How can you describe a ship’s purpose and mission with just a couple of words? Use its name! Whatever you choose as your fantasy or space ship name, it will set expectations on your players or readers about it. So let’s see how ship names can make the best first impression!

How to create a name for your ship

Ship names are great to define the vehicle itself, but they’re also a tool to reinforce your world’s genre! For example, if your fantasy airships often have to fight dragons, it makes sense to have names like “Dragon’s Bane”. Similarly, if your sci-fi setting is all about surviving in a hostile, alien-infested universe, names like “Defiant” or “Fearless” will fit right in! Of course, you can also use them to break expectations. For example, if your setting has a very optimistic tone, a name like “Dark Thunder” is sure to catch your audience’s attention.

Another strategy is naming ships after other elements of your world, which can be useful as foreshadowing. These could be important people or organizations (like Game of Thrones’ Brave Joffrey ship, or Star Trek’s USS Enterprise), but they don’t have to be! For example, a captain could name their ship after their former partner or long-lost sibling, which could hint at a more character-driven story. Whatever you choose, it’s important that the name feels connected to the world instead of being a random word!

If you don’t know where to start, you could try doing it the other way around. Find a word that sounds cool as a ship’s name and then connect it to the world —and that’s where World Anvil’s random generator comes in!

Need ideas to create a ship from scratch? Check out our 5 tips for worldbuilding ships!

Generating random ship names

Random generators are extremely useful tools when you’re stuck! So we made a random ship name generator: check it out! Feel free to go play with it now, but here are some tips to make the most out of it!

The best way to use a random generator is as inspiration, not as a way to get your final ship’s name. Think of it as an automatic brainstorming session! Now, you might find your ideal ship name on your first try, but generators will often not quite fit the specifics of your setting, so you’ll have to do some tweaking. For example, if you have a high fantasy setting, a name like “USS Neptune” will not make much sense: both USS and Neptune are very Earth-specific concepts. But that doesn’t mean it’s useless! Do your fantasy world’s ships have prefixes? And who’s the god of the oceans? So if you find a name that sounds cool but doesn’t quite fit your world, don’t dismiss it —adapt it!

The Shipwright Challenge is running until October 2nd! Create a free Gamemaster or Writer account to take part, and check out the ship name generator if you need ideas!