View Full Version : Does anyone else ever duplicate names inadvertently on their maps?

08-10-2010, 11:23 PM
The reason I ask is, I started reading a re-issue of a fantasy novel called Hawkwood's Voyage that I think I read when it first came out, about 15 years ago. As I'm reading along, I come to a map of the continent the story's set on, and I see a name that I've been using for one of my worlds. It's an unusual enough name that there's no way we both could have come up with the same thing independently; the only thing I can think is that it stuck in my head from the first time I read the book, but as the years passed, I forgot where it came from.

Now I feel like I've ripped the author off on some level by using that name. :( Guess I'll have to do yet another revision and come up with a new name. :D

08-10-2010, 11:59 PM
I almost did once, very close. I play a lot of Civ 4 Fall from Heaven and Fall Further and I was looking at some old maps of mine and saw a town named something very close to one of the heroes in the game.

08-11-2010, 03:41 AM
Such things can happen. You can avoid this by using name generators. For some of my recent maps (most personal projects and actually some commissions) I did this. Of course there's no guarantee that the generator doesn't deliver the same name by incident.

08-11-2010, 06:03 AM
I think my most spectacular use of another's name was when I used "Ramah" as the name of a town for one of my challenge maps :)

08-11-2010, 06:14 AM
It does get kind of annoying to make a map and find some of the map names amongst your books, damn mind-hijacking literature. This is why I don't have maps hanging up in my rooms, don't want to accidently get inspired.


08-13-2010, 08:14 PM
I could use some accidental inspiration.

08-18-2010, 10:38 AM
yep.. did that in my Mountain Realms map - and haven't gotten around to changing it yet... really gotta do that :) .. .Didn't realize the mistake until someone pointed it out to me :)

Kharon Alpua
08-23-2010, 03:38 PM
For a first point, I don't feel repeating a name someone else has used for a city or town, or even for a state or province, is "stealing" that name. I feel it's much more an issue of homage, tribute, or sometimes the memory is so far back it's mere inspiration, unless you go out of your way to bring attention to the fact that, say, the Waterdeep on your map is in all important ways like unto the Waterdeep from the Forgotten Realms. There is no reason your cannot have a Mordor or a Gernia or even an Italy on your map simply because those names are "used". Just look at the real world, and all the confusion by Americans from a particular state when Russia decided to invade a state half a world away with the same name as theirs.

For a second, I have gone through long hours of rigorous mental practice in building what I have of a conlang, and at least naming elements of a few others, so while I tend to take names and translate them to the most aesthetically pleasing name I can pull out of one of my conlangs, I'm not shy to repeat name elements or even names for smaller areas. History shows that some names tend to be repeated very regularly, such as Springfield in the United States, or Alexandria in the empire of Alexander the Great, so there's no reason to avoid duplicating names, even if confusion can result. I tend to pay the most heed to names of continents and political states, ensuring I do not make two continents of the same name (at the least, I will distinguish such an occurrence with adjectives, as we do with the American continents), and making efforts to not duplicate the core name of any states. But once I get down to the city level, I will generally not concern myself with whether a name has been used or not so long as the cities are not too nearby each other.

As for names from "third parties", I try not to intentionally name my places after the names of places I've read about. I would not, for example, simply create the Kingdom of Oz, I once manipulated a continent name to avoid calling it Mordor (and have since gone with an entirely different name), and the naming work that goes into some of my favorite stories is what I love them for, so I wouldn't go about the path of simply using their names to make my mapping easier -- unless those names happen to simply be compounded english words, or they have a suitable meaning within my own conlangs. So I would not be averse to using a name like Lakegard or Oakwood (though I would usually translate it into my conlang first), nor even a London, but without a proper menaing within at least one of my naming languages, I would be loathe to use names like Thares, Gernia, or Gondor.

On my smaller side-world projects, I tend to use rules a bit more loosely, since those projects are fun diversions rather than full-scale world building, but I still like to rely on what at least feels like my own creativity than simply ripping names for whatever sources happen to be handy.

08-23-2010, 04:04 PM
I think the key here is not to use names that have already been used and were clearly made up from thin air. Tatooine, for instance. I'm not sure that has roots in anything real-world. Freeport, on the other hand...well, that's not exactly original, and I don't think whomever used it first should feel all that proprietary about it - certainly not enough for a lawsuit.

My own fantasy city is Haibianr, which translates (from Mandarin) into something like "seaside" or "by the sea" - which comes from hai=sea and bian=edge/side. I put the "r" on the end to reflect a regional accent, much like that used by the people of Beijing, to differentiate it from just your run-of-the-mill Haibian/Seaside. Anybody can use Haibian because it's like Freeport or Northside or Lakeville...but the "r" on the end makes anybody using Haibianr rather than Haibian a straight up copy-cat. I might not be able to sue them, and probably wouldn't anyway, but we'll both know it.