The Do’s & Dont’s of Character Naming

What’s In A Name?

Now and then Obsidian Portal gets email from folks who (with good reason) unfortunately aren’t very excited about being part of our imaginary worlds. While we know that we’re not causing anyone harm, there are a lot of people out there that have no idea what RPG’s are or how they work. By ‘a lot of people’ I basically mean 90% of everyone, ever. So I’m taking time out to write this post as a PSA to our community, and just to give some general advice.

The Gist

Now, imagine not having any clue as to how all of this RPG stuff works, and either googling yourself, or perhaps a prospective employer doing the same only to find results depicting someone as a murderer, a thief, or a cultist of Slaanesh. Yeah that’s right, being a devotee to the chaos god of pleasure, lust, and decadence probably isn’t going to land anyone an interview, eh? (Though if it did, sign me up!)

While you or I may not personally care if our name turns up results of ‘goblin slaying bad ass’ a lot of other people might, especially those who may have presence in their community, or are trying to stay ‘off the grid’ entirely. The list of reasons why is endless but I don’t need to explain them all, you’re clever folks. What I would like to do though, is give a short list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to naming characters in your games.


  • Use random name generators. Google around a bit and you’ll find plenty of em’.
  • Use sources (phone books, yearbook, company directory, etc) for inspiration.
  • Be understanding if we have to contact you and request you change a character’s name. We respect your privacy but we want to be good Internet citizens.


  • Use names you find without modification. Try mixing and matching first/last names or adapting them to fit your game/setting more appropriately.
  • Use other identifying characteristics (profession, location, etc) with anything even remotely close to the original name.

Absolutely Don’t

  • Use someone’s actual photo or picture without their explicit permission.

Put Yourself In Their Shoes

We’re aware that these things can occur coincidentally, there are a billion “John Smith’s” in the world and these kinds of things sometimes happen accidentally. That’s okay, we’re not attempting to police and cross reference every character that goes into the database. We’re also aware that this guide is for an extremely small niche of people (Tabletop RPG’ers), already within an even smaller niche (those who keep track of their games online) but it is something that needed to be addressed.

All we can ask is that we are all considerate and conscientious when putting things like this up on our wikis. It’s not fun for anyone involved when these things pop up: not fun for us having to ask you to make modifications to your game, not fun for you having to go out and change one of your characters, or for the person(s) involved who may feel they are being targeted and/or wrongly portrayed.

Thanks for reading!

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