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by Mike on 5 September 2022
Give cool titles to your villains.
This is a trick I picked up from an excellent post on Reddit about stealing tricks from WWE and from playing Dark Souls and Elden Ring (the From Software developers absolutely nailed names)
Giving a villain a title defines them in your campaign, both for you and your players. While proper names are easily forgotten (by both you and your players), a name with a title sticks in our minds.
Titles like these make villains important in the mind of players. They are someone. You're not just facing the troll Venog. You're facing Venog the Blight Bringer. You can almost feel the epic music queue up when they appear in the game.
Generating names like this often starts with a good fantasy name generator. This Dark Souls Name Generator gets the creative juices going. You can also draw titles from your mind when you write them down. What would others know them by? What deeds have they committed? What interesting effects do they bring to combat?
When you say it out loud, does the name sound cool? Feel free to enjoy the campy nature of the name. As Clarksvillain DM on Twitter says, channel your inner five-year-old. Would you buy the action figure?
A truly powerful villain may be known by many names. Their reputation might expand into multiple groups who give them multiple names. Endelyn Moongrave, one of the three hags of the Hourglass Coven in Wild Beyond the Witchlight has many titles including Bitter End, Creeping Lyn, and the Dame of Unhappy Endings. Players can enjoy drawing connections, tying multiple names and multiple reputations down to just one single villain. The more powerful a villain, the more titles they likely hold.
Give your villains titles. Write those titles down in your prep notes. Watch their importance grow in the stories you share.
Each week I record an episode of the Lazy D&D Talk Show in which I talk about all things D&D. Here are last week's topics with timestamped links to the YouTube video:
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