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Book of Unlimited Magic / True Names

Learning True Names

Source Secrets of Magic pg. 244 1.1
True names can be discovered or learned in many ways. A few rare secret societies might have “namers” among their number whose sole job is to teach long lists of true names to fellow members through rote memorization and practice. But for most, the discovery of a true name is the result of extensive research—though the form that research requires is difficult to predict.

True names are sometimes found recorded in the personal diaries or grimoires of long-dead spellcasters. Organizations known for combating certain types of creatures compile lists of the few true names of their enemies they've managed to uncover. The true names of angels, demons, and similar creatures can rarely be found in prayers dedicated to that entity or in chants that protect against them. Occultists sometimes use deep meditative trances—potentially assisted by hallucinogenic drugs—to cast their minds through the cosmos and receive a true name through bizarre epiphanies. Those who serve and understand nature also know that the true name of primal and First World entities is encoded into the world itself—in tree rings, geological strata, and the pattern of snow on the ground—just waiting to be deciphered by someone who knows what to look for. For a lucky few, a true name just comes to them spontaneously as a sign they've found their soulmate. All these are examples of information that can be uncovered using the research subsystem.

Using the Research Subsystem

Source Secrets of Magic pg. 245 1.1
When finding the true name of a specific individual is key to the story and time is short, use the research subsystem. Set the level of the library equal to the level of the creature whose true name the PCs are trying to find. Consider the types of strange and fanciful libraries you might use for such a story. For instance, imagine the player characters are searching for the true name of a phistophilus (also known as a contract devil), in order to rescue an NPC from the consequences of an infernal contract. You might build an infernal library in Cheliax or some other region where knowledge of devils is common, or maybe even in Hell itself! Such a library might have guardians and traps aplenty, but also the potential to learn even more true names from the various contracts therein.

Simplified Name Research

Source Secrets of Magic pg. 245 1.1
Sometimes the GM doesn't have time to create a library or use the research subsystem, but nonetheless would like a PC to be able to research the name of a particular entity for story reasons. In that case, they can use the Learn Name downtime activity. Since the knowledge of a true name essentially puts that creature at the namer's mercy, this activity can't reveal true names by default, but it might lead to clues regarding a creature's true name.