Here’s a fairly utilitarian chart of names. Both given and family names can be generated by either just glancing at the lists, or by deploying a D20. Click the image to download a pdf of the Name Generator.
Further inspiration can be gleaned from judicial use of seventeenth-century censuses, lists of church members etc. It’s surprising how many exotic names were popular, and of course there’s no reason why you should limit yourself to Anglo- or even Euro-centric custom. The point is to have a smart resource that means your instant NPCs can be birthed at the drop of a hat without resorting to high fantasy cliché (unless of course you like that sort of thing).
Laurence Claxton is confused. For 6 months now he has wandered the countryside becoming increasingly detached from reality. He fluctuates between periods of revelatory spiritual enlightenment (during which he believes in the certainty of his salvation) and times of crushing despair when he is paralysed by the certainty of his assured damnation.
His appearance reflects his state of mind(s): his attire, ostensibly that of a dandy (all fine black silk and velvet), shows signs of serious wear, being soiled, threadbare, and torn. He has not washed in months.
He will be courteous (to the point of fawning) or foul-mouthed and loathsome, and there is a chance (1 in 6 with whatever modifiers the DM deems appropriate) he will attack the PCs on sight.
If encountered he will approach the PCs and attempt to engage them in a spiritual debate (even if he has already attacked them). The slant of his argument will depend upon his current psychological state (50% chance he is assured of salvation or damnation). He will offer to join the party and can be added as a henchman for no charge. He acts as a level 2 Cleric (give him 9hp and something useful like Cure Light Wounds) but the party will incur a penalty of -2 on all attempts to move quietly and to all CHA-based checks due to his strange (and loud) behaviour.
Each PC must pass a CHA check every day; failure means Claxton’s ranting drives that PC (or PCs) to attempt to murder him, with the associated implications for alignment etc.
Assume he’s wearing the equivalent of leather armour, and that he’s carrying a medium weapon (whatever suits your milieu – I’d suggest a rapier and flintlock pistol).
The idea was to borrow the appendix to Weird Fantasy Roleplaying by James Edward Raggi IV, regurgitate a lot of material I researched for my PhD on nonconformist writing in Seventeenth –Century England, and filter both through a Vivian Westwood/ Hellraiser/ pulp aesthetic. It would be Anglo-centric because it’s my world, and I know a bit about the 1640s/ 50s/ 60s in England; and there’s enough political, social, and religious upheaval there to fuel a fantasy campaign that’s not in thrall to Conan or Bilbo Baggins. The whole thing would be system-neutral, but swing toward Basic D&D and the OSR movement in general, because I don’t like learning rules, but I do like making things up on the spot.
So it’s pike and shotte, but in no way historical. It leans heavily on what did happen (in an allegorical kind of way that Tolkien would hate, and Bunyan would love) but is suitably make-believe that kobolds, hobbits, and gelatinous cubes can sit alongside witchcraft, regicide, and ranters.
Everything on here will come with a Creative Commons license, so do what thou wilt with it, but please mention me, and don’t sell the results.