Writers and game masters have wholly different levels of commitment. Spending three days writing a blog shows me how hard it must be to write a novel or book. I imagine an author has to immerse herself or himself completely in their fictional world, coming up with outlines, character bios, and many intertwined plotlines.
Most RPG game masters come up with a few game notes, traps, and a map of opponents for the players. They might write down treasures in the sword-n-sorcery genre. But their level of immersion tends to be much less than true writers (though I’ve seen some referees who were close). But the writer and the GM have certain things in common.
One is to come up with new names all the time. The methods for coming up with these names are legion, I imagine. Some people pour over great literature or fictional character lists, coming up with good ideas.
Those writing for modern character names might look through the phone book, or go to their online equivalent, WhitePages.com. Some creators probably have a knack for coming up with catchy names.
And then there are people like me. I prefer to use random name generators when I am running an RPG game.
Name Creation for Role-Playing Games
I’m a GM who always wants to be prepared, so I try to have a list of names for every occasion. This requires having a big list of names. Since I referee modern campaigns, I need name lists for every region of Earth. Like everybody else, I don’t have the time to spend all day and night thinking up good ideas, so I collect random lists and have an enormous reserve of names, ideas, and whatnot. I want to point others, whether they’re GMs needing the same or real writers putting together a huge cast of characters.
I would point people to Seventh Sanctum, but if you’ve got any interest in generating random names, you already know about Seventh Sanctum. I want to send you to places you might not know about. I’ll do this occasionally when I think of places you might want to know about.
Kleimo Modern Names
If you need average people names, go to the Kleimo Random Namer. It lets you create a list of 30 names at a time and gives you the chance to set an obscurity level between 1 and 100. They get pretty strange the closer you get to 100.
Ultimate Random Name Generator
Atlanta Gamer has what it calls the Ultimate Random Name Generator. This lets you create large lists of 50 names at a time. You have the option of choosing male or female. Then you have your choice of American, British, French, Spanish, Italian, German, East European, Scandinavian, Russian, Turkish, Arabic, Egyptian, Israeli, Iranian, African, Indian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Mexican. You’ll find the same names start to come up after a while, but whoever put together the USA names generator was good at what they do, because the names they create tend to be more interesting than “Jane Johnson”. I wish more names had been put in the generator, but this might not have allowed for name synergy.
Abulafia Random Name Generators
One of the most underrated random names sites out there is Abulafia. This sites has everything from random American names to random American cities. It has random recipes and lots of oddities like the encounter-a-day and FUDGE dice. Hero games (which I often run) have Golden Age Characters, quick and dirty heroes concepts, and superhero character ideas.
If you’re having writers block, you can look at the “Character Concepts” to come up with random ideas. Most of them are going to be bad or make you laugh, but a few will be writing gold.
By the way, I’ve begun posting my own random name generator tables online at Bride of Bigfoot. I wanted to create my own one-click generator, but I’m not smart enough to learn PHP and Java isn’t allowed on WordPress. If you don’t mind manual, old school random name generation techniques, it might work for you. The words all my personal stamp of approval.