Among the elves, naming customs fall into two general categories:
names that resemble the more traditional "elven" names in fantasy, and those
that follow the Wolfrider convention or one similar to it. Some tribes may
mix and match these two trends, but on the whole a specific tribe will
usually follow only one of these two customs.
Tribes that do not use a Wolfrider-like style of naming use names
that tend to be short, generally no longer than three syllables, but lyrical.
Some examples from the tribes that show up in the Elfquest books are:
Tribes that name themselves as Wolfriders tend to live a lifestyle
highly dependent upon deep interaction with nature, who do a great deal of
sending, or both. This style of naming is dependent upon one central idea:
a name should fit the individual who bears it. Moreover, as the tribes that
use this custom of naming are also often the ones that have soulnames, the name is considered for use by the elf on a daily basis.
The following categories, and their examples, reflect the many ways a
name might be chosen following this custom:
* Birth-names, reflecting some trait of the child that the parents
find singular: Ember and Suntop, thus named for their bright hair; Dart, named
for taking after his father, the archer Strongbow.
* Commemoration of events: Newstar, named for being the first child
born after Madcoil decimated the Wolfrider tribe.
* Reflection of parentage: Rainsong, daughter of Rain.
* Striking or unusual appearance: One-Eye, or nicknames such as
'Squirrel Cheeks' (given to the round-faced Pike) or 'Brownskin' (given to the
dark-skinned Rayek by the pale Go-Backs).
* Favorite weapons or fighting techniques: Pike, Strongbow, Two-Edge
(for an example of a weapons-based name with a psychological basis as well).
* Nature names: Clearbrook, Rain, Nightfall.
* Skills or talents or favorite pastimes: Tanner, Skywise, Mantricker.
* Extraordinary accomplishments: Redlance, who was so named for
saving his chief from a long-tooth with one throw of his spear.
On the whole, it is generally best to avoid the more obvious elements
for names, regardless of what type of name you try for. Words such as star,
moon, sun, fire, and shadow can become quickly over-used; make use of a
dictionary or thesaurus to find uncommon synonyms of common words. One is
bound to fit the personality of your character.
Keep in mind that names of this style are generally bestowed upon the
individual, not chosen by him or her. They should never be rude, tasteless, or
derogatory; neither should they be pretentious or boastful. The name should be
easily pronounceable, and blend together without breaks or multiple accents;
short names are always preferable (after all, an elf whose name takes five
seconds to pronounce might not hear in time about that arrow that will hit him
Regardless of the tribe of your character, your name should reflect
your elf's environment and heritage; desert-dwelling elves should not have
names that refer to the ocean, and Sea Elves don't have names that invoke
images of vast, tall trees. An elf growing up in a tribe that values strength
and courage should not have a soft-sounding name, or he will be teased. Most
importantly, an elf's name should enable a stranger to identify him from among
his tribesfolk by looking at him or watching his activities.
elves do not employ surnames. An occasional elf might take
on an additional name or nickname if they do something which is particularly
notable among his or her tribe; for example, Cutter is often referred to in
his tribe as "Cutter Kinseeker" due to his desire to find and unite the elf
tribes of the world. But on the whole an elf will use only one name.
An elf may change their name if a situation in their life warrants
it. Some tribes, such as the Plainsrunners, have customs that involve an
elf youngster taking a new name upon achieving adulthood. Other elves who
undergo major life-changing events may choose to commemorate this by taking
on a new name; their tribe might also choose to begin calling them by a new
name as well (Redlance, mentioned above, was previously known as Redmark for
his bright red hair, but was given his new name by his chieftain Bearclaw).
If you need further assistance on selecting a name, contact the
story teller, or consult with your fellow players.
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