Thursday, 7 August 2014

Universe Building Part 1: Randomly Generating Names For Planets

My interest has recently peaked in the area of solo roleplaying. Especially in a science fiction universe of my own creation with rules of my own creation. The first struggle was finding a way of building an essentially infinite universe from scratch, and names are a huge pain in the behind, because I only know so many words and surprisingly I only know so many made up words before they all start sounding the same - Krel, Kral, Krol and Kril were all on the list of imaginary planets. So I wondered if there was a way of randomly generating planet names. Immediately you think, well aren't you going to end up with some pretty ridiculous sounding planet names... and the answer is yes, but forcing an alien language through the filter of English to generate an English equivalent would give you some pretty insane words. The name generator so far needs lots of work but I'll randomly generate a solar system right here on the blog so you get the idea.
STEP 1 Roll 1D10 to determine the number of planets in your generated solar system (re-rolling 1s, 2s and maybe 3s).
I just rolled 6. So that means a star and 6 planets.
STEP 2 Generate the names. We'll begin with the star but the system for generating names is the same across the board. Roll 1D10 to determine the length of the name (re-rolling 1s and 2s). I rolled a 3, so we'll have a nice short name for our star. Then rolling your D10 again, determine whether the name will begin with a vowel or a consonant. Odd = Vowel, Even = Consonant. I rolled a 3 so my 3 letter star will begin with a vowel. From there you alternate vowels and consonants until the name is completed (like I said simple and needs lots of work). To determine which vowels and consonants you get:
Vowels and Y (D6): 1=A, 2=E, 3=1, 4=0, 5=U, 6=Y.
Consonants (D20): 1=B, 2=C, 3=D, 4=F, 5=G, 6=H, 7=J, 8=K, 9=L, 10=M, 11=N, 12=P, 13=Q, 14=R, 15=S, 16=T, 17=V, 18=W, 19=X, 20=Z.
So here's my randomly generated system and me playing around with pronounciation:
Star - Aty (ay-tee)
Planet 1 - Ivu (eye-voo)
Planet 2 - Vaq (vak)
Planet 3 - Okon (oh-kon)
Planet 4 - Opoj (oh-poj or oh-po the J could be silent)
Planet 5 - Gamojub (gam-oh-jub)
Planet 6 - Nanofinu (na-noe-fee-noo)
It can be a little hit and miss, but I can't deny I'm having fun rolling these dice. In the system above I love the names of the first four and last planets, I might tweak Opoj and Gamojub though, and just lose the last letters of each, Opo and Gamoju sound better. I'm in fact having so much fun I'm going to roll up another system while we're here and then begin to think about a way of determining what each planet is like, do they just have simple colonies or fully fledged nations, what races live there, how advanced their technology, religions, climates etc.
Star - Yru (yee-roo or ee-roo)
Planet 1 - Ejymo (ee-jee-moe tweaked from Ejymop)
Planet 2 - Iguryfo (eye-gur-ee-foe tweaked from Iguryfoc)
Planet 3 - Rexovimu (Rex-o-vee-moo)
Planet 4 - Ypa (yee-pa or ee-pa)
Planet 5 - Regu (rey-goo)
Planet 6 - Juli (yoo-lee)
Planet 7 - Doqoco (do-kwo-ko)
Planet 8 - Cuwalivi (que-wa-lee-vee)
Another idea I had would involve slowly expanding your universe. Say you started a roleplaying campaign in the Aty system, and depending on how big you wanted your universe you designated each planet a code, based on your characters knowledge of the universe, say the Aty system was his/her home system and if their home planet was the second planet Vaq (2), of the Aty system (1), of the first sub-sector (1), of the first sector of space (1). The planetary code for Vaq would be 2111. So when you're randomly rolling for something to happen on a random planet you could roll a D10 four times - first designating the planet, second the system etc... If you then had a list of all the planets you had visited with their codes, and when you roll a number not yet coded you generate a new solar system, unless of course you roll a planet that cannot exist within a system for example the seventh planet in the Aty system, in this case just re-roll for the planet. You could generate much larger systems depending on which dice you use. D10 seems good for a number of planets, but for systems you could roll a D100 (maybe a D1000?), sub-sectors and sectors could be D100s (D1000s?) as well generating a huge universe of - 10 million planets. To keep things a tad more story driven however, you could make a roll prior to rolling for a new system, say on a 5+ what happens takes place in a system yet unexplored by your character, otherwise just roll within the parameters of the systems you have already generated. There's also nothing stopping you from using the planet name generator to generate names of characters, npcs, alien races (with some appropriate suffixes), towns, cities and countries.
Next up I'll either work on an alien race name generator or a what a planet is like generator.

Thanks for stopping by!


  1. Interesting post. I enjoyed reading it. Thanks for sharing.


    1. Thanks, hopefully we'll end up with an engine for generating a whole universe with all its planets, races, climates, religions etc!