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The birth of a name

Larísa over at the Pink Pigtail Inn wrote about how difficult it can be to come up with a good character name, especially when one has an army of alts. That got me thinking: I have an army of alts that are more or less named differently from one another (as in I don’t have 5 Niqoras running around on 5 different servers). So I thought this might be the perfect opportunity to show some of the ways that I pick out a new name for my character.

There are a couple things to consider when choosing a name. The obvious one is that you can’t choose a name that is already in use on your server. If I’m already on the character creation screen, I try to avoid getting the “That name is not available” spam by inputting my possible names in the WoW Armory. There’s always the chance that some alt under level 10 will have the name and you won’t know it but it can give you an idea of the name’s general popularity.

Then of course you must consider what nickname others will call you by, usually the first three or four letters of your name. For example, I was thinking of using the name “Yakone” for a tauren druid, an Inuit name that means “red aurora”. I then realized that if I chose this name, I’d be known on that character as “Yak” or “Yako”. Not the most delightful nicknames. River-dark pointed out the same issue with a character nicknamed “Rash” and her own paladin whose full name is “Hardlove”.

The last two are ones that I take in for personal consideration; you might think differently. I for one have never put any accented characters into any of my names. Not only does it make it really hard for people trying to type in my name, but I myself would have an awful time figuring out how to type them in. (Yes, I know there are keyboard shortcuts but I never remember them.)

With characters I create these days, I like their names to be relatively or completely unique. If there’s more than say 30 people with the name I want in the Armory, even if none of them are on my server, I will go in search of a different name.

Couple all that criteria with the desire to have a name that is good for roleplaying and suits the character’s personality and you’d think that I’d have a hell of a time naming my characters. But really, I don’t find it too terribly hard. So, onto my naming strategies.

  1. Use a name generator. Niqo’s original name Nicora was given to me directly from the in-game name generator. Zulrea was taken from my own PANDA WoW Name Generator.
  2. Pick a name from a different culture. This one is fairly easy, you just have to find a good site that gives you names. My personal favorites are Behind the Name and Names by Chinaroad. Yes, I know the second one is for pets but who’s to say you can’t use those for your toons? I tend to give my tauren Inuit or Native American names, while for Alliance characters I lean towards Irish and Celtic names. Some examples are Anuniaq, a tauren, and Aithne, a blood elf.
  3. Change a couple of letters around or add some. Often times, just picking a name is not good enough. Just look at the number of Nicoras listed on the Armory. But by changing  the “c” to a “q”, I now have the only Niqora on the Armory. And the name is said the same way too. Similarly, I wanted to reserve the name “Rahela” for my worgen but I found that it was already taken. No problem, I simply added an “h” on the end to end up with “Rahelah”, same pronunciation and I will probably be the only one on the Armory.
  4. Play around with naming conventions. As I’m sure a lot of you know, Saraku is a netherdrake in the form of a blood elf ICly. When choosing his name, I went to the wowwiki entry on the Netherwing dragonflight and found out that most of their names end in “-aku” or “-us”. Figuring out the rest of his name was just a matter of scribbling down some possible combinations and picking one that seemed right.
  5. Make your own template for the Fantasy Name Generator. This generator has both a simple interface that’s just drop-down options and button clicks, or a more advanced interface that, as they say, is “almost limitless in its flexibility”. If you take the time to read the instructions and work out your own template, you could have some unique names to use for your characters. I’ve used it to come up with the name for Niqo’s warp stalker, Grakoth. I wanted something guttural sounding, a name that an orc would growl before spitting on the ground and taking a swig of his mead. So I made up my own template and tweaked it until I had the perfect name for him.
  6. Make something up. Take the first name that pops into your head. When I had got Niqo’s first epic mount, a black war wolf, I was staring at him when I suddenly realized, “His name is Brakk.” Now I can’t think of him by any other name.
  7. Combine two names. I have an orc called Machalor. Her name is a combination of “Macha”, an Irish goddess of war, and “Balor”, the king of the Fomorians.
  8. When in doubt, try reversing it. This one is self-explanatory. My druid Aroqin got named after I realized that “Niqora” backwards was quite a good name. After I realized that I couldn’t name a character “Yakone” without being shamed, I switched it around and my new druid on Earthen Ring is now called “Enokay”.

If one of those methods doesn’t work for you, try a combination of them. Pull up a baby naming website, find a scrap of paper, and write down anything that piques your interest or springs into your mind. Don’t worry if it sounds silly at the beginning. With a little tweaking, it could become the perfect name for your character.

And remember, the next alt that you make on a whim could be your new main in the future. And you don’t want to be always known as “Lolhax” now do you? 😉

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