Truename Magic Overview

When you speak a word in the true, original language of the universe, you tap the power of creation itself—for the ability to describe something is the ability to define it. A wielder of truename magic under- stands a language older and more fundamental than all others—a “mother tongue” whose words and phrases are the building blocks of the universe.

Except perhaps the gods themselves, no one can speak this original tongue. It’s possible that no one ever did speak it—truenames might be more a set of instructions encoded into a language, rather than a means of communication. But through careful study, the masters of truename magic can understand a smattering of this fundamental language. When such masters name a thing aloud in the tongue of true- names, they can exert unparalleled control over the creature or object they name. They can command it, alter it, renew it, or destroy it simply by speaking their desire aloud. The cosmos seems to hear a truenamer’s instruction and reorders the universe in accordance with the spoken words.

Truenamers engage in ceaseless study of the world around them, learning the truenames of as many creatures and objects as they can. As they advance in their studies, they can uncover the personal truenames of friends or foes, enabling still more powerful magic.

Some traditional spellcasters also dabble in truename magic. By incorporating a bit of truename speech into their spells, they can achieve targeted but powerful effects beyond the reach of traditional arcane or divine magic. The language of truenames is fiendishly difficult to pronounce, however, so such spells press the skill of their casters to the utmost.

If you want to cause the very earth to tremble when you say “thremcheumalach-tura’abachnir!” then truename magic is for you. If you want to force a babau demon to do your will simply because you know its truename is Kyethel-cramuothan- praduvashedeo, then truenames can be your path to power.


Truename magic already exists in a limited form in every D&D campaign. It appears in the form of the command and power word spells. These spells originate from the power of truenaming, using a single word to wreak mighty magical effects. Though powerful, they are merely spells and lack the reusability and flexibility of real truename magic.


Truenames encompass reality in its entirety. Everything in the world, everything that ever was, and presumably everything that ever will be has a truename. Even the most wizened truename sage doesn’t know every word in the language of truenames—or even most of them. While the grimoires of truename masters have thousands of truenames within them, truenames undoubtedly exist beyond their knowledge, truenames that await rediscovery through magi- cal exploration and experimentation.

Truenames are an entirely oral language. Merely writing down a truename has no particular power. Only speaking a truename aloud can reorder the universe—assuming the speaker says the name properly. The language of Truespeech is composed of hundreds of consonant sounds and thousands of delicately inflected vowels. The rhythm of the speech is likewise essential. A book might require several pages just to describe a single truename, because the speaker needs so much guidance in pronunciation.

The language of truenames is more than just a list of names. Most of the language consists of the truename equiva- lent of nouns. In terms of game effect, there’s a truename for “orc,” for “door,” and for “sword.” But from the truenamer’s point of view, it’s much more complex. There’s a word for “orc berserker charging toward me,” a word for “ironbound, locked wooden door with something unknown on the other side,” and a word for “flame tongue longsword wielded by an ally.” Even an apprentice in the magic of truenames knows hundreds of these truenames.

Truenames can also name actions, such as “vanish,” “sharpen,” or “destroy.” When these actions are combined with the truenames that describe nouns, a truenamer can remake the universe in accordance with his wishes. Com- bining the truename for “destroy” with the truename for “orc” can cause harm to the orc charging toward you, for example. Combining “sharpen” (yichtho’pratanuul-khadaash) with “sword” (gremeneth’hradoshikell) can make the weapon more potent against your foes. “Vanish” (bratranajaeleithal) and “human” (hrudokkelenthé) can make an ally invisible.

In addition to truenames that describe nouns and those that describe actions, there exists a third category: personal truenames. These are the equivalent of proper names, uniquely identifying a single creature. If hrudokkelenthé is human, for example, then Thandralkru-plennevichthuul might be Bartellus the Necromancer. Most people don’t know their own personal truenames, and even dedicated students of truename magic don’t know more than a few personal true- names. (All truenamer students learn their own personal truenames, however.) Expert spellcasters and powerful monsters might know their own personal truenames, and they certainly try to keep others from learning their personal truenames. Knowing someone else’s personal truename lets you describe that individual perfectly to the universe. When you can describe someone perfectly, you gain a better ability to affect him or her with the language of Truespeech.


This book isn’t large enough for a list of truename equiva- lents for every word you’re likely to use in your D&D game—and it wouldn’t be much fun to read in any case. So there’s no glossary for your character. But a player using the truename magic rules will discover terms unique to this sort of magic.

Lexicon: One of three categories of truenames. Utter- ances can be found in one of these lexicons: The Lexicon of the Evolving Mind, the Lexicon of the Crafted Tool, or the Lexicon of the Perfected Map. Truenames that name personal truenames aren’t found in lexicons.

Personal Truename: A truename that uniquely describes a specific individual, analogous to a proper name such as “Lidda Tosscobble.”

Recitation: The repetition of the speaker’s personal truename, subtly altering the cadence for a particular magic effect. Truenamers use recitations to restore their bodies and minds to an “original” state; most recitations eliminate poison, disease, and similar ongoing harmful effects. Recita- tions are available to those with ranks in the Truespeak skill through feats, although truenamers receive access to some recitations through bonus feats.

Truename: A description of a creature (“halfling”), place (“forest”), thing (“dagger”), or action (“destroy”), delivered in the primal language of the universe. Each truename is exceed- ingly specific and incredibly difficult to pronounce aloud.

Truename Spell: A spell that incorporates one or more truenames into its casting. Truename spells always have a verbal component, for obvious reasons. All the usual rules for spells apply, but the spellcaster must also succeed on a Truespeak check for the spell to work. Truename spells can be cast by arcane or divine spellcasters, depending on the individual spell.

Truenamer: A class devoted to the study of truenames. Truenamers use utterances and recitations to achieve potent magical effects.

Truespeak: The skill of correctly pronouncing truenames—especially in stressful, distracting situations such as combat.

Utterance: A combination of a truename that describes an action with a truename that describes the subject of that action. This is the most important class feature of the true- namer class.


Despite the fact that truenames are fiendishly complex and often require several alphabets just to write down, learning a truename is the easy part.

Basic Truenames: Studying entire categories of truenames is largely the province of characters with the truenamer class. Throughout their career, they learn utterances, which they can use to describe everything in the world. Utterances thus allow truenamers to affect creatures, objects, and even loca- tions with their words. The choice is theirs which utterances they study from each of the three lexicons. Utterances are also unique because most—specifically, those from the Lexicon of the Evolving Mind—can be spoken in reverse, making each two words in one. One truenamer might learn the utterance dealing with healing and destruction, which would allow him to heal and harm creatures. A truenamer can also learn from the Lexicon of the Perfected Map, which allows her to name and affect places. She might be able to shake the earth beneath her enemies’ feet or make the terrain in an area easier for her allies to traverse. Learning new utterances from a particular lexicon is a class feature of the truenamer class. It’s automatic, but it’s not comprehensive. Even a 20th-level truenamer won’t know all the utterances in all the lexicons.

Spellcasters with ranks in the Truespeak skill automati- cally know the truenames that are part of the truename spells they cast; it’s a normal part of the spell-learning process. But because the truenames are woven into the spell itself, spellcasters can’t extract the truenames and use them outside the context of the spell. That’s the province of the truenamer.

The basic truenames that form utterances are described in countless grimoires found in the libraries of truenamers. The Analects of Vondellak, The Spotted Libram, and Hadrakk’s Tome, for example, are three multivolume collections of truenames devoted to the Lexicon of the Evolving Mind, the Lexicon of the Crafted Tool, and the Lexicon of the Perfected Map, respectively.

Personal Truenames: The personal truename that uniquely describes an individual creature is much harder to learn, because most creatures powerful enough to be aware of their personal truenames are smart enough to know that a personal truename should be kept secret. But magical research—everything from poring over dusty tomes to asking the gods for divine guidance—can sometimes uncover a personal truename. The process is uncertain and time-consuming. But the payoff is often worth it; when you know a creature’s personal truename, it is easier to affect it with your utterances than if you were using a normal truename. The method of discerning creatures’ personal truenames is described in Truename Research on page 196.

Lots of powerful truenamers keep lists of personal true- names they have learned, and some of these have survived through the ages to inform future generations of truenam- ers. The Merciless Catalog of Fiends and Splendor beyond the Veil are two encyclopedias of personal truenames that cover important fiends and powerful undead, respectively. Copies are kept under lock and key in many a master truenamer’s library.

Your Own Personal Truename: Most people don’t know their own personal truename. Indeed, you would get a blank stare if you asked the local blacksmith what his truename was. But it’s often useful to know what your truename is. Your personal truename can be a conduit for powerful beneficial spells. A truenamer gains access to recitations through bonus feats, and can take more recitation feats as he attains more levels. Recitations can restore the truenamer to his original condition, wiping away poison, disease, or ongoing magical effects in the process. Members of prestige classes such as the acolyte of the ego and the disciple of the word rely on an intimate knowledge of their own personal truenames as a path to inner power.

You can learn your own truename through magical divination (described in Truename Research on page 196). Truenamers automatically learn their own personal truenames at 1st level; doing so marks the end of their apprenticeship.

When you learn your own truename, take a moment to write it out. Anything of eight or more syllables will do. You can match the sound of your personal truename to your personality. If you have an aggressive character, make up a personal truename with a lot of explosive consonants and guttural sounds. If your character has a more serene countenance, use a lot of vowel blends and softer-sounding consonants. Thakrasch-Voor-Grakat’tranqi is a good personal truename for a bold, often angry character, while the per- sonal truename of Aurash-Hrietuli-Oursselleam hints at a more contemplative character.


Learning a truename is a straightforward process; you either figure it out through magical research or know it automati- cally from a spell or from the truenamer class feature. Once you know a truename, that knowledge can’t easily be taken away from you. However, just because you know the personal truename of the demon prince Orcus (no mean feat, by the way) doesn’t mean you have him under your thumb. You must be able to speak the truename aloud.

No ordinary language comes close to the complexity and demanding exactness of truenames. A simple sound such as a long “a” can be delivered with a hundred slight variations of pitch, timbre, and inflection. How the sounds blend into one another carries meaning of its own. Every consonant sound you’ve ever heard—and some completely foreign to your ears—is represented. Even the simplest truename can have up to a dozen syllables demanding a specific cadence and polyrhythm. Pronouncing any truename properly takes hours of practice and the height of concentration, and personal truenames are even more complex.

Apprentice truenamers often strain their throats into hoarseness or silence just mastering basic vowel sounds, as their harsh masters demand hours of repetitive pronuncia- tion drills: “Aaaaaoooah, aaaaaoooah, aaaaaoooah…” and so on. Even bards accustomed to delivering epic poetry or long dramatic works quickly find their vocal cords exhausted by the precise demands of Truespeech. Many a failed apprentice is unable to muster a voice louder than a whisper; truespeak- ing can even permanently damage the vocal cords if you attempt too much too soon.

Speaking a truename aloud is the hard part of the process, and doing so requires a successful check in a new skill: Truespeak. Using Truespeak requires a skill check, and calculating the DC for such a check usually follows the same formula.

  • To speak a creature’s truename aloud, you must succeed on a Truespeak check with a DC equal to 15 + (2 × the creature’s Challenge Rating). If you’re saying the truename of a PC, the DC is 15 + (2 × the PC’s Hit Dice). When you’re speaking a creature’s personal truename, the DC increases by 2 because those truenames are more linguistically complex.

  • To speak a magic object’s truename aloud, the Truespeak DC is 15 + (2 × the item’s caster level).

  • To speak a nonmagical object’s truename aloud is a DC 25 Truespeak check. Usually you make a Truespeak check to speak an utterance, use a recitation, cast a truename spell, or use a unique special ability (such as those used by some of the new prestige classes found later in this chapter). The check doesn’t require an action of its own; it’s part of the action (usually a standard action) of the utterance, recitation, spell, or ability. Rules for using recitations and utterances are found on pages 231 and 232.

The consequence for failing a Truespeak check is that the utterance, recitation, spell, or ability doesn’t work. Creatures with the Personal Truename Backlash feat have truenames that are dangerous to utter aloud. If you fail at a Truespeak check involving a creature with Personal Truename Back- lash, the universe itself punishes you for getting the name wrong (see the feat on page 229 for details). “Iorakh-hrun’wellenek-lauvroonea!” —Utterance of caster lens, delivered by Menastrasian before calling the pit fiend that sacked Joruul


An utterance is a combination of words in Truespeech that describe a creature, place, or object to be affected and the desired effect (such as “control speed” or “wreathe in fire”). By putting these truenames together in exacting fashion, you create a rudimentary sentence in the true language of the universe—an utterance. As a truenamer, you do not know the truename for every creature and object in the world, but you can describe them in the language of Truespeech. To do so is to speak an utterance. When you speak an utterance properly, reality reshapes itself to conform to the power of your words.

You learn utterances as you progress in level, starting with the simplest creature-oriented utterances and progressing to more powerful and more diverse utterances. Utterances are divided into three lexicons, or groups of related words. As a truenamer, you learn many words in the Truespeech but only a few practiced phrases that you can turn into true utterances that carry the full power of Truespeech—and that power can change reality itself. Utterances can be described as follows.


To speak an utterance, you must speak in a clear voice as loud as a spellcaster. Each utterance is a spell-like ability that requires a successful Truespeak check. But because the language of truenames requires such precision of pronunciation and timing, an utterance takes a standard action to perform and provokes attacks of opportunity from threatening enemies.

Utterances are spell-like abilities with verbal components (unlike other spell-like abilities, which have no components) that require a successful Truespeak check; the DC for the check is equal to 15 + (2 × target creature’s CR). Your effective caster level for your utterances is equal to your truenamer level.


If you’re worried about attacks of opportunity, you can “utter defensively” by accepting a –5 penalty on your Truespeak check for each foe who could hit you. In exchange, the utter- ance no longer provokes attacks of opportunity.


Spell resistance applies to your utterances, so you must suc- ceed on a caster level check to overcome the spell resistance of creatures you speak utterances on. Because your utterances are spell-like abilities, the Spell Penetration and Greater Spell Penetration feats make those caster level checks easier, just as they do for spellcasters. When you deliver an utterance, it has an effective caster level equal to your truenamer level. In addition, when speaking an utterance, you can voluntarily increase the DC of a Truespeak check by 5 to automatically overcome a target’s spell resistance.


Creatures with an Intelligence score of 3 or higher have per- sonal truenames, which you can discover through research (described in Truename Research, page 196). Personal true- names are more complex than more general truenames, but knowing one gives you an advantage when facing that creature. If you know a creature’s personal truename, the save DC of your utterances used against that creature increase by 2, and you gain a +2 bonus on caster level checks to overcome that creature’s spell resistance with your utterances. Speak- ing a personal truename is more difficult, however, and the DC of a Truespeak check that incorporates a personal truename increases by 2.

All truenamers learn their own personal truenames as part of their education. You have an instinctive understanding of your own personal truename and a sense of how it should be pronounced. But it’s not automatic, even for you. You gain a +4 circumstance bonus on Truespeak checks to affect yourself with truename magic.


When you deliver an utterance, you’re dealing with the cosmos itself and reshaping reality. If a target changes its creature type with a spell such as polymorph, its personal truename doesn’t change, although the truename you would use in a less specific utterance might. Shapechange, wild shape, disguise, resurrection, reincarnation—none of these change a personal truename. Only the ritual of renaming (described in the Truename Spells section of this chapter) can change a personal truename.


With the exception of utterances that use the Lexicon of the Perfected Map, all utterances target a single creature or object. Because the language of truenames is both exacting and specific, the same truename doesn’t necessarily apply to all four orcs charging at you. You must be able to see your target (or at least perceive it in some other way that gets you as much information as sight). But your target doesn’t need to hear the truename. You aren’t speaking to the target, after all. You’re using truenames to speak to the cosmos about the target.


Because no creature needs to hear you speak the truename, a silence spell won’t automatically stop your utterances. It is more difficult to speak a truename properly when you don’t have the feedback of hearing your own voice. You have a 20% chance of a given utterance failing when you deliver it from within the area of a silence spell, no matter how high your Truespeak check result.

For utterances that use the Lexicon of the Perfected Map, you must be able to see the center of the area you’re truenaming. You can’t truename a dungeon chamber that’s on the other side of a closed door, but you can truename the room once you open the door, even if you can’t see the entire room from the outside.


Unless otherwise specified, utterances work at a range of 60 feet.


Utterances have short durations. Your use of truenames reor- ders the universe as you direct, to be sure, but the universe quickly reestablishes some semblance of the status quo.

When you deliver an utterance, you’re remaking reality itself. Whether the “default reality” returns quickly or slowly, it does so at its own pace. Once you’ve delivered an utterance, it will run its full course; utterances aren’t dismissable.


The effective level of an utterance is equal to its utterance level for the purpose of Concentration checks, as well as interactions with other spells and abilities, such as globe of invulnerability. However, you can increase the effective spell level of an utterance by increasing the DC of your Truespeak check. For every spell level you increase the utterance by, increase the DC of your Truespeak check by 4.


All utterances obey a pair of important universal laws that govern Truespeech. In fact, one of these laws—the Law of Resistance—is so pervasive that even uses of Truespeech not involved in speaking utterances must frequently obey it. Many Truespeak-based abilities in this chapter, especially some prestige class abilities, follow the strictures of this law.


The first time you speak a particular utterance, you calculate the DC as described under Speaking a Truename on page 232. However, the universe tends to resist being manipulated with Truespeak repeatedly in a short period of time, so each time you successfully speak the same utterance in a day, the DC of your Truespeak check for that utterance increases by 2. If you fail a Truespeak check, however, the DC does not increase on your next attempt of that utterance.


All utterances obey the Law of Sequence. If you speak an utterance with an ongoing duration, you can’t speak that utterance again until the duration of that utterance ends. It’s okay to use a different utterance while the first is still active, however. It’s also okay to use a higher-level version of an utterance while a lower-level version is active, or vice versa, because these constitute different utterances. The reverse of an utterance is treated as the same utterance for the purpose of the Law of Sequence.

For example, you could speak a 2nd-level lesser word of nurturing utterance on one ally, then target another ally with a 1st-level minor word of nurturing utterance. But you could not use the 2nd-level lesser word of nurturing utterance on an ally, and while it was still in effect, target an ally with the same utterance or an enemy with the reverse of that utterance.


Utterance effects with ongoing durations can be dispelled normally using dispel magic. They can also be countered by counterspeaking, which works similarly to countering a spell.


To counterspeak an utterance, you must select an opponent as the target of the counterspeaking and ready an action to counterspeak. When your opponent begins to speak an utterance, you can attempt a Truespeak check (DC equal to the DC of the utterance being spoken) to identify it. If you also know the utterance, you can then attempt a second Truespeak check in an effort to counter the utterance. If your check result is higher than your opponent’s, you negate the utterance with no other results.


To dispel an ongoing utterance, you must successfully speak the same utterance on the same target as the original utterance. If your Truespeak check result is higher than the original truenamer’s check result, the utterance is dispelled as if its duration had expired. In cases where the Truespeak check for the original utterance is unknown, assume that it’s 11 + the truenamer’s Truespeak bonus.


Utterances fall into three distinct categories, called lexicons. Each lexicon consists of a collection of words that deals with creatures, items, or places.

The Lexicon of the Evolving Mind, the cornerstone of a truenamer’s power, allows him to alter creatures he encoun- ters in substantial ways. The Lexicon of the Crafted Tool does the same for items, and the Lexicon of the Perfected Map allows a truenamer to impact places he encounters.

The latter two lexicons are more difficult to learn, so a truenamer never learns as many utterances from those lexicons as he does from the Lexicon of the Evolving Mind. Truenamers aren’t entirely sure why this is, but one theory holds that Truespeech takes more naturally to creatures because they have more of an impact on the universe. Items and places are more static, and therefore require more precise language. More information on each lexicon can be found later in this section.

The level entry for each utterance describes the level of the utterance (not the level that the truenamer gains access to the utterance).