The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=19450.
Ithmar Adlard, Emmi Keto, Cassander the Gentle, Luciana Numidicus, Gorm Skull Splitter, Hanish of Girsu, Sunilda the Weaver, Clovis of the Teutons, Kifi of Nuweiba, Mathfrid of Lorsch. Do you recognize these great names? No? That’s probably because I just generated them using Raging Swan’s name generators, So What’s the Human Called, Anyway I and II, two 13 page books loaded with tables for historically accurate name generation.
Not being a historian of any kind, I cannot attest to the historical accuracy of the lists. More important than the historical reality of the names though, is that they do allow you to create names for a variety of cultures that have identifiable differences and distinct characteristics. That said though, the real strength of this product lies not in its content, but rather what you do with said content.
Publication Quality: 8 out of 10
The layout is clean and simple with readable fonts. Unfortunately, plain is the word that comes to mind when assessing the appearance of So What’s the Human Called, Anyway?. The lack of artwork and preponderance of charts reminds me of a statistics book. However, it’s a name generator, not the catalogue of works at the Prado and the format allows for name generation quickly and efficiently. Additionally, Raging Swan is known for simple, elegant layouts. I expect it just doesn’t work as well aesthetically for a product like this.
Mechanics: 10 out of 10
The mechanics work exactly as intended and generate tons of different names using two percentage rolls, one for first names and one for last names. If you have a die roller you can speed it up, and if you made an app for that you could do it even faster. Those aren’t really mechanical considerations however.
Value Add: 10 out of 10
While the books are both positioned as name generators, their utility extends well beyond that. It can be used to generate a name for anything. Need a town in an Egyptian setting? You are covered. Need a list of the professions of the businesses on the street? You’ve got that too. Want to instantly have a set of names that define your orc baddies as being a culture apart? Done.
Overall: 9 out of 10
I think So What’s the Human Called, Anyway? is a great product. As I mentioned, the utility extends way beyond simply generating random, culturally-appropriate names for NPCs and I have no doubt it will be making regular appearances when I plan campaigns or build characters. I really do wish it was just a tad more interesting to look at though.