Saying More Words: Utterances Continued
Lexicon of the Crafted Tool:
These tend to be just toys, really, rather than anything really useful. This section will be pretty fast, since there are only ten of these printed. Yup, there are two per level. You get one of them. Choose well.
Level 1 LCT:
This is one of the only levels where I consider you to have a choice between two decent options, though neither is really a GOOD option. The fact that you can't pre-buff (since the durations are just too short) hurts a lot, but you'll probably actually use whichever one you take at least once a day. You get this one at level 4.
Fortify Armor: This one is neat because it kind of scales. If you voluntarily increase the DC, you can get better effects. The ability to get 100% fortification isn't out of the question, and being able to negate sneak attacks like that is pretty neat. Of the two LCT utterances at this level, I prefer this one.
Keen Weapon: This is interesting because you get the effect one level before the Wizard does, at which point he outclasses you at it forever just through duration. (Yes, you can affect bludgeoning weapons, but that just means he has to pull out Weapon of Impact instead of Keen Edge.) Still, decent enough, I suppose. Since Team Monster tends to roll more attacks than any one member of Team Hero, I think that Fortify Armor is likely to come up more often, but this isn't terrible.
Level 2 LCT:
This is the other level where you actually have decent options. I find that Analyze Item stays useful longer than Agitate Metal does, but neither's bad. These come online at level 7, so you're a little behind the curve (since they mimic a level 1 spell and a level 2 spell), but they're something.
Agitate Metal: This damage was decent at level 3, but it's lackluster at level 7, saving throw or no saving throw. Mortalbane changes the equation a little bit and makes it relevant for a few more levels, though it's never great. It's close to unavoidable, though, assuming that they're not resistant (and with your Knowledge checks, you should know). Be careful with this, since if they die, you've targeted the item and not the creature, so you have to wait for the duration to run out (damned Law of Sequence) before you can apply this to the next target. This is interesting in that it's the only LCT utterance that's kind of reversible, which is cute (if not terribly useful).
Analyze Item: Identify without the expensive component. Hardly the only way to do so, but not bad, since knowing what it is that you picked up never really goes out of style. Decent utility.
Level 3 LCT:
This level has one of my favorite utterances in it. It also contains one of the worst utterances. This isn't really a choice. You're taking Rebuild Item. These hit the field at level 11.
Rebuild Item: This is fun because it's not something that everyone else can do. In fact, I don't personally know of any other effects that do exactly this, but I know better than to use absolutes when talking about 3.5. This won't come up often, but it's fun when it does. (I think it'd be neat to bash through a window, climb inside, then repair the window, but you'd have to be quick.)
Suppress Weapon: Let me get this straight. We're level 11, and you want me to spend an action to make the enemy's sword do 1d6 less damage? And it only works on energy-based enhancements? And I get smacked with the Law of Resistance even if there's nothing that it can suppress? And I don't even turn off energy burst unless I voluntarily increase the Truespeak DC, meaning that I have to know that it's energy burst ahead of time? Oh man, where do I sign up?! This is just insultingly bad.
Level 4 LCT:
These come online at level 15. You know, when 8th level spells hit the field. Just, uh, gonna throw that out there. I don't think you'll ever actually use either of these.
Suppress Item: Concentration? Really? I'm supposed to spend my turns trading actions with an ITEM? Take Transmute Weapon instead. You're unlikely to use it, but you don't want to write this on your character sheet. It's shameful.
Transmute Weapon: By level 15, your party is probably pretty on top of whatever special materials you need, but this is a backup option, I guess. At least it's not Suppress Item. This can be fun to use on enemies if you have DR of some kind that they would normally be able to pierce (if nothing else, making their weapon silver makes it do 1 less damage per swing! That's worth an action at level 15, right?).
Level 5 LCT:
You know, if these were available as level 2 utterances, they'd be decent. At level 19, when you get these, you'll almost certainly forget you have them.
Metamagic Catalyst: I can hear you now. “Holy crap, free metamagic? How could I forget I have this?” you say. Well, first of all, it's got a pretty small whitelist. Second, you have to touch the item, and then it has 1 round in which it can be used, so your action economy isn't great. Third, it doesn't apply to wands or staves. Basically, it just doesn't end up being efficient to use these. I guess slapping a quick Maximize on that scroll of Enervation isn't the worst thing you can do with your action at level 19, but really, I don't see it getting much better than that.
Seize Item: This is like Telekinesis, only worse. And the range is weirdly tiny. And there's no way to get the bonus for having a two-handed weapon, which is a huge part of disarming. Yeah, I don't see it.
Lexicon of the Perfected Map:
You get four of these babies, one per level. There are two gems, and the rest are forgettable. Since WotC forgot to put the Truespeak DC in the book (no, really, this is from the errata file), I'll just tell you that the DC is 25 + 5 per level of the utterance, with an additional +5 “if the area is a magical location,” whatever that means. Yes, LPM utterances are the only utterances where higher-level ones are harder to say than lower-level ones. Weird, huh?
Level 1 LPM:
You're taking Fog from the Void. The utterance is so good that I think it's an accident. Just take it, stop asking questions, and move on before anyone notices. You get this at level 8.
Fog from the Void: Fog Cloud is a decent trick to have in your pocket. Solid Fog is an amazing trick to have in your pocket, and you get it only one level after the Wizard does! Classy. You have to hit a DC 40 Truespeak check, but you can do that, right? Do be careful and remember that you can't utter at what you can't see, so if something's hiding in your Solid Fog, you'll have a hard time affecting it. That said, Solid Fog is a top-notch BfC effect, and it's all yours. You're welcome.
Shield of the Landscape: This utterance is vague. I'm not sure what it really does. Does the cover move with you? Can you use it to hide? I think that if this had gone back for another round of editing, it might be a solid choice (though you'd take it instead of your level 2 LPM, not instead of Solid Fog). As it stands, I don't even know what it really does.
Shockwave: This is basically Stomp, the 1st level psionic power. It targets Fort instead of Reflex, but that's not really a selling point. Don't ask why it has a duration.
Level 2 LPM:
You're level 12 when you get this. I think WotC forgot that when they were writing these, because they'd be decent if you got them rather a bit earlier. There's no clear winner, but Speak Rock to Mud is probably your best bet.
Energy Vortex: Did I mention that you're level 12? You're not going to notice 2d6 points of damage at level 12, no matter how long it lasts. Even with Mortalbane doubling the damage, this just doesn't have any kick. It's saveless, but it's also party-unfriendly. If you must use this, consider mixing it with (Solid) Fog from the Void and/or Inertia Surge to keep your foes stuck inside.
Speak Rock to Mud: This is . . . okay, but underwhelming. The spell this mimics has only been around for 3 levels when you first get it, so it's only a little bit out of date, by Truenamer standards. It is ambiguous if you use Transmute Rock to Mud's area (two 10-ft cubes per level: nice) or the standard LPM area (20' radius spread: less nice), since the LPM chapter says that all LPM utterances use the standard area unless stated otherwise, Speak Rock to Mud says it is as Transmute Rock to Mud “except as noted here,” and doesn't have an area entry in its stat block. Yeah. I could go either way. Ask your GM. Without the companion spell Transmute Mud to Rock, this is less useful, but it's not unusable.
Transform the Landscape: You know, I'd like to think that at level 12, we could have something better than this, but I guess not. If you're not flying by level 12, this could be worse, but it could be a lot better. Typical ambiguous wording makes it seem like turning difficult terrain into normal terrain MIGHT only apply to your allies and not your enemies, but that is, as I said, ambiguous. Not really amazing, but I guess it can be annoying to your foes.
Level 3 LPM:
You get this at level 16. Interestingly, all three of these admit that they copy spells. Ambiguous wording prevents me from picking a clear winner, but it's not like you have a lot to choose from . . . or like any of them will rock your playing style. They're all acceptable, though, and you'll probably get at least some use out of whichever one you pick.
Lore of the World: Well, it fits the fluff, at least. Of course, RAW, this doesn't really do much, since Stone Tell (which this references) is personal and lets you talk to stones, while LotW is an area centered on you. Does it let you talk to stones in the area? Does it let anyone in the area talk to stones? Does it not actually target anyone and thus not give anyone the ability to talk to stones? Nobody knows! Either way, the whole “knowledge of place within one mile” is cute, though a little bit out of date by 16. The usefulness of this utterance is pretty GM-dependent.
Master the Four Winds: This might be really good. It might be really bad. I can't tell, since it's too poorly worded. The book says that all LPM utterances have an area of a 20'-radius spread unless stated otherwise. Master the Four Winds references Control Winds and says that it functions as the spell “except as noted here.” MtFW has no area mentioned in its stat block. This is totally ambiguous. If you read the general rule “noted otherwise” as being the rule, and “as Control Winds” to be the specific note to the contrary, this is a really good utterance, since Control Winds is really powerful (even if you're not a Druid). If you read it that the standard area on pg. 250 counts as the “noted here” on pg. 252 and you end up with the tiniest windstorm ever . . . it's okay, I guess, but not really a big deal.
Thwart the Traveler: I like that you get this at the same level that a Sorcerer would get Dimensional Lock. That's pretty nice. This is pretty much just exactly like Dimensional Lock, except that it lasts 1 minute instead of 1 day per level. Interestingly, you might be able to use the “increase the DC by 5 to ignore SR” rule to give this SR: No status, which is better than Dimensional Lock. Also, while the same “as noted here” argument applies to this utterance as well, if it uses the standard LPM area instead of what Dimensional Lock usually uses, it's a spread instead of an emanation, which is slightly better and more pervasive. If your GM says that the standard LPM area applies to Master the Four Winds (making it weaker), you can take this one instead, where the same ruling makes it stronger. The fact that it lasts 1/2,304 as long as the spell (at level 16, getting worse later) is kind of a turnoff, though.
Level 4 LPM:
Couple things about this level. First, you get it at level 20. Not before. A single dip will mean that you don't get this. Second, yes, Conjunctive Gate does exactly what the rumors say it does, and yes, this is absurdly powerful. Let's look at the other ones anyway, though.
Anger the Sleeping Earth: Please refer to all the other LPM area disputes, then just repeat them here. A radius of 20' is rather a bit smaller than a radius of 80'. Of course, this does make it a little easier to use.
Conjunctive Gate: You know, I really hate this utterance. I hate the whole “hurr, Truenamers are good at level 20 because they get Gate!” mentality that it's bred. Yes, it's crazy powerful. Yes, Gate without an XP cost is just as bad as it sounds. Yes, this is clearly the most powerful ability you're ever going to get in your Truenamer's career. That doesn't matter. None of it makes up for level 19, in my opinion. One level with an overpowered ability does not make up for 19 levels of Truenamer. Anyway, this is Gate. Take it, go to town, finally feel like one of the big boys. Remember that the Law of Sequence applies, so you can only use it once per minute. Be safe, and I want you home by 12:30, OK?
Deny Passage: This is cute, especially combined with Thwart the Traveler. You'll need Thwart the Traveler if you want to use this, of course, since anything that can't teleport at level 20 is probably not that scary.