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Names in the Realms

Naming systems vary widely in the Realms, with many local customs being commonly followed. Player characters may one- or two-part names, nick names, titles, or pseudonyms their career. General guidelines on naming are as follows.

Common Humanity; The greater bulk of humanity takes a single name, such as Doust or Mourngrym, with a secondary name added if there is confusion, either from profession (Doust the Fighter), location (Doust of Shadowdale), or lineage (the latter in particular if some legendary figure was in family line, such as Doust, Grandson of Miniber the Sage). In addition, a name may be added for a physical condition, such as "Blackmane" or "Firehair," or for some legendary or extraordinary event. (There are a large number of "Trollkillers" in the Realms, more a credit to the numbers of the monsters, rather than the prowess of their slayers.) Young children are given a pet name or diminutive that is sometimes retained, but more often than not dropped upon adulthood (Mourngrym and Shaerl's son is named Scotti, but that may change when he reaches his majority). A wedded couple sometimes takes a common name, which may be his or hers (particularly when dealing with nobility) or be a new name entirely. In the course of a lifetime, average humans can take and discard several surnames, keeping their given names throughout.

Human Nobles and Gentry: Noble and landed individuals tend to retain the family name, a name usually derived from the individual who established the family's fame, position, or prowess. Such names are retained even after the nobility has fallen from grace or power. Again, special additional names for events or appearances are common.

Human Wizards: Mages tend to eschew long titles and names, and the general feeling is that a wizard's fame should precede him or her, such that a single mention of the name is sufficient, and no one would doubt the speaker was referring to anyone else but the genuine article. For example, there may well be an Elminster the Barber or an Elminster of Waterdeep, but a reference to Elminster (or the even more modest "Elminster the Sage") refers to the advisor without peer who resides in Shadowdale.

Human Priests: Identifications of the faiths of the realms are usually included in a name, supplanting any family or noble names. Amaster, a cleric of Tymora, can be referred to as Amaster of Tymora without incident. In higher church circles and matters involving leaders of particular temples or faiths, the full title is important, such as Asgaroth of Tempus, Patriarch of Baldur's Gate.

Elves and Half-Elves: The People have family names that they tend to translate back into common as nicknames, so that there are families of Strongbows or Starglows in the world. Such family names are important in that elven siblings can be hundreds of years apart in age. Half-elves take elven or human naming fashions, depending on where they were raised, and may change back and forth several times in the human fashion.

Dwarves; Dwarves have a very strong sense of their past and the heroes in their families. They carry only a first name, followed by the qualifier of heritage. The lowest dwarves attach themselves to their state or hold, such as Monger of the Iron House. Dwarves with a dwarf of renown in their heritage may use the appellation "son of" or "grandson of" (or "daul" or "grandaul" for females) such as Thelarn, son of Mongoth. Beyond two generations, the phrase "blood of" is used, but only for the greatest dwarven leaders, as in Nor, blood of Ghellin, King-in-Exile of the Iron House.

Gnomes: These quiet people use both given and surnames, and maintain long-standing family ties, such that a third name, for location, may be necessary. For example, outside of his homeland, Wysdor Sandminer may have to be known as Wysdor Sandminer, of the Sandminers of Arabel to avoid constant discussions with other gnomes who may or may not be close relations.

Halflings: Halflings are similar to the gnomes in the fact that they use both given and surnames, but both those names may change over time and be overappended with nicknames for adventures, physical abilities, and pet or diminutive names. In addition, the original names may be lost behind a maze of pseudonyms and false backgrounds. For example, the halfling Corkitron Allinamuck chose both first and last names (his parents were named Burrows), and goes by the diminutive Corky and the nickname "High Roll."

Other Races: Most of the other races make do with a single name and further clarification as needed (a centaur named Aldophus may be called Aldophus the Roan, for example).

Ores and goblins tend to use proper names only when they need to, the rest of the time using a native word that translates as "Hey, you!" in everyday speech (a true speaker of the orcish tongue can put a great deal of venom behind the word, such that fights can start in bars at its mention).

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