A true name was a creature's hidden name that, rather than just acting as a label, metaphysically truly belonged to that creature. All beings had true names, though most of these were unknown, especially to mere mortals. Knowing a creature's true name could grant power over it. There were several different accounts of true names and how they functioned in this sense.
Knowledge[edit | edit source]
True names were given to all creatures by an agreement between the powers (that is, gods) in an effort to control them. They were supposed to be kept secret, but some were leaked out by one or more powers. True names could be learned from a being known as the Knower of Names in the layer of Cania in the Nine Hells, who knew all of them but was limited in telling them by the gods' demanding a sizable monetary sacrifice from the asker for each name.
The gods themselves apparently did not have true names. The Red Knight, Faerûnian goddess of battle tactics, was formerly mortal and hence had a true name. However, the only entity that knew her true name was Tempus, whom she saw as a father figure. If anyone were to learn her true name, they would be privy to every stratagem and battle plan on Toril.
Uses[edit | edit source]
When a creature's true name was known, a non-chaotic spellcaster could use it to cast spells such as true name, cacofiend, ensnarement, and spirit wrack, which harmed, bound, or controlled the creature. It could also be used to bind a summoned fiend to make a pact it would be compelled to keep.
Each creature had a unique true name among the Words of Creation, a language so primal even speaking a word of it had a powerful effect. A character who had knowledge of this language could learn a creature's true name and use it to weaken the creature's resistance against different effects or to teleport it.
It was even possible that, when an individual's true name was spoken, they fell under the complete control of the speaker, directly compelled to do anything they ordered.
Notable Uses[edit | edit source]
In 1374 DR, five Luskan mages led by Black Garius were slain by the Kalach-Cha, but were then resurrected by the King of Shadows in the form of shadow reavers, near-invulnerable aberrations under the King's direct control. Luskan's rulers, the Arcane Brotherhood, saw this as a potential political quagmire and began expunging records related to Garius and his cohorts. These records included the true names of the mages: in order to keep control of their members, the Brotherhood always collected their true names as a matter of course. Sydney Natale, however, after learning of the reavers, held back the names of Garius and the others from the records, and performed a divination upon them that revealed the true names of the reavers. The Kalach-Cha obtained the list of names following an unsuccessful attempt by Natale to double-cross them, which resulted in the mage's death. Speaking a shadow reaver's true name in its presence stripped it of its invulnerability, allowing it to be destroyed.
In Ammon Jerro's haven, the succubus Blooden sometimes offered to tell the Kalach-Cha the true name of Zaxis the hezrou, claiming that it would please her if they used it to torment Zaxis. The Kalach-Cha could then order Zaxis to open the portal to Jerro's quarters, or to stop speaking about itself in the third person (unfortunately, Zaxis was too stupid to comprehend this order). The true name could also be offered to Hezebel in order to have her open the portal.
Known True Names[edit | edit source]
Some known true names are as follows:
|Aribeth de Tylmarande||Va'ardalia the Twinsouled|
|Nathyrra||Qeyifalia the Skyseeker|
|Deekin Scalesinger||Ixthyria the Scalesinger|
|Valen Shadowbreath||Oeskathine the Demonwrestler|
|Gru'ul the Quarry Boss||Gargelflaw the Vile|
|The Knower of Names||Pyreshi the Knower|
|Mephistopheles||Thra'axfyl the Ambitious|
|The Reaper||Hecugoth the Abandoned|
|Sensei Dharvana||Fa'arethia the Misguided|
|The Sleeping Man||Celesfa'ar the Patient|
|Arden Swift||Caddisthwaite the Doomed|
|Lawful good||Donita'ar the Blessed, Light of Cania|
|Neutral good||Ebela'ar the Kind, Light of Cania|
|Chaotic good||Kagita'ar the Heartseeker, Light of Cania|
|Lawful neutral||Lysisius the Firm, Judge of Cania|
|True neutral||Neuthroxus the Fair, Judge of Cania|
|Chaotic neutral||Murdus the Wild, Judge of Cania|
|Lawful evil||Dretchen the Dark, Scourge of Cania|
|Neutral evil||Nel'zeben the Selfish, Scourge of Cania|
|Chaotic evil||Ba'elzaden the Cruel, Scourge of Cania|
Appendix[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
- Monte Cook (1996). The Planewalker's Handbook. Edited by Michele Carter. (TSR). ISBN 978-0786904600.
- BioWare (December 2003). Designed by Brent Knowles. Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark. Atari.
- Eric L. Boyd, Erik Mona (May 2002). Faiths and Pantheons. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 104. ISBN 0-7869-2759-3.
- R.A. Salvatore (March 2005). The Crystal Shard. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-1606-0.
- James Wyatt, Darrin Drader, Christopher Perkins (October 2003). Book of Exalted Deeds. (TSR, Inc), p. 32. ISBN 0-7869-3136-1.
- R.A. Salvatore (July 2005). Streams of Silver. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-1606-0.
- Obsidian Entertainment (October 2006). Designed by Ferret Baudoin, J.E. Sawyer. Neverwinter Nights 2. Atari.