||The Deck O' Names system allows on-the-fly random name generation with a twist. The cards have an advantage over charts in that, if the results don't work for you, its very easy to simply rotate the results into something better. The system is intuitive, easy to use, and I think it works great at the gaming table.
The latest product in this series focuses on names for Japanese or Japanese-themed characters. Using the cards, one can quickly generate male, female, or place names. Each card also lists the basic meaning of each name. The usefulness of the Deck O' Names is best illustrated by creating a few on-the-fly names. Grabbing a few cards at random, here's what I came up with:
Turning the first card up revealed the prefix "hama", which means seacoast or beach. I grabbed the second card and turned it until a male suffix was on top. This gave me the name "hamashi" which, according to the cards, means something akin to "beach plan". Not the most logical combo, so I didn't use it. I decided to rotate the first card 180 degrees to the prefix "bou". This new combination "boushi" means "forget plan". This brought to my mind the image of a bumbling, forgetful character with good intentions but poor memory. I rather liked this, so I stuck with it.
In addition to the name deck itself, the authors have included a detailed appendix on Japanese naming conventions, pronunciation, and random facts. This isn't going to turn your typical gaijin (i.e. ignorant westerner) into an expert on Japanese culture, but it should serve for your average oriental adventures campaign. Sections not necessarily tied to naming include common Japanese phrases, the Japanese calendar, a list of holidays, and traditional dress. These little touches help to make this product into more than just a means of random name generation. The cultural notes, while not directly related to naming, are interesting and brief enough to be useful. Again, this isn't a detailed lesson on Japanese language or culture, but a quick primer to help the GM keep things consistent. Its a great addition to the naming deck itself, and a must have for any prospective GM running an oriental campaign.
LIKED: The printable card system is a useful and easy means of creating random oriental names. The included Japanese symbols and translations add tremendously to the deck's usefulness. All the extra stuff is just gravy, but its a very tasty gravy indeed. The notes on culture, superstition, and pronunciation help elevate this product to its final rating.
DISLIKED: There are a lot of names possible with the 100 cards in this PDF but, by the time you divide them into male, female, and location names, the final tally is a little lower than I'd expected. I'm not sure of the total number of possible names, although I'm sure its a large number. It just felt a little small to me in my analysis.
QUALITY: Very Good
VALUE: Very Satisfied
[THIS REVIEW WAS EDITED]
[5 of 5 Stars!]