How it Works

Utterances, Incantations, and Recitations

A truenamer has a whole bunch of weapons in his arsenal. Uses of truenaming fall into three general categories: utterances, incantations, and recitations. All three share the same basic qualities:

• Activated as a move action.
• Activation does not provoke attacks of opportunity.
• Not subject to spell resistance or spell immunity.
• Does not allow saving throws.
• Subject to namelessness and name resistance.
• Extraordinary ability (Ex).
• Reversible (a thematically opposite effect) (utterances and incantations only).
• Come in 6 levels.
• Require a Truespeak check to use.
• Augmentable by voluntarily increasing the Truespeak DC.
• Require you to speak.
• Never require material components or XP.
• Target a creature within line of sight to you, regardless of distance.
• Effective spell level of 1/2 the truenamer’s character level


Utterances are the most powerful abilities a truenamer will gain. These are words and phrases of truespeech that cause some kind of hindering or harmful effect to his foes, or a helpful effect to his allies. Now, a truenamer can’t just go around using whatever utterances he wants, whenever he wants. To start with, all utterances are subject to the truenamer’s absolute limit.

An utterance by a truenamer can only affect a target whose current hp is equal to or below his absolute limit.

Your absolute limit is added to every time you gain a level in a truenaming class or prestige class. For example, as a truenamer you add a value to it every level equal to 1 + your Charisma modifier. Your absolute limit does not change retroactively with ability increases. Temporary bonuses to an ability score do not change the increase of your absolute limit. Permanent increases, including inherent bonuses, do apply.

• For example, Torgoth the Mighty has a Cha of 17, or +3. He gains three levels of truenamer, making his absolute limit 12. Then he gains a fourth level, and adds +1 to his Charisma score, making it an 18, or a +4 modifier. He adds 5 to his absolute limit at this level, but does not change the additions from previous levels.

An utterance can be used on a willing target even if their hp is above the truenamer's absolute limit.

Utterances require a name for the target to be used. You may use a true name, a given name, or a nickname for this requirement. These are described in detail below (see ‘Discovering Truenames’), but the bottom line is that the more accurate name you use, the easier it is to use your utterance against them. The modifier applied to your Truespeak check to deliver an utterance is summarized below:

Table 1.1: Name Modifiers to Truespeak Checks

Name Modifier
Nickname -2
Given name +0
Truename +4


So you’re probably thinking, “Kellus, you handsome devil! Utterances have an hp limit on what they can effect! Doesn’t this mean that I, a full caster, am useless against enemies with oodles of health?!”

The answer is no. Utterances are the most powerful weapons in your arsenal, but they’re not the only thing you got going for you. When an enemy is too strong (at the moment) to target with an utterance, you can use incantations to target him indirectly. This can include launching projectiles at him, altering the terrain to your advantage, or other such effects that don’t target your enemy directly.

Now of course you’re thinking, “what about that stupid law of resistance from the Tome of Magic? Remember, the arbitrary mechanic where words get harder to say as you say them more often? What about that?”

The happy news is that the Law of Resistance (and the Law of Sequence, for that matter) is gone. Yes, this means at-will abilities, if you can make the skill checks.


Recitations are sort of similar to stances from the Tome of Battle, except different. The idea behind a recitation is that you’re repeating your own truename with a different cadence, altering yourself. Like all truename effects, a recitation can be activated with a move action, and typically provides a defensive or otherwise helpful effect so long as you maintain it. Now here’s the catch: you can maintain a recitation as only a swift action every round, but while you’ve got a recitation going you can’t use truenaming! Yes, that means you give up your most powerful class feature for the duration of the effect.

You don’t need to take an action to end a recitation, it ends naturally if you don’t take a swift action to maintain it. Recitations are exceedingly helpful for truenamers that enter melee, multiclass truenamers, or for truenamers that need to focus on defence or escape. While you maintain a recitation, you don’t need to make additional Truespeak checks to gain the benefit.

Augmenting Truespeak Effects

Every truespeak effect has a Truespeak DC to use properly. Failure on this check means that the effect simply fails to happen. However, if you’re feeling brave, lucky, or just plain stupid, you can voluntarily increase the DC of the check in order to gain a better effect. This is sort of like psionic augmentation. The key thing here is that when augmenting a truespeak effect, you can only increase the Truespeak DC by an amount equal to your truenamer level. Everybody get that?

You can only increase the Truespeak DC to use a truespeak effect by an amount equal to or less than your truenamer level.

You decide if you want to augment an effect before you use it. Thus, you set the DC before you make the check, increasing its power to a risk level that you feel comfortable with.

Every truespeak effect has a specific way to augment it, but all utterances share one common augment:

• For every +1 modifier applied to the DC in this way, the absolute limit for this one utterance is increased by 1.

Discovering Truenames

As a truenamer, you know your own truename. Lucky you. Unfortunately, your utterances are most likely to succeed when you also know your enemy’s truenames. Learning a truename requires research. You can, however, get by with only knowing the given name of a creature, or (gods forbid) a nickname.

• A nickname, when it comes to truenaming, is a vague description of a creature. Odds are you’re not going to know the name of a dire bunny that attacks you in the woods, so you can specify this thing by saying the equivalent of ‘that furry thing with the fangs’, except in truespeech. This is cumbersome and ineffective to use with your utterances, so your Truespeak check to use the utterance takes a penalty of -2.

• A given name is just what it sounds like: a creature’s birth name. They generally know this themselves, as opposed to their truename, which is Mysterious And Hidden™. Using a given name is reasonably effective with utterances, and as such you take no penalty on your Truespeak check. In a game, discovering birth names can be a fun sidequest or hidden agenda for a truenamer, especially for a target that’s taken pains to cover it up or who goes by an alias. There are no mechanics to discover a given name, as this should be handled by the DM in the game.

• A truename is the name the universe knows someone by. Everything, and I mean everything has a truename. Even if it’s, you know, inanimate. Doesn’t matter. Unforunately, most truenames, spelled out phonetically, look like you went to sleep on a keyboard for a few minutes, with a whole bunch of apostrophes thrown in for good measure. You can research truenames, in any kind of library or a hall of records or lore. Now, truenames can be tough to find, and generally the more famous or renowned (or old) someone is, the easier it’ll be to find their truename. Finding a truename requires a Knowledge check appropriate to the target’s creature type (see the Knowledge skill in the Player’s Handbook for more information on creature types and the Knowledge skill), a Truespeak check, and about an hour of solid research. You also need the given name (see above) of a creature before you can find its truename. The base DC of both checks required to uncover a truename is 25, but this can be adjusted based the notoriety and the age of the target. This modifier should be determined by the DM based on the specific circumstances, and shouldn’t be any higher than +10 or any lower than -10.

Truespeak (Int; Trained-Only)

Truespeak is an Intelligence-based skill primarily used in conjunction with truespeak effects (utterances, incantations, and recitations). However, it follows several special rules.

• A natural 20 on a Truespeak check is always a success (except for opposed Truespeak checks).
• A natural 1 on a Truespeak check is always a failure (except for opposed Truespeak checks).
• Truespeak cannot be improved with magic items, spells, item familiars, or masterwork tools.
• You can never take 10 or 20 on a Truespeak check.

Now here’s the dirty little secret. Nobody actually speaks truespeech. It’s impossible. Instead, people try to replicate the lost language with existing languages. When someone has ranks in Truespeak, it means they’ve practiced dissecting other languages and studying linguistic roots to break apart other tongues in search of some parts of the original language.

The only synergy bonus gained for Truespeak is a +1 synergy bonus for every two additional languages beyond their racial languages that someone knows (as in, actually knows knows, not by dint of magic. No, not even with permanency. The insight comes from the study, not the simple knowledge of how to speak it). The maximum bonus you can get in this way is +5, or 10 additional languages that you’ve learned by purchasing them with skill ranks (see the Speak Language skill in the Player’s Hanbook for more information on learning languages).

Defending Against Truespeak

Like anything, truespeak can be defended against. It’s extraordinary in nature, and not vulnerable to spell resistance, so conventional magical defences aren’t exceedingly helpful. However, there are methods that can be used to protect yourself.

• Detecting Truespeak: When a truespeak effect is used within line of sight of someone, they can make a Knowledge (arcana) check against a DC of 10 + the speaker’s truenamer level to detect it as a truespeak effect.

• Counterspeaking: A truenamer (or anyone with ranks in Truespeak) can attempt to counter a truespeak effect as an immediate action. This can only be attempted when they are affected by a truespeak effect, and detect it for what it is (see above). The counterspeaker must make a Truespeak check against the check made to activate the truespeak effect. Whoever loses the opposed check is dazed for one round. If the truenamer loses, the truespeak effect fails to occur, exactly as if he had failed the Truespeak check to deliver it.

• Name Resistance (Ex): If a creature has name resistance, its name is exceptionally difficult to speak in the language of Truespeech. The DC to target such a creature with a truespeak effect increases by the amount specified in its name resistance ability entry.

• Namelessness (Ex): If a creature has namelessness, it is completely immune to truespeak effects. The only way to achieve this state is to undergo a hideously painful ritual where you utterly erase your truename.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License