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Mushroom Ninja
2008-04-05, 11:35 PM
I've always had great difficulty naming villains. This is normally not all that big of a problem as about 90% of villains get killed by the PCs shortly after being introduced into the campaign. But, what about the antagonist? If you accidentally give him/her a crap name, like Zabunafacalahman, you have to stick with it for a while and be laughed at by the PCs every time you bring it up.

So, does anyone have some good (evil) villain names?

SadisticFishing
2008-04-05, 11:37 PM
Domaineous Spontane casting is pretty awesome, as a name.

Xavian, Maleficus, "The Queen" are all cool. I like titles as badguys, at the moment in my campaign there's an Archivist named Daven, who is known as "The Analyst", with a kobold dracolexi sidekick, "The Word".

Bag_of_Holding
2008-04-05, 11:37 PM
Maybe if a villain had the same name as one of the PCs it would put some comical element to it?

streakster
2008-04-05, 11:39 PM
http://www.seventhsanctum.com/generate.php?Genname=evilnamer

From personal experience, Seth. I explained Magic-marts were due to Seth - the richest man in the world. The party was (and is) terrified of a level 20 commoner.

D_Lord
2008-04-05, 11:40 PM
Just choose a simple every day name, like John, Tyler or Sam. It is what the person does with the name that gives the power. I know one person around that has a simple name, but has given it major vibs because of what they have done and they make sure the person knows who they are.

streakster
2008-04-05, 11:46 PM
More, because. (http://www.seventhsanctum.com/generate.php?Genname=evilsoundname)

MisterSaturnine
2008-04-06, 12:05 AM
Just choose a simple every day name, like John, Tyler or Sam. It is what the person does with the name that gives the power. I know one person around that has a simple name, but has given it major vibes because of what they have done and they make sure the person knows who they are.

I'd definitely agree with D_Lord. I think a more innocuous name can be better than one with obvious significance or a very "evil" sound because it absorbs meaning instead of carrying it from the start. The name's significance changes with the perception of the players. Three of my scariest villains (never DMed a game that wasn't freeform, but I've DMed plenty that were) were named Vincent, Hawthorne, and Mr. Potato Head (respectively).

Dark Knight Renee
2008-04-06, 12:16 AM
"The Doppelganger" (signed on notes to the party as "Your Doppelganger"); and Seed, a name used by two of my sister's Ebil BBEGs.

Other villain names we've used that come to mind include Deimos and Phobos, Onna, Sel, Brianna, Miriam, and Qustael'cs (generally pronounced "Quast-elks"), which is actually a surname shared with a protagonist.

TheCountAlucard
2008-04-06, 12:37 AM
Unless you want the players knowing for a fact that the guy they're facing is evil beyond the power of any detection magic, don't give him a villain name. If you have the party meet a wizard named Malificus, the PCs will know that he is going to try and trick them into taking cursed items, and thus decide to stab him in the face. The party will know beyond the shadow of a doubt that the bard Serpent-tongue is whispering gilded lies into the king's ears, and this will lead to him (and probably the king, just to be safe) getting stabbed in the face.

Unless the guy is supposed to be blatantly evil, don't give him a "villain" name; an ordinary name and a title (used for the Big Reveal) will work just as fine, and is probably easier to remember anyway.

AslanCross
2008-04-06, 12:43 AM
Sometimes I just get words for abstract concepts that are related to the character's personality and twist the word little by little until it fits the villain.

-My BBEG in our current campaign is a half-fiend ogre mage named Grimgashr. Grim+gash.
- right hand was originally an exotic badass swordsman/blackguard. I started with the word Calamity, and eventually ended up with Calamor. I then decided to make the character female and simply added a few letters here and there. The result: Caellamore. I wanted her to be the daughter of a murdered nobleman, so I thought of a name that sounded like a mishmash of French and Spanish. Her complete name is Caellamore deLavierre.
-Her lieutenant, a Cleric of Bane, got his name from "Cataclysm." Eventually I came up with "Ataklos." For his surname I got "Wrath" and messed around with that until I got "Rathryn." He is now known as High Imperceptor Ataklos Rathryn.
-A blue dragon working with Grimgashr: Since blue dragons are desert dwellers, I wanted a slight Middle-Eastern sound to the name. I also chose an English word that would be his Common nickname: Lash.
I borrowed a pseudo-Middle Eastern name from Lovecraft: Alhazred.
Lash's resulting full name is Al'Lashvahazred.

Other names (James and any other players of The Black and the Purple, keep out)

-A hobgoblin warblade king: I tried to make it similar to the goblin deity, Maglubiyet. I took the Goblin word for Worg (Vorg) and messed around with it until I got Vorgudiyet.
-Vorgudiyet's consort is a hobgoblin warsoul named Sagarmatha, after the Sanskrit name for Mt. Everest. It means "Mother of the universe," though this meaning won't come up in the campaign.
-An hobgoblin officer (who is a Bloodstorm Blade), I named Guulrmatha. "Guul" is the Goblin word for "war," apparently.

Other dragons:
-"Gorge," a fang dragon who does Lash's dirty work, is formally known as "Khaaradgorgoth." I think I just grabbed some Tolkien names and mashed them together.
-"Bleedfire," a young red dragon, is called "Valeij-al-Ixen" in Draconic. This is straight out of the Draconomicon's Draconic lexicon.
-"Asphyxia," Lash's most trusted lieutenant, is a green dragon. I took the heraldic term for green, "Vert," threw in some "chlorine," and "Asphyxia." Her full name is Vertklorrasphyxia, which I think is appropriately and tongue-twistingly Draconic.
-Lash's half-dragon children: Zomorrodnegar, a crusader of Tiamat (named after a legendary Middle Eastern sword); Kashaval, a sorcerer (I forgot exactly where I got this, but I also attempted a vague Middle-Eastern sound); and Namarreen, a cleric. (I don't know how I got this name exactly.)

drengnikrafe
2008-04-06, 01:07 AM
I give names to my villains as they pertain to my life.
Nemiar (Top Ramen, anyone?)
Xander (Dated a girl named Alex, decided it would be fun to commemerate her. Slightly regret this one)
Miles (Sonic Phase. Don't ask)
Elreth Firaia (He was a green colored mage, and I was going through a hard time in my life. Translated from elven: Green Arcane; Dark Sadness)

And I happen to like all of them.
Or maybe you should right a huge backstory, and do the whole "15 steps to creating a villain" thing, and then the right name should just flow out of the character.

Hadrian_Emrys
2008-04-06, 01:19 AM
As part of the theme of screwing with players' minds, I like to make the name villians go by be plays on concepts or be humorous. An undead BBEG named John Doe is wonderful for getting players to let their guards down. At first, it's a "haha NPC doomed to die" moment, which is a great idea to ingrain into the minds of the players until it's too late.

thubby
2008-04-06, 01:55 AM
harsh sounds sound eviler. ex: garruk vs lilly

personally, i don't go out of my way to give them special names. many are named by thumbing through draconomicon language section and twisting the word. or just giving them a normal name. their parents didn't know they were going to be evil overlords.

for example, one of my villains introduced himself by the nickname "ziks". none of my players gave it another thought.

Jimp
2008-04-06, 08:11 AM
For a high fantasy setting you could always go with the nicknames they have gathered like "The Whirlwind" or "The Stampede" (sorry, I just love that show and those are really good names :smallbiggrin: ). Just fit them to the villain's abilities, like a wizard who took control of his enemies could be "The Puppet Master" or "The Mind Stealer".

Gorbash
2008-04-06, 08:37 AM
The best villain ever - Cnaiur urs Skiotha, Most Violent of All Men

loopy
2008-04-06, 08:46 AM
Just choose a simple every day name, like John, Tyler or Sam. It is what the person does with the name that gives the power. I know one person around that has a simple name, but has given it major vibs because of what they have done and they make sure the person knows who they are.

This is a fantastic idea. Other options:

Have the villain be known by many different names by the different people, eventually the party will pick one when discussing him.

Use a seemingly innocuous title. Works especially well with assassin types. The Artist, Mr Mask, Lord, all work well.

Illiterate Scribe
2008-04-06, 09:11 AM
Domaineous Spontane casting is pretty awesome, as a name.

This is possibly the most awesome name ever. Mind if I yoink for a future game?

Hal
2008-04-06, 09:15 AM
Baron von Badass.

That is all.

Illiterate Scribe
2008-04-06, 09:17 AM
Baron von Badass.

That is all.

xXkillstealer69Xx?
OneHitKill?
StabbyMcStabsAlot?
Captain Awesomeninja?
Laserturkey?

SuperPanda
2008-04-06, 09:58 AM
I whole heartedly agree with everyone else on the matter of naming villains the same way you would name any other character.

My most "Successful" villain was actually intended to be a single encounter bad guy who just had a wonderful effect on the players.

Ezekiel was the western common name of a middle eastern Cleric of Death who had traveled to a distant land because he believed the shrink dried head of his dead father was talking to him and telling him to go in that direction. He also turned his three brother's into Zombies and brought them along so that he wouldn't be lonely (he never established if they had been willing or not, he also didn't seem to care).

The real scare with this villain was in that they met him randomly wandering in the general direction of a dungeon they were going to and had been talking socially with him for several hours before they figured out he was on "Team Evil" so to say. Even after that they thought he might just be passing through and that they might be able to walk away without a fight as they couldn't figure out how powerful he was or wasn't. The fact that Ezekiel was completely candid with them and also thought nothing wrong what so ever of his actions or beliefs really weirded them out (especially because they habitually lied and concealed information from each other for no apparent reason and the evil guy was telling them the truth).

After they killed him I decided to bring him back later in the game as an undead. He had actually been pretty easy to kill the first time they fought him and the second time he showed up they had two clerics of Pelor in the party, but rather than fight him they just turned and ran. (the player's failed a save against fear that I didn't know was there).

In truth, the character became so much fun for me to have around that I reintroduced it in a different campaign I was running which took place several hundred years later (undead at that point) and I had one player trying not to metagame by attacking on sight or running before it could talk.


Its all in how you introduce the villain, but my experience is that nothing will scare a player more than having roleplayed something equivalent to a Tavern Meeting and having the last line being, "Wow, it was really great talking with you, shame that next time I'll have to kill you. Would you mind if I animated your corpse afterwards... I'd sort of like to continue our friendship."

Between the panic of realizing that they have dropped their guard and the complete confidence of the villain (who doesn't actually have to be capable of making good), your players will be impressed with your Evil Guy... again, don't over use it.

There is always something to be said for a BBEG with foreboding armor and nasty spells... but in a pinch a very sociable tribal shaman with named undead companions (names just for flavor) can work too.

TheCountAlucard
2008-04-06, 10:28 AM
Let's see what I've named some of my past villains...

"Brent Valadur," an aristocrat by day, griffon-riding supervillain by night (sorta like an evil Batman). At night, he went by "The Crimson Lance."

"Liram," head of a group of bandits.

"Illeem Ardent," a wizard who liked demons just a little too much.

"Vicril," a goblin who fervently worshipped Orcus.

Gorbash
2008-04-06, 10:36 AM
Miles Straume. Aka Maelstrom.

Jimp
2008-04-06, 10:41 AM
Richard J. Oaks

Destro_Yersul
2008-04-06, 10:48 AM
I'll toss my vote in for Innocuous names paired with titles the players don't necessarily know, or at least they don't know they go together.

One of my Villains was called the Swordmaster. They always wore a mask and armour, so no one knew who they really were. This is mostly because they didn't want anyone to know they were female. See, she had a normal life too, and she figured if everyone thought she was a guy she'd never have any assassins showing up on her doorstep. Completely normal person, whom no-one ever suspected was also the amazing badass who kept making important people mysteriously vanish.

By the same token, we have Richard. Yes, LFG is mainly a humour strip, but that does not change the fact that Richard, who has several different extremely badass titles, also has an ordinary name, just like every other person.

Gwyn chan 'r Gwyll
2008-04-06, 10:55 AM
Naomi Freald. I chose Naomi cause it is the awesomest name ever, and Freald was just me messing up the word Free. Naomi is a 17-year old necromancer sorcerer, focusing on fear effects. At the moment, she's level 1, and is Neutral Good. However, as they say, "If you look into the Abyss long enough, the Abyss looks into you."

She has a Knight/Crusader friend, who has sorta adopted her as a younger sister, and will give up his life for her. He's Lawful Neutral, his name is Shief Scilding. The name comes from a King mentioned in the poem Beowulf.

And the last member of the trio, a barbarian/frenzied berserker named Vurl. She is reckless to no end. The name comes from Whirl, originally Whirlmind. She's Chaotic Something.

Curmudgeon
2008-04-06, 10:57 AM
You can go past innocuous to understated, just to try to tilt the players' expectations. Murdoch the Moderate. Friendly Frank of Freeport. Gorgeous Georgette. (Alliteration helps, too.)

[Insert Neat Username Here]
2008-04-06, 10:57 AM
Just don't name them Deuse Baaj. (http://www.feartheboot.com/comic/default.aspx?c=16)

Mushroom Ninja
2008-04-06, 11:01 AM
Just choose a simple every day name, like John, Tyler or Sam. It is what the person does with the name that gives the power. I know one person around that has a simple name, but has given it major vibs because of what they have done and they make sure the person knows who they are.

A very valid point. But, if I were an evil villain, I'd also adopt a pseudonym for my minions to know me by or for my enemies to tremble at. That's one of the things I like most about Lord Voldemort from Harry Potter. He has a normal name (Tom), and was at one time a normal person, but hides it behind the mask Voldemort.

Collin152
2008-04-06, 03:31 PM
There are some who call me... Tim.

MelkorsHalo
2008-04-06, 04:22 PM
The best villain ever - Cnaiur urs Skiotha, Most Violent of All Men

dude. totally. love that book.

Kioran
2008-04-06, 04:40 PM
A very valid point. But, if I were an evil villain, I'd also adopt a pseudonym for my minions to know me by or for my enemies to tremble at. That's one of the things I like most about Lord Voldemort from Harry Potter. He has a normal name (Tom), and was at one time a normal person, but hides it behind the mask Voldemort.

Hmmm - a title. But the most powerful men, even evil ones, dont really need them. Ive had, in the past, given my BBEGs and minor minions prettyy normal names:

Milton Fuller
Varn Jaheyn
Raithe (okay, that ones a bit strange)
Ethil of Silverstein

and others. Maybe a few of the more melodramatic ones have some sort of title or handle, but most do have normal names, and want to "make their name", meaning, to me, becoming famous on their own instead of striving to create a notorious persona.

Cheesegear
2008-04-06, 05:43 PM
Actually, while not the 'main' villain, one of my play group's favourite NPCs of one of my campaigns was a folklore-esque character. That mothers would tell their children that "If you're naughty, the Ghost will get you..."

In different parts of the world, the same story was told, just with different names. Ghost, Stalker, Haunter, Nightwalker, Noros Derat (Night Death)

Turns out, this 'Ghost' is quite real. Eventually, the party settled on 'Haunter' when they talked about him. He was never - ever - given a real name. I never really tried to think one up, and if I had, I think it would've diminished the badass-ness of the character.

Incidentally, the way to kill him was to take his Ring of Agelessness off him. Yeah, to get into common folklore, you have to be that old.

Ravyn
2008-04-06, 06:16 PM
My last few antagonists didn't use titles, just names--most of them see a flashy title as trying too hard. The one who drove my players crazy for about a year didn't even bother with a last name, going solely by "Jalil"; my last two, who rest somewhere between antagonist and potential ally status depending on which of my players you speak to, were Zora Aldebar and Pemba Makaye.

Way I see it, the best balance is something just exotic enough to be memorable and difficult to turn into a mocking nickname, but not so exotic as to be unpronounceable--and keeping the pretense of grandeur to a minimum.

Gwyn chan 'r Gwyll
2008-04-06, 08:16 PM
One fun villain is "The Lord of Wit", a wannabe swashbuckling scoundrel, who just can't quite make it. He tries, but ultimately fails. He has the best speech when the PC's come.

"Every time. Every damn time I try and do anything, some damn hero has to come and mess it up. Man, I just wanna be someone, you know? I just wanna be able to hang out with the other guys, but every time I walk into (bar name), then someone, (name), or (name)* laughs, and points and 'Hey guys, look who it is! Did you hear about his latest adventure! He managed to set off 5 traps on himself!' It's no damn fair! Damn it! DAMN YOU!"

He then proceeds to attempt to seriously prod buttock.

*Note he accidently gives the PC's names. Woopsies.

captainkubrik
2008-04-07, 10:01 AM
When I name my NPC's, villain or not, I try to switch it up between totally innocuous (Wolfgang Schoen) and alliterative (Brutal Bruno). Generally the NPC's with more personality end up as an alliteration. It's turned into something of a trademark when I am DM'ing.

Azerian Kelimon
2008-04-07, 10:27 AM
Also, use names that would normally be used by Good guys, becuase it tends to throw players off. For example, me and my players are great fans of the Myth series of games, so when I named a Villain Murgen (After a REALLY powerful Warrior mage), the players were really scared.

And also, steal. If you see a cool name, preferably on an obscure source, yoink it. For example, a nice module series for second edition included a badass sorceress named Jallarzi Sallivarian, who had an evil side named Jai. That kind of cool name just begs to be "borrowed".