Thursday 13 October 2016

The Name of the Orc

It's Orctober again! So lets celebrate by investigating some Orcish nomenclature:

Inspired by the random name generator in Erny's Warlord: Battle in the Darklands I wondered what a name generator based on archeogaming and the historical period of Citadel Miniatures and Warhammer gaming I'm interested in (i.e. the glory days of 1st and 2nd edition) might look like.

Rather than dice and tables I've used  the magic of modern random number generation built into Google Sheets to generate the list. And in fact you can do this too, by simply refreshing this page:

Or if the fancy-pants iframe above isn't working visit : Ye Olde Oldhammer Orc Name Generator
So how did this list come about I hear you ask? Well, ignoring any other published texts, scenarios, boardgames (sorry Bilge Gutrot) or other mentions of Orcish characters, I decided to focus solely on the names given to Citadel Miniatures, and scoured  catalogue collection and the Stuff of Legends to produce a definitive list of Old School Citadel Miniatures Orcs Names :

Jun 1984RR5 Harboth Black MountainHarboth
Jun 1984RR5 Harboth Black MountainYaskinForit
Jun 1984C15 OrcShield Bearer
Jun 1984C15 OrcBladebane
Jun 1984C15 OrcCyclopse
Jun 1984C15 OrcWarlord
Jun 1984C15 OrcMaulman
Jun 1984C15 OrcDwarfsmiter
Jun 1984C15 OrcAxe Killer
Jun 1984C15 OrcManiac
Jun 1984C15 OrcGuardsman
Compedium 3C15 OrcGashcog
Compedium 3C15 OrcNazram
Compedium 3C15 OrcBungerbol
Compedium 3C15 OrcGrigal
Compedium 3C15 OrcNishrok
Compedium 3C15 OrcGobstob
Compedium 3C15 OrcBrugzod
Compedium 3C15 OrcTizog
Compedium 3C15 OrcLutnob
Mighty Ugezod Death CommandosMighty Ugezod Death CommandosUgezod
Mighty Ugezod Death CommandosMighty Ugezod Death CommandosGuzrodDogchild
Mighty Ugezod Death CommandosMighty Ugezod Death CommandosMormoJabberbinder
Mighty Ugezod Death CommandosMighty Ugezod Death Commandosushtugthe gut
Aug 1986 FlyerC15 OrcKroglod
Aug 1986 FlyerC15 OrcHagblad the Maimer
Aug 1986 FlyerC15 OrcBarg Brainbasher
Aug 1986 FlyerC15 OrcGraglobGrinning
Aug 1986 FlyerC15 OrcHoglodBone-breaker
Aug 1986 FlyerC15 OrcGlodbogCrusher
Aug 1986 FlyerC15 OrcGarglod Bow-Biter
Aug 1986 FlyerC15 OrcEgrod Arrowchuker
Aug 1986 FlyerC15 OrcKaglodChopper
Aug 1986 FlyerC15 OrcOwd Glodger
Aug 1986 FlyerC15 OrcHolf Stunty-sticker
Aug 1986 Flyerc21 Boar RiderBodblat Standardbearer
Aug 1986 Flyerc21 Boar RiderGargStuntyspiker
Aug 1986 Flyerc21 Boar RiderGrodbol Slicer
Aug 1986 Flyerc21 Boar RiderTegrod Skullhat
Aug 1986 Flyerc21 Boar RiderGaglob Chuckbolt
Aug 1986 Flyerc21 Boar RiderNogzod Bighat
Aug 1986 Flyerc21 Boar RiderGoglobBighat
Aug 1986 Flyerc21 Boar RiderGegblodSlasher
Aug 1986 Flyerc21 Boar RiderBargogSmasher
Aug 1986 Flyerc21 Boar RiderCrazgogStuntybelter
Dec 1986C27 Orc Ballista & CrewBolbosh
Dec 1986C27 Orc Ballista & CrewOnefang
Dec 1986C27 Orc Ballista & CrewGnashtor
Dec 1986C27 Orc Ballista & CrewSlaghead
Dec 1986C27 Orc Ballista & CrewGubspor
Dec 1986C27 Orc Ballista & CrewGrimnose
March 1987c21 Boar RiderAxe Hacker
March 1987c21 Boar RiderBulgnoshBigblade
March 1987c21 Boar RiderDogface
March 1987c21 Boar RiderSpearscreamer
March 1987c21 Boar RiderAnzak Archer
Spring 1987Orc1Orbid
Spring 1987Orc1Darket
Spring 1987Orc1Bruk
Spring 1987Orc1Ranglit
Spring 1987Orc1Angok
Spring 1987Orc1Zinge
Spring 1987Orc1Spikk
Spring 1987Orc1Mannik
Spring 1987Orc1Myarg
Spring 1987Orc1Slyss
Spring 1987Orc1Hurt
Spring 1987Orc1Samig
Spring 1987Orc1Fletch

So I left out Ugezods mates who aren't Orcs. Goblins, Ogres, Hobgoblins, Kobolds, are all quite different and deserving of their own enquiry, maybe next time lads.

Besides the nice pun - Yeraskin Forit ("You are asking for it" - a beating, that is), there's some obvious trends here - first names are largely two syllables , and last names are largely compound words consisting of two elements that usually refer to either an act of violence, an enemy or a weapon. The fore-name parts are highly reminiscent of Bill & Ben the Flowerpot men in full on swear mode, with lots of 'ob', 'lob', 'gl' which is quite in keeping with Tolkiens naming of Orcs which gravitates around the same sounds. The more observant of you will have noticed that the Spring 87 names have a very different set of syllables, much more focussed on the shaper 'k' and 't' sounds than the 'g', not sure why, but it's possible the person who was responsible for making up silly names for miniatures was changed.

It's interesting that Man and Dwarf (and the nickname for Dwarves 'Stunty') appears whereas Elf does not. There might be some significance in that - perhaps Elves are perhaps not seen as a 'worthy' foe, or perhaps the sector of Orcdom in question doesn't come into contact with Elves, Slann, Lizardmen or Hobbits. Uzlud Frogspiker would be fine name for a Lustrian orc. Again, there is a Tolkienism in that Shagrat could be a similar formulation,  although I think the professor might shake his head at the suggestion that it's a compound word indicating bestiality with vermin.

Anyway, I built a table of the component parts of the published names:

Forename AForename BSurname ASurname B

You'll have noticed I haven't normalised the data. Indeed, items that have more frequency in the original name set have more frequency in the component data table, so some elements have a higher chance of appearing.  Its not a perfect weighting (which would have to take into account the size of the dataset), but it will do, won't it.

Anyway here's a bunch of Orcy ne'er-do-wells generated from this list:

Ushlod Glodgspiker
Gnashrg Chopperkiller
Gegspor Gutspiker
Ushrok Arrowman
Nazrok the Smiter
Morzod Dogkiller
Goglob Slicerblade
Tiet the Axe
Gabog Maul
Ushlod Bigbasher
Glodrg Chucklord

I've had to add in "the" to a couple of names to make them read better, but otherwise it's a pretty good emulation of a mid-80s Citadel Miniatures catalogue Orc nomenclature.

What I love most about random generation is how they feed the creative response, much like random character generation in Dungeons & Dragons (3d6 in order or nothing). One can just imagine the mace-weilding leering stance of of Doggog Dwarfbasher, or the stooped, grinning gait of Banik Glodgehat  underneath his patched-up leather helm, or the arrogant gesticulating of the Necromantic Orc Wizard who is Glodok Skullbinder.. They practically design themselves.

Occasionally the generator does produce something weird - Angbid Stuntylord for example. It's possible just to ignore it as being out of flavour, or perhaps it's an opportunity for backstory, maybe he's a slave-master with a retinue of Dwarven captives, or carries severed dwarf-heads on his standard or belt.

If you're interested in the nomenclature of the orc in gaming literature (and let's be honest, who isn't?) have a look at Zenopus excellent article on Gygaxian Orc Tribes names. Hmm...perhaps a ramble through the rulebooks of Oldhammer picking out tribal names... Oh yeah, and if the Ye Olde Oldhammer Orc Name Generator vomits up any particularly interesting, funny or inspiring names for you, I'd love to hear them.


  1. Fantastic work, Zhu! "Bulglob Brainspiker" is my favourite so far!

    1. Cheers Douglas! It's a good one, he sounds like a slightly overweight boar rider with a spear to me.

  2. Manrod choppersticker. The mind boggles about his hobbies!

    1. Lol! Orc Champion of Slaanesh. Hangs out with Slaghead Jabberlord, or so I hear!

  3. That is some awesome work there Zhu! Very cool, and will be putting this to use. ;)

  4. Awesome stuff. If memory serves, there is also an official Orc/Black Speech name generator in the Mighty Empires rulebook's campaign section. See here (p.97-98):

    1. Thank you, that is really interesting! although it is a little out of 'period' for me, it's worth looking at, and making some comment!

      "The Black Speech" is a obvious Tolkienism, but I do wonder how the Skaven, Dark Elves and Goblinoids are all supposed to share a common tongue, this seems to have no relation on how the races of the Known World developed, and I don't think would be born out by comparison.

      For the placenames and forenames, there is definitely some commonality between the old catalogue names and the list of elements provided - but notably we also get the "Ash" and "Naz" from the opening of Tolkiens Ring inscription in Black Speech, alongside "ungol" and the "slag".

      I especially liked this bit:

      "You may also like to add a title suitable for the creature's race, and a christian name too if you wish. A Dwarf hero could be Hold Master Guthri Kulbard Longbeard, for example. These further details are left to the players to devise, and can be based on the metal model (longhorn, flatnose, bigteeth, etc) or a deed performed by the character in your campaign (Orc Slayer, Despoiler, Stunty Squasher, etc)."

      These are exactly the kind of naming strategies - describing the figure, and forming a narrative, that we see in the old catalogue names, although Mighty Empires lacks the random generation of such (one might suggest it is positioning the reader as a meer consumer of miniatures rather than a creator of characters)

      As Rick Priestly was one of the writers of Mighty Empires - along with Nigel Stillman, and was certainly around during the 1st/2nd edition orc naming period I'm going to blame him for the good bits!

    2. Glad you liked it. Still love Mighty Empires! It's like a game for my eventual retirement...

  5. Thank you for sharing the tool. I got “Spiblad Dogchild” from the generator. What a charming name it is! Although I do not own even a single Orc miniature, I think I can use the table for my Chaos army.

    1. Thanks Wojciech, I like “Spiblad Dogchild”, a nasty fellow if ever there was one!

    2. Oh. Ok. So I couldn't resist and ended up doing the same process and scratch-building a thing what does Chaos Warrior names. I'll write a blogpost about it, but for now Slamkar Darkhelm and Zogic Bloodbringer send their regards.

  6. Duke Zogco Heartbound One Eye send his regards as well.

  7. Now this is what I call a service to the hobby. Hopefully the ork and chaos list is just the first of several censuses of races and names from 2nd and 3rd edition WHFB.

    I had to name a bunch of dwarves the other day for my Lichemaster project, and I (amateur that I am) had to resort to naming them after Canadian beers (Carling the Black, Molson Olson, etc).

    Anyway, I was thinking about what you said about elves not getting in the names. Perhaps its a Tolkien-esque aversion that orcs have to all things elvish?

    Anyway, thanks for the great Orctober present!

    1. Regional Beers is a good one.

      Maybe you're right, and even the word Elf could be taboo. What would they say instead Pointy-ears?

      Speaking of elves I did run through those, but haven't written it up. Lazy me. They did get integrated into the Oldhammer Scenario generator - also not blogged about that lol!

  8. What a little gem! I've actually got an orc warband infested dungeon coming up in my D&D campaign, and now they all have names! The favourite of mine so far is: Bruggog Stuntybreaker, although Bodge Dogbiter (the band's village idiot) is a close second :)

    1. Hey cool! A whole warband of randomly generated Oldhammerish Orc names.

      Bodge Dogbiter by name, Bodge Dogbiter by nature.