Naming - Cities And Regions
I'm far from a good map maker (I can't use a computer program to save my life, and my mountains are just triangles) but I often find myself making maps for use in stories and campaigns. However, my biggest problem is naming. I can never quite name things in a way that feels right - does anyone have any tips when it comes to naming places like cities and regions and stuff?
I'm no good at it either, i either use the name generator within Autorealm or, this one http://ebon.pyorre.net/ It's shareware works neat.
There's a whole subforum for Toponymy and Linguistics now. Many, many clues therein. My favorite angle is to pull up a map of some nation that I want people to be reminded of when they read my labels. If I'm lazy I'll take syllables from random cities, glue them together differently, and there's my list of sort-of-like Czech or near-Burmese or whatever. If I'm shooting for more realism I'll look up a few typical endings or geographical terms, so I don't accidentally name a mid-forest village something that means underwater desert of pickle-fiends :-).
What's wrong with calling a mid-forest village "Podvodní Poušť Okurka-ďáblů" ?
Sometimes I take realworld place names and just shift the language (and perhaps tweak the spelling). For example, I was reading about the geography of Arkansas as it was similar to what I envisioned for a setting for a story. Seeing that the etmology of Arkansas is debated I remember thinking "Well, perhaps it's Basque". Then I looked up Basque place names and found a whole slew of similar looking names having to do with "rock" or "crag". Whoa. That was a bit of a fluke, I suppose.
Anyway, I ended up going with a Roman-like "Arquedensis" named for the "Arkedians" that lived there. The Ouachita-like Arquedes Mountains forms the southern border and ... well, I'm still stuck for the northern range.
I'd probably be pushing it to search on the hitherto unknown origins of "Boston Mountains". :-)