Techniques for generating unique NPC and place names


Finding names in a Dungeons & Dragons homebrew campaign can seem like a never-ending task for a DM, but there are techniques to make it easier.

Finding character and place names in homebrew Dungeons & Dragons campaign can seem like a never-ending task for a DM. Between endless place names and an endless cast of NPCs, the number of names a DM needs to conjure up can run into the hundreds. Giving old world names to ordinary humans like Henry Thatcher or William the Lion is pretty easy. For a DM looking for something a little more advanced, however, what follows will be a small guide to simple techniques to make naming NPCs and locations easier in a J&D countryside.

A quick search on the Internet can lead to several J&D name generators. They’re not terrible, but a DM could spend hours scrolling through these names and not come across the right one. Names generated in this way might not convey the appropriate tone for the evil adventurer that a J&D party will meet. The names given by these generators are often too complex or sometimes simply cheap. They are impersonal and often follow a visible pattern.


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The key, then, is for a DM to become his own. J&D name generator. It’s simpler than it looks and every time the DM generates a name, whether he uses it or not, he has to write it down. Keeping a page of character and location names in their back pocket can come in handy throughout the campaign.

Techniques for Naming Characters in D&D

Dungeons and Dragons DnD Class Race Reflavor Genasi

How to call that Paladin NPC who has to disappear in two campaign sessions can be tricky for a DM. Even Abed of Community, an arguably fantastic DM, had trouble generating names. He once called an archer Bing Bong. But that’s not enough for a holy paladin (even if he’s only here for two sessions). Simple names can work really well in a situation like this, and inserting a simple name followed by a title is a great way to create a more authentic name. Maybe the paladin is kind to the group – in which case he could just be called Sir Wilbur the Kind. It’s not flashy but it does the job.

For NPCs who will have a bit more longevity with a J&D part, a DM may want something a little more original. In this case, the DM may want to think about what the NPC will do for the party or where they come from and draw inspiration from that. Imagine that a dwarf blacksmith is going to act as the confidant of the group and that she comes from a frozen land to the north. A DM could output “Fida” from the Confidant and “Ozenno” from the Frozen North. Fida Ozenno of the Frozen Dungeon sounds like a great name for a dwarven blacksmith.

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A DM may want a technique that gives each J&D race, such as water merfolk or elves, a similar set of names for each group. Take a DM who wants to generate multiple Wood Elf names that sound unique but are still somewhat consistent with each other. Using tree types and adjectives that apply to nature is a good way to come up with surnames for Wood Elves. Examples: Brisk and pine combine for Briskpine. Blooming and elm combine for Bloomingelm. For first names, using two flower names and combining the two might work well. Daffodils and tulips could combine for Dafflip. The DM now has a wood elf named Dafflip Briskpine. Other items can be used for other races, such as dwarven names can be generated with stone types and tool names.

Ideas for Naming Places in a D&D Campaign

Castle Dungeons and Dragons

Place names are probably the most difficult for DMs to generate for their J&D campaigns. Unlike characters that can be killed or forgotten, location names tend to stick to the campaign setting map in J&D once a DM has created it. A name that sounds comical or unfortunate might become a joke among gamers. This is something no DM wants to end.

Tavern names are always fun to find in J&D. The Tavern is a place where a party can get up and engage in some shenanigans before continuing their adventures. It is therefore important that these institutions have memorable names. A great system for finding tavern names is to use an adjective and a noun that starts with the same letter. Examples: The Drunken Dwarf, The Stunned Gnome, or The Lazy Lich. These are fairly simple names, but each gives a bit of character to the establishment.

More J&D DMs need to create a map for a homebrew campaign. Naming all those towns, valleys, and dungeons can be overwhelming. Using colors and animal names can help simplify things a lot. Blue Elk Valley or Gray Serpent Keep are great examples of names for less important map features. For big cities and more important places, it is good to think about it more. A historic human coastal city could benefit from having two names. A DM might take “Wona” (of two names) as the traditional name for the town, but it might be commonly known as Conquerors Bay.

Using Humor to Generate Names in D&D

Halfling Bard from Dungeons & Dragons

All the names of a J&D the campaign must be serious, royal or even intelligent. Sometimes a fun name may be more appropriate for the current situation. Wrong J&D the characters might even be less intimidating with a good, fun name. In these cases, a DM could use fun nouns and adjectives, pair them with monosyllabic words, and watch the magic happen. Pop Strut sounds like a fun name for a gnome wizard and Milk the Drinker might be a hilarious name for their Half-Orc bodyguard/lover.

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Inside jokes are always fun for “redshirt” NPCs during a J&D session. As long as a DM doesn’t overdo it, having a hilarious-named NPC that players root for can actually be quite fun. During a big battle, paymasters may end up supporting grumpy old Bruce as he swings his cane at random at skeletons. A DM could even associate this kind of character with a special homebrew music J&D campaign soundtrack, as if the character walks in with their own theme. There’s nothing wrong with a DM featuring this kind of humor because it’s often quite memorable.

Another tip at the end of the day is for a DM not to overthink it. A name is a name, and even in Dungeons & Dragons there are good names and bad names. Titles like dark sun (the D&D campaign setting) shows how simple a name can be. Alternately, strixhaven – although a little more complex – is not necessarily a better name. As long as a party is having fun, the names shouldn’t worry you too much.

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