Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Place names in Shatterworld

A reader contacted me, asking why I chose the name "Calabria", as Calabria is a real world region of southern Italy. He was very familiar with Calabria, as that is where is father is from. Here is my response to the inquiry:

I'm of Italian (Sicilian) ancestry myself, and my grandmother's sister married a "Calabrese".

I think that is where the name struck me. I was aware that is was an actual place, but one of my goals is to give the setting "real world" sounding place names, as opposed to everything being some exotic name. My design goal is that the place names sort of "ground" the setting, making the "fantastic" elements of it really seem unusual. (BTW, Calabria has a hard "C", as in Kal-á-bree-ah)

As for other place names, Freehold is a town in New Jersey where my aunt lives, and Woodbury Forest is the neighborhood my parents lived in for 20 years in Charlotte, NC.

The Dwarven stronghold will be named Stonehaven, another neighborhood in Charlotte.

The main paved road winding through Calabria is based on the Appian Way, or Via Appia. I've decided to keep use of the Latin, and go with the Imperial Way, or Via Imperium.

For the northern city of Birg Nor, I wanted it to have Nordic Influence, because the Dwarves live in the mountain range across the Northren Sea. Birg is derivative of Berg, or "mountain", in German. Burg in German is "city" (hence, Burgermesiter, master of the city, and Iceberg, "ice mountain"). "Nor" is my abbreviation of "north" or "nordic".

Pitkin and Carín sound mundane enough, but I wanted the "Rome" of the country to have something a little bit exotic sounding, and sort of romance languagey. (like that term?). So Len Draal came to mind.

Wyvern's Point is the only place name that to me feels "gamey" sounding, but I can live with it because I've made wyrms, wyverns, and gryphons sort of "mundane" creatures, with true "D&D" dragons being much more exotic. To me, this emulates actual real world heraldry, so sort of feels right.

I find coming up with appropriate name places to be a very difficult process requiring much thought to establish the kind of feel I want for the campaign world. I want it to feel like a real place you might have read about somewhere, rather than some bizarre place out of World of Warcraft or Everquest where up is down and down is up, and magic is as common as a cup of Starbucks.

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