The Truenamer, from the Tome of Magic, is possibly one of the worst classes ever printed: Dungeons and Dragons or otherwise. Truenamers use a casting system that's just as horrible as they are. Having to constantly spend resources just to have a reliable chance of using your utterances successfully, coupled with the utterances being usually just bad versions of other spells that you could get at a lower level, is not exactly something that makes you excited to try playing a truenamer.
They start ok, then get worse as their utterances are still stuck copying wind wall and other lower level spells and then they get a pretty much at-will Gate at level 20 which does NOT contain the usual extra rule that gated in creatures cannot summon other creatures, meaning that with enough turns and a good cause (and a way to work past the Law of Sequence) you can end up balls-deep in Solars and pretty much kick all the ass (that's worth 19 levels of shit, right?). The utterances often include lots of spelling errors and other omissions that make them completely different from what they were intended to do. In short, their editing and playtesting were non-existent and it shows.
However this is only the tip of the iceberg. Since their casting is tied to a skill (Truenaming) and the fact, IIRC, they get unlimited usages of utterances per day (though it gets harder with each successful uttering), with enough min-maxing you can crank your Truenaming skill high enough to never fail an Utterance but this can be for naught as it becomes very difficult to get your save DCs for Utterances high enough to make that matter. Most things will shrug off your saves even with Munchkinry due to how shitty the calculation for them equates (it's based on Charisma for some reason). A surprising amount of Utterances don't actually use saving throws though, and by raising the DC of your check you can also ignore spell resistance. Not that this matters, for the above reason of Truenaming being terrible. Maybe one day someone will come along and make houserules that fix this class, but it's not likely. Or is it?
Truenamer's mechanics aren't entirely wholecloth. It has its roots in, of all things, Star Wars D20's force system where force powers were all separate skills and needed random dice rolls to work. While this didn't have the constantly increasing skill checks, it did eat your hit points. Unlike Truenamer, that was worth dealing with because, despite how much of a clusterfuck it was, it was far more powerful than what non-force classes got.
Ways to increase your true name skillEdit
- Put ALL the points into it, well as much as you can, there is a maximum (duh).
- Feats, obviously:
- Skill Focus
- Item Familiar from Unearthed Arcana to get a bigger bonus than you would normally have from spending skill points.
- A couple levels in Exemplar.
- Maxing out your Int would help, although that would take a while.
- Join the Paragnostic Assembly (CC)
Ways to make yourself feel better about playing this classEdit
So you decided to play a Truenamer because surely it can't be THAT bad, right? You were wrong. Luckily, the utterances are just as poorly written as the class itself, so there are a few things you can do to make those 20 levels of suck almost worth it. Almost.
- The Incarnation of Angels gives a target the Fiendish/Celestial template, which makes them extraplanar, and therefore subject to Banishing! Where do they go? Who knows but they're sure as hell not your problem anymore.
- Word of Nurturing, as written, allows you to effect "your target" and then lets you give "a creature" fast healing. Buy a rabbit, target it with the utterance for a DC 16ish truespeak check, give whatever you want fast healing. This works for a surprisingly high number of utterances because whoever edited Tome of Magic was blind.
- The reversed version of Greater Seek the Sky removes the target's ability to fly. Unlike the lesser version, it has an instantaneous duration, so that flight is gone forever if it succeeds. Ether Reforged (turns a creature ethereal) appears to do the same thing.
- Despite coming at 10th level, Rebuild Item is actually pretty good, letting you repair pretty much anything as long as it was broken in the last round. This gets fun when you realize how many single-use magic items out there require you to break them to activate them. There are even variant rules for "potion tiles", meaning this utterance lets you recycle potions.
- You have one utterance that gives a +5 bonus to skill checks, another that gives a +10 bonus to your next Knowledge check and the ability to count as trained in it, a free +3 to Knowledge checks, an Intelligence focus, all Knowledge skills as class skills and not much else to spend them on, and you're probably part of an organization that gives a +5 or +10 to Intelligence-based checks. By 3rd level, you should be able to narrate the GM's own campaign to them... you know, if you want to be the exposition dump.
Most interesting thing about TruenamersEdit
So over all Truenamers are shit as far as classes go, but Truenamers have one very interesting feature to them: It's mentioned in a side box that some people's true name gets harder and harder to say the older and more experienced they get, noting that many people who show this 'phenomenon' become leaders, heroes or villains. The Truenamers think that this is because the universe takes an interest in people as they achieve more, become more powerful and more important to the universe, their true name becomes harder to say. But the Tome of Magic says it's because the person is gaining levels and hit dice, thus their DC to speak their true name goes up as well. To the NPC's to which the world is real, with hit dice as an abstraction, they only have a, quote, "vague sense of what's going on".
Stew on that for a second: the NPC's of a game, are able to detect to some degree the influence of the 'player' and are able to sense when that 'player' gets enough 'XP' by shiving enough crabs to make a person in the world stronger by go up a 'level'. We are not sure if that's fail or awesome, you decide. This isn't the first time D&D acknowledged levels were an in-universe concept though, as Trap the Soul in core mentions it is possible to "research" how many hit die a character has.
Onomancer, or Utter Hubris: the 5e TruenamerEdit
Wizards has had a lengthy love-affair with trying to make a "metamagic wizard" in 5th Edition, despite the fact that metamagic is one of the sorcerer class's few remaining good things in an edition that stripped almost all of them away.
So, some probably-industrial-grade-drug-addled designer thought, why not mix that hubris with the hubris of trying to design a 5e version of one of the worst classes in the game's history?
In the October 2nd Unearthed Arcana, a UA otherwise full of solid (if somewhat unremarkable) player options, Wizards featured the Onomancer. We'd say this is because Wizards of the Coast are stupid and think you don't know Latin or how to Google, but it all-but calls them "truenamers" in the opening text and sidebar.
The Onomancer is a wizard whose entire schtick revolves around magically securing the "true names" of various creatures, via a 2nd level ability that lets them force a creature to make a save, and upon then applying bonus effects to every spell they cast on a creature whose true name they know.
Unfortunately, as with some other updated classes that were infamously terrible, Wizards decided they needed to keep that janky power-swing that characterizes the previous class for a semi-authentic truenamer experience.
First, you can only use your Extract Name class feature a number of times per long rest equal to your Intelligence modifier (so, a maximum of five, ever), and if they make the save, you can never use that ability on the target again. Ever. Yep, a feature so limited you are heavily incentivized to save it for high-powered boss monsters, but which, when used on high powered boss monsters, has a chance to fail permanently. And that's not even bringing up that many high powered boss monsters have either high Wisdom and proficiency in Wisdom saves, Magic Resistance for advantage on saves vs. all magical effects, and for some, the ability to choose to succeed on a number of saves every day. Some have more than one of these at once.
This means many players and parties won't be able to reliably use the built-in class features... and that the GM will have to adjudicate according to the intentionally-vague "true name" sidebar that opens the class if the party tries to extract that name via other means, like interrogating underlings. It also means that the onomancer's whole schtick doesn't work on anything without a language or higher intelligence, and therefore without a true name. Have fun battling some of the high-level elementals, monstrosities, anything with an unaligned alignment!
And they'll have to, because, aside from a few extra proficiencies and the ability to cast bless on allied teammates a couple of times for free, every other ability in the class relies on adding bonus effects to spells once you know something's true name, so anyone playing an onomancer will want as many of them as they can get.
Worse, those effects are often stronger versions of stuff sorcerers can do with metamagic, including over-the-top powers like dispelling a magical effect on the target of the spell using a similar system to dispel magic, firing spells that don't require line of sight, or just offering buttloads of temporary hitpoints or extra damage (irresistible force damage, of course). And unlike sorcerers, this system doesn't cost extra for some effects vs. others, at the "cost" of not being able to spend spell slots to recharge them.
Also, at 14th level, they can make any spell that deals damage to a creature whose True Name they know either psychic or force for free, because letting the wizard turn all damage into irresistable damage worked so well for the Lore wizard, even with some built-in limitations.
Even if it's not as obviously broken as the truenamer, the onomancer is still janky, based around a poorly-designed mechanic that offers incredible power or absolutely fuck-all in a feast-or-famine system, and one that actively devalues a class that's already suffering from power discrepancy issues this edition. Avoid. Here's hoping they don't ignore all feedback and spite-print it in the next player options book, like certain other mistakes from Xanathar's Guide to Everything.