For all of us DMs and Players who feel that Vancian system has outworn it’s welcome, or at least should share the spotlight, Novice Publisher Lee’s List produces a gem of a system in True Naming: A supplement of magic, language and power.
At its core, True Naming is a skill based magic system easily incorporated into the Pathfinder system. I have seen a few True Naming systems. I believe this is the first time I have seen it used as an entirely self contained magic system. The first part of the book discusses naming in various genres and why you would include it in a campaign. True Names can be as common or uncommon as the DM wishes.
From there, the writer does a complete job of laying down a foundation for Naming Magic. Players simply do not learn a True Name and gain instant power over a creature. Instead, the creature is first weakened and even then, must make a skill check. To weaken the creature, True Naming introduces its magic system. A series of magical words that players can put together to form spells. In truth, they are building their own spells out of specific words. This amount of flexibly is awesome for a DM who does not feel like looking up every single spell just to produce an Ice based Fireball.
Because the powerful True Naming magic can’t be effected until someone reaches a specific threshold, the lesser naming magic felt just underpowered enough. Whereas, the NPC was able to hold his own with the party until the enemy was weak enough to succumb to a True Naming spell. If someone who practices True Naming has discovered the True Name of his enemy, he can unleash devastating overpowered spells.
The layout work in the 20-page PDF is very tight and, combined with the poor font choice, makes for a difficult read at times. It also misses bookmarks, not necessary but would have been helpful if I just want to go to the class. This PDF is also not for every gamer. Essentially DMs want to take non-Vancian , build your own spell systems out of the hands of out of control power gamers.
The Iron Word
True Naming is a great skill magic system. The flavor of this book is phenomenal, making True Naming sound as rare and distant as it is suppose to. I like the idea of having a class that is strong, but gains an extra boost after the players quest for a secret that gives them an advantage over their enemy. Anyone looking for an alternative magic system should purchase True Naming.