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Naming Imaginary Places

Crossposted from http://parsantium.wordpress.com/blog/

Today I started revising my first draft of the Parsantium: City at the Crossroads book. I've been through some of the notes, feedback and emails I'd gathered in the five months or so it took me to write the first draft, and have sorted them into some semblance of order.

I haven't touched the text yet, apart from one thing I've been putting off. I needed to change the placeholder names I've been using for the lands surrounding Parsantium since 2008. This was a pretty big deal – I like these names and the players in my campaign had got to know them too. But they needed to go, because like many DMs, I'd nicked them.

Batiara is the name of the Italy-like land in Guy Gavriel Kay's excellent Sarantine Mosaic series. and Rhodias is its capital, from the same books. Sahasra is the name of a cool Indian-style campaign setting from Dog Soul Publishing. Akhran is the name of a god in Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman's Rose of the Prophet series. These are very cool names. When you say them out loud, they don't sound weird, and the players don't giggle.

The new names I've gone with aren't that different – if they were, I'd probably end up confusing myself! Let me know what you think of them. Batiara is now Bathura, so Parsantium was once part of the Bathuran Empire.  Rhodias is now Rezana. Sahasra is now Sampur. I haven't changed Akhran yet. I toyed with Aqhran and Akerhan but both looked wrong to me. Any suggestions, gratefully received!

While I'm on the subject of names, it would be remiss of me not to let you know about a fantastic site – I can't remember who put me on to this, but I've used this website time and time again to name NPCs in Parsantium and in my D&D games.

How do you come up with names for your games?


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 14th, 2013 06:43 pm (UTC)
Great subject!
Hey there, long time no see! ;)
Naming fantastic places (and not only places), is one of my favorite parts of the hobby. The key, as you also implied, is trying to nail the type of culture you want to hint for. Then simply take the world map and look for name of places there. Or better yet even, do some research on mythology in that culture or at least in its language.
I'm also quite lucky in this department in that I know Italian, Spanish, and English, along with minor languages such as Catalan and Sardinian, and then smatterings of French, Bulgarian and the classic dead languages studied in Italian high school: Latin and ancient Greek. So I'm used to savor differences in sounds between relatively near places, characterized by one ancient common culture but differentiated through time. Simple things such as a trend of names ending with a handful of interchangeable suffixes can make for a recognizable fantastic culture too.
An obstacle in this way of doing things is making sure that the final names sound good for native English speakers. Not being a native English speaker, I'm not exactly aware of what kind of names/sounds would "make players giggle" as you say, so if I have to interact with English speakers, I first ask to an American friend what he thinks about the names I come up with, and rely on his judgment.

Speaking of the names you cite, Batiara is much more Italian-sounding (if pronounced like "BahTTyahrah") than Bathura ("th" is not a Latin sound). Maybe, if you want a "u" sound, something like Battyurah could be a compromise, spelled Battiura if wanting to keep a Latin-like spelling. Rezana does sound more Italian than Rhodias (which sounds Greek).
Sampur sounds much more catchy than (beautiful) Sahasra, and both Akhran and Aqrhan sound good to me for their purpose too.

If you want new names, ideas, or anything, I'm here! :)
Jun. 14th, 2013 09:15 pm (UTC)
Good to hear from you! Maybe I will go with Aqhran after all! You're the second person to say it sounds cool. I'm not sure about Bathura either but it is a Latin place name originally.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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