As any Dungeon Master will attest, but particularly any who write and publish their own adventures, coming up with vaguely credible names you don’t hate for all your NPCs is a major pain in the @&$€.

Something I’ve found myself leaning into recently is the classic ‘epithet + noun’ formula for NPC surnames. Names such as:

Blacktooth
Greyclaw
Swiftfoot
Brightswan
Silverspear

I like these types names for several reasons:

1) When you find a good combination it usually sounds convincing!

2) As these compound surnames consist of familiar words, they are easy for you, and perhaps more importantly for your players, to remember – and pronounce.

3) You can hint at the character’s physical appearance, attributes or personality, by dint of giving them an aptronymic moniker. It can be spectacularly unsubtle like ‘Bloodfist’ or ‘Skullbasher’, or just a name that resonates with the right ring for that person, hinting at their personal qualities, without going so far as literally describing them. Lavinia Brightswan was a powerful mage I created for my adventure the Gleaming Cloud Citadel.

Gile Ravenplume takes a break from gladiator training…

Anyway, having decided I liked these kind of compound names, I started jotting down words that might make up one half of a good surname. Whenever I try to pull something out of thin air I tend to inevitably get a fairly small pool of results revolving around the words ‘black’ ‘star’ ‘storm’ ‘gold’ ‘fist’ ‘jaw’ ‘hand’ etc., and I figured that some kind of table or chart with a much larger word pool would be of great assistance.

Now I know there are plenty of great name generators out there (I list a few at the bottom of this page)! But none quite as specific as the one that I would ideally like to be able to refer to.

A couple of days, and lots of word association later, here it is… please bear in mind that it’s not just for generating heroic names, like Thunderlust and Dawnwarden, but good old commoner names too like Cherrycheeks or Beetlebag… in fact, it’s arguably more for the latter, as these are the folks that need naming, but we’d really rather not have to put too much effort into. I think this table solves that problem.

How To Use This Name Generator

Let me start by saying that you will need to do at least a bit of legwork yourself here. The generator does NOT feature finalised names.

Some of the epithets and nouns found on the same line might work well together as written, but the idea is to choose a word you like and then find its perfect match elsewhere on the table (throwing words randomly together rarely does it for me!). Rather than have the table go on forever, I saw there was space for four components on each line, and I think this rather increases the usability of the generator, as you can quickly mix and match various combinations even on the same line… NOTE: many of the epithets and nouns can be reversed to good effect!

If you do want to try more random results, here’s a little number generator you can use (NOTE: I wanted to embed this, but the widget creates some major spacing issues on my page! Sorry, for now you’ll have to keep it open in a separate tab).

Currently, my table has 208 lines. My suggestion here is start by generating one random line and picking your favourite word from it. Then continue to generate random lines until you get a satisfactory match for the character you’re trying to name!

As you will notice I also add some first names too. I tend to prefer archaic real world names as much as possible, as they have an air of familiarity that lends them credibility. Sometimes I slightly modify them, or spell them differently. The names I made up I tried to keep short and punchy, so that I and my players can remember them. The first names are not meant to match with the other components on the line… (especially given, as I mentioned, that the other components are not supposed to match with themselves even). Once you have a good surname, select the first name with a good ring to it. I like a bit of alliteration myself.

No.First NameEpithet (a)+ Noun (a)Epithet (b)+ Noun (b)
1JonBlackhandBluestaff
2JanaWhitefingerNoblecrest
3DragomirGoldfistLightning catcher
4WesSilvertongueCatfetcher
5ArronBronzebeardTidefighter
6LenaCopperhairFerretskipper
7FlynSteeljawSkullpecker
8GranitIrongloveSnowclasp
9YanisRockhavenLoosebutton
10EvaAmberdawnCravencottage
11IdrisRedmoonRiddle(s)worth
12GwenRosemountGiantreckon(ing)
13DevonGreengazeSagewine
14EsemirGreycloakGorgonspell
15AxelShadowrunTimbertrader
16MiraDarksunLumberworker
17DarianDusktripperCradlelit
18FloDawndancerHeronloft
19IssiBrightsoulTinderspark
20DafneLightflowerWetpeg
21HazelSunblossomFlintflurry
22RoisinMoonbringerNeedledart
23RubenStardustSwallowdrifter
24SethStormquiverDirewhisper(er)
25CaelinCloudseekerPewterring
26OrlaDreamgiverBrassbrace
27PriaFirestrikeHillshepherd
28RowanWoodcutterPlainsceptre
29OlafOakheartRyegrain
30TrentStrongbloodWheatsheaf
31MarekHardhelmSoftpride
32RoikStoutanvilProudantler
33BertranArrowsmithRibtickler
34TormenShieldbearerFreemason
35ZakSparrowflashDourbound
36GanutTruestoneOpalchain
37StronSwiftshieldBrandybarn
38PelinDeftspearDandybuck
39OswinNimblefootSpirithorn
40FerlikQuicknotchHootcryer
41JasminFleetfordSafeharbour
42DrezzHawkwindShallowport
43CorometLionmaneKnavetrap(per)
44GrunwilaBearriderSpiderjack
45RafinaTigerrakeRagelust
46DraxonGriffonbaneNoonriser
47AlkonDragonslayerBoonlord
48FleckSnakeskinPrimecut
49JinCobrakillerEternalglade
50DagmarEaglebornPurecrack
51JorisStagwalkerBerylgift
52LavinDeerhunt(er)Middlecamp
53TegenOxtamerBlazetown
54LarissaBisonstalkerFenmoor
55LorileeWolfcreekKingsmire
56FenwickJackalmouthQuagnag
57CaradocDogtoothDungsweeper
58ToadyRattailDesertmare
59GeaLynxhideForeststeed
60AspenOwlflightFillywhip(per)
61LeandraPantherclawDaisybell(s)
62ColynCrabeaterFirsnapper
63AgnesKrakenmaidWillowwarbler
64SeldonTroutnoseBeechcraft
65CliftonRiverbankPineharness
66GibonSeabreezeFuryforge(d)
67LazarSwansongHeavensent
68FelDuckfeatherLimescent
69GeraldGoosewingOrchidmusk
70OvinaSandshifterSwampshiver
71VondelCastlestormerBogshudder
72GideonCliffraiderAetherbat
73DraytonCragreaverElmcudgel
74OwynBluffbreakerRhymepeddler
75BrindelBeachcomberHoneylyre
76UnaGoodberryMarblelimb
77UmaFairbrookCandlestick
78BennBladeforge(r)Wickerhorse
79DelrynAxestormHoarsethroat
80MiaHammerwindSilentpad
81NoraWagonchaserLimpshoe
82PipLeathersaddleFierybolt
83TeiaLoom weaverLastarch
84OsbaltCartswainWheelbarrow
85RobynBullchestRabbitburrow
86PerrittPloughpullerWiggleworm
87EggardWheelwrightBugstain
88MeritLittleriderCatlick
89PhilomenaGreatstarFrogfetcher
90JayseeDewdropViperprey
91CameronCrowcallerHornetnest
92NikkiRavenroostChurchmouse
93BrynRubymine(r)Bricktemple
94IdaJettempestNewspire
95OrielSkydeckOldtower
96AlinaJadetuskSlyhook
97OdoGemtreeRazorpike
98DezreDiamondfarmerBoldcrook
99PetroniaFlameforkFierybolt
100BilkoBonefieldWilyguise
101EvaTealfeatherShykiss(ed)
102FiniganFrostwhiskersVilewart
103HeloisEverlockLazytoad
104LorisRightguardSlumbernewt
105BrigitteScarletmarkVelvetfleece
106TheobaldNightwardenBrackenhearth
107WilhelmDaywatcherHayblaze
108NeferiLonerangerStorksigil
109JilomarIvybridgeStrawbale
110BotherinSmokeridgeGhostmound
111LarissaSablevalleyGrandcrescent
112DillonDeepgorgeButtercup(s)
113RemySharpthistleTenderbud
114RexBitterthornUmberbrow
115GeldaGingerpetalFrailgable
116JamilaSweetmeadowChestnuthead
117EldonRollingboulderGlimmerknife
118GretaSmoothpebbleTinspoon
119LillyAcornbushPepperpot
120HattieSpeckleboughSaltshaker
121ClarenceCloventrunkBarleybarrel
122GusWintervaleAledipper
123ChesterSpringleafPlumbrew
124OliverAutumngroveRipevine
125EzraSummerorchardBrushthatch
126AbeliaLilybankFlaxencape
127BertieBeetlebootsEvenglory
128GrintBrazenbeltLunarflood
129CyrilSlowsackCoralrain
130AlbaBattlepackQueensreign
131AbnerDryfellFeeblereins
132RoscoeCherryfallsTawnybridle
133WilberWilddoveGloomdriver
134CornelDunefoxDoomsayer
135OsgoodSpottedvoleGrimguts
136HectorColdpawBleakblizzard
137CruillaDeathmawSombrefellow
138ElricScarnapeChalkcheeks
139MildredMildjapeSlatejacket
140WextonWarsongOysterdiver
141LinusThunderclapSaffronflume
142WendelMerryharpDappled plume
143Clem(ence)IdlecalmAshgrave
144PercyCheesebreadLeadtomb
145RufusRichlarderNettlegarden
146HalPoorplateHoarfrost
147HarveyRustbucketMornsinger
148MeganMeanpouchUnderroot
149JenJoypocketHeatherfrond
150PrunilaPearllocketFatharvest
151LorettaLuck(y)charmBrokenblade
152GarretLongropeHellthrone
153FaizelFirmlawBriskbee
154RosalindRoughscaleDriftswarm
155CyraPalesnoutAmpleflock
156JasperSavagebeakLameherd
157DrusillaJunebirdGoutrot
158CarrickMaygaleYellowbelly
159RoncanGentlerushThrottleweed
160TitianaTallreedDamselsting
161TethrenToplilyAdderbite
162BerrickBottompondSmellyturf
163MyloMellowlakeMinkflayer
164EliasShortbeamRuintracker
165GaelFinerayKinseer
166LaylaFortunewellOmengazer
167NannaGravegateWoewanderer
168HubertHighwallKindvoyager
169AvonaPinkcoatSlugsquisher
170GrayGlassshinsCrystalfang
171ThindenThriftypalmBristlenoose
172DerrianDrizzleshearsSlipknot
173WillyWoolshornCrinklemoss
174TimrinTortoiseshellLavendarbark
175ElrodFalcondiveLacegauntlet
176JesperCrownstewardLoyalsquire
177BerevanArbourlarkLealknight
178GrenleyAnchorbayCowhalter
179SolomonDreadshoreBlusterbow
180AxtonCleftcoastGalleyshank
181ErelEmeraldhoarderRumrunner
182TinaTwinkletoesWrinklerump
183BellaBaykiteFablejoust
184KragHarpybegottenSilentdestroyer
185ClerisCommonheirRoyallance
186VixenVenombrideDunscabbard
187GladwinCoalgroomBoarholm
188LanguedocTitanscionFickleslippers
189BeylaBumblechildKnollstrider
190IlsaGodchosenAirborne
191BoloBaggybritchesMoorjaunt
192BeaBiegebreetchesSootcowl
193RoniRamrodRoanhood
194PippaPoppycockSnughat
195ScarsenShatterbroodCurhowl
196YunisHoundbreathHarriertalons
197QuentinScrawnyscribeSirenconch
198PhoebeFleahomeCabbagepatch
199DelewinBirchhallBentdirk
200WallyChamberkeyBilebladder
201OtisHairypurseWeaselcreek
202TiggaTrollspawnFeysworn
203ReeceRumblemageSporesniffer
204SpeckySprucescytheMurkymoat
205PeggyPoisonchaliceToughmutton
206HamilBeaconkeeperFalconflare
207BethelFarflungMountainlair
208AldricApplehouseDemonscorned

More Name Generators

Fantasynamegenerators – does what it says on the tin. And more. There are hundreds of categories and subcategories, and seemingly infinite suggestions – although you’ll have to pan for gold amongst the river murk. Some of the best categories IMHO are the real world names. I like to mine some more obscure countries/nationalities for some gems.

Storyshack – I had to come up with a name for a paladin I’m creating for a friend to play in a new game, and I stumbled across this site via Google search. I ended up using one of their suggestions, which is quite rare! (Normally I use the generators for inspiration). Haven’t tested the other D&D subcategories much, but looks like a good amount of high quality suggestions.

Behindthename – For first names I like long lists of archaic names to choose from, such as this one.