Ampersand required?

When coming up with a name for a fantasy RPG, does there really have to be an & in there? There does seem to be something of a pattern:

  • Dungeons & Dragons
  • Tunnels & Trolls
  • Swords & Wizardry
  • Chivalry & Sorcery (the best game I wish I had ever actually played, btw)
  • Mazes & Monsters
  • Castles & Crusades
  • Aces & Eights
  • Bunnies & Burrows
  • Lace & Steel


The question is… if I’m aiming for a new game, which will have a retro feel, do I need to bow to the naming conventions to the extent that I go with an “X & Y” name? Or would I do better simply going with something unique?

Written by 

Wargamer and RPG'er since the 1970's, author of Adventures Dark and Deep, Castle of the Mad Archmage, and other things, and proprietor of the Greyhawk Grognard blog.

9 thoughts on “Ampersand required?

  1. Labyrinth Lord? Donjon? And for really old school, Chainmail.

    The naming thing was already satirized years ago by Creeks and Crawdads. And then more recently by Cheap and Cheesy. At this point I don't think you need to use the ampersand if you come up with a better name.

    If your e-mail address reflects your fantasy preferences, I'd have to think you could come up with something related to Odin, Wotan, Crann Bethadh, Oghma, something like that. I'd guess that as you put ideas down for the game, a name will magically appear somewhere in your notes.

    Of course, you're talking to someone who named their game Gods & Monsters.

  2. Personally, I'm fond of the "&". I have a long held, as yet unrealized fiction project revolving around a gaming group in my files. What I came up with for that was "Quests & Adventures", which dilligent Googling has not turned up any precursors to. It makes a nice double entendre when reduced to initials ;-).

  3. No! It is not required. In fact, I’d suggest against it unless you come up with one that you’d use even if no other game had ever been named with this formula. I just don’t believe there are that many good names there, and a lot of the good ones—as well as many of poor ones—are already taken. I think there have already been a number of collisions.

    Likewise, I’d suggest similarly avoiding the acronym route. (e.g. GURPS)

  4. It's not required…but you get a ton of brand equity when you drop in that simple "&." For a self published product on a shoestring budget, it might be too important to pass up.

  5. Since you are going for a retro feel, I would think it is a must. The comfort and appreciation of the ammpersand probably comes from our early childhood games: Ball & Jax, Cops & Robbers, Cowboys & Indians, Hide & Seek, Bedknobs & Broomsticks, etc.

    So even if "Grognard Games" may sound tempting, resist it. Besides, you know that "Grog & Ards" just sounds better…


  6. I see pros and cons to it. My first instinct is maybe ignore the whole question and see if your gut tells you if you really like a particular name. In case you're successful with the name, you'll be stuck with the name. Where I work, the name of the company is too long (four words which make up nine sylables). But other than use an acronym, it's too late to shorten our name just because of the recognition we'd be giving up in the market place if we changed it.

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