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    Feb 2009

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

    Translating the Words: Multiclassing

    First, a warning. Truenamers are fundamentally casters, and we all know that losing caster levels is bad. That said, just how bad it is really depends on what level you are. A lot of the higher-level utterances don't really stick out as must-haves, so honestly, it's a lot easier to give up 6th level utterances than it is to give up 9th level spells. Losing a single level does mean that you won't get Conjunctive Gate, but unless you're going to hit level 20, that's not an issue. What might be an issue is not getting Speak Unto the Masses. If you think the game might hit level 17, you'll want to think long and hard about losing Truenamer levels. What really matters, though, is the level or levels you actually play at, so consider each case individually.

    Factotum: Hailing from Dungeonscape, a dip into Factotum (with Able Learner, ideally) is as good for a Truenamer as it is for everyone else, since you'll finally have something to spend all your skill points on. You can even afford to do this at 1st level, since you won't have to buy Truespeak cross-class. You won't get much use out of the Inspiration abilities with only 1-3 levels of Factotum, and the 1/day skill boost from Cunning Knowledge is tied to your Factotum level (so don't think it makes you autosucceed on a Truespeak check once per day), but it's something. Take either 1 level or 3: 1 level opens up the skills (with Able Learner) and a little bit of use for your INT, and 3 levels gets you the delicious Brains over Brawn ability. Too much more than that, though, and you're pretty much more Factotum than Truenamer.

    Rogue: Like Factotum, only not quite as good. You'd dip Rogue for the same reason you'd dip Factotum: to open up additional skills with Able Learner. Factotum offers more skills, while Rogue generally offers more skill points (but can't buy Truespeak in-class at level 1). I honestly wouldn't take more than one level in most builds, though having a die of true Sneak Attack could conceivably open something up to you? Probably not. If your GM allows changelings to qualify for Able Learner, the Changeling Rogue sub level from Races of Eberron goes a long way towards giving you long-term out-of-combat tricks, if that's something you care about.

    Marshal: This class comes to us from the Miniatures Handbook. What you want out of it is the Motivate Intelligence aura, which lets you add your CHA mod as a circumstance bonus to any INT-based skills you use, including Truespeak and Knowledge. If you have a good CHA anyway (for UMD or utterance save DCs) and you're desperate for bonuses, this might be worth it. If you don't have especially good stats, though, this probably isn't worth the level. It does at least give you armor/shield proficiency and martial weapon proficiency, though, so there's that, and while Skill Focus: Diplomacy isn't exactly game-breaking, it might serve as a prereq for something? Work with me here.

    Incarnate: From Magic of Incarnum, the Incarnate does absolutely nothing* to advance your Truenaming, but even a single level in it can drastically increase your out-of-combat options if you know what you're doing. Not for everyone, and don't go too deep lest you forget to come out, but having a couple soulmelds never hurt anyone. * Okay, technically, the Lucky Dice can give you a +1 bonus on Truespeak checks, but it costs your swift action every round, making it such a bad deal that I don't even really consider it to be there at all.

    Psion: This class can be found on the SRD and also in the Expanded Psionics Handbook. As weird as this sounds, a well-timed dip in Psion can get you a small bonus to Truespeak. How, you may ask? Psions get a bonus feat at level 1, and that feat can be spent on a psicrystal. Unlike familiars, psicrystals have true HD, which means that they get feats. They also have your ranks in whatever skills you happen to possess. So as long as you have 6 or more ranks in Truespeak when you gain your pet rock, you can have it take Minor Utterance of the Evolving Mind for Universal Aptitude, which is excellent for two reasons. First, if it can successfully hit you with UA, then that's UA, and we all love having a +5 to everything, right? Right. (The tricky part is bootstrapping your psicrystal's TS check up high enough, which may be nontrivial, but it's worth it if it works.) Almost as importantly, though, this will give your psicrystal the ability to, you know, speak utterances. Which means that it can actually use aid another on you, because the "you can't aid another on a task that you can't yourself perform" rule no longer applies! I think that's clever enough to be worth mentioning. For your actual powers, just pick stuff that works at minimum ML without being augmented, which will mostly be out-of-combat utility stuff. This also gives you a psionic focus, which might come in handy, and the ability to take psionic feats, which some builds will find to be useful.

    Swashbuckler: This Complete Warrior class isn't my first choice, to be honest, but I can see it on an extremely nontraditional build. Three levels of Swashbuckler will get you some BAB, Weapon Finesse, an Arcane Stunt a handful of times per day (don't you dare take Grace; see Complete Mage and get swappin'), and the ability to add your INT mod to damage rolls with finesseable weapons. If you care about hitting things with weapons but you still want INT as your primary stat, I guess this can technically be a way of using it? (Remember that you don't hit with INT, but eh.) My reaction is that the cost is rarely worth the benefit, but I know to never say never.

    Exemplar: There's a little bit of controversy about this Complete Adventurer PrC. I am officially of the opinion that Skill Mastery does not apply to Truespeak for the same reason that it doesn't apply to UMD (it's not stress or distraction that's preventing you from taking 10; it's a clause in the skill itself), but hey, it's not awful to apply Skill Mastery to some other skills. That said, you'll still get a quick +4 competence bonus to a skill of your choice (which is Truespeak, right?), which can be worth it if you don't have a competence item. Whether that's better than a new utterance and another step along the path in your primary class is up to you, and basically depends on how much you like high-level utterances and how desperate you are for bonuses. This class isn't hard to qualify for, at least. (A note about Skill Mastery: if your GM believes that Skill Mastery lets you take 10 on Truespeak, it might be worth it to take a look at the feat Hardened Criminal on pg. 95 of City of Stormreach, which has language that's even looser than Skill Mastery and is available for just two feats. Now, whether two feats is cheaper than one level is an open question, but Hardened Criminal comes online at a MUCH lower level than Exemplar. Either way, check it out. If you have a tolerant GM and a taste for CharOp tricks, the prereq feat is Iron Will, which you can buy from the Otyugh Hole.)

    Uncanny Trickster: Coming from Complete Scoundrel, this is one of the only two PrCs that advances utterances (the other is Legacy Champion, and this gives you more out of the deal). This class is 3 levels long, and the last 2 advance all your Truenamer features, including utterances. In exchange, you'll get a greatly expanded skill list with way more skill points (even though you have to buy Truespeak cross-class, unless you have Able Learner), a few levels with a good Reflex save, and some bonuses to working with skill tricks. The downside is that it's hard to make a Truenamer qualify for a lot of skill tricks (you're pretty much getting Collector of Stories and that's it), and you need to know four skill tricks to get in. This is much easier if you took a dip in Factotum with Able Learner, of course.

    Asking Nicely: Not-Quite-RAW PrCs

    If your GM is very nice, you might be able to convince him or her to let a few PrCs that are especially thematically appropriate advance Truenaming, even though they don't do so by RAW. Since this isn't RAW, I won't spend too long here, but you might consider asking.

    Paragnostic Apostle: You can qualify for this Complete Champion PrC by RAW, but you can't do much with it, since it doesn't advance utterances and the Knowledge Is Power abilities only apply to spells and invocations by RAW. You'll get a slightly expanded skill list (though Truespeak will be cross-class for you), a Bardic Knowledge-style effect, and a few little bonuses that mostly won't apply to your utterances even with houserules. It does advance your standing with the Assembly (which is the main benefit), and a couple of the Knowledge Is Power boosts are acceptable, but this is more a thematic choice than a powerful one.

    Human Paragon: The Paragon classes from Unearthed Arcana aren't quite base classes and aren't quite prestige classes, but I didn't want to devote an entire section to it. You can easily qualify (the only prereq is basically to be a human, though ask if having the [human] subtype will get an illumian in the door). This is 3 levels long, 2 of which advance casting. You'll get to choose your own skill list (so you can get a few levels of actually taking other skills), you'll get a permanent class skill (so you can expand your Truenamer list a bit . . . or get Truespeak always in-class and dip away, but whatever), you'll get a bonus feat, and you'll get a stat boost, which will probably be INT. Worth a lost Truenamer level? You tell me. Decent choice if your GM allows it, though.

    Urban Savant: Tucked away on page 100 of Cityscape, this PrC has 9/10 casting advancement, loses the caster level at the END (so you can just take 9 levels and be happy), and has a really cool knowledge focus. You already have crazy high Knowledge checks, and this lets you do something with them. You'll have to convince your GM that the Paragnostic Assembly is close enough to the League of Eyes, but if you're even considering taking this class at all, your GM's willing to work with you. You'll get an expanded skill list (even taking cross-class Truespeak, you're coming out ahead), you'll get something to do with your Knowledge checks, and you'll get a good Reflex save. Decent enough.

    Dialects of the Words: Truenaming PrCs

    Weirdly enough, none of the PrCs in Tome of Magic advance utterances. Not one. Yeah. They're not really made with Truenamers in mind, it would seem . . . nor are they written with anyone else in mind, really.

    Acolyte of the Ego:
    Entry: Easy. You basically can't not qualify, at least if you have any sort of inclination towards Truenaming.

    I think this is meant to be the self-buffing gish Truenamer (full BAB, good Fort? Huh). Basically, you get a bunch of utterances-that-aren't-called-utterances that only affect you. Most of them aren't that good . . . the best is probably the one that lets you use Dimension Door. Nothing else really stands out, though the insight bonuses to STR/DEX/CON are at least interesting, if not particularly worth it. Most of the cadences (for so they are called) aren't as good as utterances, and that's sad. A Truenamer might consider dropping in for two levels to get Cadence of the Distant Step, but no more than that.

    Entry: Easy/Medium. If you can find someone who can cast the Ritual of Renaming, this is trivial, though a bit late. If no one in your GM's world gives three bits of a damn about Truenaming, this is harder.

    This class is basically too little, too late. The abilities you get are not that good, come online way too late, and have a really bad save DC (10 + class level + INT . . . on a class that's 5 levels long and that can't be entered before ECL 11. Oops). Also, too many things are based on your class level, which, as indicated, will not be much. The abilities are flavorful, but none of them are actually worth using. This class would be worth rebuilding from the ground up, since it's a neat concept, but it fails at everything it tries to do. (Fun fact: The sample Bereft has 10 levels of Fighter. Don't ask me.)

    Brimstone Speaker:
    Entry: Hard. You need at least 4th level Cleric spells, basically.

    So, you need some nasty prereqs, and you're giving up 4 levels of Cleric casting. In exchange, you get some summons that you could probably get with Planar Ally anyway, as well as a really weak breath weapon. Um, yeah, pass. (I also find it weird that the Heavenly Entreaties are bound by both a daily limit AND the Law of Resistance. Harsh.)

    Disciple of the Word:
    Entry: Medium. A Monk with an interest in Truespeak will qualify pretty easily, but still, not like Monks have skill points to spare.

    Yo dawg, I heard you like poorly designed classes, so we put a poorly designed class in your poorly designed class so you can fail to contribute while you fail to contribute!

    Sorry. I've been waiting to do that. Anyway, yeah, this is about what you can expect from a class that blends Monk and Truenamer. Since Truespeak is based on INT and Monks already need STR, DEX, CON, and WIS, that means that CHA is your only potential dump stat! Are we having fun yet? Anyway, this class seems to state that it both explicitly does and explicitly does not advance flurry of blows penalty, which looks like it's actually like a riddle or a koan or something, but this is one of the few things they fixed in the errata: it DOES advance flurry of blows penalty. (This does not save the class, to be clear, but it's something.) Overall, you get a lot of “Spend a use of Stunning Fist and make a DC X Truespeak check to do Y.” Some of the later ones are OK, but none of them are great except for the capstone, and most of the low-level ones are pretty boring or underpowered. Notice that Word of Health Restored has no listed DC. It's also the only SLA in the class, for some reason. I do find it somewhat amusing that it's a DC 45 Truespeak check to overcome DR/epic, but I don't think that makes the class worthwhile. This is probably better than an additional 10 levels in Monk, but I don't think I'd even call it as good as 10 levels in Truenamer, and that's terrible.

    Entry: Hard. This requires you to have 4th level spells from a real casting class.

    Basically, you can permanently bind fiends by spending gold, but since they'll refuse to take any actions you don't order them to, you can never break the action economy with them. For a design goal, this is good. Coming into the 3.5 milieu, this is bad, since everything else that summons breaks the action economy, and this doesn't get much to make up for it. As you advance in the class, you get different fiends to bind, though you lose 3 caster levels. At class level 9, you do get the ability to issue two commands at once, but it's probably not worth it. This class is interesting and fluffy, but don't try it in a high-op group, or you'll fall behind.

    Reciting the Words: Concentration

    Concentration, both the skill and the concept, is (are?) kind of strange on a Truenamer. For example, ToM pg. 232 tells us that we can "utter defensively" (read: no AoOs) by just taking a -5 penalty to the Truespeak check (per threatening enemy). But there's no reason why the general rules (PHB pg. 70) for using the Concentration skill to not provoke when using SLAs wouldn't apply; by RAW, you have two options to make your utterances not provoke. So that's already kinda weird. Weird in your favor, of course (having more options is good, and it's also pretty clear that you do NOT need to use both a penalty to TS and a separate Concentration roll to avoid one AoO), but weird.

    Truenamers also have a nontrivial number of utterances with a duration of "concentration," which means that it can be interesting to invest in ways to potentially get some other game effect to handle the concentrating for you. Spellcasters (which, I will remind you, you are not) and manifesters have a handful of options for concentrating without spending (big) actions, some of which are more accessible than others. Few non-gestalt Truenamers, for example, will be able to take advantage of Solicit Psicrystal, Familiar Concentration, or the 10th level feature of Spirit Shaman, so we don't need to spend too much time on them. The three options that might potentially be most relevant to a Truenamer are (presumably a UMD'd wand of) the spell Sonorous Hum (SpC, pg. 196), the Extraordinary Concentration feat (CAdv, pg. 109), and the Swift Concentration skill trick (CSc, pg. 90). Please read this section all the way to the end if you're interested in trying any of these, because there's some kinda janky rules interactions that you're likely to need to ask your GM about.

    Sonorous Hum is an option that costs you in gold (it's a higher-level spell than you can likely get by a simple dip) but gold is still arguably cheaper than feats. You'd spend an action to cast the spell (presumably a standard action without shenanigans), and then you could let the spell concentrate on your next utterance, which might be Quickened. This is a losing trade for a Word of Nurturing, since those cap at one round, but it can conceivably be useful for something like Ward of Peace. It lasts for a couple of minutes (up to whatever cap is imposed by your utterance, but the point is that you can pre-buff if you know trouble's coming), but it only works on one utterance per casting. It explicitly allows casting other effects while the spell is maintaining the first effect, which might be relevant (see below).

    Extraordinary Concentration has the unfortunate prereq of Concentration 15, so you can't get it before level 12. (Thankfully, it isn't competing with Quicken for your level 9 slot, but this still isn't very wonderful.) It makes concentrating into either a move action or a swift action, depending on how good your Concentration check is. The move action might not be the worst idea, since your swift actions are probably spoken for by Quicken. If this option is feasible in your game (see below), the move action element might be the key to why this is the option you choose. It's also usable basically at will if you can succeed on the checks, which is significant.

    Swift Concentration costs only skill points (which you can probably afford to spend), is always a swift action, and doesn't have a failure chance. It also only works once per encounter unless you're using Uncanny Trickster or something similar to gain bonus uses of it, because all skill tricks have a baked-in 1/encounter limit. Ask your GM if that means "one utterance per encounter" (meaning that you can sustain the SAME Ward of Peace as a series of swift actions) or if it means "one action per encounter" (so you can only make one swift action to concentrate per encounter, and then you're back to the normal rules for following rounds).

    Now, the reason why this whole topic is really kind of subject to table variation is because utterances aren't spells. They're SLAs. This has several implications. First, by RAW, Sonorous Hum and Extraordinary Concentration only work on spells, and they have no language indicating that they'd apply to SLAs. That said, SLAs are, by definition, very similar to spells in many meaningful ways, so you might convince your GM that Sonorous Hum and Extraordinary Concentration work on SLAs too. Swift Concentration should be fine because it calls out "similar effects," but Sonorous Hum and Extraordinary Concentration take a favorable ruling.

    This gets worse when we consider why/whether it's necessary to get something that can concentrate for us when we've got Quicken on board. Concentrating on an active effect is usually a standard action, but you can still spend a swift action on a Quickened utterance if you can succeed at the Quickened DC, right? Well, maybe. But maybe not. PHB pg. 176 spells out in black and white that "you can't cast a spell while concentrating on another one." Which could indicate that you can't Quicken while you're still concentrating on that other utterance. Except, well, utterances aren't spells. They're SLAs. And there's nothing in ToM or in the general rules for SLAs that indicates that you can't cast a SLA while concentrating on another SLA, actions permitting.

    So if you want to use utterances with a duration of Concentration and you'd also like to make use of other utterances while concentrating on those first utterances, you've gotta talk to your GM about just how like spells these spell-like abilities of yours really are. While your GM is the final arbiter and can technically pick another option beyond what I'm going to lay out here, these are the options that make the most sense to me.

    • Option 1: Utterances are not spells, so abilities that only work on spells (like Extraordinary Concentration) don't apply, but the rules from PHB pg. 176 also don't apply. Therefore, Swift Concentration is about your only option if you want to truly concentrate without spending that standard action, but you can Quicken normally while still concentrating (or utter normally with your standard action after spending your swift on Swift Concentration). This option is likely, though not irrefutably, the closest to RAW.
    • Option 2: Utterances are enough like spells that they should be treated like spells for this purpose. This means that Quickening out of the gate doesn't work if you're maintaining another utterance, but things like Sonorous Hum are allowed to affect utterances. This option isn't truly RAW but is reasonably consistent, and you can make an argument that the abundant language about SLAs working "just like" spells is enough to indicate that this option should be chosen. (Downside: Extraordinary Concentration might not do a heck of a lot if you don't have meaningful standard actions that aren't utterances, since you still can't cast/utter while concentrating on another effect, even if you're spending a different action on that concentration. Maybe try to figure out exactly at what point in the round Reversed Word of Nurturing pings, though.)
    • Option 3: Like Option 2, but we can assert that the intent of abilities like Extraordinary Concentration and Swift Concentration is to allow casting while spending non-standard actions on concentrating, so you can still cast/utter with whatever action isn't spent on concentrating. (This option has the least support by RAW, and in fact it's pretty flagrantly against RAW, but the reason that I mention it at all is because Extraordinary Concentration is otherwise actually kind of bizarrely useless even in the hands of a traditional spellcaster, since few spellcasters of an appropriate level will have the ability to do anything meaningful other than cast a spell with those now-free actions. I take that as evidence, however potentially flawed, that RAI is as described here. Again, your GM is the final arbiter.)

    So there you have it. I assume we're all properly confused by this point? Truenamers might have options to ease up the action costs of utterances with a duration of concentration, but it's unclear which of those options are necessary and/or which of those options are available. If you care about that sort of thing, I hope that I've given you enough material to have a productive conversation with your GM.
    Last edited by Zaq; 2018-06-11 at 08:57 AM.
    In the Beginning Was the Word, and the Word Was Suck: A Guide to Truenamers ALL HAIL KING TORG!

    Quote Originally Posted by Doc Roc View Post
    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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