The system of naming is wide and varied in the realms, with many local customs common. Player characters may carry one- or two-part names, nicknames,titles, or pseudonyms in their career. General guidelines on naming are as follows.
Common Humanity. The greater bulk of humanity takes a single name, such as Doust or Mourngrym, with a secondary name added if there is confusion,either from profession (Doust the Fighter), location (Doust of Shadowdale), or lineage (the latter in particular if some legendary figure was in the family line, such as Doust, Grandson of
Miniber the Sage). In addition, an name may be added for a physical condition,such as Blackmane or Firehair, of for some legendary or extraordinary event. (There are a large number of trollkillers in the Realms, more a credit to the numbers of the monsters rather than the prowess of their slayers.)
In the course of a lifetime, an average human can take and discard several surnames, keeping his given name throughout.
Human Nobles and Gentry. These individuals tend to retain the family name, a name usually derived from the individual who established the familys fame, position, or prowess. Such names are retained even after the nobility has fallen from grace or power. For example,the Wyvernspurs of Cormyr, while still well off, are significantly less powerful than the days when they were advisors to the king. Again, special names for events or appearances are common.
Human Magic-users. Magic-users tend to eschew long titles and names,and the general feeling is that a mages fame should precede him, such that a single mention of the name is sufficient,and no one would doubt the speaker was refering to anyone else but the genuine article. For example, there may well be an Elminster the Barber, or Elminster of Waterdeep, but the reference of Elminster (or even the more modest Elminster the Sage) refers to the advisor without peer who resides in Shadowdale.
Human Clerics. Identifications of the faiths of the realms are usually included in a name, supplanting any family or noble names. Amaster, Cleric of Tymora can be referred to as Amaster of Tymora without incident. In higher church circles, involving leaders of particular temples or faiths, the full title is important, such as Asgaorth of Tempus,Patriarch of Baldurs Gate.
Elves. The People have family names, which they tend to translate back into common as nicknames, so that there will be families of Strongbows or Starglows in the world. Such family names are important in that elvish siblings can be hundreds of years apart in age. Half-elves take Elvish or Human naming fashions,depending on where they were raised,and change back and forth several times.
Dwarves. Dwarves have a very strong sense of their past and the heroes in their families. They carry only a first name, followed by the qualifier of heritage. The lowest dwarves attach themselves to their state, such as Mongor of the Iron House. Dwarves with a hero or dwarf of renown in their heritage may use the appellation son of or grandson of such as Thelarn,son of Mongoth. Beyond two generations,the phrase blood of is used, but only for the greatest dwarven leaders,as in Nor, blood of Ghellin, king-in-exile of the Iron House.
Halfings. Halflings are similar to the gnomes in the fact that they both given and surnames, but both those names may change over time, and be overlapped with nicknames for adventures,physical abilities, and pet or diminutive names, and in addition, may be lost behind a maze of pseudonyms and false backgrounds. For example, the halfling Corkitron Allinamuck chose both first and last names (his parents were named Burrows), and goes by the diminuitive Gorky and the nickname High Roll. The last comes from his penchant for dicing for treasure, saying High Roll gets it! If the others agree to such a deal, the halfling feels no qualm,regardless of the dice, taking his rightful property from the others. (After all,they did agree that High Roll would get it.)
Gnomes. These quiet people use both given and surnames, and maintain longstanding family ties, such that a third name, for location, may be necessary. For example,outside of his home land,Wysdor Sandminer may have to be known as Wysdor Sandminer, of the Sandminers of Arabel, to avoid constant discussions with other gnomes that may or may not be close relations.
Other Races. Most of the other races make do with a single name, and further clarification as need be (a centaur named Aldophus may be called Aldophus the Roan, for example). Orcs and goblins tend to use proper names only when they need to, the rest of time using a native word that translates as Hey You! in everyday speech (a true speaker of the orcish tongue can put a great deal of venom behind the word,such that fights can start in bars at its mention).
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