In my game of The Dark Eye we play in the south of Aventuria, and thus the players come across many NPCs with names that are not that common (especially compared to common german names) and my players struggle with remembering the names. We mostly play in town, so there are many NPCs at once in some scenes, and many important names and roles come up.
As we use Roll20 for our games, I already provided the players with a handout where they can keep notes on characters and I make sure to explicitly copy names into the chat (we play over VOIP). The Handout is maintained and shared by all players.
Example Entry (which also showcases how many of the names look like and maybe why they are so hard to remember)
Rastafi ibn Halum
- believes in Kor
- bald, strong human
- scar in his face
- captain of the guard in Town
But I still feel that they struggle to remember the NPCs and thus the feeling of a living town with interesting Characters fails. What can I do to increase the chance for my players to memorize the NPCs (and especially their names) better?
Why do I feel that the names are what they struggle the most with?
Almost every time the players talk to or about an NPC, what I hear is "I want to talk to insert name of that guard guy here" or "That insert name of our quest giver has not given us enough money...." They remember the function and what the NPC in question did or did not do, but not the name.