Tuesday 6 February 2024

1d100 Oblique place names

Back in November, the redoubtable noisms of Monsters and Manuals posted about "oblique" place names. I thought the examples listed were delightful--it was a good little read! Every campaign world should have a "Howly Winter"

He also claimed that "a human author or game designer doesn't have a hope in hell of emulating this - there is not a DM in the world who would think to call a village 'Howly Winter'" 

Now, I'm not sure what he meant by this exactly, and this isn't a call out post! But I thought, surely that's pretty demonstrably false. I mean of course, given the examples to build a vibe off of, we can come up with "Howly Winter" type names. 

And in fact, as soon as I read the list, my mind began adding onto it--and everyone I've mentioned it to has contributed at least one or two ideas off the top of their heads, spontaneously! Maybe this is a me thing, and I exude a kind of aura of weird place names inspiration, or surround myself exclusively with that exact type of person. In which case fair, this isn't exactly supposed to be a rigorous proof, just one hundred plus anecdotes. 

Perhaps the list will keep growing. At what point does anecdote become data? Or does it become history first?

Some caveats: I've checked exactly none of these to make sure they're not already existing real or fictional places. I'm sure some of them are, and just popped out of my brain soup as "new ideas" because they were already familiar. I'm also not a true student of linguistics, so this is based on vibes only, what "feels" like weird mish-mash british isles-ish place name. No Tolkien level scholarly efforts here!

With that said, here's the list, presented as a table for that extra gameable flair!

1d100 weird place names (+4 cuz I couldn't stop)

  1. - Frowshire

  2. - Prax-upon-Slough

  3. - Drayfor

  4. - Crowspocket

  5. - Grosmarket

  6. - Tendedd

  7. - Falxire 

  8. - Beaughon

  9. - Ossfide 

  10. - Tentickit

  11. - Walfside 

  12. - Hundseight

  13. - Devhook

  14. - Egg Knact

  15. - Rocken Plow

  16. - Sunmind

  17. - Holarbor

  18. - Falls Down

  19. - Chalk-to-Clowd

  20. - Benchmill

  21. - Wocksitte

  22. - Fuwlan

  23. - Toothy Heath

  24. - Dogs Biscuit

  25. - Tea-and-Wander

  26. - Lode Sill

  27. - Nakkerwood

  28. - Tore-Down

  29. - Barnhouse

  30. - Snailersannan

  31. - Averewoter 

  32. - Wereightshide

  33. - Rox-in

  34. - Doggsfurow 

  35. - Mulch

  36. - Graygrows

  37. - Heightpoll

  38. - Headpike

  39. - Cloverchide

  40. - Autumn As

  41. - Flerchilde

  42. - Killer

  43. - Sowsfoot

  44. - Foolship 

  45. - Dyesoon 

  46. - Hat-for-Lord

  47. - Twos Beckon

  48. - Cheesely

  49. - Icecrik 

  50. - Drumpsly

  51. - Redwin Tick

  52. - Nonnsberg

  53. - Hindsight

  54. - Wicket Through

  55. - Stick-in-Wheel

  56. - Weaping

  57. - Bowt

  58. - Foot Still

  59. - Eastwest

  60. - Dontnow 

  61. - Hockstree 

  62. - Harthsune

  63. - Hardbawl

  64. - Shout Shot 

  65. - Fox Treacle

  66. - Throaty 

  67. - Raven Trough 

  68. - Burgerdhop 

  69. - Quiet-til-Cock

  70. - Spoils-the-Milk

  71. - Roughbedding

  72. - Ariving

  73. - Gettwater

  74. - Waketrice

  75. - Flocks-a-Mor

  76. - Barcrow

  77. - Fiddlers Fault

  78. - Past-Lasthill 

  79. - Wonday Wood

  80. - Notroltor

  81. - Woods-beyond-Gown

  82. - Mockston

  83. - Sumthingberg

  84. - Lambshade

  85. - Ittshire 

  86. - Shaggy Bog

  87. - Wolfcre Heath

  88. - Rown Hol 

  89. - Fly-at-Awl

  90. - Ting Ting

  91. - Leechtide

  92. - Gibbering

  93. - Tallyhowe 

  94. - Worm Bellows

  95. - Thicket-Upon-Thicket

  96. - Milken Dunk

  97. - Nillyhoggy Top

  98. - Fog Bottle

  99. - Hole-in-Head

  100. - Little WeWeh

  101. - Wot Wot

  102. - Ticklesberry

  103. - Newton Dipper

  104. - Bobbins Lee


Confession, I actually wrote nearly all of these in the day or two after I read the original post. They've just been sitting in a Google doc for several months because I couldn't be arsed to write the preamble and drop in the link to Noisms blog.

I guess my thesis here, if I have one, is that the real world may be extremely complex, varied, exceptional, oblique. Buy we've got a pretty oblique stew cooking up in each of our heads too. It's not a matter of mimicry (although that's how it could start), it's a matter of synthesis.

And that's a big reason roleplaying games are compelling to me: it seems easier to pluck exceptions out and add them to the game. Most campaigns are already comprised of snippets from different sources, modules, setting, pieces of a book or show recently encountered. All creative works are like this, but with games its more immediate, and often more direct.

That might be a worldbuilding tactic: build for exceptions, whether foreseen or unexpected. It's so common to see settings where it's all "and the elves live over here in elfland, and this empire did this and this thing and then fell" and so on. And of course, real history is often summarized in very broad terms too. But the player characters aren't encountering history, they're encountering a world, with all its contradictions, idiosyncrasies, puzzles. How DID this group of Greeks end up dying at the top of a mountain pass in India in the early 1800s?

The history books don't always tell what you need to know, the maps can be misleading, and place names can be bizarrely oblique. And that's a good thing--it's all gameable content!

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1d100 Oblique place names

Back in November, the redoubtable noisms of Monsters and Manuals posted about "oblique" place names. I thought the examples liste...