Naming Conventions in the Common Tongue:
During the Age of Sail, world languages began to intermingle in their own way, giving ground eventually to the Common Language. Though rife with regional euphemism and difficult accents from strange lands, it still follows some standard conventions of naming.
Especially in the West, people usually have one given first name and one surname which is often either the family name or the person’s profession (i.e., Frem Fletcher is a maker of arrows). Some have middle names that might be the name of a favored relative or family friend.
Children of nobility must take their names much more seriously, for they carry the honor and reputation of their entire clan. To be disowned is to lose the privilege of the family name.
(Note to Players: When I am making first names for Humans, Halflings, Dwarves, and Gnomes, I take a normal English name or word and change one or two letters. The idea is that it sounds kind of familiar, but it’s still unique to this fantasy world. For example: Thomas becomes Thoman, Rachel becomes Raghel, and Brian becomes Prian. This is just a general rule, though, and not a requirement.)
Dwarven Names: Dwarven first names are usually short and gruff, often sounding like brusque words in Common. Burnur, Cragh, Laash, and Struk are all good examples, though female names are usually less blunt. These dire folk take their last names from ancestral deeds that honored their families. Armscraft, Dragongrave, Neveryield, and Orkcrusher all might be found on the slate tablets on which were carved the most famous Dwarven clans.
Elven Names: Elven names are long and graceful to the Human ear, though friends may call them by a foreshortened form. Celestelvallia Es’tengengallum might go by Celeste or Cel, and she may wish to use the Common translation of her last name, “Warm-Rain-Upon-the-Hillside” when making introductions. Only Elves and other truly long-lived races seem to have the right mindset for the formality of full Elven names.
Gnomish Names: Gnomes have lived alongside other races for so long that their tiny communities often adopt the naming customs of their neighbors. Dwarves are their closest cousins, though they usually prefer names that convey ingenuity, practicality, and wit rather than strength or honor. The Gnome Countre Minmitre is probably named for some ancestral mathematician or architect, while Wurdscrib the Verbose likely comes from a line of writers.
Half-Elf Names: Half-Elves living in Elven communities tend to follow that races’ tradition. Those that live among Humans adopt more Human names, though some keep a mix of the two cultures in defiance of the stigma that it might bring.
Halfling Names: Halfling customs are similar enough to Human ones, as are their names. Bad puns are sometimes heard in Halfling names, such as Breezi Weatherwatcher or Addam Shayme. Such jokes are the kind only these small folk find amusing.
Human Names: For a race so short-lived, Humans have a knack for keeping the past alive by passing down family names to their kin. Most names are simple, like Nisk or Wilmi, though more extravagant names are known, especially among the upper crust of society. In The West, surnames are usually family names or professions. In some countries of The East, the father’s or mother’s name becomes the surname. Crowded cities often call for distinctions between two similar appellations, so nicknames or birthplaces can be used.