I never used generators for place names, but I only had a few dozen to worry about. Most of the place names in my world just describe the location, like Greenwood, Lakeside, Twomountain, Northgate, Whitestead, etc.
I did use generators for some of the character names.
I was involved in a collaborative project with a friend and we have a couple of adventurers getting from A to B (such is their wont), and for some reason or other we were obsessing over the name of the first town that they visit. In all our planning we kept calling it 'that first town' until I eventually threw up my hands and said:
So, it stuck.
Thanks one and all....
I tracked won the Ispiration Pad program, and I will test it it later today if things go well.
I cheat and use real names a lot of times.
I pick a background culture and then find names in that language that sound good. I did one map with a mediteranean theme and most of my city names were olive species.
Personal names for place names are also fun and have realworld counterparts. Franz Josef Land, Hudson Bay, Bolivia and America to name a few.
Sounds about like my temptation with trying to name some cities in a current project. I've been wracking my brain to give the first settlement (now a small city) on this planet a good name. Firston seems to be the name I keep coming to, despite wanting something more meaningful and original. But, it fits.
Originally Posted by Ryan K
Another useful word-generator I discovered:
Pretty powerful, I found, allowing you to set allowable consonants as well as vowels, and to split the allowable consonants up into different groups (with up to 26 variables for different groups) so that, for instance, you can have one set of consonants allowable at syllable onset, and a different set of consonants allowable at the termination of the syllable. The only drawback, I think, is the limitations on the characters usable, though you can use digraphs and a few other symbols to supplement the a-z lowercase group.
I'm going to have to give the downloadable langmaker and inspiration pad a try. Excellent links!
I've found Langmaker has a steep learning curve, which has prevented me from doing too much with it despite having found it somewhere where over a decade ago. Granted, I was in middle school at the time. I did see a lot of potential in it as long as you got some of the basic rules of your language out of the way, such as prefixes, suffixes, and other such things. Think of languages such as Spanish where — with a few exceptions — nouns end in "o" and "a", and verbs end in "ar", "er", and "ir". If you set up a list of nouns, verbs, or adjectives; along with their rules for endings, it could pump out a decent start for a fictional language.
I myself would not recommend using random name generators; mainly because their results are often repetitive, and it's hard to actually generate a place-name with the right feel that you need.
I do recommend looking in Toponomy, though. Toponomy is the study of toponyms (place-names) their meaning, and their origin. Once you understand just the very, very basics of it, a door in your mind will open up, and you should be able to create original, and creative names for places that actually fit well, and sound right.
Here is the wikipedia article about toponomy, scan through this, and you'll see tons of helpful information, plus links to other great wiki articles.
Hope this helped. :)
Thanks for the suggestion!