Advice for a high-level, low combat adventure: destroying a truename. - Myth-Weavers

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Advice for a high-level, low combat adventure: destroying a truename.

   
Advice for a high-level, low combat adventure: destroying a truename.

I am trying develop a campaign for a friend of mine who likes the D&D multiverse setting (i.e. planescape), and the flavor of the magic at high levels, but enjoys exploration and story more than grinding out combats.

My idea is that the party decides, or is hired by someone they know, to exact revenge against some terrible wrong by destroying the true name of the person responsible. I see this involving some research (What is the name? Where can we find it? How do we destroy it?) followed by a lot of plane-hopping, gallivanting across the multiverse to track down every place the name is stored and destroy each copy. This would have some grave consequence for the person in question, but I don't know what yet.

Mainly I want the challenge to come from tracking down, figuring out how to access, and destroy each copy of the name. Maybe at least one combat on each plane to sample the local flavor, but I don't want that to be the focus. Therefore actually running this in any edition of D&D, which tend to be combat focused, might not be the best choice.

Here are some questions I would appreciate help answering:

What would possess a person to want to obliterate someone's true name rather than simply kill, soul trap, sphere of annihilation etc. them?

Related, what happens to a person who has had their true name destroyed?

What sort of non-combat challenges could be needed to do this? Maybe there is a different process by which a name can be allowed to be struck from the record in each place. E.g. if there were a copy kept in Celestia, maybe conducting a trial and convicting the accused of their heinous crimes might be a suitable task to destroy that one without ticking off the angels.

Where might copies of the name be found? Obvious answers are probably the main lawful planes (Celestia, Mechanus, Baator) plus the Outlands. But I am open to other ideas, and ideas for how the name would be stored in each place.

I bet the group would attract the attention and enmity of powerful outsiders in this process... maybe there are Inevitables who find this activity to be in poor form?

The only thing I can recommend, and this is general advice, is to reward clever problem solving. If the PCs can avoid a fight through other means (talking it out, sneaking around, dropping large objects on them, etc), let them. I know it sounds like a no-brainer, but it's important to also let your PCs know that combat isn't the only option.

If you have access to it, I'd suggest looking at 3.5's Tome of Magic for some info on True Names. I don't know enough off hand to tell you anything beyond that, as I've never bothered with the topic in the past (besides its appearance in Neverwinter Nights expansions lol)

The only other thing I could think of regarding this campaign idea is have some horrible repercussions for destroying a True Name. And I don't mean in just pissing off a handful of law-keeping super-powers, either. Like a price to pay, and maybe even some reality warping results as well (maybe why certain powers-that-be would try to prevent such a event). Drop subtle hints along the way, but nothing too obvious. And then you have a quest to fix the damage done, maybe as the grand finale?

Just some food for thought.

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What would possess a person to want to obliterate someone's true name rather than simply kill, soul trap, sphere of annihilation etc. them?
The first thing that comes to mind here is that the person is on the verge of acheiving godhood, or already has in a small degree. They have become truly immortal, and are no longer concerned with their physical form. Their soul is not localized or able to be influenced, making most magics worthless. The person doesn't have to have god-like combat powers, but even someone who is relatively weak but untouchable is a major threat. This would fit well with two of your requirements: High level and Low Combat. There's not even a chance of hurting this person through combat.

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Related, what happens to a person who has had their true name destroyed?
I dunno. What do you say happens? Perhaps this removes a person from the universe. Perhaps it leaves them in existence as an observer but entirely unable to influence anything in the world, stuck as an immortal watchman.

I don't know that I have a lot of feedback on the other questions...

EDIT: I want to offer a big "second" to Yamazaki's advice here:
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Originally Posted by Yamazaki
The only other thing I could think of regarding this campaign idea is have some horrible repercussions for destroying a True Name. And I don't mean in just pissing off a handful of law-keeping super-powers, either. Like a price to pay, and maybe even some reality warping results as well (maybe why certain powers-that-be would try to prevent such a event). Drop subtle hints along the way, but nothing too obvious. And then you have a quest to fix the damage done, maybe as the grand finale?

What about a wizard who wished to be completely impervious to harm, but the wish was twisted such that he's utterly intangible and immortalóno effect can touch him, and he can't affect anything else either, even with magic. He's more of a ghost than a ghost. But he can still travel and he can still talk to people, with whatever appearance he wants, and it turns out there are lots of bad people in the multiverse who can be swayed (or tricked) into doing his bidding.

This means that a lot of the time, there's no point in fighting his minions because they're just innocent people being duped, achieving your low-combat goal. And he can't be killed or soul trapped, and a sphere of annihilation would pass right through him. The only way to stop him is to undo his truename, because that would take away the one thing he has left: the power of speech. Without an anchor in the Cosmic Language, he would become unable to communicate, left to drift forever with no way to exert influence over the world. Obviously, he'll need to be pretty evil to deserve such a fate.

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Originally Posted by Morph3us View Post
Here are some questions I would appreciate help answering:
*Cracks Knuckles* Alrighty then, as a lover of the mythological, let's play this game. Now, D&D does little to zero of actual exploration of the True Name concept, so we must rely on our world's lore.

The True Name is, ultimately, the *Identity* of a being. Not quite a soul, though in many ways similar. A True Name is... I suppose you could call it the spiritual equivalent to your address. Without one, you would effectively cease to exist in the eyes of the supernatural world. If we envision the body as a computer, and the spirit as the internet... your machine just lost access permanently...


Or, that's my theory, given that 1- hypothetical mythical cosmology is both hypothetical and mythical. And 2- to my knowledge, no mythology which includes the concept indicates they can be destroyed at all.


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What would possess a person to want to obliterate someone's true name rather than simply kill, soul trap, sphere of annihilation etc. them?
Well, killing is hilariously inefficient given the availability of resurrection magic. It's entirely possible destroying the True Name is the only way to make someone stay dead.

To say nothing of the fact that if you *really* want someone to cease to have any value, there's something to be said for preventing a soul from arriving at whatever its final destination shall be. Denying demons a snack and/or the heavens a new agent.

Whichever suits the wielders.

Plus, it's probably not the same grade of Ultimate Evil as actually killing souls.

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Related, what happens to a person who has had their true name destroyed?
Once again, hypothetical is hypothetical.

I'd say the most immediate effect is that they'd lose the ability to dream. Dreaming is usually regarded as a subconscious connection to the spiritual. No Name, no connection. Now... you could also extend this effect to both shadows and being seen in mirrors. Soulless beings (re: vampires) are known to have neither, and the loss of a True Name would reflect (hah) this. It's not D&D compliant, but it fits the lore which covers True Names.

Magic will start behaving wrong around them. Spells that require knowledge of the target (almost all scrying spells) simply would not work on them- they have no Name, and therefor cannot be Known. As far as these spells would be concerned- the victim no longer exists on this or any other plane of reality.

All Divine connections would 404'd. "Worshiper cannot be found." Classes ranging from Cleric to Warlock will lose pretty much all their class features. Familiars will be lost. Alignment spells thrown out of whack. Alignment in general would no longer truly apply to the victim. Though the Ur-Priest could probably still function. The being is still there, it just can't be located remotely.

On the "plus" side? Permanent Mind Blank.

It might even be a novel method by which to destroy a Lich whose phylactery is otherwise out of reach. You'd still have to destroy the abomination manually, but then the magic restoration device will sit around for all eternity awaiting a signal that can never be sent. In fact, all resurrection type magics should fail by virtue of being unable to find the requisite soul.

Now... non-direct spells would work. Fireballs don't check your identity before char-broiling you. But depending on the nature of magic in the setting, and the spell in question, all sorts of weirdness may occur even with those. Perhaps they're partially transparent in magical light? Maybe summoned creatures refuse to approach them? All sorts of things can pop up.

Upon the victim's death... they still exist, even if they lack a Name... the soul will never find its way to its proper resting place, nor will it be able to interact with the physical or spiritual world without great difficulty. A particularly weak and immaterial ghost, unable to communicate or be detected by magic otherwise designed to influence such creatures.

And I'd also say that it'd have the interesting side effect of making people forget the target ever existed. Not at first, not right away, but people would never think to mention the events relating to that individual, that chunk of history. When future scribes copy history books, the pages mentioning the victim will be skipped over as 'unimportant' and lost to time.

From there? Oh... consider the Binder lore when it comes to Vestiges as a possible consequence of this action.

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What sort of non-combat challenges could be needed to do this?

Where might copies of the name be found? Obvious answers are probably the main lawful planes (Celestia, Mechanus, Baator) plus the Outlands. But I am open to other ideas, and ideas for how the name would be stored in each place.
Oh... so, so many... there shouldn't be a physical series of words that make up a True Name. The concept in mythology is spiritual, deeply personal, and shaped by life experience. What single sound can express the formative experiences of a childhood? What syllable captures the moment of falling in love for the first time? Being brought to one's knees with grief? A moment of hate-fueled revenge and the mixture of satisfaction, regret and lack of direction which follows.

A True Name- at least one applicable to a living, sapient creature- isn't something as simple as written words. A quest to locate a True Name should be a quest to learn all the "notes" of the subject's life distilled into their purest form, then assemble them into a song which expresses the individual's Everything.


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I bet the group would attract the attention and enmity of powerful outsiders in this process... maybe there are Inevitables who find this activity to be in poor form?
Probably a few. This is the sort of action that requires knowing someone completely... and then violating the universe to delete a story from it... then again, given the nature of such a journey, it may not be possible to do it twice in a single human lifespan... so maybe the gatekeepers of Order won't be too interested in hunting down the perpetrators.

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Originally Posted by TanaNari View Post
Oh... so, so many... there shouldn't be a physical series of words that make up a True Name. The concept in mythology is spiritual, deeply personal, and shaped by life experience. What single sound can express the formative experiences of a childhood? What syllable captures the moment of falling in love for the first time? Being brought to one's knees with grief? A moment of hate-fueled revenge and the mixture of satisfaction, regret and lack of direction which follows.

A True Name- at least one applicable to a living, sapient creature- isn't something as simple as written words.
As a counterpoint, the Black Company novel series has True Names as simply one's given name at birth. It's fairly mundane, but it keeps with the pseudonymic themes of the series, and leads to some interesting investigative shenanigans (in the style of "we have a name, but we don't know which twin it applies to and we only have one chance to use it").

That being said, I like Tana's interpretation better. Discovering that truenames were mundane was kind of a letdown in BC, and the same things that made it an interesting macguffin in BC could just as easily be used with a more mystical version.

In the Earthsea style of truenaming, to change your turename was to change your essence. Removing one's truename would cause it to have no identity or essence. The obvious implication of this is that it would cease to exist. On the other hand, one could imagine that it becomes protean, capable of gaining a new name and a new identity. Maybe the truename can only be altered once the multiverse 'forgets' it. Perhaps they are destroying a particular part of the truename to alter the nature of the target, similar to removing the e from emet changing the nature of the golem.








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