In a few short days—on Monday, August 12 at 3:00 pm PT (6:00 ET)—World of Warcraft players can create up to three characters per account in WoW Classic. It’s an opportunity to reserve names for three of your Classic characters: one main and two bank alts, amirite?
With decades of gaming behind us, many players have established go-to names for their characters in any game. The best opportunity to secure those names is when a game is new, which will be the case with WoW Classic. However, the more creative and rare your names are, the easier it is to use them at any point in a game’s life span.
My post on naming the prolific Elven races breaks down the method to my madness in coming up with unique names for my characters—check it out if you haven’t already. The methods described there serve as a foundation for my “name your character” posts.
Before We Begin
If you share my love of language, I highly recommend watching the Tolkien movie. While I don’t know how true it is, the movie is simply lovely. It helped me better understand my fascination with language when Tolkien discussed with his professor how language is the lifeblood of a culture. You can learn a lot about a people from the words they use to describe their way of living. I clearly missed my calling in linguistic anthropology!
One More Thing to Get Out of the Way
Aside from nostalgia and hoping for a reemergence of the player community prior to the introduction of cross realm technology, I’m playing WoW Classic because I want to return to an Azeroth where Vol’jin is alive and well. His death haunts me to this day and—this just occurred to me—could have played a part in my waning desire to play. I wanted him to be Warchief forever. Killing off a well-loved character in a living breathing virtual world will make that world a sadder place.
I miss you, man.
Ok then, my goodness, let’s get on with the purpose of this post.
Tolkien’s Black Speech
My inspiration for naming Orcs and Trolls came from learning that the Black Speech invented by Tolkien is similar to Hurrian. There aren’t many online resources or dictionaries for Black Speech as Tolkien didn’t care for it as much as the Elven tongues he created. And there aren’t many Hurrian resources or dictionaries either, likely because it’s considered to be extinct.
I use languages similar to Hurrian—Hittite, Akkadian, and Urdu—to create names for my Orcs and Trolls. I also use Greenlandic and Yoruba.
Read through these lists or ctrl+F your way around using keywords.
I’m not a fan of name generators as I prefer to know what the name means. That said, the two linked here produce results that feel authentic to me.
Gods, Goddesses, Mythological Characters
If you don’t have time for diving deep into rabbit holes, finding a name from a culture’s pantheons and mythologies can be quicker and educational. These links are all to Wikipedia pages with name lists—super easy to ctrl+F for keywords.
Godchecker.com is a great site to add to your reference materials.
A little side note about Yoruba. I haven’t used it as much because, at this point, I have a healthy list of go-to names. I fell in love with it a few years ago when I first heard the French-Cuban twin sister duo Ibeyi in an interview on the radio. Ibeyi is the Orisha of divine twins.
If you never get a chance to see their amazing live performance, take a moment and enjoy them here and now. I hope you like them as much as I do!
For thorough character naming research, don’t forget to check the naming conventions for your character’s race and/or language. You might find a gem of a name like I did for my Troll Balance Druid in WoW: Zen’Nattari. Zennattari means “it is the new moon” in Hittite and Zen is a Zandali prefix for druids. At the time of this post, I have the only character in the WoW Armory with that name. I suppose a few more won’t hurt!
While naming conventions can be exclusive to the IP—like the gra/gro prefix for Orsimer surnames in Elder Scrolls—you can certainly mix and match between games and lore as you please.
You can use the naming conventions to further customize a name for your Orc or Troll. It seems to me that the Orc languages in both ESO and WoW frequently use the letter g while the letter z is used more frequently in the Troll’s Zandali language.
For example, let’s say you are creating a shaman. Performing a keyword search for lightning in the Akkadian dictionary gives us a good result:
ṣaraḫu (2) : [Sky → Astronomy → Stars] to light up , to flare up / to ignite quickly and suddenly (after having died down) ; Š : (demon) to make lightning flash , to make a firebrand flash
- Orc shaman: Garahu
- Troll shaman: Zarahu
Checking the WoW Armory for these names shows very few results for all three—Sarahu has 0 results. It’s a good bet that these names could be rare and unique in other games.
I hope this is helpful. If not, hit me up in the comments or on Twitter. I just might have the name you are looking for in one of my many lists or spreadsheets. Or give me some keywords and I can give you a few options!
I realized as I was putting this post together that this series could benefit from a better-organized presentation. In fact, a one-stop page of links to resources may be useful. I’m sure I’ll get around to it eventually.
More importantly, I hope you don’t mind the diversions of the movie trailer and tiny desk concert. They are part of how I experience language and culture, how it all connects for me and comes together as part of humanity. Art is its own language of expression and communication rooted in culture and human experience.
So. See you in WoW Classic?