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City names

Discussion in 'World Building' started by ksmith, May 9, 2016.

  1. ksmith

    ksmith Dreamer

    It is hard enough for me to come up with character names, but I'm gone when it comes to cities/kingdoms/forts...

    Where do you get your inspiration?

    Anyone know any software where you can design a layout of your city(top down view)
  2. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

    Try naming your cities/forts after noteworthy geographical features in the area. In my works that take place in Faerie, I have names like Carraig Ard ("High Rock", for a stronghold carved into a steep cliff) or Trillynoedd ("Three Lakes", self-explanatory). Or you could name the places after rulers, like Jamestown, VA, or the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Prince Edward Island.
    vigosinger likes this.
  3. TheKillerBs

    TheKillerBs Inkling

    I typically slightly twist real-world names. For example, some major cities in the region my WIP is taking place are Mennef (Men-nefer, the New Kingdom name of the city the Greeks called Memphis), Hitta (land of Hatti, i.e. where the Hittites came from), and Kur (Ur).
  4. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

    [Like TKB and Ireth I presume] I have a sense for what the languages in the region sound like so I start with what sounds right and then build in any logic [Alt means hill, Vos means river etc] as I go.

    I start with pencil and paper for my first few rough attempts at city/town/country building. Too often I've found I need a wood or Taveren to be the other side of the river and had to redar whole chunks of my maps.... It's a lot easier to move a river by using an eraser and a pencil than trying to re-draw it in Photoshop. I leave the software until I have the world and the story fairly well sorted and settled.
  5. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

    In my case, regarding Faerie, I borrow mostly from Irish and Welsh for people names as well as place names. It's easier than making things up. ^^
  6. AJ Stevens

    AJ Stevens Minstrel

    I think place names tend to fall into one of three categories:

    They are descriptive, but bear in mind that the language may have been twisted since the initial naming. Also consider that the name may change as the language changes. Consider 'London,' which was named Londinium in Roman times. No-one knows why London is so named, with theories ranging from a loose translation from Celtic meaning 'Lake fort,' to it being named after some fellow called 'King Lud.' York is derived from 'Eoforwic,' which then became 'Jorvik,' and means 'wild-boar town' apparently.

    They can also be named after a person or owner. Rome would be the classic example of this. San Francisco is another.

    There are also numerous examples of towns or cities being named after old-world counterparts. Many towns and cities in the US and Australia have English or European counterparts.

    That's the real world theory. Of course, you can do whatever you like! Like the folks above, I sometimes twist the names of real places. The main city in my current work is named 'Caran,' which was inspired by the Plutonian moon 'Charon,' who happens to be the ferryman of the dead in Greek mythology. Lop off a syllable, or change a vowel here or there. I tend to keep a little notebook with me, and I jot down the names of places, streets, etc that I find interesting. I have a city called 'Shimshala' which I love the sound of - that's a merger of partial names of two towns in India.
  7. I also struggle with this, I have spent many hours using word combiners to get something that sounds right, but it isn't really working.
  8. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

    A lot of the places in my stories have names inspired by places near where I grew up. They're not exact copies, but close enough that someone who knows what to look for (which is likely only going to be me) might figure it out.
  9. TheKillerBs

    TheKillerBs Inkling

    Sorry, missed the second question. I use GIS and CAD software to map things out. You can find free GIS software here and free CAD software here. Unfortunately, I can't give any firsthand opinions on any of them because I have good paid software thanks to work, and have therefore never needed to download any.
  10. Reaver

    Reaver Kwisatz Haderach Moderator


    I get my ideas from real world names. I just rearrange or add letters. As far as map making software, try autorealm. It's free and you can find a lot of great tutorials on Youtube.
    ksmith and Aidan of the tavern like this.
  11. Miskatonic

    Miskatonic Auror

    Just make sure there's some regional similarity in naming conventions if you want a clear and concise way of letting readers know where characters are from.
  12. Reilith

    Reilith Sage

    I usually just think of a name that would suit the place I am naming - I don't have that many problems with naming. I take care that they work with the culture they are from etc. I also use real world inspiration - for my current WIP I use random Elven name generator and they play around with it to get the names for my Elven-like culture; I use Scottish and Irish names for characters mostly in the human society. Their towns and cities will be named geographically, most probably.
    I use this great site that offers a ton of options for names of any kind - Fantasy name generators. Names for all your fantasy characters.
    For maps I sometimes draw them by hand, but always finish them in photoshop, but I amwell versed in it so I don't have too many problems with learning the program. Although I don't usually draw forts and towns, just bigger scale maps, such as countries and world maps.
    You could also use Inkarnate , it's a free fantasy map maker online, and you can download anything you create.
    Hope this helps!
  13. Creed

    Creed Sage

    Naming things is actually one of my favourite parts of the world building process, but that comes with conlanger territory.

    My first step is to get a feel for the language/dialect, and from there move on to geographical/historical/social identifiers. Then account for changes in a period of time and create a new word.
    I also use this fantastic word mixer a lot.

    That's how I form a broad range of names across three planets: Castra Morin (castle of faith / cast in faith), Kalef'mar (city on the sea), Yenni Suderil (corruption of "home of the family of the south shore"), Vahsedil (runs-to-shore), Saddogherin (storm peak/mountain), etc.

    It's powerful fun :p
    AJ Stevens likes this.
  14. ksmith

    ksmith Dreamer

    I guess I never really thought at that depth in the building world process. To me kind of sounds like I need to some TLC on my world.
  15. Bruce McKnight

    Bruce McKnight Troubadour

    For names, I will use "location" items (Greenview, Rockford, Deerfield, etc), but I feel like I get my best names from Google Maps. I pick a culture that is similar (UK in my world) and zoom in real close to look at street and neighborhood names. There's all sorts of good stuff there.

    When I do my maps, I scribble on paper (even though I hate actually writing on paper) and then render them in Gimp ('cause Photoshop ain't free). There are so many great online tutorials to do it yourself, but if that's not your thing, I've heard of people finding good commissions to do their maps at DeviantArt.
  16. K.S. Crooks

    K.S. Crooks Inkling

    I used donjon; RPG Tools. This site provides ideas for plots, characters, goals and several other things you may want in your story. The map maker is at donjon; Fractal World Generator. It is a wonderful tool and the map you create can be saved to your computer and opened in Photoshop to modify it as you like. Here is a small sample of my map. You don't have to use the any of the maps, simply use the names you like or modify the names to suit your needs. Another thing I occasionally do is name a location after a person I know. I prefer doing this over naming a character after a friend or family member, then having to explain why I've killed them.
  17. La Volpe

    La Volpe Sage

    This thread is making me very conscious of my own city naming practices.

    I usually just toss some syllables together in a way that has the same language-feel as my character names. Occasionally, I'll translate some relevant words to the language I'm basing my names off of, shuffle it around until it sounds palatable in English, and then add a suffix (e.g. -ia).
  18. RedAndy

    RedAndy Dreamer

    Translating things into other languages is a good way of doing things. One of the towns in my WIP has an ancient bridge that has recently been blasted into ruins by a bungling general; I drew inspiration for that from the Bosnian city of Mostar, whose eponymous bridge ("Stari Most" means "old bridge" in Serbo-Croat) was destroyed during the 1990s war in the region (and has since been rebuilt, and is a great place to visit, so put it on your list). In my WIP, the inhabitants of the region where the town is located resemble the Germanic tribes present in Eastern Europe during the latter days of the Roman Empire. So I translated the phrase "old bridge" into German to give the town its name - Altbruck.

    Another region in my WIP is inspired by medieval Scandinavia, so I decided to give the places vaguely Nordic-sounding names. In the north of England where I live lots of place names end in "-thorp" or "-thorpe," which comes from a Norse word for a village or settlement, and the regional capital is on the east coast of an ocean, so I named it "Osthorp" - "East Town," more or less.

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