Names are important in DnD. We’ve already taken a dive into How to Create Good DnD Names. Now we need to go a step further and talk about how to help your players choose good character names that match your game. Players often ask “How do I name my DnD Character?” and feel lost when they have no guidance to go on. While naming can be difficult, naming doesn’t have to be hard if you’re using good guidelines. The following helpful tips can take a lot of the burden off your players when they’re naming new characters.
Theme, Tone, and Player Choice in DnD Character Names
If you’re starting a brand new campaign the easiest and most helpful piece of information you can give your players is what the tone of the game is going to be. This help will go far beyond naming, but it grounds peoples’ naming choices early on. A serious game should get serious names, and a lighthearted game can get some sillier ones. Where this helps most often is in preventing setting mismatch.
New players might not take naming seriously and get locked into a character name for literal years. Veteran players might do the opposite and obsess about finding the right character names. In either case, giving players a bit of information on the theme and tone of your game will help make their choices much easier right away.
Culture, Tradition, and Regional Naming
Names in any culture or society can follow very unique conventions. When picking a name for a character, not knowing these conventions is one of the major blockers for your players. While you might establish some rules about how you choose names for places, NPCs, and other elements in your story, your players won’t have any reference unless you share that with them.
When starting a new game, in your backstory or background information that you provide, give your players some examples of names in cities and regions. Character creation often relies on meshing a character into the setting in the first place.
After your players talk with you about what type of character they want to play, work with them to provide some clarity on where they might be from in the setting and what type of names you might find in an area. This will help your players not only get a feel for the name they might pick, but also for the type of person their new character is.
Encourage Players to Avoid Really Terrible Names
You might wind up with a player at your table that wants to be named Nightstalker Ravenscrest or something equally worthy of any edge lord. While there might be a campaign or setting where that’s appropriate, chances are it’s probably not going to be a great name in the long run.
Here is where we advocate for you to talk with your players about names and give guidance on what would make more sense in the setting you’re all playing in. If everyone has crazy names like this, lean into it and make that a common naming convention in your world. But if your players are all pulling in wildly different directions, talk with them and work out some compromises.
Don’t Choose Your Players’ Character Names for Them
While we would encourage you to help your players normalize their names and conform to theme and setting, we absolutely do not think you should take naming control away from your players. Giving them guidelines and boundaries is one thing, but choosing a name for them or vetoing all their suggestions is not fun for anyone. Similarly, if a player insists on a name that doesn’t fit, don’t give them a hard time about it. You’re all there to have fun and constantly ribbing someone for their choices doesn’t make them feel great.
When in Doubt – Suggest a Name Generator
Why use a name generator? They’re fast, easy, and they follow rules most of the time. Our DnD Name Generator follows a simple formula and uses names that are grouped by gender and race from common fantasy names and fantasy naming conventions. While it might not fit your setting perfectly, it follows rules and can help your players get their creative juices flowing.
Players likely won’t just take any random name out of the generator, but instead would sample a few and choose parts they like or come up with their own based on what they’ve seen. All in all it can lift a lot of burden off of your shoulders. Just make sure the generator you choose loosely fits your expectations before suggesting it. You can find more generators on our Generator Resources page.
Helping Your Players is Your Role as DM
As a DM you’re there to facilitate the game. Helping with naming is just part of the job description. Ensuring your players are on the right track, have good background information, and avoid common pitfalls will just make naming an overall smoother process. As long as you’re giving your player solid suggestions without controlling their experience, everyone will come out with a character name they won’t feel silly about 7 years later.