A Battletech Name Generator
I always like to have names for all my pilots in a battletech campaign. Optimally I would also like to be able to give names to the OpFor pilots. Yeah, its just fluff, but I like that kind of stuff. I have used other name generators around the web in the past to come up with names, but I often find that those generators are somewhat lacking particularly when it comes to producing names that reflect both the ethnic melting pot that is the inner sphere, but also the unique cultural elements of each faction. For example, in the Draconis Combine you should find a higher frequency of people with Scandanavian last names and Japanese first names (e.g. Sukoji Olafsen) than elsewhere.
So I got a hold of some data awhile back that has extensive first and last name lists for 32 “ethnic” groups. Since then I have had this little idea in the back of my head to figure out a way to combine these namesets together in a way that makes sense for the battletech universe. Today, I finally decided to give it a go and banged out a very rough perl program that will produce a set of random names. Currently, there are only two factions, (General and Draconis Combine) but adding more shouldn’t be too difficult now that I have the logic down. These two factions also probably need some tweaking. You can access the name generator here.
Each faction has two files associated with it. The first file give the relative frequency of surnames in the given faction. This distribution should reflect the known cultural heritage of each nation (i.e. more German last names in the Lyran Alliance, more English and French in the Federated Suns, more Japanese in the Draconis Combine). As an example, here is the file for the “General” faction:
1,U.S.,10 2,English,5 3,Scottish,3 4,Irish,3 5,German,5 6,Dutch,2 7,Scandanavian,3 8,French,3 9,Italian,3 10,Hispanic,5 11,Portugese,2 12,Russian,3 13,Slavic,4 14,Polish,2 15,Romanian,1 16,Finnish,1 17,Albanian,1 18,Serbian,1 19,Greek,1 20,Turkish,1 21,Armenian,1 22,Arabic,4 23,African,5 24,Pakistani,3 25,Indian,3 26,Japanese,5 27,Korean,3 28,Chinese,5 29,Vietnamese,2 30,Indonesian,2 31,Polynesian,1 32,Filipino,2
First, you might be wondering why I chose these particular namesets. The short answer is that I didn’t. These are the namesets I had available to me. They are not comprehensive, but they do give a pretty good coverage of the world’s language groups (with some notable absences). I should note that the “U.S” group is largely Anglo/European surnames.
The third column is the relative frequency column. So for example the 5 on German and the 1 on Greek means that on average German surnames will be randomly picked five times more frequently than Greek surnames. The numbers here are very rough and probably will need to be tweaked considerably.
You might notice an ethnocentric tendency here in that Anglo names seemed to be overrepresented, at least relative to their current share among the world’s populations. I built this in largely because, it reflects that ethnocentric naming bias that you find in virtually all Battletech novels, sourcebooks, and scenario packs. There are simply too many Anglos and far too few of certain ethnic groups that currently make up large chunks of the world’s population (most notably Africans and Latinos, IMO). Even the biased weighting here produces considerable more diversity in surnames than you will find in most Battletech products.
The second file that defines a faction is a first name/last name correspondence matrix. This matrix is also made up of relative weights that indicate for a given surname type what is the relatively likelihood of having a first name from a particular ethnic group. I set up the baseline matrix by assigning a 50 to the diagonal (first name/surname from the same ethnic group) and a 1 everywhere else. Then I go through and try to identify cross-ethnic correspondence. I also give Anglo names a boost here, since English is the lingua franca of the Inner Sphere. I could show you one of these matrices but the labels have been stripped so it wouldn’t make much sense. This also could use some tweaking.
In any case, I will be tweaking and adding to this name generator in the future so your comments are appreciated. Enjoy!