Naming places for our fantasy game
How to name things in fantasy is always a tough one. On the one hand, you don’t want to sound too mundane, and on the other, crazy hyphenated and apostrophated names like Gi’zzor the Terrible and Duke Belerofont are done to death. Tolkien did it in a nice way – as a linguist, he made up entire languages and then emulgated the names for things he needed from these languages. For example, Gandalf means elf-friend in elvish, but humans call him Mithrandir, meaning Grey Pilgrim, and his original name is Olorin, which translates to “dreamer” in the Quenya tongue.
However, we’re not Tolkien, and also we’re leaning heavily on not inventing languages but just treating the game as translated from the animal languages to modern English for the player. So when they use a latinised word like Superb!, we don’t imply that there was a Latin language that the Animals spoke, it’s just our translation of their animal word for this language.
On the other hand, personal names and city names need some thought. Our idea was to make the locations correspond to the group nouns for the animals that live there. For example:
– A group of lions is called a Pride of Lions, so the city of lions is called Pride
– A group of squirrels is a Scurries of Squirrels, so the city of squirrels is called Scurries.
The same with Flocks, Skulks, Packs et cetera. Most of these cities are not going to be accessible to the player in the game as they are far away and not related to the plot, but we’d like the name itself to explain the city. So, for example, when you hear of the count Urlich von Packs, you should immediately summon forth an image of a wolf nobleman, as Packs is a group name for wolves.
We use group names for other things as well, because they fit so well in the context of the animal kingdom. For example, in the case of the Scurries, their elected “mayor” is called The Dreymaster, because another group noun for squirrels is “a drey of squirrels”, so a ruler of squirrels could be called a dreymaster.