Cities are the centerpieces of fantasy worlds. If you need to sell a magic artifact or meet a sleazy contact, you go to the biggest city you can find.
Naming a city defines its place in the world. The city name will often be related to its surroundings, its economy, or the kingdom it is a part of. Use city names wisely and it can help make a settlement memorable.
Different languages in a fantasy world mean different types of names for cities. A name could mean something specific in another language, which can make a world feel more alive.
Good City Names
Cities are the biggest settlements in a fantasy world, so they tend to be both grander and older. Picking a city name with these features in mind can help give the city a sense of scale and set the scene for exploring the city.
Set into a crater, this city has magic towers along its walls which can be activated in times of war to cover the city in a dome of protective magic.
Located at the mouth of the Cold River, merchants travel from every known kingdom to trade in the overflowing market squares of this city.
Dwarven City Names
Carving their cities underground means dwarven cities are often labyrinthine. Their cities have secrets buried deep, and are strong military holdouts even without dedicated fortifications.
Suspended inside the Hollow Mountain, this city is constantly ringing with the sound of hammers on anvils. The craftsmen work tireless to repair the chains holding the city up.
This city is the site of the Battle in the Dark, where a dozen dwarves held off an undead siege of thousands overnight before reinforcements arrived.
Elven City Names
The cities of elves are isolated from those of other races, and are very ancient. Filled with fountains and gilded buildings, they tend to evoke gardens in their design, reflecting the elves’ ties to the natural world.
Founded in the skeleton of a long-dead dragon, the elves in this city make their living digging in the surrounding forest for remains of the dragon’s hoard.
The flying city of the elf princes, kept aloft by a coven of mages who dedicated their lives in service. The streets are said to be made of woven silver.
Drow City Names
While drow share the design sense of their elven cousins, their time underground has twisted it. Shadowy back alleys and gruesome architecture are common in drow cities.
Translating to the “Deep Castle,” the city is built through an old wyvern nest and is made of dozens of winding tunnels. Navigating between neighborhoods is an adventure in itself.
When the goblin clans began to fight within themselves, the drow armies marched in with conquest burning in their eyes. They captured this city first and renamed it in the drow language.
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