Posted 30 June 2012 - 10:42 AM
I'm not a huge Roleplayer, but I do like lore-fitting names, and try to make interesting, unique, and lore-friendly names where I can. I use some of the techniques that others have already described, but one method that I like to use that I haven't really seen yet is fitting together other names, letters, and sets of letters that you simply like the sound and/or look of.
For instance, when creating a CAST (android) character for Phantasy Star Universe, I decided I liked the look of "gn." This is a set of letters you see more often at the beginning of the word than in the middle or end (gnome, gnarled, gnat, etc.), so I knew I wanted to try and squeeze it in somewhere in the middle—I wanted the name to look harsh and complex, but be soft and easy to say (tough on the outside, soft on the inside; much like the character it was intended for). At the time, I was watching Gundam 00 and really liked one of the character's names: Feldt (Here, as well, the character had a lot in common with the one I wanted to create). So I grabbed the "Fel" and stuck it before the "gn" giving me "Felgn." Looked nice, sounded how I wanted it to, but there was still something missing for me. It still didn't look as complicated as I wanted, so I decided to add a silent "E" for good measure. Now I use the name Felgne quite often.
You can also use this method when starting with a character/mythological creature that you really like, then removing some bits, and adding in others. Often when looking at mythical creatures you'll find they have many different variations to the name that can also help you find interesting new ways to say and/or spell something. Or start with your favorite letter (or even the first letter of your first or last name) and use that either as the first letter, or just somewhere in the middle. Changing phonetics can work really well too. With the example above, I could have just used the name Feln It would have sounded the same but looked quite a bit different. Just remember to keep iterating on your name as you make it, and jot down your ideas as you go. It's better to have a list to pick from and you can always use your other ideas for other characters later on.
What I like about this system is just how flexible it is, and the fact that you're almost always guaranteed to get a name you like both the look and sound of (and in a game where people are reading your name as much as they are saying it, the look is certainly important). And even if you begin with a well-known character (Drizzt, Legolas, Cloud, etc.), by the end, your name should have changed just enough to be your own.
As far as using this technique to produce lore-friendly names, it often tends to work out fairly well; especially if you have an idea of how lore names generally sound and look already, and are striving to make one. If you're a little fuzzy on what exactly the naming conventions are, just take a look at some of the NPC names, pick out looks and sounds that you like from those, then try and jumble them around until you hit a name you like.
Fun Fact: Some time after naming my character Felgne, I did a Google search just to see if it meant something already. Felgne wasn't a very popular search, but it seems to have something to do with hubcaps/car rims. Seeing as the character was a robot, the coincidence was quite funny to me. Remember to check Google when you think you have something good. It might just be offensive to someone. =P