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What’s in a Name?

By Donald V. Bryson

When you first come to a NERO event, and you are making up a character. Sometimes its hard to come up with a name so, here is some information that just might, help you out.  So, let’s get going! Many of us have surnames that have been passed down to us from ancestors that lived in England, Scottland, Ireland and other parts of the world. This information is primarily set on, what came out of the UK. Now, last names weren’t widely used until after the Norman conquest of 1066 AD. As the country’s population increased, people found it necessary to be more specific, when they were talking about somebody else. A little fun fact: there are more then 40,000 different English surnames alone. Now most of this information is based of real world accounts and information. This is just a fundamental aid to help you think in a different approach. Now, high fantasy is another world within itself, and you make up the guidelines for how you wished to be called in-game (IG).

I have found several types of information that you can use, for helping name your character. I will list them here and give a description to each one down below.

  • Occupational.
  • Describing personal characteristic.
  • Patronymic.
  • Matronymic.
  • Ancestral.
  • From the name of a United Kingdom place. (Or other parts of the world you pick.)
  • From the name of an estate.
  • Geographical feature or landscape.
  • Fantasy.

Occupational: This identified people that had different jobs or positions in the medieval society. For example, if a man was called James and he worked with wood he then, would be named James Woodcutter or Jim Carpenter. If a woman was named Samanthia and her father was a Noblemen, she could be known as Samanthia Noble, Samanthia Knight or the surname of her father. Here is a list of other occupations that may possibly be used as last names.

Archer, Backer, Brewer, Carpenter, Cooper, Cook Dyer, Farmer, Faulkner, Fisher, Gardener, Hunter, Judge, Mason, Parker, Potter, Sawyer, Slater, Thatcher, Weaver, or Wright. The list is enormous and only limited by your imagination.

Describing personal characteristic: Some names were based on description or nicknames that described a person. It seems that most used, were often adjectives. However, you can use whatever you want.

Little, Long, Short, Stern, Strong, Swift, Tall, Black, Green, or White.

Patronymic: These surnames are those that have come from a male given name. Also, you may wish to eliminate the “son” part of the name, as back then, “son” was added to the last name. Such as in Davis, also known as Don the son of Davis; Thus Don Davison.

Dawson, Evans, Harrison, Jackson, Jones (Welsh for Jhon), Nicholson, Richardson, Rogers, Simpson, Thompson, Watson, or Wilson.

Matronymic: These surnames are those that have come from a female given name.

Molson (from Moll), Madison (from Maud), Emmott (from Emma), and Marriott (from Mary)

Ancestral: In here, I call them clan names. Scottish & Irish ancestral surnames have quite a few. In NERO you can come up with any clan name you like, however, again what I have listed here is, out of real would ancestral/ clan names.

Armstrong, Bryson, Cameron, Campbell, Douglas, Forbes, Grant, Henderson, MacDonald, MacDougal, or Stewart.

From the name of a place in the United Kingdom. Or other parts of the world you pick. *You can also choose out names of other worlds you have read about or have watched in movie theaters. They in turn will all work in a high fantasy world setting. A last name may have been used to show where a person was born, where they might have resided or worked. Some names might have come from the name of a city, farm, hamlet, house or even a county that they lived in. 

Cardiff, Dublin, Edinburgh, London, *Hailing’s Glen, *Talis Farry and *Minas Tirith.

From the name of an estate: Those descended from landowners may have taken their surnames from castles, manors, or even estates. A very famous example is Windsor, that last name was adopted for the British royal family by King George the 5th

Geographical feature or landscape: Most names helped to give a barring as to where someone might have dwelled or came from. For example, Marry of the wood, might be also known as Marry Atwood. This within itself is unlimited. Here you to choose from, just about any land feature at your heart’s content. Some examples.

Bridge, Brooks, Camp, Fields, Grove, Highlands, Hill, Lake, Moore, Wild, or Wood.

Fantasy: In this portion I could wright a book, however, I will not. I hope, the above information will channel you in identifying your character with a little more ease. I will list several names I have utilized in the world of gaming just, to give you a little additional help.

Deacon Stone, Thalidin Cook, Ronan Stonecutter, Striker Bardhound, and William Valdune.

Closing words.

I do hope that this will make one of your steps in establishing your character a little easier and enjoyable. Once you have a name for your character the next part is a place where your character hails from. Let your imagination run wild.

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