Gaming for Cheap Bastards Day, Part 3

The Everyone Everywhere List (Erik James Olstrud – $3.49 on drivethrurpg.com)

The concept of The Everyone Everywhere List is simple: Provide random tables of names for multiple real-world cultures throughout history, so that if you’re scrambling for a name to hang on your character, you can find one. This list has been around for at least two decades, and despite the ubiquity and broad reach of Google, it’s still amazingly useful because let’s face it: Cultural name lists are startlingly hard things to come by.

TEEL is not without its flaws, of course. It’s a saddle-stapled pamphlet (see my comments on The Harrow Handbook). Additionally to its saddle-stapled pamphletness, TEEL is even less expensive because its cover is plain paper rather than anything stiffer or glossier. Having been written for fantasy gaming with nods toward other genres, it focuses heavily on European, Japanese, and Chinese names. Lists of names for other Asian ethnicities are woefully short and sketchy. Africa is split into lists by quadrant, and almost certainly highly inaccurate. There are no name lists for Indigenous American cultures. In all cases, lists of names are representative, not exhaustive. “Everyone Everywhere” is more of an aspiration than an achievement.

The artwork is limited to four very awful sketches on the front cover. Type is extremely small (I’m just eyeballing but it looks like eight-point type) – for people of middle age or older, you may have to squint.

Bright spots are the highly useful ancient cultural names: Assyrian, Egyptian, Greek, and Roman. There is a list of 1700s-1800s American names which I find of questionable usefulness because most people aren’t roleplaying in Colonial-Frontier America. Of course, it might be nice to have if you’re running Serenity or Firefly!

Fantastic is the list of Viking names. Never be caught short on a dwarf’s name again!

I’m voicing my criticisms of this booklet in this review because it’s actually a product that I have a particular fondness for. I use it relatively frequently when creating characters because I don’t always have a firm idea of what names look like (this is probably a product of my ADHD; it can often take me several repetitions for someone’s name to sink in) and finding good names for me is something of a chore. It is incredibly useful to have a book that performs this function, flawed as it can be.

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