Troll in the Playground
Join Date: Feb 2009
Re: In the Beginning Was the Word, and the Word Was Suck: A Guide to Truenamers
Denying the Words: Straying from the Mold
In my mind, it's pretty clear what the Truenamer is “meant” to do, or at least what they end up being good at doing. You're the smart guy who tells us what the monsters are and then applies weird effects to them, right? Well, what if you don't want
to be the know-it-all buffer/debuffer? What if you want more out of the character? To what extent can you forge a new destiny and still earn your share of the XP?
Well, the Truenamer isn't a well-designed class. I've put so much effort into the know-it-all focus mostly because it works, not just because I like it. Most people would rather play to their strengths than to their weaknesses, and it's a particular strength of the class. That said, here are some rough ideas for breaking the mold a little bit while still staying a Truenamer, at least mostly.
Truenamers get enough buffs to make sorta-kinda okay gishes, and Quicken provides native action economy while doing so. If you're willing to keep the brainiac theme, Knowledge Devotion is a solid attack and damage buff that will almost always be on. Your big weakness will be defense . . . relatively few utterances will do much to protect you once you get into melee. I don't have an easy answer for fixing that (UMD, maybe? Just don't start down the partially-charged-wand route), but you can buff yourself up and head in swinging.
You might try being more of a jack-of-all-trades/skillmonkey. Universal Aptitude makes up a LOT of ground, and a quick dip in a skill-heavy class plus Able Learner will go a long way. This isn't something that's unique to you, of course (though Universal Aptitude is), but it's something. You might even take Recitation of Mindful state, though the bonus will still be insultingly tiny.
Being some kind of beastmaster/hordemaster is a decent choice, simply because it's usually easier to affect pets and cohorts with utterances. If you're allowed to take Leadership, this is an option, and of course Wild Cohort, Hidden Talent (Astral Construct), and the like have already been mentioned. If you're an illumian with the Krau sigil, one level dipped into an arcane casting class (maybe Bard, for the skill points) will still get you CL 3, qualifying you for Obtain Familiar. This is generally a bad idea, but it's a funny one.
If you've got a real taste for the bizarre, you might try being a crafter of some kind. Utterances can be made into magic items, though the rules aren't 100% clear about how they work. It might be a way to get around the Law of Sequence, though.
Spelling the Words: Truename Magic
I make no apologies for the awful pun. Anyway, the big problem with the Truename-flavored spells is that they often require personal truenames. Researching a personal truename is a really annoying process that takes multiple weeks in-game, which is certainly not an option that I want to assume everyone has. In short, if you have to know the personal truename of the target for the spell to work, the spell probably sucks. That's all there is to it. I've never seen a game where you can just casually spend weeks on end in-game looking up personal truenames (spending 1,000 gold per week, I might add). That's just not a healthy assumption to make. Even if you can, a lot of the spells require the personal truenames of your enemies,
which are obviously a little more limited in use than the personal truenames of your friends (after all, if all goes well, you'll only need to deal with the enemies once). It's a poorly designed system all around, though this should surprise nobody at this point.
Of course, it should also go without saying that a character interested in Truename spells is going to have to put nearly as much effort into boosting their Truespeak check as a Truenamer is. They might not rely on their Truespeak check quite as heavily, but if the spell fails when you flub the check, well, that's a lot of effort (and a turn, and a spell slot) wasted, which nobody wants. What I'm saying is that using these spells is a fairly major investment, and I frankly don't see them being worthwhile.
Augment Truefriend: While it's faster than casting all three stat-boosting spells, it's also weaker (+2 instead of +4), and it requires personal truenames. As personal truename spells go, this is one of the better ones . . . and that's terrible.
Bane of the Archrival: The duration is what kills this for me (well, that and the personal truename). I think it would be interesting to use it to ward the throne room against a known assassin, for instance, but with that duration, it's not happening. Add in that you need your enemy's personal truename, and you have a real failure of a spell that could have been cool.
Beckon Person/Monster: One of the best spells in this chapter, and it's no coincidence that it doesn't require a personal truename. It's also got a weird DC mechanic (it's a flat 15, but you add duration to the spell by beating the check by a lot . . . which is probably a better mechanic for Truenaming as a whole, but I digress). This can force AoOs, spoil full attacks, and generally make life difficult for someone. Just make sure that they can't reach you, or that you can deal with them when they do.
Bulwark of Reality: So this takes my personal truename, only lasts a minute per level (thus taking an action in combat), doesn't stack with Mage Armor, and is only 2 points better than it? Oh boy, that sounds fun.
Expunge the Supernatural: A plot spell if ever there was one. The big problem with it, of course, is that I'm going to prep for killing one specific creature (you need their personal truename, after all), spend an 8th level spell on them, get past their SR, and get them to fail a save, why don't I just kill them? For the same amount of effort, you could just kill them. This is ignoring the fact that the Truespeak check is going to be quite difficult, the fact that the spell has an XP cost, and the fact that the XP cost goes off even if the spell fails in one of the three built-in ways it can fail. This is only good for shenanigans involving removing a harmful (Su) quality from you or your ally (and make no mistake, those are shenanigans indeed).
Hidden Truename: Since Truename research checks are made by the week, not the day, this spell is kind of weird. Also, a +2 to saves against utterances? For a level 6 spell that requires a personal truename? Wow, what a deal.
Horror of the Spoken Name: The name is cool. Nothing else about this spell is. At least it doesn't require a personal truename, so it's not ALL bad. Just mostly bad.
Ritual of Renaming: Plot spell. Nothing more, nothing less. Since it's implied that you get to choose their truename, try to resist the urge to name them something obscene or unflattering . . . which you didn't want to do before I planted that idea in your mind, did you? You're welcome.
Scramble True Position: I love this spell. It's not that great, but it's hilarious, and it can be a lot of fun. It doesn't require a personal truename, the save is just to prevent the prone and not the teleportation, and it's a prime target for sculpting. If there were more spells like this, I think we'd all be happy. See if your Truenamer can get a wand of this.
Spurn the Supernatural: See Expunge the Supernatural. As above, so below. Why not just kill them? Fun plot spell, but you'd never use it on your own.
True Banishment: Personal truename of an enemy. Sigh. I can at least see this one being used, since there's no saving throw and it's a thematically nifty effect (“we must find the personal truename of the demon or we'll never be free of him!”).
True Prayer of the Chosen: Well, at least it's only YOUR personal truename, but really, I expect better from a level 4 spell, particularly a Cleric self-buff.
True Prayer of the Faithful: This has a weird DC, but at least it only kind of requires personal truenames instead of requiring them flat out. Of course, the bonus is tiny (to a lot of things, sure, but it's still tiny) and probably not worth it, but it could be worse. Also, the fluff about “your deity is better able to identify your friends if you use personal truenames” is hilarious.
(Lesser/Greater/Normal) Truename Binding: This seems weird to me. Half the point of Planar Binding is that the minion is disposable, or at least partially so. (You don't generally kill them or send them on suicide missions, but you also don't generally want to bind the same one again and again, lest it take revenge.) Researching one specific creature just so you can bind it just seems like stalking to me, and that's not healthy. Basically, this is good in the same way that all Planar Binding spells are good, and bad in the same way that all spells that require a personal truename are bad.
Truename Dispel: Interesting, but not worth it because of the personal truename. This would be decent if that weren't the case, especially since it can apparently dispel ANYTHING.
Unname: Fun, fluffy, and totally underpowered. At least it's not a [Death] attack.
Warp Truename: I will never understand why this is a Druid spell. Anyway, this is like Baleful Polymorph, only worse, and it requires a personal truename on top of being worse. Pass.
Word of Genesis: Plot spell. Again. Weird that it's Cleric-only, but hey, there you go.
Last edited by Zaq : 09-04-2011 at 02:15 PM.