||EDIT: Since my original review of this product, Tabletop Adventures made a number of small changes to the Deck o? Names generator. I rewrote my review to reflect the updated version. I also raised my final star rating.
The Deck o? Names is a unique product that uses printable cards to generate character names for roleplaying games. The Deck o? Names Generator is a bit of software that utilizes the same system, albeit behind the scenes.
The generator is very easy to use. With the click of a mouse, it allows you to create a list of 1 to 1000 names. Additional created names can be added to the list, or the entire thing can be cleared to start fresh. The software is easy to download and transport, requiring no real installation. A simple HTML file is included for male and female names (one for each), and a small folder holds all the relative data. The necessary files weigh in at about 7kb, making the generator a very small commitment for the GM who uses a laptop at the gaming table.
Most of the names have a generic fantasy quality to them, and could be used for characters from a wide range of races and backgrounds. Unfortunately, there is no way to refine your lists if you?re looking for a certain kind of name. Your only option is to create a huge number of names and simply pick what you like, which is effective, but it does slow things down a bit. The program does allow you to instantly alphabetize or randomize the names, which is helpful when working with a really big list.
The system does give you some names that look or sound very similar to one another (compare Abraby to Abrady or Benjaan to Benjain). This is due to the nature of the Deck o? Names system, and it usually only occurs when I creating long lists of names. I don?t think it?s a big problem, but it?s something to watch out for. The ability to alphabetize your list makes it pretty easy to ignore names that you think are too similar.
The updated version now gives you the option of removing duplicate names from the list. There is also a button that lets you know exactly how many names you?ve generated, so you can easily see how many dupes were removed from your initial list of 1 to 1000. The count feature also confirmed my initial hunch that the Deck o? Names generator generally doesn?t create a lot of duplicates. A list of 1000 seemed to create around 25 dupes, and a list of 30 never gave me any repeats at all.
Other new features include a means to output the current list to a printer-friendly format, sorted in one, two, or three columns. While this wasn?t essential, it?s a nice addition whether I?m printing the page or copying and pasting to a World file. Also, the ability to save lists is either a new feature or something that I initially overlooked. Either way, it?s a welcome feature for anyone wanting to use the quick randomizing / alphabetizing features of the generator with a previously created list.
With the added features, the Deck o? Names generator has become a must-have program on my personal laptop. It has the means to create some 34,000 different names and, unlike some other name generator programs, almost all of them are instantly usable at the game table.
LIKED: The program is very simple to use and it?s small enough to transport anywhere you might be gaming, whether via the laptop, a floppy disk, or some other means. Any GM that does a significant amount of world-building will find this program useful. It?s lightning-quick and can generate very large lists of names without much effort, making it a nice tool both during preparation and in actual gameplay. It has all of the features to make it good at what it does, without bogging it down or limiting its portability.
DISLIKED: My major criticism of this program is really a criticism of random name generators as a whole: While they?re good at giving you lots of results very quickly, it?s hard to refine those results into something useful. The Deck o? Names card system that is the heart of this program goes a long way toward eliminating names that are totally unworkable (Ludhmr Gulgul or something of that nature). Unfortunately, it doesn?t do much to help ensure that the generated names fit a specific type of name.
It?s a minor flaw, and has more to do the nature of random generation than it does the Deck o? Names generator itself. Future expansions could certainly target specific races or genres without significantly limiting the program?s portability. The Deck o? Names system is a pretty good name generation tool, and I?d welcome expansion.
QUALITY: Very Good
VALUE: Very Satisfied
[THIS REVIEW WAS EDITED]
[4 of 5 Stars!]