Names, Bynames, and Greetings

By D. Koch


During a respite town phase, characters may gain a "colorful" nickname (see 'Epithet,' Scholar's Guide p. 129). After telling tales, each player nominates another player's character for an epithet or sobriquet. This name is meant to add to the character's reputation. By 3rd level, each character should have gained some byname.


In the Middarmark, the surface folks' general appellation goes (given name), son/daughter of (parents), of (clan name) from (home town). 

However, in the introduction, a person may invoke the most famous or recognized ancestral name or advantageous byname.

  • Hagni One-eye wants to be let into town and play down his cruel nickname, so he introduces himself to the town watch as: "Hagni Finnuson, of the Geirungs, from Hala's Steading." 
  • Bikka meets some strangers on the road, and she doesn't want to give too much away at first. She tries to impress them by calling herself "Bikka Iron-hammer"–a byname nickname that the travelers might have heard from town. 
  • Bikka, who needs to impress the local gydja, mentions an ancestor known to the chieftain and introduces herself as: "Bikka Hagensdottir, who was the son of Karral Irjansson, of the Eiras, from the Lailas Forest."     

Each person is defined by their given name, clan or ættir name, byname or titles, additional patronyms or matronyms for famous ancestors, and any number of monikers the skalds might grant throughout a lifetime. Individuals may draw lineage from several clans and various ancestors, but only the clan of the most prestigious ancestor is called upon during a first meeting.

Familiar folk, including family, friends, acquaintances, and business partners, greet one another with a forearm clasp to demonstrate an inseparable bond. However, this is only considered appropriate if they had met before and exchanged names. Without any prior identification, this greeting is considered too forward and would be otherwise unthinkable for strangers.

Meeting a stranger requires an introduction and exchanging names and lineage first. Then, unless the clan is recognized, the conversation is usually guarded and full of long bouts of silence. Getting too close, approaching too quickly, or engaging with unidentified folk is generally unthinkable.

Given Name

When a baby is born, the parents present their newborn to the clan ancestral spirit. Traditionally, this happens within seven days of birth. It is the ættir that gives her new kin a given name. Among some clans, the new member receives a tattoo of the clan mark on the face, hand or breast.

Lineage and Clan Names

Clans worship ancestors until bloodlines fade and names are forgotten. Most of the time, but not always, clans take the name of their revered ancestral mother, or ættir. Some clans trace lineage through the mother and others through the father, and some trace their lineage through both parents. 

The ættir namesake has a genitive, possessive pattern for relationships for the clan name.

Prominent Bjorning Clans

  • Bergdis Troll-bane’s clan: Berdisungs
  • Gerda War-weaver’s clan: Gerdungs
  • Ragna the Old’s clan: Ragnasungs


Over a lifetime, a Bjorning might acquire several bynames or nicknames. Bynames can be anything obvious to set them apart like Jagged-tooth, Frost-beard, Flask-bearded, Leather-neck, Lame-foot, Barefoot, Blind-one, Drowsy-one, Shaggy-haired, or the Hairy Outlaw. Also, if someone is known in a particular territory or environment, they might be called From the Dales, One Who Travels to Svanland, From Rimholm, or Champion of Stortmarke. Bjornings love to identify someone by a trait or deed to praise or mock them, such as the Lazy, the Bad Poet, the Rich, the Old, Wastrel, Storm-bringer, or Slayer of Trolls. Many will take names related to an animal, animal part, or animal spirit like Bluefang, Eaglehead, Bearskull, The Elk, Wolf-cub, Boarshouter, Grey-furred, or Salmon-man. Despite physical appearance or beauty, thralls are almost always named disparagingly, such as Ugly, Bad, or Lame.

Town Name

The people of Rimholm are not called by any sort of town name like "Rimholmers." The concept of an encompassing name for the town's inhabitants seems foreign to the tribes, but in the deep kingdom, each clan home might have several names that span generations, such as Oakenshields, Shieldwolves, Ironhammers, Coppersmithers, Fireholders, Rubyhavenites, or Skillfulchanters. These clan monikers are also used to reference a clan's home municipality—especially when relaying news about clan happenings around the kingdom.

Greetings and Names in Nidavellir

In the Deep Kingdom, the dwarves have a rigid way of doing things that dictates all greetings. From the first few words of a greeting, dwarves can determine the dvergar's municipality, clan, and station. Everything is in its place, and everything has its order.

Nicknames in Nidavellir

Dwarven parents will often create rhymes to refer to their children. For example, Vigdis means Lady of Battle, and her parents sing a rhyme that translates from dwarvish to "Little Agile Warrior with Nimble Fingers."