As I start to put together the map, I realize that I will need to name all of these places. As befits locations set on a far off world, I don't want to use fantasy classics like "Oxbridge" or "Oakdale", that kind of thing. Instead, I really feel like I should aim for names that sound more like those from Planetary Romance source material. Here are some examples:
- Barsoom (Edgar Rice Burroughs): Aaanothor, Amhor, Bantoom, Duhor, Gathol, Hastor, Helium, Jahar, Kadabra, Kamtol, Kaol, Kobol, Korvas, Lothar, Manator, Marentina, Morbus, Okar, Ombra, Panar, Pankor, Phundahl, Ptarth, Raxar, Thark, Thurd, Tjanath, Toonol, Torquas, U-Gor, Xanator, Zodonga, Zor.
- Gor (John Norman): Anango, Ar, Cardonicus, Kassau, Ko-ro-ba, Laurius, Port Kar, Sardar, Schendi, Turmus, Tabor, Teletus, Thassa.
- Green Star (Lin Carter): Ardha, Calidar, Kamadhong, Komar, Phaolon.
- Kregen (Kenneth Bulmer under pseudonym Alan Burt Akers): Aduimbrev, Arkasson, Askinard, Benga Deste, Bormark, Can-thirda, Chem, Chersonang, Cherwangtung, Cyphren Sea, Delka Dwa, Delphond, Donengil, Erthyrdrin, Evir, Falinur, Felteraz, Flahi, Gansk, Havilfar, Hiclantung, Isteria, Jholaix, Klackadrin, Loh, Lome, Magdag, Mehzta, Memis, Menaham, Ng'groga, Pandahem, Panderk, Pattelonia, Pa Weinob, Perithia, Plicla, Pomdermam, Proconia, Rahartdrin, Sanurkazz, Segesthes, Thadelm, Therminsax, Tomboram, Turismond, Ullardrin, Undurkor, Valka, Valkanium, Vallia, Vandayha, Vindelka, Vulheim, Walfarg, Wyndhai, Xuntal, Yumapan, Zenicce, Zond, Zulfiria, Zullia, Zy.
These are not the only cities or countries mentioned in these series, nor are these the only series in the genre. These are simply the first ones I could grab from a quick online search. Looking them over, I can see a few trends that will impact the creation of place names.
Suffixes: You can see that some of the authors trended toward certain suffixes in the names of places in their settings. On Barsoom, the following appear common: -ar, -ator, -bra, -ol, -or, -thor and -tor. Gor only supports a trend for -us, while the few options from the Green Star series supports an -ar suffix. Kregen, the largest series with the largest selection of place names, shows a great range of diversity, and in terms of trends only offers us: -ahem, -an(g)tung, -drin, -lka, -ia and -ond. Reaching across authors, the following seems universally reinforced: -ahem, -an(g)tung, -ar, -ator, -bra, -dar, -drin, -ia, -ium, -kor, -lka, -ol, -ond, -or, -thor , -tor and -us.
Prefixes: Common prefixes are a little rarer. Barsoom offer Ka-, Pan- and maybe Th- and Z-. Neither Gor nor the Green Star series offers me any suggestions, while Kregen suggests the following common prefixes: Cher-, Pand-, Val- and maybe Zul-. Again, reaching across authors creates a slightly more comprehensive list: Ar-, Cher-, Del-, Kam-, Ka-, Ko-, Lo-, Pan-, Pand-, Tha-, Tur-, Valk-, Val-, Zo- and Zul-.
I imagine that I could easily mix and match common prefixes and suffixes, along with some random syllable in the middle, to come up with some appropriate place names that have a strong Planetary Romance feel to them. However, one of the goals here is to use a naming language to create a greater sense of consistency throughout the campaign setting. Toward that end, I've looked at articles on creating naming languages, particularly rassaku's series that starts with the observation "Why names in fantasy often suck", and continues through two more posts. These are a very good read, and I highly recommend them. My favorite article on the subject, though, is the one that started me on the concept of using naming languages. The original site to host it is temporarily unavailable, but the article itself is reproduced here in PDF: A Naming Language.
So, from the analysis I did before, I can create a table of root words that can be useful in creating Place Names. So long as the roots I choose have a feel that seems to fit the pattern, I should have a relatively easy go of creating appropriate Place Names. Toward that end, I've created the following table of place name roots and their meanings. These can be combined in sets of two or three, and then perhaps modified as needed, to create place names for the World of Samardan setting:
Table: Random Planetary Romance Place Names
d66 Place Name Root 11 balem ("valley") 12 bar ("upper, greater") 13 blen ("highland") 14 del ("chasm, rift") 15 digar ("hill") 16 din ("mineral, stone") 21 dren ("lumber, wood") 22 dros ("estate, manor") 23 gar ("mountain") 24 grat ("township (walled)") 25 ham ("homestead, residence") 26 kam ("grasslands, meadow") 31 kol ("mine, quarry") 32 lium ("spire, tower") 33 mader ("forest, woods") 34 mak ("place, site") 35 mal ("lower, lesser") 36 mer ("moor, swamp") 41 nat ("farm, plantation") 42 nob ("new") 43 pand ("water") 44 par ("chokepoint, pass") 45 pol ("field") 46 por ("aerie, port") 51 pul ("bridge") 52 ram ("temple") 53 rek ("rich, wealthy") 54 sag ("dungeon, jail, prison") 55 san ("defend, protect") 56 sok ("height") 61 sol ("citadel, fort (civilized)") 62 thor ("hamlet, shire") 63 tor ("rock") 64 tur ("castle, palace") 65 val ("village") 66 valk ("fort (frontier/border), watch tower")
To use the table, I simply roll d66 twice, once for a prefix and once for a suffix, or three times (prefix-middle-suffix), if I feel like a longer name. If they don't sound good together, then I can always throw a random vowel or syllable between them, until it sounds right to me. Remember, this is intended to spark my imagination, not replace it.
So, here are some examples of place names I've created using this table:
- Deval: Rolling a 14, followed by 65, I get Del + val ("chasm/rift" + "village"). Delval doesn't roll off the tongue when I repeat it to myself five times quickly, so I shorten it to Deval, which works better for me. Deval was once a small village overlooking a chasm, but has grown as its role and importance has increased over the years.
- Nobium: Rolling d66 twice, I came up with 42, followed by a second roll of 32. This leads to Nob + liyum ("new" + "spire/tower"). Noblium is a little clunky on the tongue, so after saying it to myself five times fast, I decide to drop the "l" to get a more pronounceable result of Nobium. Lying on the outskirts of ancient ruins, Nobium ("new tower") is the settlement of the only major structure to have survived from days long ago, that of a tall arcology.
- Pordel: I rolled 46, followed by 14, to come up with Por + del ("aerie/port" + "chasm/rift"). Pordel is a city known for the quality of its flying mounts, many of which roost along the chasm walls against which the city was built.
- Thornat: I first generated a 62, followed by 41, to come up with Thor + nat ("hamlet/shire" + "farm/plantation"). Thornat was originally a small township that sprang up around a heavy agrarian locale, but has since grown into a large market city.
- Torkobalem: This city derives from a roll of 63, followed by 11, to come up with Tor + balem ("rock" + "valley"). On a whim, I roll a third d66, and come up with kol ("mine/quarry). Putting it together in an what I think is an interesting way, I get Torkolbalem. Using the "repeat this to myself five times quickly" test, I find that the first "l" tends to drop out, so I rewrite it as Torkobalem. (Linguistic Note: I'm beginning to notice that phonemes that end in an "l" tend to lose the trailing "l" if they are not the last syllable of a word. That might need to become a rule somewhere.) Torkobalem is a city located in a region rich with valuable minerals. This sounds like a good candidate for the city that controls, or seeks to control, power crystals. (Power crystals provide the pseudo-scientific technology that explains the ray guns, flying machines and other elements we'll be adding to the setting as we go along.)
I think I lucked out this time around with the random chart creation. Out of five tries, I got five decent results. For me, that makes this table a success in terms of naming places. That will help out a lot as we choose names for various locations on the map. What do you think?