Picking a good Dungeons and Dragons name for your character, whether a PC or an NPC can be a challenge. For run of the mill NPC’s there are name generators available that can help with the task, but if you are making the boss that will appear over and over again throughout then finding the right name can make a world of difference to the players. Likewise if you have spent time creating a character then the name is something you will have to live with for a very long time.
Here are some basic traits that a good name has:
- It is memorable. If you have to refer back to your notes two and three times then it is probably not memorable enough. Memorable names can be short or long.
- Short. A short name is easy to remember and comes essentially as its own build in nickname.
- Nicknames. Does the name lend itself to more memorable nick names. We all enjoy making fun of the bad guys. The Count of All Evilness isn’t as scary as Lord Heartripper, no does it lend itself to mocking nicknames such as Heartripper the Stripper - soon to become just Lord Stripper and perhaps even Strip.
- Meaning. Does the name convey meaning that is relevant to the personality of the character? A good Dungeons and Dragons name should give a hint about the purpose of that that character. Often this can be accomplished using a compound name with a noun and a verb. Swordwrencher could be a fine surname for a fighter who specializes in disarm tactics.
A Dungeons and Dragons name is not the same as choosing a name for a character in a short story or a novel. Names for stories do not generally convey the same overt level of meaning because the author doesn’t want to give away too much. In a game clues are much more necessary and often they need to be given a bit louder. The DM needs to know how to treat your charcter in a social situation and the name can be a big help with that. Likewise players would generally rather face off against the goblin king Rancid Ashenforce than Bob the goblin.
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