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Old 03-07-2014, 11:52 AM   #1
Icelander
 
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Default Interesting and descriptive Arabesque names (and NPC blurbs) for bandits and warriors

During the current phase of my fantasy campaign, I have to come up with a vast variety of friends, foes, neutrals and potential allies in a region where some characters have roots, but the actual game play had not until then reached.

The PCs are legendary heroes, on the scale of C. Iulius Caesar, Khusrau Anushirwan, Ahmad Shah Durrani, James Brooke of Sarawak or Yaqub Beg, with some added supernatural abilities*. They are recruiting a cavalry army among bandits, independent tribal chieftains**, mercenaries and adventurous young men in the cities and countryside.

An army needs commanders and it will in many cases be easiest to retain tribal leaders over their own men. This means, however, that I have to develop some several hundred NPCs.

Seeking to minimise my own work load, I turn to the denizens of the forum.

What I'm looking for, chiefly, are names and maybe minor blurbs about looks, personality, style, anything, about each man of note among the multitude who answer the call of the recruiting PCs.

The language is a fantasy version of Arabic, but as the area of the setting where this is set has long been a cultural melting pot, it is not pure Arabic. It has been influenced by an Ancient Egyptian analogue*** and the Mujhari (Arabic-analogue) settlers who came from the desert to settle the land encountered the remains of a former civilisation, which included speakers of languages which might have been other Semitic language analogues, Persian-analogues, Turkic-analogues and several Northern Indian language analogues.

Among the urban population, Ancient Egyptesque names have had periods of vogue, but the areas where the PCs are recruiting will have a disproportionate number of Mujhuri (Arabian-analogue) cultural chauvinists, which is a memeplex linked with resistance to foreign rule in the area. On the other hand, Omotic and Berber analogue names, vestiges of older cultures that still survive on the outskirts of the desert and in the mountains, are known in this part of the country and nowhere else.

Even so, around 80% of names will be so close to Arabic-esque that it is permissable to use Arabic names unchanged for the majority.

Rules I have established is that I transliterate Arabic names into Latin script, because I don't know Arabic script. I include translations for descriptive names, but try to use the Arabic form.

I generally only use two names, though it is understood that when being formally announced, any character who is usually known by a name that consists of a [given name] [descriptive nickname], i.e. Arun al-Tawil (Arun the Tall) may also go by patronymics, clan names and even recite the cognomens of famous ancestors, should the situation warrant.

Many people are named for their father, but using 'ben [father]' instead of 'bin [father]. Location and descriptive names are very common and use the regular Arabic form, with any form of spelling that pleases me most being the transliterated form that is chosen.

I also aim to have some bandits who don't go by their given names or any clan names to which they may have once had a right. Instead, they'll adopt a colourful nickname. For readers of A Song of Ice and Fire, these will often be remniscient of the names of known raiders among the wildlings beyond the Wall, except, of course, they'll be in the Arabic-esque language spoken locally.

I expect that the PCs will often translate these nicknames into a language common to their characters, to us players and GM, into English (or Icelandic). But I'd like to introduce them with the Arabic form as well.

Ideas I have for such bandit names, but don't have the Arabic to translate, include:

The Sorrowful Swordsman
Wormfood
The Merry Bridegroom
Horsekiller (or Camelkiller)
The Red Falconer
The Almsman
Giantbane

Do any forumites have the Arabic to assist me? Or come up with other ideas for awesome bandit names (and characters), tribal chieftains and other Known Men among hundreds of potential recruits?

*In a world where most notables eventually develop some supernatural gifts, such as Luck, enhanced defences, increased survivability, etc.
**Distinguished from bandits in that their raiding is kept within acceptable bounds, so the Bey never has to move against them.
***Spoken by the hated Mulhorandi, who claim this land of Murghom as a province, but have not always been able to enforce this claim with much success.
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Old 03-08-2014, 09:28 AM   #2
Archangel Beth
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Default Re: Interesting and descriptive Arabesque names (and NPC blurbs) for bandits and warr

Hit http://www.behindthename.com/names/usage/arabic and mutate for flavor?
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Old 03-08-2014, 10:00 AM   #3
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Default Re: Interesting and descriptive Arabesque names (and NPC blurbs) for bandits and warr

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Originally Posted by Archangel Beth View Post
Sure, I can use that site and others like it for given names. But the problem I have is assigning interesting nick-names, because I don't know Arabic. I've been using some examples from this site, but soon I'll have used all the good nick-names from it and I still haven't named all the characters I'll need. So I need suggestions for more cool nicknames in Arabic (with English translations as well), transliterated into Latin script.

There is also the problem of when I've already got an English nick-name in mind, as above, I don't know how to properly translate it.

Google Translate gives me only Arabic script, which I must then cut-and-paste into a transliteration program, which gives me results which I must run through a clean-up program. The process is laborious and it gives me only one option, not a range of them from which I can choose the best-sounding nick-name.

So if any forumites know of websites with more Arabic nicknames and their meanings, that would be great. If any know of a Google-translate-ish website which gives answers in transliterated Latin script as well as Arabic script, that would be even better.

And if any Arabic-speaking forumites could suggest some cool nicknames as well as suggesting translations of the English ones I have in the first post, that would be awesome.
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Old 03-08-2014, 10:20 AM   #4
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Default Re: Interesting and descriptive Arabesque names (and NPC blurbs) for bandits and warr

*waves a hand vaguely* I'm operating on little sleep, so I need to unpack... One of the things that I did with way too much time with the Biblenames.txt file was sort out the various names that had X in the meaning, and I started finding syllable-correspondences which gave me enough confidence to mangle them around for In Nomine character names.

If you don't get any other translatey suggestions, I'd say your best bet might be to make a single-file yanked from the behindthename site, and sort out which syllables match up with given themes. You still might have to play Google-Translate-then-transliterate for words/themes that aren't mentioned at all, but with luck it wouldn't be too many, and the result would be Good Enough For Gaming.
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Old 03-10-2014, 03:10 AM   #5
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Default Re: Interesting and descriptive Arabesque names (and NPC blurbs) for bandits and warr

Not that is really relevant to your thread, but I did wince when I saw Charles Vyner Brooke mentioned as a hero. Wasn't he just 'a guy with a gun when others had none?'
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Old 03-10-2014, 07:45 AM   #6
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Default Re: Interesting and descriptive Arabesque names (and NPC blurbs) for bandits and warr

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Originally Posted by Green-Neck View Post
Not that is really relevant to your thread, but I did wince when I saw Charles Vyner Brooke mentioned as a hero. Wasn't he just 'a guy with a gun when others had none?'
As Charles Vyner Brooke died in 1963 and the Germans and Japanese had no lack of guns, you probably mean his great-uncle, James Brooke.

Said Brooke performed prodigious feats of organisation, political maneuvering, leadership, tactics and strategy. He certainly had guns, but so did all the pirate chiefs, slavers and even a few of the Dayak headhunters who opposed him.

Ever since the end of the 15th century, an unarmed vessel sailing near the Malay Archipelago was regarded as improperly equipped. Bronze swivel guns and other cannon, named lantaka, were a firm part of the local culture even before the arrival of European powers in the area.

As far as I know, history contains very few cases where ownership of a gun has transformed neatly into the creation of kingdoms.
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Old 03-10-2014, 08:44 AM   #7
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Default Re: Interesting and descriptive Arabesque names (and NPC blurbs) for bandits and warr

This site allows you to type in an english word and get both arabic text and latinized arabic for multiple translation options. you have to type in each word, but I may be able to figure something out...
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Old 03-10-2014, 08:52 AM   #8
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Default Re: Interesting and descriptive Arabesque names (and NPC blurbs) for bandits and warr

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This site allows you to type in an english word and get both arabic text and latinized arabic for multiple translation options. you have to type in each word, but I may be able to figure something out...
Huh.

I just get Arabic text, no Latinised transliterations.
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Old 03-11-2014, 07:50 AM   #9
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Default Re: Interesting and descriptive Arabesque names (and NPC blurbs) for bandits and warr

Look at the bottom of the stack of Arabic text.
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Old 03-11-2014, 10:51 AM   #10
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Default Re: Interesting and descriptive Arabesque names (and NPC blurbs) for bandits and warr

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Originally Posted by ericthered View Post
Look at the bottom of the stack of Arabic text.
Hmmm... I don't get a stack of Arabic text. I get a box with Close Match and Related Words, where I get one suggestion for a close match and two suggestions for related words, all in English, with one possibility for each one in Arabic script.
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