First, a little background. If you're not interested, skip over it and get to the bolded part.
There's a Twitter game I play called Echo Bazaar. In Echo Bazaar (or #ebz as it is sometimes abbreviated) a lot of the various NPCs you encounter are not named, but given suitable epithets. An adjective, and then a title. To wit: a Retiring Blackmailer, a Winsome Orphan, a One-Eyed Bishop, a Wry Functionary, and so forth.
A few weeks ago, I was trying to come up with some tidbits to make my homebrew campaign setting more interesting and alive. I was looking through the Roleplaying Tips magazine, and came across the Idea Seeds method by Mike Bourke.
The gist of the Idea Seeds method is to list a bunch of nouns, say 12, which are to show up in your campaign ("goblin, king, mercenary"). Assign each one an adjective ("heroic goblin, sad king, grizzled mercenary"), use the noun-adjective in a sentence ("the heroic goblin slew the evil dragon"), and...well, it goes on from there.
The noun-adjective thing reminded me of Echo Bazaar, and how powerful those two-word descriptors can be.
And then I had my moment of inspiration. The card game Dominion is themed around a medieval low-fantasy setting. I could use that to generate even the nouns...
So Here's How To Do It
Go to a Dominion set generator (I like this guy) and generate a set of 10 cards. Use all the expansions you want.
This will give you a set of 10 cards. You don't care about anything except the names. Arrange them in 5 pairs of two.
For example, I just got:
Vineyard and Upgrade
Secret Chamber and Tactician
Shanty Town and Royal Seal
Alchemist and Venture
Lookout and Minion
Right. Now, grab a random adjective generator. I like this guy, because Exalted names have awesome punchy adjectives. Generate a list of ten adjectives, and assign them in order to your nouns. (Yes, you could do it out of order, picking and choosing, but then that is NO FUN.)
In the example, I would get:
Secret Vineyard and Crimson Upgrade
Savage Secret Chamber and Stalwart Tactician
Bounteous Shanty Town and Grey Royal Seal
Ebon Alchemist and White Venture
Exaltant Lookout and Sagacious Minion
Now assign temporal states to the examples, alternating between current and past.
(now) Secret Vineyard and Crimson Upgrade
(past) Savage Secret Chamber and Stalwart Tactician
(now) Bounteous Shanty Town and Grey Royal Seal
(past) Ebon Alchemist and White Venture
(now) Exaltant Lookout and Sagacious Minion
The pairs are (or were) interacting, somehow, in your setting. Figure out where, and put it in!
In some cases, this may come up with stuff which just feels stupid ("Savage Secret Chamber" sounds pretty dumb, even though Stalwart Tactician sounds awesome). I recommend tossing the pair out entirely, if one is mediocre. The good thing about this method is that it is pretty quick, so generating multiple sets of 10 doesn't take very long at all.