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Naming names – a query

March 24, 2009

A continuation of Naming names – a meme:


I have had the idea for this post in the works for a bit but since there’s a naming meme going around, it’s kinda stolen my thunder.  (Well, sort of.  In a way.  Ok, not really…)  As I was rolling (yet another) alt last night, I was struggling with naming her.  The one name that I did want, that I had wanted for a pally for quite some time, was taken and I just refused to change the spelling ’cause it just wouldn’t be the same.  And I’m not talking about a short amount of time, either.  I spend inordinate amounts of time trying to come up with just the right name for a character.  After an hour of struggling to name my poor pally, I wondered if I was alone in this.

When I come up with a name, I want it to feel right.  I want it to mean something that pertains to the class, something that matches the class; a name that looks like it would truly be a name and not just letters above their head.  I even go so far to see if it looks “right” in their color (since most of us have chat addons that color player’s name according to their class.)  Meanings of names come into play and I think about qualities of the class that I want conveyed (like a soothing healing name for Anea, a name like the whisper of death for my rogue).  And I really do need it all to mesh perfectly with the character; for me, the name sets the tone of the character, right from the start.

I’ll log in and out after changes to their name and appearance to make sure it feels right.  I’ve been known to delete characters over a decade of levels later and start over because something wasn’t right about them.  If I’m going to spend 80 levels with this character, I don’t want to have something nagging at me the entire time and make me hate them.  (I know that this severe mindset isn’t as necessary, since we can rename and remodel characters now, but why not get it right the first time?)

Does it take everyone forever to name a character or am I alone in my sickness?  When you name a character, what are your criteria?  Do you care?  Does a name matter to a character and your playing mindset whatsoever?

24 Comments leave one →
  1. Adlib permalink
    March 24, 2009 12:25 PM

    Yay! I thought I was the only one who agonized over names. What I do now is go to and for the advanced search, I type in the meaning of a name so I can use something that sounds good. I like for the name to mean something a lot of the time. My main toon, a mage, is named Adlib only because she was one of my first toons ever, and it’s the handle I go by on most blogs or websites I log on to so I personally identify with her since I’ve played her longest.I might be changing my druid alt’s name though. I think my original idea was Stardust, and I hate changing the spellings too. Somehow I was playing around and ended up with Dreamstar. Never play when it comes to names. LOL Although at this point, she’s level 72, and it just seems to fit her well now.The other thing I do is use the randomizer sometimes. I always wonder if it will give me inspiration or if it will come up with an actual suitable name. It has before!

  2. March 24, 2009 12:43 PM

    I spend so long trying to pick out names. And all the names of the characters I’ve continued past level 15 or so with have some sort of meaning to me or I have some strong connection with them.I usually play with the randomizer to help me get ideas, but since the names from there are usually taken I rearrange or change some vowels until it feels right to me. If it’s a longish name, I try to make sure it’s a name that can be shortened without sounding silly.I am actually unsure how I came up with “Brajana” in the first place, but it sounded Trollish. I probably had some help from the randomizer. I purposefully gave my Undead Priest a name which could be a first or last name.My Mage has had her name changed twice, because after I transferred her I gave her the name “Brajana” also, but it made me not want to play her because I didn’t feel like she had her own identity. She’s now called Alouette, which means Skylark in French :)

  3. March 24, 2009 12:55 PM

    Oh hell yes.Seriously. If only the names that I spent half an hour (if not more) researching and planning before I got on WoW were available, I’d be so happy.Worst feeling is when you find the -perfect- name for your toon, and then it’s taken. Not only that, is that it’s taken by some other random person who hasn’t even bothered to level it up past level 10. :(

  4. March 24, 2009 12:56 PM

    Depends on the context but while I spend a lot of time ruminating on names, I’m not too worried on spelling. Shakespeare, after all, signed his name a dozen different ways. Spelling is a relatively new invention.I am very fond of Kate Monk’s Onomastikon for help with names. Especially Draenei names. I like to name my goat people after hindu gods.

  5. Chibikeni permalink
    March 24, 2009 1:29 PM

    Depends on the characters I play with. My cow warrior’s name was made out of spur together with my actual name =) My rouge’s and DK was taken from some anime characters I’ve loved watching. Else its a randomizer and wordplay ^^

  6. March 24, 2009 2:07 PM

    Normally, it doesn’t take me very long at all. Klinderas is the only name that took me more than 2 minutes.

  7. March 24, 2009 2:13 PM

    I come at this at a slightly different angle since I’m playing on an RP server and I do roleplay, so I tend to develop pretty detailed backstories for many of my characters–if not a life history, at least their personality, thoughts, likes, dislikes, quirks, accent, etc. Typically, the name is one of the first things in that process. I try to pick names that sound right for the race and for the personality they’re going to have.Linedan, my warrior main, actually came from the random name generator in Everquest where the “first” Linedan (a big barbarian warrior) played. I recycled the name for a Tauren warrior. Interestingly, nobody gets the pronunciation right the first time; it’s “lih NAY den,” not “LINE dan.” He’s the only one that’s ever gone through the random name generator on either game.Beltar was a modified recycle of an old D&D character of mine, a dwarf fighter; he’s a dwarf hunter now, but “Beltar Forgebreaker” is a damn good dwarf-sounding name if I do say so myself. Illithanis is a belf hunter and it sounds elvish; Moktor is a very harsh orcish-sounding name for my total biatch of a DK, and so on.My best naming story was back on Everquest when I rolled an ogre shadowknight alt. I named him “Lumpee.” When he got to the level to get his last name, I chose “Ting.” “Lumpee Ting.” The story was, when he was born, his mother looked at him and said “hmm, yu sure are lumpee ting!” And it stuck. :) (They’re ogres, what do you expect?)

  8. March 24, 2009 2:49 PM

    It’s cool that you get into it and actually connect with your character like that. For me Dueg’s name was a portmanteau of my original char’s name and something elven sounding (Duegathalas) because it was supposed to be a throwaway char.I usually don’t think too much on names for my chars though, usually I name them silly things. I have a tauren named Merryl, a warlock named Freal, a rogue named Falafel and a bank alt named Iamabankalt.

  9. March 24, 2009 3:36 PM

    No, no, you are certainly not alone. I do this. It takes me FOREVER to choose names for my new characters. I sit for a long time, staring at them, waiting to be struck like thunder with a name appropriate! There have been times when the character was lost and I had to redo her because I sat so long I was DC’d. I’ve learned since then that there’re ways to avoid being DC’d during this long process, but yeah, it’s happened.Names are important to me, but they don’t come easy. So, what did you name her?

  10. Lan'dorien permalink
    March 24, 2009 3:51 PM

    Takes me ages. Then I decide on something that would be perfect! Then I enter it and see it was already taken.Then I mess around with the randomizer till something half usable comes up, modify it a tad, and never think about it again.Sometimes though I accidentally pick a name I really like that is very uncommon, so I end up using it or variations of it for a couple different characters. My mage, Cyllenia, and her counterparts on a different server, Cyllenia and Cyllenius, are such. (Cyllenius is the surname of the god Hermes (Mercury), derived from Mount Cyllene upon which he was born.)

  11. March 24, 2009 4:43 PM

    First off, changing the spelling of Ambro’s name made me veeeery unhappy. Hence why you’ll see me spelling it as Ambrosine still. Screw you, pretensious letter y.Ambrosia was my default name of choice to start, but that’s pretty much always taken, so I chose Ambrosine as a suitable variation. It’s a sweet, old fashioned name for a sweet, old fashioned girl.I had a rogue named Brigantia-doesn’t sound rogue-ish, but it wasn’t meant to. After all, no parent looks at their child and says, “You will be a rogue, so let me name you something appropriate.” But it did suit her personality in the sense that she was only a rogue out of necessity, doing what she had to do make money to support her mother and younger siblings after her father’s death. She wasn’t so much an assassin as she was a thief and con artist. Unfortunately it’s a neat character concept but I hate playing rogues.Lyrandre was just a pretty name I made up-originally it belonged to the sister of my night elf warrior, Lyestra. In stories it still does, and Lyr is referred to by my original draenei name, Vree. Don’t ask me why I didn’t just use Vree-I don’t know!Lyestra is another name I just made up. It is a little more feminine than her persoanlity warrants, but her mother was expecting her to be a priest!…yeah it seems like most names are either “pretty things I made up” or “Seldom seen real names.” I have a couple of that were ‘borrowed’ from books on alts-Farli and Wayreth.

  12. March 24, 2009 4:44 PM

    Oh and you can’t forget my bank alt “Pockett” and the infamous “Icestone” of Has Melted.There’s also my DK Vainglory, but that was just a case of “I like that word let’s use it as a name!”

  13. March 24, 2009 4:50 PM

    It takes me at least 20 minutes to find a serious name for any toon I create.That said, Taurens are easy!Bullwhip, Brand, Rawhide, Heifer, Bunchabull, Horny, and on and on…

  14. March 24, 2009 4:59 PM

    I have to agree with all of the above about how obsessive I am about the names of my characters and the anguish I go through if the name that I have settled on is (*gasp!*) taken already.I also have several “placeholder” toons created to hold on to good names that I will be using soon. (i.e my DK-to-be Haceldama)And of course, the best part about being a hunter is that you have pet names too! And it doesn’t matter if there are a hundred other pets out there with that name :D I don’t usually try to ‘match’ the hunter and the pets names, but give pets their own unique names – except in the case of one of my throwaway ‘just for fun’ alts – the troll hunter Agrajag and his pet crab Petunia.

  15. March 24, 2009 5:24 PM

    “I had a rogue named Brigantia-doesn’t sound rogue-ish, but it wasn’t meant to. After all, no parent looks at their child and says, ‘You will be a rogue, so let me name you something appropriate.'”This was my logic for Sari, too. She’s a Forsaken warlock — but what nice, normal human mother looks at her newborn and says “You’re going to die to a horrible plague, be resurrected as a thrall to the Lich King and eventually redeemed by an elven banshee. Then you’re going to discover demons. I think I’ll name you … Idotu. Welcome to the world, little Idotu.”(There should be a question mark in there somewhere, but I forgot’d it. Have some random ()’s, instead!)

  16. March 24, 2009 6:12 PM

    Names are important – I too spend ages finding the right name when I roll a new alt.To my great horror, my main’s name was already taken when I transferred all my girls to another server last year, my precious rogue and former namesake Tessy is now known as Tessye! It sounds the same but feels so wrong =(

  17. March 24, 2009 6:17 PM

    Your comments about just “feeling right” are right where I am at…While I admit, Wingscribe is not really the most Draenic name out there, it worked really well with my first toon, a Human…there was a whole backstory there, did all this great stuff, and then one day I just decided that I hated the rogue class with all my hear and soul…never to return.The origin of my name is not nearly that interesting, just a Fantasied version of my RL profession – Avaition Technical Writer. Can’t say it was the most inspired choice…And I once rolled a bank alt named “Casheer…”

  18. March 24, 2009 6:20 PM

    Usually when I’m naming a character, I end up looking at my bookshelf, where there are many Fantasy, Sci-Fi, manga, and gaming books to garner names from. It can take a while, since there are probably no small amount of fans for any of those materials, and thus a good portion of them are taken, but every now and then you come up with a couple of gems…(Both on Cairne)My Shaman is named Taoren, taken from the manga Shaman King. I like the original character concept, though in thinking about it, I don’t actually play Tao like the original character (I’m almost always trying to be a nice guy, the original character was an antagonist-turned-ally and he’s pretty arrogant and cruel for a shaman in that story). It wasn’t until I was building the character that I also spotted the pun on my race as well, since Taoren is a Tauren. Go figure – sometimes it just works out.My 2nd character is a Death Knight named Arhys, after Arhys dy Lutez from Lois McMaster Bujold’s book Paladin of Souls, from her Chalion series of books. In the book, Arhys is the March of a border keep, and having been killed in a rather odd manner, is ensorcelled to remain ‘alive’ by his obsessed wife, his spirit trapped in his corpse, animating it, for a time. The character is excellent at his arms, self-confident, a bit arrogant and flirty, and I play him like that (and that’s very much fun to do).Besides those, I tend to think of a set of names that I like (usually from a recently examined source) and then I go onto the server, and ‘hold’ the names, by making new characters. I do play the characters off-and-on, but their primary purpose is to get the name, so if I need to delete and recreate, I don’t have a problem with that. I think, right now, on Cairen, I have one character of each class, and all, except for Tao, are named after characters in that same Chalion series. (I love the audio books for that series, and I’ve been listening to them in my pod.) I think I only had problems naming 2 characters, and I’ve been debating on whether to vary the naming a bit from the original, or pick different characters, since there are quite a few memorable ones. (Haven’t gotten myself to pick an antagonist yet, though – not from that series, at least.)It’s always nice to have an inspired moment. I think my next go-around at this will probably yield characters from Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga – it’s another favorite series of mine.My 2 yen,Akiosama

  19. Anea permalink
    March 24, 2009 11:35 PM

    Exactly! I had the perfect name picked out and some level 16 NE druid has it and you know she’s never going to see the high side of 20 :(

  20. Anea permalink
    March 24, 2009 11:49 PM

    Haha! I can’t even count how many times I’ve been disconnected waiting for a good name to come to me.

  21. Anea permalink
    March 24, 2009 11:54 PM

    A pet crab named Petunia?! Call me crazy, but I think that’s an uber-cute name :D

  22. Anea permalink
    March 25, 2009 12:01 AM

    That happened to my rogue too, when we transferred our pair of rogues. I knew we had to transfer because I was being stalked by a certain someone who just wouldn’t quit, but I stayed longer than I should because I knew I would lose her name, Sin. Not only did I feel just too clever for having managed to snag that name, it fit perfectly for a rogue and it fit perfectly for my rogue. She’s now sitting on another server; unplayed with the “wrong” name. Poor Sin. And poor Tessy(e). :(

  23. Elgar permalink
    April 2, 2009 10:05 PM

    I love reading these posts about how people come up with their names!My first toon ever was Troutwort. So far as I know he’s the only one (well two now–he he). I wanted my NE to have a nature name, so I thought of local plants that might work. Well as it is, I got a little confused in my head and ended up combining Trout Lily and Toothwort and accidentally came up with Troutwort. However, I loved it. It seemed real enough for a plant name, but fake enough to be in WoW. His pet bear is named Grizzlethorn the second Troutwort has a pet crab named Tickles.My next toons all were named after classical composers…Elgar the priest, Schubert the gnome mage, Kalinnikov the dwarf pally, and Sibelius the NE druid.My Shaman was named Serf, but when I transferred servers it was already taken!! I was so bummed, and added Serf to all my toons friends lists…I’ve never ONCE seen this imposter Serf online. Makes me so angry…so now his name is Borka, which is Slavic for fighter – he’s enhance so it seemed to fit. And now when I say his name, I always say…Buh-Borka! Sometimes I slip and call him Serf though.I too dislike adding letters or changing spellings, I was going to reroll a priest on another server, but Elgar was taken, I tried Elgaur, and ick. No. It feels bad, he’s deleted. I know a Caeserr too, because Caeser was already taken, that extra R bugs me so much.

  24. Gheshin permalink
    April 3, 2009 2:44 PM

    My characters’ names are very important, and I’m another one who spends ages trying to think of the right one – not just in MMOs but in Single Player RPGs as well (where no-one else will ever see them). Usually done by staring at them.My WoW naming processes went like this:Nelf Warrior:Forst [taken] -> Gheshin. My fingers just typed Gheshin without my brain intervening.Human Warlock:Hannibal (after Traven, not Lector) [taken, of course] ->Jeremiah [taken] -> Isiah [didn’t look right] -> Elijah[ditto] -> JosiahGnome Mage:Pintpot (thought of the name first, happily there wasn’t one on my server)Belf Paladin (LOL):Kal [taken] -> Kol/Khol [both taken] -> Theon (after Greyjoy) [taken] -> KeltheonDraenei Priest:Vaantu (took ages to come up with)

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