Back to index

The copyright situation for this article is unclear. It does not belong to the author of this site. Please see the copyright notice. If you have information about the copyright contact me!

Naming NPC's

by Lord Ashon

Gary Cygaks poured through his book of demonology looking for the name of the Demon who would help him free his adventuring company from the clutches of the evil council. And he came across it, "A very evil looking being is here." Knowing that he had found the name of the most powerful creature, he began setting up a circle of summoning.

Blue Dragon

A blue dragon soaring through the air, eating dwarfs (or is that a crystall ball).

Now, wouldn't that passage have been a little better with out the Gary Cygax/WotC analogy. Wait, I mean if the name of the demon had been, "Viaciax" Let me digress a minute and talk about two differing philosophies in the Mudding community.

There are those that believe that NPC's are not as essential to player motivation, and they just give players a general description of an NPC, like; "A Male Elf", or "The Blue Dragon", or even, "The Really Scary thing that you REALLY should run away from! NOW!". This group believes that players should worry more about interaction with other players than with the Mobiles.

Then there is the group that thinks, much like me, that immersion is the goal of the game, and everything we do to make the game more immersive improves the quality of the game so we try to convince the players to interact with the world. We tend to give each Mobile a unique name.

Since this is an article about naming NPC's I will outline how I have developed in Pen'n'Paper to name my NPC's.:

Step One

Each race is given a specific naming template. Dwarves for example have something like [First Name], [Descriptive Action] + [Relevant Item]. So we can get a dwarf named Karish from the clan BattleHand. An elf on the other hand would have a template [Human Name] + [Silly sounding string of vowels], [Silly sounding vowels] + [odd sounding vowels] + [awkward pronunciation] to produce a name like: Helenilal Siloajaihove.

Step Two

Create the appropriate list for each template. For The Dwarven First Name, I have a list of 50 different names, and then 15-20 for the Descriptive Action, and 15-20 for the Relevant Item. The way I did this in the pen'n'paper is create tables with dice rolls, so that I could quickly generate the name for a random dwarf that the players stopped to talk to.

That's it. That's all there is to it. When you give each NPC a unique name it gives them some viability to the world. It makes the players feel like you took time creating this npc and it is not a nameless face. It adds a bit of depth to the world. I know you are thinking, so how do I translate this over to my mud? Well, with a little help from some past articles. I will show you.

In David Bennett's article Languages in Muds, Dave outlines a system of creating a system for languages. Using templates of the shape:

Q -> D DQ
S -> bugd fauth duump durb gimb krimp lata prakh srinkh thrak throqu
B -> bu b b al am azd fa ga g gh gha gl goth gr h kh kr l m mat m n pr r sh sk sn sr t th uf ud ug ul ur uz y z
E -> ub zum onk ai al og goi t ash sh goth mog na
D -> aga at akh hai ishi ob u ug uga uuk ul um uur uurz z bai za gh
M -> ub gu arg urz ur sh uth aza ish or uzg azM az ii
So we turn this into a name generator:
Q -> D DQ
S -> Peter Gunther Kalis Haraca Faro Semalk Kcakc Veis
B -> Daocl Varak Rac Sarin Freas
E -> Battle Crafty Sinister War Last
D -> Hammer Shield Paper Shaft Paint
M -> Lazy Smelly Tasty

Or, if you'd rather you just create a bunch of select statements and randomly choose one. It's all a matter of style. Now, let me explain that most MUD's use unique names for 'special' NPC's that are critical to the plot or to an area, so it is my suggestion that when you spawn, or re-pop your area you give the mob's new names. But that is an exercise left to the reader.

Lord Ashon is working on the WheelMUD project. He is the Main Developer, and keeps all his writings in a vault on the web at