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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Feb 2009

    Default Re: In the Beginning Was the Word, and the Word Was Suck: A Guide to Truenamers

    Saying the Words: Utterances

    And here we go. This is the meat and potatoes of Truenaming: your utterances. These are your powers, your spells, your options. This is what you do. Well, it's at least what you TRY to do, but if you're optimizing, the check itself shouldn't be an issue. Now we're going to take a look at what happens when the check succeeds, and what we can do to make the whole thing worthwhile. (Spoiler alert: Not terribly much.)

    Lexicon of the Evolving Mind

    These are the big ones. You'll be using one of these more often than not, and you'll learn way more of them than the other lexicons. (Note that whenever I say “You get X of these,” I mean that that's how many you'll get if you always learn an utterance from the highest level that's available.)

    A note on the Word of Nurturing line: You'll want one or two of these, but not more than that. Assuming that your check is high enough to muscle past at least a few dings from the Law of Resistance, they basically function as healsticks (wands of Lesser Vigor, don'cha know). The fact that you have to concentrate on the damaging versions is kind of a turn-off (and does mean that investing in multiple versions to stack them or spread them out is . . . hard to make worthwhile, just thanks to your actions), but they're also damned near impossible to stop (no save, you can ignore SR by increasing the Truespeak check, typeless but magical damage . . . it basically takes regeneration or immunity to all damage to stop them from hurting), which is situational but nifty nonetheless. As a very soft rule, if you're starting at mid-high levels, I'd say to take one that's one level below your highest-level utterance, but I can't stress enough that that's just a very rough guideline.

    Level 1 LEM:

    This is kind of a tricky level. You get two of these, and there are two clear winners. However, at the lowest levels (i.e., when you'd get these if you actually started from level 1), neither is especially amazing in combat, so you'll pretty much be in crossbow mode if you take them. Since there's no way to retrain utterances by RAW, you've got a choice to make. If you have an alternative combat option of some kind (see the section on races for a few suggestions, or just learn to love the crossbow) or if you're starting at a higher level, you're pretty much guaranteed to take Universal Aptitude and Inertia Surge. If not, you might want Minor Word of Nurturing for healing/direct damage and/or either Defensive Edge or Knight's Puissance for buffing/debuffing (Knight's Puissance is a bigger bonus/penalty, but Defensive Edge lets you focus fire, so I guess it's kinda party-specific which one is better, though they're both pretty bad). You know, if every level had an equivalent of Inertia Surge and Universal Aptitude, I think we'd all be a lot happier.

    I will mention that if you miss one of the two big utterances here and regret it later, you can take the feat Minor Utterance of the Evolving Mind and pick up what you missed without actually losing an utterance known. Your call on whether that's worth a feat, of course.

    Defensive Edge: This utterance is crap. The bonus/penalty is way too small to be worthwhile. It has a slight advantage over Knight's Puissance in that it lets the party focus fire (if you use the reversed version), but it's not worth it.

    Inertia Surge: This is a solid utterance, since it's one of those tricks that, while not unique to the Truenamer, is still not something you see every day. I wouldn't recommend getting this as your very first utterance, since the reversed version is pretty much just trading turns before you can extend it (and even then, only if your party has ranged attacks and your foe doesn't) and the normal version is situational (and you don't tend to NEED FoM at level 1), but there are many times when you'll be glad you have this one. Freedom of Movement never goes out of style, so this is useful even at high levels. I will note that the Truenamer is one of only two ways I know of to get a FoM-like effect at level 1 (the other is the Travel domain), and Inertia Surge is a lot more flexible than the Travel domain. (I have to take my victories where I can get them.)

    Knight's Puissance: At low levels, every bonus counts, and this at least lasts a decently long time (way longer than anything that lasts rounds per level, at least right out of the gate). It fails to scale, though, so you'll probably forget you have this one after a few levels.

    Universal Aptitude: A real gem of an utterance, this is something that's hard for other classes to match, and I always rate those highly. This is one of the few utterances that's actually genuinely good on its own merits. A +5 typeless bonus to all skills is something you notice no matter what class you are and no matter what level you are. Naturally, it's great for boosting your own Truespeak checks as well. I've never run into a situation where the reversed version is the best use of my action (and I've looked), but the normal version is worth it. Solid gold. If you have to choose between this and Inertia Surge, it's a tough one, but I'd probably take this.

    Minor Word of Nurturing: By the time you hit even level 4 or 5, you're unlikely to remember that you have this utterance (unless you have a high enough check to muscle past the Law of Resistance and use this like a wand of Lesser Vigor), but it's solid enough at level 1. The reversed version is strictly inferior to Power Word: Pain unless you pick up Mortalbane, of course. If you think you can get by without it, I say skip it, but it does have its uses at the very start of the game.

    Level 2 LEM:

    These babies come online at level 3. For comparison, the Wizard has Glitterdust and Web, the Swordsage just learned how to teleport with Shadow Jaunt and how to punch through solid adamantine with Mountain Hammer, and the Incarnate will be unlocking his feet and hands binds soon. This is what you should theoretically be on par with. As was the case with level 1 utterances, you can take a feat to get another one of these, if you really need it.

    The clear winner this level is Hidden Truth, which is no small part of why I keep saying that Truenamers make such good know-it-alls. I make no bones about the fact that it's pretty much my favorite utterance, and I wouldn't consider playing a Truenamer without it. That said, you get three of these in total, so you might start to spread out here.

    Archer's Eye: If you agree that this lets you ignore total concealment as well as normal concealment (see “Truename Targeting Online” in the Naughty Words section), this is solid as long as you have at least one ranged attacker in the party. The reversed version is nice at first but fails to scale (since Protection from Arrows gives DR/magic, which won't be relevant for too terribly long after you first get this . . . though if your GM starts giving the enemy magic bows just to get past it, hey, extra loot!). Not a stupendous utterance, but hardly anything to be ashamed of.

    Hidden Truth: YES. As I've been harping on, this is amazing, and it's hard for other classes to match these kinds of bonuses, especially with Universal Aptitude. Take it. Take it and don't look back. Don't forget that you can use it on your allies as well, which can get you another chance at knowing what something is if you're not quite sure you got the whole story (with a +10 and the ability to count as trained, even the BSF has a chance of knowing what that mysterious altar is for. Let him roll!) or whatever. I consider this utterance to be solid gold, honestly. Unfortunately, once you've taken Universal Aptitude, Inertia Surge, and Hidden Truth, you'll be out of solid gold utterances for a while, but at least you start out OK. I do admit that the reversed version is damned hard to use (since it's hard to explain why you had to make that big unsubtle utterance right before you or your Bard friend just made that charming speech), but oh well. I'll live.

    Perceive the Unseen: This would benefit from being bumped down a level, I think, since Invisibility and See Invisibility are 2nd level spells, and this is strictly worse. Oh well, not the first such instance of this sort of thing, and definitely not the last. Missing is annoying, so letting your friend have a better chance of hitting those damned invisible things isn't going to go unnoticed. The reversed version is OK. Thanks to typical bad writing, it's unclear whether you can use this concealment to hide, but if you can, go for it. Overall, this is a decent utterance, though I wouldn't take both it and Archer's Eye in most cases, unless you really need to be the eyes for both your melee buddy and your ranged buddy. If you plan on using Fog from the Void a lot, this might help make that less party-unfriendly.

    Silent Caster: Ridiculously situational. The short duration and noisy nature of this utterance (as with all utterances) makes it useless for stealth, and I can hardly think of a time when you'd want to just suddenly grant your Wizard buddy Silent Spell for a single round (maybe if you're both silenced, but you can cast thanks to the The Universe Hears Just Fine rule). It could have been an acceptable debuff on an enemy mage, but the saving throw and the tiny duration are annoying. Probably not worth it.

    Speed of the Zephyr: Nothing special, but decent enough. You can get from Point A to Point B pretty well with the normal version up, and since the reversed version doesn't specify a minimum, it could theoretically immobilize someone if you stack it with enough other movement reducers. Note that the bonus is untyped, so it'll stack with whatever other speed boosters your party is using. I don't think you'll use it every encounter unless you're specifically going out of your way to wall-crawl (which is cool), but it's respectable.

    Strike of Might: Decent early on, but tapers off pretty fast. This can help a friend punch through DR (which is probably the only time when it's better than just doing 10 damage yourself), and it's decent enough once you can quicken it, but it's nothing to write home about. The reversed version loses its luster very quickly, but it's funny when it works (especially if you combine it with Slow or some other way of getting a monster down to a single swing). Probably one of the weaker choices at this level, though. Depends on your party's average DPR, really.

    Temporal Twist: Is your ally's attack better than anything else you can do with your standard action? If so, this is a good utterance. It's especially nice with ToB allies who have boosts that last for one round, since this means you'll be able to make that round contain more attacks. This is also a fun utterance to quicken (including on yourself, if you're a gishy 'Namer). The reversed version doesn't last long enough for something that offers a save, but dazed is at least a nasty condition. Now, this utterance does require two d20 rolls in your favor to actually do anything (your check and their attack, or your check and their save), so if you're not autosucceeding your Truespeak rolls, this is a risky proposition. In the right party, though, it's still useful. At low levels, the extra damage from your ally swinging twice may or may not outweigh the extra damage from them swinging with Strike of Might, but at higher levels, this is almost guaranteed to be better. Just be careful, since it doesn't stack with Haste.

    Lesser Word of Nurturing: Since the competition for your slots isn't that stiff after Hidden Truth, this is as good a place as any to pick up your mandatory WoN. Without Mortalbane, the damage is less than you're likely to bring to the field with a solid Strike of Might or Temporal Twist, but you can't have everything, and at least this can do more damage with a single roll. Nothing really sets this apart from any other WoN.

    Level 3 LEM:

    There's no absolute must-pick on par with Hidden Truth, Universal Aptitude, and Inertia Surge at this level, but there are a few good tricks to have around, specifically Seek the Sky and Greater Speed of the Zephyr. These come online at level 6, and you get 4 of them. At level 6, the Wizard has Stinking Cloud and Haste, the Barbarian has an extra swing, the Crusader has Thicket of Blades, the Binder has Focalor and Paimon, and the Warlock has all-day flight. Before you're done with these, the Wizard will have Orb of Fire and Dimension Door, the Totemist will have two things bound to their totem, and let's not even mention the Druid. Can you measure up? Let's see!

    Accelerated Attack: I can't see when I'd ever really need the reversed version, and the normal version is situational as well. Spring Attack's OK, I guess, but I'm struggling to think of when this would be the absolute best use of my standard action. If you've got Extend and/or Quicken, it can combine decently with Inertia Surge, but it's still not great.

    Energy Negation: You can always find a use for energy resistance. The damage on the reversed version is pretty low by the time you get this, but at least Mortalbane doubles its damage potential (+10d6 isn't bad, though the fact that it takes 5 rounds is pretty lame, since we all know that D&D rewards alpha strikes far more than MMO-style damage over time). Still, resistance on command is useful enough that I wouldn't be ashamed to take this.

    Incarnation of Angels: Very fluffy, but very weak. This grants darkvision, piddly DR, lowish SR, and lowish resistances, plus a 2/day smite (1 from celestial, 1 from fiendish, though obviously not on the same target). Even the Extraplanar Bouncer trick (see Naughty Words) doesn't really save this one. Skip it, unless you're just dying for the fluff.

    Seek the Sky: Flight! Flight is nice. Everyone likes flight. The duration, like all utterances, sucks (hope you brought Extend!), but hey, it's flight. The reversed version is also pretty nice (the equivalent in traditional magic, Earthbind, allows a saving throw, so you're probably at the advantage there). One of the stronger choices this level.
    Spoiler: Quick super-nerdy digression about Seek the Sky's fluff
    4e has a class called the Runepriest, and it obviously shares a lot thematically and, to a lesser extent, mechanically with the Truenamer (focus on using the language of the universe as a source of power, reversible powers, etc.). I like the Runepriest a lot, but it didn't get a lot of support. One of the few Dragon articles it got with additional material contained a paragon path called the Enlightened Word, which, among other things, allowed the otherwise mostly earthbound Runepriest to fly, which is awesome. That particular article also contained lots of mentions of "red lightning," with many of the attack powers therein (including the ones granted by Enlightened Word) invoking red lightning onto the field.

    I doubt I'll ever be able to prove it, but I believe that the red lightning referenced in that article is a direct reference to the fluff text of Seek the Sky, which causes your target to leave "a trail of crackling red bolts in her wake." I'll tell you, when I first read that Runepriest article, I geeked out pretty damn hard about that connection. Because of course I would. This is the kind of thing that being The Truenamer Guy does to you. Remind me again what ice cream tastes like?

    Greater Speed of the Zephyr: If you haven't chafed under the Law of Sequence before, you will now. Haste and Slow are both top-notch 3rd level spells, so while having both is great, not having both at once is a bother. Also, Haste and Slow buff or debuff everyone on Team Hero and Team Monster respectively, while GSotZ doesn't. Still, this utterance is definitely worth it. No-save Slow is fun. I have a hard time seeing why you wouldn't take this utterance.

    Temporal Spiral: Trading your standard action for one ally's move action doesn't seem amazing, but like the description in the book hints, setting up your BSF for a charge or a full attack can often be worth it. Once you can reliably quicken this utterance, it's interesting to use it on a Psion or other manifesting class who has Psionic Meditation, since spending your swift action to let them recover their psionic focus is a winning trade. Basically, if you have someone in your party who would really benefit from an extra move action, this is pretty good, but it's not for everyone. The reversed version is one of the nicest utterances as far as ones that allow saves go (dazed is a deadly condition, and almost nothing's immune), so if you take this, you might consider trying to make your save DCs worth something. Do note that this can be used on yourself, and once you can Quicken it, it's basically Hustle, which might interest you if you're looking to gish it up. Who needs Pounce?

    Vision Sharpened: Nothing fantastic here. Invisibility and the ability to see the same are OK, but not an automatic pick by any means. The noisy nature of utterances makes this marginal at best for stealth missions (not that it lasts long enough for proper stealth, even when extended), and by the time this comes online, you're a lot closer to Improved Invisibility than to the normal kind. See Invisibility has its uses, of course, though it's obviously dependent on the GM. By the time you have 3rd level Utterances, though, the golden age of invisibility is usually drawing to a close.

    Moderate Word of Nurturing: Pretty much the same as every other WoN. Decent for what it is, but no more than that.

    Level 4 LEM:

    Hitting the field at level 10, you get 4 of these babies. For comparison, the Sorcerer (not even the Wizard) has 5th level spells, including Teleport, Wall of Force, and Waves of Fatigue. Among the saner classes, the Totemist can now become ethereal while moving, the Rogue is rocking Skill Mastery, and even the crazy dedicated Fighter has gotten their Zhentarim level out of the way and has moved on to bigger and better things. PrCs with 5 levels are reaching their capstones. Let's see what you can bring to the field!

    There are a few good mage-cheerleader effects here in the form of Caster Lens and Magic Contraction, if you don't mind buffing the characters who are stronger than you are already. Spell Rebirth comes recommended to anyone, even if you don't abuse it. Other than that, there are a lot of defensive or restorative effects at this level, so if you're interested in playing that particular breed of support character, stock up. The only one I would consider good for pretty much any Truenamer (regardless of group) is Spell Rebirth, though, so look at your party before choosing. I generally consider this to be the last level where the utterances have a chance of being level-appropriate, but it's pretty obvious that they've been slipping for a while and aren't going to get much better, and many of these utterances really deserve to be closer to level 2 (or even level 1) than level 4. Do bear in mind that since you're level 10 by this point, I assume that you've spent your level 9 feat on Quicken Utterance, so all of these (and your lower-level stuff) can be Quickened by now.

    Breath of Cleansing: This has a very 4e feel to it (I say this as a player and fan of 4e), with the whole “grant target ally a saving throw” thing. The duration doesn't make any sense, of course (does the saving throw take the whole round? Does the saving throw only give them one round of respite before the effect kicks back in? I don't know, and neither does WotC!), so talk to your GM about it. Chances are good that this was meant to be instantaneous, though we can't prove that beyond a shadow of a doubt. Still, removing conditions isn't a terrible use of your actions, so I probably wouldn't say no to this utterance. It is a little embarrassing that, by my interpretation of RAI, this is basically equivalent to the level 1 spell Resurgence, from SpC pg. 174 (the wording is almost identical), but at least Resurgence is a decent spell (contrast with Morale Boost, below), and I guess at least your range is greater than that of someone casting the actual spell? (Kindly ignore the fact that Mass Resurgence, which is pretty much strictly better than your utterance, has been a thing for five full levels now—okay, okay, this utterance is way overleveled, but this isn't exactly a new problem.) The reversed version is your basic save-or-suck-for-one-round deal, of which the Truenamer has so many for some reason. I wouldn't count on using the reversed version too often, even if you Extend it. Maybe if you Quicken it, but while I assume that you can autosucceed on your non-Quickened utterances, it does take at least a little bit of work to autosucceed on Quickened stuff, so then you've got the old "two d20 rolls need to go in your favor for this to matter" problem.

    Caster Lens: If you have a caster in your party who has a Morning Buff Routine (I've seen a Favored Soul who called her daily ritual of casting all-day buffs on the party a “prayer breakfast.” She got a lot of converts), this is awesome. As I've mentioned earlier, it can chafe to know that you're basically just being a cheerleader for a character who's already more powerful than you'll ever be, but we all know that more magic = more better. If you have a manifester in the party, you will become their very best friend, since ML is arguably even more important than CL. As for the reversed version . . . it's not usually worth it, but a certain reading of the spellcasting rules indicates that you might be able to prevent your foe from casting their highest-level spells with this thing (for example, if you have a Wizard with CL 11 and hit him with Reversed Caster Lens to become CL 9, he might not be able to cast 6th level spells anymore, since his CL isn't high enough). Ask your GM. Of course, even then, anything you're facing at this level probably has enough juice to waste you (or at least make your day much harder) with their second-best spells anyway, so the reversed version isn't that awesome. Basically, take this if you want the casters in your party to love you, but don't expect to stop your foes with it.

    Confounding Resistance: Decent enough, if really situational. Evasion/Mettle don't come up all that often in my experience, but when they do come up, they're nice to have. This is a case when being a knowledge-monkey is going to be very helpful, since you really want to know enough to use this utterance before the weird monster unleashes the effect that this is intended to protect against. The reversed version won't come up that often (and pretty much relies on you having a blaster in the party to even notice it), though I guess you could maybe find worse things to do with your action than to impose a –2 on saving throws for five rounds. You could probably find significantly better things to do too, of course. This one really requires you to know your GM and his or her playing style (especially with regards to who gets targeted with save-partial effects).

    Magic Contraction: To my knowledge, there is no way to boost your Truenamer level up above your HD (except MAYBE with Bloodline shenanigans, but even I don't know how those really work), so this is, at best, 11 + HD SR, or a 50% chance to resist a spell cast by an equal-level mage with no CL boosts. If you run into a lot of casting mooks who use spells with SR, it's OK, but since SR is a two-edged sword, be careful. (Remember that you can make utterances ignore SR by increasing the DC by 5 . . . but can you afford to? Probably, but be careful.) Of course, if you fight an enemy who has a backup healer/buffer, it can be funny to use this on THEM. The real gold, of course, comes in the reversed version, which grants freeeeeeeee metamagic! If you have a caster in your party of pretty much any stripe (especially if they have some flavor of boom spell, though, including Orbs), this is worth pulling out the pom-poms for. You're a cheerleader, but you're a damn good one. Empower is fair-to-middling at best when you have to pay for it, but when you get it for free on all your spells? Yeah, expect your Sorcerer to hug you. This should probably be the first thing you take if you have one or more casters in your party and you're willing to learn a drill routine.

    Morale Boost: Remove Fear as the spell, huh? Just for reference, Remove Fear is a level 1 spell, and it's not exactly a top pick even at level 1 (contrast with Breath of Cleansing, above, which is still stupidly overleveled but at least mimics a fairly good level 1 spell). How insulting do you get? If your allies aren't immune to fear by now anyway, there are better ways of dealing with spooky things than this. The reversed version is a vanilla save-or-suck effect; the duration is at least nontrivial, but by level 10, more and more things will be immune to mind-affecting, fear, or both. Skip this utterance.

    Spell Rebirth: I love this utterance because it is, to my knowledge, unique. I do not believe that any other class gets the ability to directly undispel things. For this reason alone, in my mind, this is worth taking. Sure, it's hard to find a time when undispelling (or undismissing) something will be worthwhile, but keep your eyes open and find a way (or MAKE a way) to use it. It's hilarious when it works. The reversed version is also pretty good, since it's a dispel that doesn't need a CL check, and you can always find a use for making sure that someone else is less magical than you are. (See the Naughty Words section for some other stuff you can do with this utterance.) This one is definitely worth taking, even if it doesn't necessarily come up every day.

    Word of Bolstering: If, for some weird reason, you're stuck in the role of party healer, at level 10 you can finally cure ability damage/drain. Where's my confetti? Oh right, it's in the back, beneath a couple of crates of apathy. A wand of Lesser Restoration is almost trivially cheap by level 10, and you have UMD. OK, it's true, this cures drain as well as damage, but my socks are still remaining firmly un-rocked. The reversed version is even worse . . . it's a penalty with a duration, so not only doesn't it stack with itself, you can't even TRY to make it stack with itself, since the Law of Sequence prevents you from using it again! You can't even penalize two ability scores at once. Meanwhile, Ray of Enfeeblement has been dishing out a bigger penalty since LEVEL 1. This is just garbage. If you're running into things that drain (not just damage) your ability scores way more frequently than you'd otherwise think, this MIGHT be worth it . . . but that's rather unlikely to be the case.

    Potent Word of Nurturing: By now, you've probably reached a point where the difference between FH 5 and FH 10 isn't going to matter in combat (and out of combat, who cares?), and while you'll technically be doing more damage per round than an equal-level Warlock who makes absolutely no effort to optimize Eldritch Blast (at least if you take this utterance as soon as possible), if you're counting that as a victory, I'm not sure that I can help you. If for some reason you desperately crave a direct damage effect at this level, this is technically your best bet, but I personally find it unlikely that you'll end up saying “man, I'm sure glad I took this utterance!” Of course, since there aren't that many really great utterances at this level, you might end up with it anyway.

    Level 5 LEM:

    Ashes, ashes, we all fall down. By this point, your utterances have pretty much officially stopped scaling at an appropriate level, and very few of these are on par with what you should be cranking out at level 14 (which is when you get your first of these). You get 4 of them, but I'm not sure you'll find 4 that you really want. For comparison, the Wizard is casting Power Word: Blind and Magnificent Mansion, and he's only one level away from Irresistible Dance, Mind Blank, and PAO. The Crusader is taking 11 on all their checks and will be dishing out no-save stuns next level. The Binder is an ethereal assassin with infinite monster summoning, and even the Shadowcaster is probably not going to run out of tricks before the end of the day.

    Several of the better utterances at this level allow saving throws. If you're going to be willing or able to pump saving throw DCs, this level gets a little better, but still not great. You'll probably be taking Greater Energy Negation, but beyond that? Nothing's that good. I think the saddest part is that there's no utterances where the normal and reversed versions are both that good. The closest is Eldritch Attraction, but both sides of it suffer from the same problem.

    Eldritch Attraction: I desperately want to like this utterance. I really, really do. Forced movement is relatively rare in 3.5, and since you can force the target to provoke, this actually has the potential to be one of your most damaging utterances. The downside, of course, is the saving throw. If you're starting at a level where this utterance is available (or if you otherwise reasonably expect to get it over the course of play), it MIGHT be worth pumping CHA just for this. That said, many Truenamers won't have the CHA to make their utterances truly fearsome (so few of the ones with saving throws are worthwhile!), and having two chances to fail (Truespeak check + saving throw) with no saveless backup option makes this . . . hard to love. If you can make it work, do so, because it's really cool and can actually be pretty devastating if your party has a lot of nasty zones, nasty melee-types, or both. (In a sufficiently group-optimized party where the rest of the party has built around this or at least built in such a way that this can shine, I could even go so far as to see someone taking Ability Focus/Boost SLA/Utterance Focus for this one, because it is genuinely awesome when it works, but that's not something that can always be relied upon.)

    Greater Energy Negation: Shock and gasp! An effect that mimics a spell that's only been around for three levels when you can first choose it? Be still my heart! OK, fine, the spell (Energy Immunity, SpC) lasts for 24 hours while the utterance lasts for 5 rounds, but in all honesty, this is still a better deal than you normally get. The reversed version isn't really worth it. 20 damage, which is slightly less than the average on 6d6, isn't usually encounter-changing at level 14+ (though it may at least redirect enemy attention away from the target?), and resistances/immunities are becoming more and more common. If you're up against a death-by-a-thousand-cuts style of enemy who somehow isn't resistant to one of the big four types (and you'll know which, you brainiac, you), this can be amusing, but you're really taking this for the normal version.

    Essence of Lifespark: This is the very essence of too little, too late. Essence of Lifespark deals one no-save negative level, requires a Truespeak check, and comes online at level 14. Enervation deals AT LEAST one no-save negative level, requires a touch attack, and comes online at level 7. We're cooking with gas now, fellow 'Namers! I'd take this as a level 3 utterance, but as a level 5 (as a reminder, you're minimum ECL 14—how many negative levels can a CR 14 foe absorb before they become really hampered?), it's just not worth it. The ability to restore a negative level is, once again, better handled by someone or something else (as another reminder, you have UMD, and even with the expensive material component, a no-shenanigans wand of Restoration is about 17% of your WBL and can easily have its cost shared among the party), though I guess it could be worth it if you're the only magical character and your party is in, oh, Ravenloft. The sad part? It's still probably not the worst utterance of this level.

    Preternatural Clarity: A floating +5 insight bonus is actually fairly decent, even if it eats the target's immediate action. Retroactive bonuses are actually reasonably powerful, even though the fact that utterances have short durations kind of turns this into a janky hybrid of proactive and reactive. Thing is, while a just-in-time +5 bonus isn't the worst thing you can hand out (especially compared to the rest of your utterances), I just don't feel like it's level-appropriate, especially since Moment of Prescience (with its minimum +15) comes online next level. That's really this utterance's great sin—it's truly not a terrible effect, but WotC seems to have forgotten just what level you are when you get it. If you take a slightly more liberal reading of the text (see “Suddenly, Rerolls” in the Naughty Words section), this becomes more worthwhile, but as it is . . . eh, I'm not convinced it'll be the absolute best use of your actions. The reversed version is a basic save-or-suck that mimics a level 4 spell that isn't guaranteed to actually ruin the target's turn (in other words, a desperate gambit at best . . . yeah, pretty much just straight crap). Do keep in mind that this bonus only applies to attacks, saves, and opposed ability or skill checks, not just any old skill check you might choose to make. Which means that it's not likely to stack with Universal Aptitude or Hidden Truth. So it goes.

    Greater Seek the Sky: Compared to normal Seek the Sky, it's a speed increase (from 60' to 120') and a maneuverability increase (from good to perfect). The problem, of course, is that 60' and good will usually get you where you need to go . . . but I'd consider taking this utterance anyway, just because you can either let TWO people fly, one with each (gasp!) or chain the utterances, casting one when the other's about to run out (so you can fly for more than a minute at a time, Law of Resistance permitting). The reversed version is strictly worse than the reversed version of the level 3 Seek the Sky, since preventing a target from flying is MUCH better than making them take a couple d6s of falling damage (even 20d6 isn't guaranteed to kill something at level 14, though it will probably be noticed). Shame, really.

    Sensory Focus: This would be a perfectly respectable utterance if it lasted for, oh, 5 rounds. Blindsight is great, and True Seeing is also great. A one-round duration is anything but great (you literally can't use this on yourself and benefit long enough to attack with it up unless you have Quicken, Extend, or both). Even with Extend, you're going to be spending an awful lot of actions on this thing if you want to really use it. It's probably best to use it on a friend rather than on yourself, but that's still a lot of actions being spent. It does make a decent illusion check when you enter a new room, assuming that you can keep up with the LoR. The reversed version is a basic save-or-suck . . . nothing amazing, but not a lot will be totally immune to it.

    Ward of Peace: The fact that area or effect (note that we're saying area spells OR effect spells, not area OF effect) spells can pierce it is a bummer, since this would otherwise be decent for a buffer. Overall, it's okay enough, but by level 14, I feel like a lot of enemies are going to have ways to hurt you that aren't necessarily “what was your AC again?” If you take it, you'll probably find a use for it, and at least it doesn't allow a save to break through the normal version, but I wouldn't rely on it to the exclusion of everything else. The reversed version is . . . situational. The duration of Concentration means that, at best, you're just trading actions (and since your concentration is occupied, you're giving up your Quickened utterances as well), and they do get a saving throw. That said, I can see you getting SOME use out of it, but not a lot.

    Critical Word of Nurturing: Remember what I said about Potent Word of Nurturing? That, only more so. The numbers are bigger, but they're not sufficiently bigger to keep up with the HP and damage being thrown around by your party and your foes at this level. Also, by this point, Mortalbane is officially ignorable (it was ignorable long before this, in all likelihood), so really, if you're still trying to do HP damage at this level, you're in the wrong class.

    Level 6 LEM:

    This is it. The big leagues. You're level 18. 9th level spells are on the table. 9th level maneuvers are on the table. PrC capstones are on the table. You're being expected to contribute alongside Shapechange, Strike of Righteous Vitality, Metafaculty, Fivefold Breath of Tiamat, Utterdark Blast, soul chakra binds (OK, you're one level ahead of soul chakra binds, but they're coming), and even the Monk talking to flowers.

    Your tools are . . . well, what do you think? They're not up for the job. Even compared to things that aren't actually 9th level spells, they're just not that good. They'd probably be OK, oh, five to seven levels earlier (there's relatively few that are godawful in a vacuum), but they just plain don't measure up at the real endgame, since characters and character abilities don't exist in a vacuum. Do recall that you have Speak Unto the Masses by this point, so you can actually affect multiple creatures with one utterance (if you can make the Truespeak DC, that is . . . you've probably picked all the low-hanging fruit by this point, so you actually might be struggling a little to find ways to get your bonus up). You get 3 of these babies, if you want them.

    Breath of Recovery: This is strictly worse than the level 4 Cleric spell Panacea, which has been in play since LEVEL SEVEN. The only benefit is that Panacea is touch range while this can be used 60' away, but even with Reach Spell bumping the spell level up by 2, Panacea's been around longer and does more—it also heals a tiny amount of HP damage and clears a few conditions that BoR doesn't. (Meanwhile, at level 18, an actual Cleric is casting Mass Heal.) If you're worried about this sort of thing, I'd buy a few scrolls (or even a wand! Level 18 WBL is prodigious) of Panacea and UMD them. I am capable of imagining a party where you'd need this often enough to take it, but I don't think it'd be a top pick . . . at least, I'd say that if everything else wasn't awful. The reversed version is like Hold Person, only worse, since it doesn't last as long. Decent enough if you have high CHA (anyone up for a quick coup-de-grace?), but not worth taking for it alone.

    Ether Reforged: This utterance is broken, as in “does not work.” Instantaneous? This is just too weird. I can't even intuit what's likely intended here. This thing's unratable. See “This One's All You, WotC” in the Naughty Words section.

    Greater Knight's Puissance: Okay, once upon a time, I called this the worst utterance relative to others of its level. There's a part of me that still feels like that's true, since this is an effect that really feels like it should hit the table at, like, maybe ECL 9ish or so rather than ECL 18. (I mean, if Knight's Puissance gives +2 to hit and is considered to be level 1, is the difference of another +3 to hit and +5 to damage really 17 levels more powerful?) In truth, the value of this utterance really depends on your table and on how close to each other your group's attack rolls and your group's targets' AC end up to each other. I'll admit that I've never played a beatstick at this level, but from what I've seen, it does look like you're often completely off the RNG and are pretty much checking for 1s and 20s most of the time, and if so, this utterance isn't going to be very noticeable. (The +5 to damage is not likely to be noticeable at all relative to CR 18+ HP totals unless you have a real high-octane death-by-a-thousand-cuts character in the party, though it is at least a rare unspecified bonus to damage, so it'll boost spells, utterances, and other things that aren't weapon attacks.) If for some reason that isn't true and the d20 rolls of your attack-focused partymembers really do matter, it's always better to hit than to miss, so I guess a +5 to hit isn't the worst thing you can give someone who cares about making attack rolls. It's still way overleveled, of course, and I'm not in any way impressed with the reversed version, but I'm willing to admit that sometimes I can be more harsh than necessary. (Sometimes it's still just crap, though.)

    Mystic Rampart: You won't notice DR 5/— at this level, but you'll notice a +5 on saving throws, since, although those are pumpable, they're not pumpable to the level that attack rolls are. This might actually keep you safe. The reversed version is about the same . . . the –5 AC isn't really a big deal for the same reason that the +5 to attack rolls from Greater Knight's Puissance isn't that big a deal (the ability to focus fire stopped being relevant when Speak Unto the Masses came online, since you can affect all the relevant targets), but the –5 to saving throws is noticeable.

    Singular Mind: Since it's really, really hard (probably impossible, but I can't say for sure) to increase your Truenamer level above your HD, this is unlikely to break any effects that Dispel Magic can't get rid of. (Of course, due to poor wording, it just checks your level straight up, not your Truenamer level, but again, hard to pump, since I don't think even Inspire Greatness will do it.) Let's face it, though, are you more likely to get cursed by the BBEG and/or his lieutenant, or by the little toadies they send after you? If you're getting cursed by mooks, this utterance will be faster than Spell Rebirth and won't risk dispelling buffs. If you're getting cursed by equal-level or higher threats, though? Probably not worth it. It does automatically get rid of possession, for what that's worth. The reversed version is . . . probably not worth it, since it allows a save and is mind-affecting. No word about how this works if you target multiple creatures. Still, if you're going to be trading actions with an enemy, a dominate effect is about as good as you can get out of it, so if you're willing to risk the save and the common immunity, this is good control.

    Greater Word of Nurturing: You're joking, right?
    Last edited by Zaq; 2018-03-10 at 10:44 AM.
    In the Beginning Was the Word, and the Word Was Suck: A Guide to Truenamers ALL HAIL KING TORG!

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    Gentlefolk, learn from Zaq's example, and his suffering. Remember, seven out of eleven players who use truenamer lose their ability to taste ice cream.
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