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Give Boss Monsters Awesome Nicknames

by Mike on 17 July 2023

This excellent Reddit thread by BigEditorial describes the value of adding Zelda-like "boss subtitles" or Dark Souls-like epithets to RPG bosses to easily add richer flavor to our named monsters. This fantastic lazy idea works perfectly alongside Building Villains like Pro-Wrestlers and creating Villainous Heralds.

The idea is simple. Give bosses and unique monsters a nickname that defines them in the world. We could have Sephek, Blade of the Frostmaiden or Tekeli-li, Red Fang of the Glacier or Xardorok Sunblight, Chardalon Mastermind.

These nicknames can appear throughout the game as rumors they hear or notes they pick up before they meet the villain. Sometimes proper names are difficult to spell or remember but nicknames are memorable and easy to write down. They help players remember their villains and teach them about the world in which those villains live.

Here are twenty such nicknames to get your mind going.

  1. The Silver Fire
  2. The Red Blade
  3. Scourge of Netherwilds
  4. Herald of the Void
  5. Father of the World's End
  6. The Stone Burner
  7. Lady Rednail
  8. Exsanguinator of Chult
  9. Father of Flies
  10. The Storm Caller
  11. Sleeping Death
  12. Shield of the North
  13. Maul of Avernus
  14. The Ebonheart
  15. The Night's Kiss
  16. The Barrowmaker
  17. The Withering of Joy
  18. Orphan's Sorrow
  19. The Bog Born
  20. Caller of the Deep

A boss might have multiple names. Different groups or regions may know a single villain by different names. An assassin may be known as the Shadow's Touch in Luskan, The Ice-eyed Devil in the Icewind Dale, and Brother Death in Amn. Each name may come to the characters as they learn more of the villain who they hunt, or who hunts them.

The next time you're whipping up a notable villain, give them a title or two and drop those descriptors in front of the players to watch those villains come to life.

Check Out ttrpg.network

The original Reddit post that inspired this article was posted before Reddit became fully enshittified. Since then I've really enjoyed ttrpg.network, built on the opensource federated Reddit-like service of Lemmy. Give it a look.

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