Tribesman naming system

A few months ago, someone (I don’t remember the name, and I am a bit lazy to look it up) made a thread about naming the tribesmen. I wasn’t part of this forum then, and I read that just a few minutes ago. It got me thinking.
He or she asked for ‘ancient’ names. From what cultures should the names come? The simple answer would be all old names no matter where they came from.
That is indeed a simple and good solution, but then imagine a tribe with both Nehiyaw (Cree) and Berend (Dutch). Now that is certainly possible, but I thought maybe it would be a better idea to assign certain groups of ancient names of the same culture to each tribe. So each tribe has a ‘pool’ of names to choose from.
For example one tribe can have Dutch, Danish, Norse, English and German names. Another can have Spanish, Portugese, and Italian names, another Native american (or maybe even divide those up into Native North- and Southamerican names), another tribe African names (Zulu, Masai, Hottentot), and another Chinese and Mongolian names.

You could even go the extra mile and assign certain groups of names to people to the places they spawned on the planet, or use this mechanic to also give the tribesmen different colours of skin.

Maybe it’s too much work, but it’ll definately add some character to the different tribes you encounter while exploring.


I have a friend who is linguist. And I have to say, this is the backbone of every good world building (Tolkien is the most famos example for that). There is nothing that brings more live to history than if you have a history that grounds in linguistics. The things around people influences the language and the language influences the names of people and places. Because of geography civilizations, and their language mix. That way new names generate.
It is very interesting… and too complex for me. Like if you want to make a fantasy story and you have to create the language and history of your main character. But there rarely is only one culture. Let’s for example take a simplified version of medieval Europe. Let’s assume Europe has only one culture. And Europe has conflict with the invasive Muslim population. At the same time they block the trade on the silk road to India. That’s already three hugely simplified Civilizations. Then there are the traveling merchants and the native people like the Picts and the Sámi. And you can’t forget the regional differences and the social status differences.
Just like Math is the language of nature, linguistics is the language of the development of history. Or at least one of the core languages. I really love that complexity. But if you don’t spent tens of years working on legends like Tolkien did, it just won’t turn out perfect. Because of that I kind of feel afraid to even start doing stuff into that direction.

I don’t even want to pretend that this would be implemented in sapiens. But I think this background knowledge might be interesting for some people. But perhaps names according to language families would be interesting. And not just this tribe has this language family and the other one has another one. If I were the developer of sapiens I would make the spread of different languages similar to the spread of the language families on earth.

And that would imply, that they mix as well. In some regions more and in others almost never. It doesn’t make things easier and it would also make things more boring, since those are spread far apart. Especially since sapiens has a world almost as big as earth. At least you would get different cultures for every time you restart the game.


Something like a region based naming system (European names in the Europe area, etc.) could work. But, like Benrex said, the size of the world could make it boring. Something more like a list of regions/languages (German, English, Chinese, etc. with having random names from those regions/languages being randomly assigned to tribesmen) that the player could choose from would give more diversity to the world.

You could simplify the list by less specific regions (European, Asian, African, etc.).

My idea wasn’t to have lots and lots of different name pools, that would require a lot of time and effort to implement, just a few very broad pools would be enough (think one set of names from native Northamerican culture, one from Native Southamerican tribes, one or two from europe, one from Native Africans, and 1-3 name sets from asia).

And if you have many tribes with similar namesets nearby eachother it would indeed get a bit boring. With assigning name pools to tribes based on their spawn location really only meant their spawning biome, that way there are multiple sets of names for each biome, and depending on biome size, the names shouldn’t get too repetative.

For clarifcation purposes: with naming pools, naming sets, name pools, and similar I mean the same thing.


The biomes of the world of sapiens is much closer to the biomes of earth than the biomes of Minecraft. So they still are spread out quite far.

Yea, then indeed many tribes with the same namesets would show up close to eachother.
Either someone could come with a solution for that (possibly me), as I don’t have one now, or the whole thing of basing the names around the spawning location could be thrown out of the window entirely.

I wouldn’t mind if sapiens had a few groups of names that get randomly allocated to tribes. And they don’t represent any country or location. Many games do that anyways (Civ, AOE…). It makes the tribes more easy to differentiate. There is always some level of error you have to tolerate.

By the way I know that Civ and AOE are not similar to Sapiens. But there it bugs me about as much as it would bug me if sapiens has the said system implemented. So I don’t mind.

I think a lot of the problems with the location based system could be fixed by allowing players to choose their own sets of names.

A combination of the two might also work. Something like a group of name sets that are locked to a certain region (Europe could have German, English, etc.) and let players choose between those. Although, like you said, that would be a lot of work, creating that many name sets (which makes me lean more towards my previous suggestion).

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Civs in civilization aren’t completely randomly placed, every one of them has their own starting bias (Canada commonly spawns on the edge of snow and grass, the Congo on jungle, etc.). This is not related to Sapiens, but a fun fact.

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Didn’t know that. But I also never played it myself. I spend too much time watching Let’s Plays to actually play myself. :grin:

And I’m not too sure if it would actually take that much time to make name groups. First you need to appoint the sapiens to a tribe. After that you need to make some characteristics of the sapiens depended of the tribe they belong to. Until this point I think it will be implemented anyways. Making the names depended on the individual tribe is not that big of a jump. And filling a data bank with the names doesn’t take too much time. Just google:
“native american names”
“native scandinavian names”
“native chinese names”

after an hour you have a few lists filled with at least decent names.

As long as you can edit their names i wouldn’t mind all that much.

Changing tribesmen names is also a discutabe point. I am for it.

Well, yeah, according to steam I have 450-odd hours in civ 6 alone, you notice a thing or two after such time periods :grin: .

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I got an idea for the names for humans/sapiens. - In the beginning names should be simple and straightforward, as language skills were rudimentary. Monosyllables like “Hai”, “Chi”, “Ho”, and also some more complex forms as in “Kovu”, “Lone”, “Lona”…

  • As the game advances, more complex names would appear. You could sort the names by size, and randomize a bit between segments (2-3 letters; 3-5 letters), to apply to different generations, as they would progress over time.

The matter of changing the kind of names according to the planet geography is a tricky one. Personally, I don’t think that would be easy to do. First, because this planet is not ours, so not with the same rules for different regions.

If you have a really deep list of names and combinations of “bits” for names (example: jo + ja , jo + te , jo + rei / ja + rei , ja + te / te + jo, te + rei). The tricky part would be making it sound relatable and foolproof.

And I also agree with giving the players the option to change names of the individuals. Would help with caring for the individual, not only for the group.

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Another small thing: maybe you have an option at the creation of a save with wich the player can decide what kind of names they want.
A bit like at the start of a worms match, where you can choose what accents and exclamations your worms will choose (like ‘angry scot’. Inherently funny.), but instead, you choose ‘Norse/Celtic’ or ‘native American’, and it will indicate names instead of exclamations.

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