The arcane language is full of names, but most of these are abstract things. The name of fire, the name of light, the name of freedom - these names can be woven into powerful magical spells and form the basis of all arcane magic. Such names are necessarily vague, however, describing nothing in particular. They are “diluted”. Yet it is said that every thing which exists, living or dead, has a true name of its own - a name which describes it and nothing else. This name is equivalent to its true nature.
To know a thing’s true name is to have power over it, but discovering a thing’s name is no trivial task. Few know their own, and those who do guard them closely. Simple magics of divination are not enough to reveal them; indeed, few mortal works can do it. The places and beings in the multiverse that can tell you your true name are few, and fewer still can discern the name of another. There are also powerful artifacts that are rumoured to possess this power. The gods can see true names, but only of those sworn to them.
The most direct path to one’s true name, though, is through deep contemplation and self-understanding. Without any divine or magical intercession at all, one can discover their own true name simply by attaining this level of self-knowledge. There are even skilled sages of arcane lore that attempt to fully and completely understand other creatures and objects, so they may intuit their true names. Such a process is one of trial and error, though, and can be dangerous to the sanity. As the great Namers would say, “to hear one must be silent”. Such silence is not a skill easily learned, nor a way of life that many can keep.
Of course, difficult as they are to discover, many true names are carefully recorded in tomes of ancient lore. Such tomes are jealously guarded by those who possess them, for knowing a thing’s true name gives you several powers over it:
- An oath sworn by your true name is absolutely unbreakable, until the one who placed you under it releases you.
- If a being is summoned by a mage who knows its true name, it is powerless to resist the call no matter how mighty it is.
- If you know a being’s true name, it is powerless to resist your spells. It automatically fails any saving throws against them, and powers are always considered to be cast with a raise.
- A ritual that incorporates the true name or a magic item enchanted with the true name can likewise grant complete power over the being.
- Learning your own true name immediately increases your Spirit by one die and grants you an Advance.
- If a person has lost their identity - through amnesia, enchantment, or a curse - then hearing their true name will restore them. Even ghosts who have long forgotten themselves can be restored this way, at least for a time.
True names describe a thing’s inner nature, and this means that they are not set in stone. Though extraordinarily difficult to change, it is possible for a being that has truly changed its inner self to leave behind its old true name and gain a new one. The truly insane are difficult to name for much the same reason.
The True Tongue
The ancient art of Naming aside, those who are well-versed in the arcane arts can use the True Tongue to converse with each other. Use the character’s Occult skill to represent their level of mastery of the arcane language, using the rules for the Language skill in the Savage Worlds rulebook. For example, a character with an Occult skill of d8 can use the True Tongue to speak fluently.
Speaking in the True Tongue has a use besides impressing the locals or communicating without fear of being understood by the common folk. The True Tongue is the language of the world-that-is; it is impossible to knowingly speak an untruth in it, if you’re aware of what it is you’re saying. Between mages and dragons, then, the True Tongue is a way to ensure that no falsehood is being told, though it is said that dragons are skilled at twisting the words of the True Tongue in ways that mortals find difficult.