Thursday 22 June 2017

Ye Oldhammer Elf Name Generator

Back again, scouring my collection of vintage Citadel Miniatures catalogues, adverts and flyers produced during Warhammer 1st-2nd Editions (approx 1981-1987) to compile another fantasy name generator. Looking back over this lot was nostalgic for me, not least because Elves were my thing back in the day, and although those regiments and heroes have long since sailed into the west (and east) over the seas of Eebai on to serve under other generals on remote battlefields, they still hold a special place in the Annals of the Realm of Zhu, but also because I'd actually compiled all this ages ago and never got around to posting it.

Warhammer Elven Name Generator


Or if the trans-dimensional portal iframe above isn't working visit : Ye Olde Oldhammer Elf Name Generator

Because the I've mixed High, Dark, Sea and Wood elf varieties, it's only the final concoction that determines their tribal allegiance. While this is perhaps somewhat frustrating if you just want to name a whole warband of Wood Elves - Doven Clearfriend and Eponanruith Truefoot are absoultey fine, but Priestess Caraeel Goblinwitch and Anuduirun Bloodconsort are perhaps more appropriate for a Dark Elf warband, it does seem to work and provide a range of decent enough names. Of course it would be simple enough to split the source data along tribal boundaries, and provide a dedicated generator for each, but the mix throws up a more varied and interesting array of results, and besides Skullcracker is a bone-fide High Elf name, so, in elfnames there is no law.

One of the features that comes from drawing on the specific dataset is the names generated are dominated by aristocratic titles, while I think this adds a particular flavour specially suited to the Elf folk of Warhammer - where many an Elfin adventurer might claim a royal bloodline, dropping them is a simple task if you're looking for some fay of less highborn pretentiousness.

The second feature is that, unlike the Orc Name Generator or Chaos Warrior Name Generator , there are definite feminine markers in the original data - Priestesses and Commanderess. I have to admit to an editorial hand, the original Warhammer Elf is heavily skewed towards the female, due largely to the prevalence and equality of female troops in the Dark Elf ranges, so I've added the masculine equivalents to the titles and ranks in a misguided attempt towards gender equality. Feel free to ignore.

So let's have a a wander through the musty libraries of ancient tomes to decipher the lexicography and uncover what arcane mysteries lurk behind the names of the Eldar races...

SS3 Night Elf Patrol

SS3 Night Elf PatrolCommanderessZelosa Forestburner
SS3 Night Elf PatrolLieutenantKraalHearteater
SS3 Night Elf PatrolPriestessLillith Child-Impaler
SS3 Night Elf PatrolVard Demonslayer
SS3 Night Elf PatrolDyreel Dwarf-Flayer
SS3 Night Elf PatrolDosadi Warchild
SS3 Night Elf PatrolYasl Spriteslayer
SS3 Night Elf PatrolEzron Nightstrider
SS3 Night Elf PatrolNzandra Devilconsort
SS3 Night Elf PatrolQulla Darkfaith

Night Elves represent the original incarnation of the Dark Elf concept, slightly shorter than normal elves, but a wonderfully characterful set which fully express the early matriarchal concept of Dark Elf society.

  • Zelosa - latin for jealous 
  • Lillith - female demon of Babylonian and Hebraic Myth.
  • Dosadi - A reference Frank Herberts Dosadi Experiment ? (nb. Gowachin / Slánn)
  • Ezron - jewish family name, of a revolutionary jewish leader in 66BC, and a conquerer of the city-state Damascas in 965BC 
  • Qulla - is apparently a native people of South America. 

The mind boggles. I'm not sure these connections are entirely intentional or just an accident of creating fantasy-sounding names, using unusual sounds 'z' to make them sound 'alien'. The mix of ancient Middle-Eastern, Latin and South American evoke a strange alternative history, suggesting bizarre paint-schemes and   Overall the names bring to mind certain Moorcockisms - Dyvim Tvar, Yrkoon, Zarozinia perhaps.

Lillith however is almost certainly a reference to the babylonian / hebrew demon goddess, and first wife of Adam, beloved of occultists and witchy psychobilly goth types.

Burney Relief Lillith
Lily Munster

The debt owed by the Dark Elves of Warhammer and beyond to the Drow of Dungeons & Dragons is significant, from the crossbow obsession to the matriarchal social structure, to the unusual skin pigmentation.  Goddess of the Drow - Lolth - is almost certainly a corruption of Lillith, so it's nice to see Citadel Miniatures returning to the mythological source.

The second names are epithetical compound nouns, (aka combine two words to describe the character). Interestingly the most famous Elf in J.R.R. Tolkiens The Lord of the Rings, Legolas is itself a compound noun "Green Leaf" - rendered in Tolkiens invented elven languages, likewise Glorfindel is "Golden Haired", Galadriel is "light-crown-daughter", Thingol is "Grey Cloak" etc. and it is only the the fantasy language that obscures their descriptive origins. We could render Ezron Nightstrider in Sindarin something like Ezron Padamôr, for example, but I think the use of English adds something uniquely Warhammerish.

The compoound-noun is a scheme that we can see throughout Citadel Miniature naming, of elves, orcs and everything inbetween - often to describe the miniatures accoutrements. Here, however, the names speak of the atrocious acts committed by these evil elves - a theme that reestablishes itself in the next harvest of Elven names.

The Regiments of Renown

The original, classic series of regimental units contained no less than 4 examples Elven military might, spanning the full range of elfin ideology and troop types, from ranged to cavalry to infantry.

RR7 Bowmen of Oreon

RR4 Mengil Manhides Manflayers
RR10 Elwings Elven Guard Cavalry
RR12 Lothern City Guard

RR4 Mengil Manhides ManflayersMengilManhide
RR4 Mengil Manhides ManflayersEanHawklord
RR7 Bowmen of OreonOreon
RR7 Bowmen of OreonIlfrun
RR13 Lothern City GuardD'roiHaisplinn
RR13 Lothern City GuardLahavenRamjewel
RR10 Elwings Elven Guard CavalryElwing
RR10 Elwings Elven Guard CavalryEstrulan

Ah... Mengil Manhide. Famed for skinning his victims and turning them into cloaks for his regiment of psychotic warriors. No doubt named after concentration camp physician and SS Officer Joseph Mengele, while himself was not accused of flailing skin of his victims, it is a horror other concentration camp physicians perpetrated, ghoulishly turning skin into lampshades and suchlike. The Dark Elves as 'Fantasy Nazi' and all that entails is much too exhausting to go into here.

So Manhide, Hawklord, Ramjewel  all conform to the epithetic compound noun scheme set up in SS, although where that Jewel got rammed is anyones guess. Seeing as Tolkien is so often cited as the origin of all things fantasy elvish, it is odd that only Elwing bears any clear influence of Tolkien  - Elwë being the first name of Thingol, King of the Sindar from The Silmarillion, and maybe The Hobbit, if you're that way inclined.

C37 Tom Meier's Elves

Whilst the models were around around since 1984, it wasn't until the Third Compendium  in 1985 that Tom Meiers Elves were granted individual names.

C37 Tom Meier's Elves Nileomy
C37 Tom Meier's Elves SyndilStarsynne
C37 Tom Meier's Elves LoctiteQuickfinger
C37 Tom Meier's Elves Fenglehelm
C37 Tom Meier's Elves Penothrane
C37 Tom Meier's Elves Endelion
C37 Tom Meier's Elves Galane
C37 Tom Meier's Elves Elinmorth
C37 Tom Meier's Elves Gol-Ollunine
C37 Tom Meier's Elves Desildore
C37 Tom Meier's Elves Purithane
C37 Tom Meier's Elves Delvindun
C37 Tom Meier's Elves Philphane
C37 Tom Meier's Elves KingGol-Garath

  • Starsynne - Synne norwegian girls name / O.E. spelling for 'sin'.
  • Delvindun seems like a pun like Dunromin i.e. Delving done. 
  • Loctite Quickfinger - a pun on a brand of superglue.
  • Fengel - king of Rohan in The Lord of the Rings with suffix -helm 
  • Endellion - is a cornish saint, with a parish named after her.
  • Gol- prefix vowel shift from Tolkiens elven King Gil-galhad, Thingol etc.
  • -ane suffix  - from the latin anus, used in chemistry for hydrocarbons of parrafin and methane
To my untrained ear, many of these sound vaguely Arthurian, slightly Tolkienesque and based in the Romance languages, giving them an air of fanciful aristocracy. Some mention must be made of the parallels with organic chemistry, Penothrane, Purithane, Philphrane, - I don't think there is anything more evocative of the spotty charms of the East Cheam 6th Form Collage Wargames and Roleplaying Society than giving Elves fancy sounding names by misspelling something out of a chemistry textbook, using a latin suffix derived from the word anus.

The C08 High Elves

Staying with the 3rd Citadel Compendium, and the mail order flyers leading up to that time we have several new Elf models released:

C08Clear Eye

Strangely, instead of characterful names like Syndil Starsynne given to the C37 elves,  we have the rather more prosaic "Mace Girl" and "Casualty". Third Citadel Compendium is very inconsistent in it's naming. While some of the Elven names are, obviously, just names that identify the figures,  there are others that have the descriptive compound noun formation that can be seen in other ranges applied as character names as well.

Two Spear - Elfquest

Perhaps more coincidence than anything else, Two-Spear is a minor character in Wendy and Richard Pini's classic Elfquest comic series - the fourth chief of the Wolfrider tribe. The Wolfriders also have a one-eyed archer, called One-Eye whereas Warhammer has the One-Eyed elf Oreon, a motif that also turns up in Scarloc's Wood Elf Archers. The Wolfriders of Elfquest are supposed to be a primitive, wild, bunch, and their names are largely descriptive compound nouns, their progenitor, Timmain also shape changes into a wolf, so there's another Warhammer parallel, with Wood Elf shapechangers.

Manfriend is a peculiar name - Tolkien developed the concept of "Elf-friend" from the etymology of the old english name Ælfwine, which means literally "Elf-friend", and developed his fantasy narrative to 'explain' this odd name. But Manfriend has overtones of homosexuality, perhaps because Elf is gender neutral and we are familiar with boy-friend, girl-friend as indicating a relationship of intimacy. Although what dryadic perversities might this suggest about Woodfriend I dare not imagine.

Finally, this branch of names is dominated by the Fighter character class - and names that reflect aspects of the warriors and fighting, as earlier Elf releases mixed Fighters, Thieves, Magic-Users etc. as Citadel moved focus away from RPG to wargaming figures. Orcs and Goblins appear as adversaries - something that Orc naming doesn't mirror, perhaps the Orcs just lost the Elf-Goblin Wars.

Scarloc's and the Elven Attack Chariot

Scarlock's Wood Elf Archers

RRD4 Scarloc's Wood Elf ArchersSkarlocThe Hooded One
RRD4 Scarloc's Wood Elf ArchersGlamThe Laughing Warrior
RRD4 Scarloc's Wood Elf ArchersKaiaStormwitch
RRD4 Scarloc's Wood Elf ArchersArafaneWarskald
MD4 Elven Attack ChariotIolairGilandiril
MD4 Elven Attack ChariotEponandilasHorse Friend
MD4 Elven Attack ChariotFildrigarTrueflight
MD4 Elven Attack ChariotAesilananWoodmage

I wrote about Scarloc's Wood Elf Archers and their relationship to 1980s neopaganism and the Robin Hood mythos far back in the distant dawn of time, so won't repeat that here. Note, again, the use of compound nouns in the second names, continuing the trend. However, we do have a new element to consider - the epithets The Hooded One and The Laughing Warrior. These are the only two such epithets in the whole data set, so I took the liberty of expanding the list to include other items of clothing and emotional outbursts for variety. They won't appear very often, and probably should be reserved for unique characters when they do.

So lastly the crew of the Elven Attack Chariot:
  • Iolair - Gaelic for Eagle - indeed has a great eagle helmet - reference to Iolus - Hercules charioteer?
  • Gilandiril - Tolkienesque Gil (Gil-galhad)  compounded with a vowel shifted 'Anduril' - Aragorns sword.
  • Eponandilas - Spanish pasties
A full sweep of naming strategies, from historical pun through Tolkienesque to daft food references. Again there is a dominance of Greek-Roman references and components in naming the Elves, and the first definitively Celtic influence, perhaps mirroring the chariot as historical in the Celtic and Roman world.

There endeth the enchanted and beguiling history of the nomenclature of the Elvenfolk of Warhammerland.

So what elfin adventurers have crawled from their myriad coloured grottoes? Which pale figures come riding from the gnarled and haunted woodlands? Did the dryadalis qui nominat machina conjour any strange, fun or evocative names? What Sons of Aedem and Daughters of Lillith raise blackened iron to the skies and march under helltorn banners of the Dark Faerie Queen? Let me know in the comments!