Practicing the Words: Boosting your Truespeak Check
Or, "Truespeak, mother****er! Do you speak it?!"
Naturally, it should go without saying that you'll be keeping your INT as high as you can reasonably get it, you'll be keeping your Truespeak ranks maxed, and you'll be taking Skill Focus: Truespeak ASAP (probably at level 1 or at level 3). Whenever you can afford to keep Universal Aptitude active on yourself, do so. There are, of course, a few other ways of boosting your check, and you probably won't get very far if you don't take advantage of at least some of them.
The Paragnostic Assembly
This is a big one, and mildly controversial. That said, the bonus is just too big to ignore. Short of an item familiar, it's probably tied for the biggest nontemporary Truespeak bonus you can get.
So, there's this organization in Complete Champion called the Paragnostic Assembly, and you would do well to beg your GM to include them in your world (and suck up to them once they've been included). In short, they're dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge in all its forms, and one of the benefits of affiliation with them is a bonus to certain skills, one of which is (you guessed it) Truespeak. I know. I was just as shocked to read that. Mechanically, once you get your affiliation score up high enough, you'll get a +5 typeless bonus to Truespeak, which will eventually upgrade to a +10. To get the +5 bonus, you'll need to get an affiliation score of at least 4 (which is a piece of cake); to get the +10 bonus, you'll need a much tougher score of at least 23.
The ways to boost your affiliation score fall into two broad categories: purely mechanical and story-based. Since the story-based ones are something you'll have to work out with your GM (aside from is a devout worshiper of a god of knowledge, which is kind of a something-for-nothing, but at least the flavor fits), I won't talk about them too much, but you may want to ask your GM if you can sacrifice part of your wealth to the Assembly and write them into your backstory. Some GMs will let that fly, but some won't. I'll be mostly looking at the mechanical ones. Your character level increases your affiliation score by 1 per 2 levels, so that's easy. You get a +1 for being a Truenamer, since they have at least 3 Knowledge skills in-class. You get a +1 for every Knowledge skill you have 5 to 9 ranks in, which jumps up to +2 per Knowledge skill that you have at least 10 ranks in. (See what I mean when I say that you'll probably be taking a whole lot of Knowledge skills? There are several reasons for that!)
Two items warrant special mention, since they're definitely not RAW, but a nice GM might let them go anyway. The first is asking if your Knowledge Focus class feature (which is nearly identical to Skill Focus: Knowledge) counts as having Skill Focus: Knowledge. The second is whether utterances with obvious divination effects (like Vision Sharpened) count as divination spells, because if so, it might be worth taking one (being able to cast 3rd level divinations or better is a pretty significant +3!)
Basically, if the Assembly exists in your world and you have at least two Knowledge skills with 5 ranks each, you'll qualify for the +5 bonus as early as level 2 (+1 affiliation score from being ECL 2, +1 from being in a class with Knowledge skills as class skills, +2 from 2 Knowledge skills with 5 ranks each, and that's a total of 4 . . . which is enough). Of course, it's not a TOTALLY free power bump . . . you DO have to pay monthly dues, and you also have to give them a not insignificant percentage of any treasure you find. It's worth it, but don't go thinking that you're just gonna get this +5 and waltz away. Getting an affiliation score of 23 is much harder and pretty much requires you to either write the Assembly heavily into your backstory (again, always check with your GM first) or actually work with them in-game for a fair bit of time. In short, if the Assembly exists in your world and you're willing to give it a cut of your ph4t l00tz, you can count on getting at least a +5 from them.
Do also note that there are other benefits for being a member of the Assembly. If you get your affiliation score up to 16, you get one skill from a certain list added to your class skill list. You'll probably take Spellcraft, though Decipher Script is thematically appropriate. (No, Truenamers don't get either of those out of the box. This should not surprise you by now.)
Talk Isn't Cheap: Check-Boosting Items
Certain items can boost Truespeak checks, and these are the only items we'll be discussing in this section. The most obvious is the Amulet of the Silver Tongue, which gives a bonus of a weird type (enhancement). It comes in flavors of +5 and +10, and it's probably the first big thing on your wishlist. Get one. Protect it.
The next item to get (well, technically, you should get this one first, just because of the cost) is a masterwork tool of Truespeak. Yeah, I know, not every GM will let you get a masterwork tool of every skill, but you lose nothing by asking. A few suggestions for how to fluff it:
- A megaphone
- A book. I hate books as MW tools, but that's just me. (Bonus: If you genuinely convince your GM that this guide counts as a MW tool, I'll mention you here!)
- Some kind of drink or throat spray to keep your vocal cords from getting tired (this one might need refilling, like a healer's kit)
- A tool! What do you mean, what kind of tool? A masterwork one! It's written right here on my sheet, c'mon.
The third item you might consider is an item familiar. I'm on record as being against item familiars, and I still stand by that. They present the GM with an annoying choice (let the player get a benefit that may or may not be proportional to that of other feats, or punish them perhaps unreasonably harshly by invoking the drawback that they theoretically accepted when they took the feat?), which they really don't need (GMing is hard work, and we don't want to make their jobs any harder). That said, it is a damn good way of boosting your skill checks, and if you ONLY use it for that, I don't think it's broken or especially out of line (nor is your GM tempted to take it away). Basically, if you can get by without one, do so. You'll probably be happier for it. If you feel like you really need it, take it, but only use it to boost your Truespeak checks, and try very hard not to give your GM a reason to take it away.
The Amulet of the Silver Tongue, the MW tool, and the item familiar are the big three, but there are some other items that you might want to use to boost your check even more.
- A Luckstone (DMG) will give you a +1 of an uncommon bonus type, but it's expensive.
- Potions or wands of skill-boosting spells (Guidance of the Avatar, Divine Insight, Improvisation if you can get the CL up, (Greater) Heroism, Surge of Fortune, etc.) are nice to have as backup, though you don't want to rely on them (partially because of action economy, partially because of gold economy). Make sure you don't end up with overlapping bonuses.
- Skill Shards (MIC) are another consumable but useful boost.
- A custom competence item is always a point of contention. It's probably the most straightforward custom item in the game, but since the item creation rules are guidelines and not hard-and-fast rules, items that give a competence bonus to Truespeak aren't RAW, so you can't rely on them. If your GM lets you take one, do so. Do so now. If your GM doesn't allow it, you're not done for yet, but you will have to work harder.