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How to name and specify a specific family or dynasty?

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Without surnames, how do you denote a family in your campaign?  Using the "Titles" section of KAP 5.2 as a reference,

  • If we use "of <place of origin>":
    • Is this the character's homeland?  How geographically-specific do we get?
    • How does this reconcile with what the character might rule?  Especially if the character eventually gains a title like Count of Rydychan?
    • Confounding example: the de Gales family are well-known, but what if a new, semi-prominent family arises in Gales?
  • If we use a patriarch's name, what about related family that do not have the patriarch as their father?  Do we use something like cadet branches?
  • Epithets (e.g. "the bold") are nicely unique, but they only describe an individual
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My solution. Denotate House and patronym differently.

"Hywel ap Garr of Streamfield" would be one.

New major lineages will be called different things. Like, a secondary Gales is probably more specific.
Once you "outgrow" you previous notable kinsman in number of children and Glory, you probably need to decided if you found your own lineage or pay homage to your ancestor.

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You'd normally use your manor (landholding) as 'of X', but as you go farther afield, you might use 'of Salisbury' or even 'of Logres'. Kinda like if you are in your state in US, you might say, "Oh, I am from Covington." when meeting a fellow Louisianian, "I am from New Orleans" or "I am from Louisiana" when talking to someone out of state, and "I am from the USA." when travelling in Europe. 

But as surnames go, yes, go with your landholding, i.e. your ancestral manor (for instance, Mowbray comes from Montbray, 'mud hill', in Normandy). That being said, many family names form from patronymics, like all O'Something in Ireland (O'Sullivan = grandson of Sullivan) and MacX in Scotland (Son of X). Normans used fitzY (son of Y). So I could very well see MacHywel (or MapHywel, if you want to keep the Welsh form) clan forming out of the descendants of a famous knight Hywel who died at the Netley Marsh or at Badon Hill. Or you can go back even further in time and name the family based on the Father's heroics in the March of Aurelius in the Book of Sires. This has the advantage of having a unified name also for the cadet branches (brothers of the original PK), since they share the same father.


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On patronymics, don’t forget fitz. [EDIT: Oh, I’ve just spotted that you mentioned it. Apologies.]  Fitz could also be used to form matronymics where the mother was notable, and given the inclusion of female knights, I think that a fair number of players might want to go with taking the name from the mother sometimes.

 (I must admit, “MacHywel” sets my teeth on edge - I’d keep Irish with Irish and Welsh with Welsh.)

In general, I think there’s no “realistic” option here.  One can disentangle

- 1) 5th-6th century AD naming

- 2)The tendency of people to give Cymric knights names that are from later Welsh.  Cf. Irish knights - I believe (not an expert!) an actual Irish name from about 500 would have been e.g. Ivagenos maqos Cunavali, not Eóghan mac Conaill, although I think (think!) that by the end of the period that corresponds to Pendragon they would be losing the final syllables (to the delight of everyone who learns modern Irish and has to grapple with the initial mutations). 

-3) the fact that the “accelerated history” aspect of the game (11th-15th century England) moves from a period in which family surnames were not normal to one in which they were.  (I think there’s room to do something with that.  The first generation of PKs found their families and at that time there is no family name.  The families take their names from the first PKs and the specifics of their careers.  E.g., if a first-generation PK acquires a new manor, then the family can take its name from that, not the original one.  This happened in the Norman Conquest - the de Clares didn’t take their name from wherever they were from in Normandy, but from their new landholding in England.)  

-4) Modern historians of the Middle Ages, for sanity’s sake, tend to refer to families by consistent names that weren’t necessarily in use throughout the period (e.g. Plantagenet) or, if they were in use, don’t appear consistently in documents in the way that they would in later times.  To some extent, Pendragon does the same thing: Malory attaches “de Ganis” to particular characters, but he doesn’t talk about the “de Ganis house” (faction, clan, whatever) as a collective entity, and he attaches “de Ganis” only to some of the characters that we would refer to as part of that house.

-5) The fact that names are in general one of the areas where the source material doesn’t reflect historical reality.  Medieval romance is full of fanciful names, often ones more or or less reminiscent of classical antiquity.  One consequence is that (although there are of course different characters with the same name), the repertory of personal names is wider than it was in reality.  One reason why in reality individuals accumulate different by-names (some of which evolved into family surnames) is that there were relatively few first names in use, so that there were rather a lot of Johns (Hughs, Richards, etc.), and it was practically necessary to distinguish this John from other Johns - and this was often more important than fixing John as a member of a particular family.  (For one thing, cousins could have the same names.)

So, honestly, I think one can go with whatever keeps things clear for oneself and one’s players, and if there are no fixed rules, well, there’s no single reality here and what realities there were didn’t have very fixed rules in any case.

Edited by Voord 99
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23 hours ago, Voord 99 said:

On patronymics, don’t forget fitz. [EDIT: Oh, I’ve just spotted that you mentioned it. Apologies.]  Fitz could also be used to form matronymics where the mother was notable, and given the inclusion of female knights, I think that a fair number of players might want to go with taking the name from the mother sometimes.

Reg. Matronymics
I found the matronymic version of "ap" due to the Mabinogi, which is "vab" or "fab". Thanks to the children of Don.
(I agree on keeping the Mac away...)

There's also a mention that the Welsh used lineage-reciting Patronymics, which might have explained a few things.
Like, one of my players would be Urien ap Elad ap Mabon ap Cunobacha ap Atreciu.
Quite a mouthful.

I'm guessing if you become badass enough for someone to declare you to be a notable family (In my mind at least all knights over 4k in Glory) - then you might declare yourself to be an actual Clan/House/extended Family. 
Currently, that family calls themselves the Kin of Mabon, as they are descendants of Mabon the Stonebreaker, the grandfather of the 1st Gen knights, who was a Marshal of Salisbury, and the only Grandfather I ever seen survive all the way to the Night of Long Knives.
The House-thing *is* a later invention, when noble lines got too muddled to deal with.

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