday 3: Methodologies for Creating Names

Word Verification--A handy way to create names for RPG characters, places, and things
Ever struggle to find just the right name for your __________? (campaign, city, character, child). Who hasn't hit that roadblock of naming things? Yes, there are books of names, program macros, online random generators, and plenty of examples from fiction. But sometimes they don't scratch that itch, so here are five methods for generating names for people, places and things in your games. At the risk of exhibiting symptoms likely to be found in DSM-IV, I will confess that I have used all five of these methods (plus some others that I may mention in future posts).
  1. Boggle Dice: Anyone else discover this one? You see the dice. You see the letters. How could you not roll for names? When I was in high school, we had a multi-year AD&D campaign with Boggle-named characters and places. Rolling the "Name Dice" (as we called them) became another step in the character creation process. It often determined the character's class or race.
  2. Word Verification: This is a favorite. There are awesome names waiting for you when you have to type a fake word online.
  3. BabelFish (and other online translators): Not only you do get some interesting words, you get an education as well (kind of the RPG version of Dora the Explorer). It adds educational value to gaming.
  4. Pharmaceutical Names: Cymbalta the Sorcerer, Benecar the Brave, Demser the Dim, Dulera the Dexterous, etc etc (and if your gaming leans in the bawdy direction, you will have a field day here). No one is better at coming up with non-words that sound like real words.
  5. Two Syllable Words: This is my current method. I have no idea why. I have a list of city and town names based on semi-precious gems, plants and flowers, minerals, elements, food ingredients, and automobile models. I think I came up with this while reading the Black Company novels, but it could have been while leading an executive leadership meeting at work or while on a date with my wife.
How do you come up with names?