Updated: Jun 21, 2022
Every gaming group is different. Some groups put much more focus on resource management (arrows spent, rations depleted, etc.), while others barely consider their inventories. Some groups put the emphasis on role-playing, while others tend more towards combat. And sometimes gaming groups come up with names for their in-game adventuring parties.
The scene is familiar: the DM begins describing the adventure, and your characters come together. Maybe you decide your characters have been traveling together for a long time, or you are thrown together by the events of the story, but for whatever reason, you have a group of heroes - and most groups are going to need a name…
This is actually something that not a lot of groups I’ve played in have done. Occasionally we’ll have a name assigned to us / associated with us due to events that transpire in the game, but more often than not, the story opens and our heroes just get to work. But I actually really like the idea of groups having names. For one thing, it helps give the group, and the campaign, an established identity.
My friends and I still talk about the “Four Feathers,” the name of our group in the first campaign Jay Jones DMed for us. This group tended to have a “walk blindly into dangerous situations and try to talk our way through them” approach (backed up by a “shoot it with fire if it goes badly” contingency plan)… and even now, when Jay and I discuss Dungeons and Dragons, anytime we talk about unpredictable players taking unexpected tactics, we refer to it as “Four Feathers style.”
At any given time, I'm usually running at least three different D&D groups, so distinct names help me keep track of the campaigns. However, a group name does more than just clarify/distinguish different events… it helps establish an identity within the game. Naming a group is like naming a character – the name says something about who you are. For example, on “Friday Night Quests,” our group was called “The Velvet League.” Since our group is essentially “run” by Prince Horace Kemp, we wanted the name to feel noble and self-important… and, in the grand tradition of things that came out of Horace’s mouth, the name was essentially meaningless on its own.
And, of course, some of the most famous D&D group names of our era come from Critical Role: Vox Machina, the Mighty Nein, and Bell's Hells. Ironically, it's not until the final example where we get a name that actually makes sense for the characters, and not just the players; Vox Machina is a riff on the fact that all the players are voice actors, and Mighty Nein came about primarily because of how many nines the cast rolled during one of their early adventures. Bell's Hells is very deliberately named after events and behaviors that the characters would be aware of. (It should also be noted that Vox Machina was originally called The S.H.I.T.s - the "Super-High Intensity Team." Which, honestly, is an extremely good group name for a home game.)
Think about the groups of heroes you like on TV and in movies, and in novels and comics: The Avengers. The Justice League. The Fellowship of the Ring. Dumbledore's Army. The Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. The Impossible Missions Force. The Magnificent Seven (I'm not sure they were ever called that in the movie, but I'm still counting it). Many of these groups get their names from the context of how the group came together, what their mission is, or who their members are.
If you decide you do want your group to have a name, get the group together and talk about some options. If you're looking for inspiration, I've put together a list of possible group names, which can help jump-start your own imagination:
The Steel Hydras
The Silver Hippogryphs
The Black Glove of Anubis
The Rabid Possums
The Wayfaring Strangers
Blood of the Gordon
The Green Hand
The Tomb Raiders
The Order of the Obsidian Flame
The King's Ransom
The Golden Guardians
Path of the Righteous Man
Hellraisers for Hire
Band of the Crimson Lion
Company of Champions
The Covenant of the Shield
Crusaders of the Everlasting Chalice
The Iron Fang
The Sapphire Guard
The Azure Guild
The Redcrest Five
Necessary Chaotic Neutral
Magic Item and Artifact Retrieval Specialists
The Dungeon Delvers
Brotherhood of Valor
As you can see, some of them very deliberately imply that they're connected to some aspect of a D&D world or setting, and that wouldn't make them the right fit for your group. But you can hopefully see how these names could be used as inspiration for the kinds of group names that might work at your table.
Here are a few other names I've used in my own groups over the years:
The Velvet League
The Four Amigos
The Silver Hydras
Hippogryphs for Hire
The Four Feathers
Moose Hunters (In our Unknown Armies campaign, someone asked our group what we were doing in town, and my character just shouted “Moose hunting!” That was it. That was the whole lie.)
Castlevania Breakfast Club
Task Force Hex
If you need some more inspiration, the Image Comic series "Rat Queens" has a few different adventuring groups in it:
Also, Acquisitions, Incorporated is, in my opinion, the best adventuring group name. It's also taken, unfortunately.
Discussion Question: For anyone who still needs some inspiration, let’s help people out: What are some adventuring group names you’ve used? Let us know in the comments below!