It is presently in vogue to generate characters with descriptive surnames. Frequently these surnames follow a very specific pattern, being comprised of an adjective followed by a noun, with the whole thing giving some hint of either the character’s profession or just intended to strike fear into the enemy. This trend really has to stop. It is THE tragedy of the hobby that we use our imaginations to picture ourselves as magic-wielding wizards, sneaky three foot tall assassins, and stout dwarvish warriors, but we can’t think of any better name than “Bloodhammer” for our fighter. We can do better than this, indeed we MUST do better than this to demonstrate that our hobby isn’t a bunch of guys sitting around shaking funny dice but a genuinely intellectually engaging exercise.
Think about it from your character’s perspective for a moment. What is the likelihood that your character’s dad’s name actually was Spellsinger? Not very likely, in my mind, and the probability falls through the floor when your character is a Dragonborn. Wouldn’t a more realistic name like “Ka-thyssis” be more appropriate? In fact, by having your non-human character use a name that’s a portmanteau of Common words, isn’t that singly your character’s acceptance of the dominance of the human race and your character’s role in the human world? You haven’t even rolled your first twenty-sided die and you’re already pigeon-holing your character!
What’s more, think about how other members of your character’s race must treat him because of his name. To them, using a Common name is a rejection of their shared ethnic history and a sign that your character is more comfortable with humans than with his own race. Your dragonblood is going to feel might uncomfortable when he goes into the local dragonblood bar calling himself “Sharptooth” (how descriptive is that, really, for a dragonblood?) when every other dragonblood in the place is wearing traditional dragonblood dashiki and speaking in Draconic. He’ll come off as an Uncle Tom. While this might make for an interesting background on occasion, it simply isn’t that interesting when everyone else is doing it at the same time.
Even if you are too lazy to come up with a real name for your character, that’s no excuse to pick any two English words for a name. If you really want something descriptive, pick a couple words in English to describe your character and then use babelfish or something to translate them into another langue and mush the result together. Sure, your elven ranger might come out sounding like a brand of vodka, but it will be a better name than Freddy Bowguy. French works particularly well for dwarves.
For whatever reason, dwarves are frequently portrayed as sort of Scottish / Scandinavian. This is a wholly inaccurate way to stereotype dwarves. Think about it: dwarves are dirty, smelly, xenophobic, churlish heavy drinkers who live underground and keep losing wars to orcs. This in no way describes medieval Scandinavians and only some of those elements can be found in Scottish culture. When you examine the traditions of the dwarvish people outlined above and compare them with our historical tradition, it becomes obvious that they are clearly based on the French. As such, we should call upon Wizards, Blizzard, Warner Brothers, and other purveyors of fantasy fiction to correct their portrayals of dwarves to more accurately reflect their ethnic origin. Viva la dwarf!
So take pride in your make-believe racial identity and come up with a real name for your character!