True name

From PathfinderWiki
No matter the rank of a devil, knowing its true name could grant great power over it (or a horrible death).
The magic of true names rests on the principle that if you know someone's name, you have power over them. After all, to name a thing is to describe that thing—but to accurately describe a thing, you have to understand it, and if you understand it, you can control it.1

A true name is a kind of hidden magic word inscribed upon each soul, though it is very hard to find a mortal's true name.21

Learning true names

Apart from intensive research, there are several ways in which to learn a creature's true name:3

  • locate a "namer" in a secret society whose work is to teach others already determined true names;
  • if a true name was recorded by spellcasters even long-dead before, others can find it;3
  • the true names of popular targets can rarely be found in prayers, in a dedicated way or through protective chants;3
  • occultists using trances;3
  • First World and similar entities' true names could be found looking in nature;3
  • for a lucky few, the true name just comes to them spontaneously;3
  • a true name amulet reveals the true name of a single creature only to its wearer if they have invested the amulet.4

Variations of true names

For many creatures, the nature of true names may vary. For example,

  • a devil's true name is mutable as it gains in stature;5
  • an elemental suffers no penalties when its true name is used during a binding ritual, though it often starts with a more positive attitude towards a binder who knows its true name;5
  • proteans and qlippoths lack true names as they are fundamentally too chaotic;5
  • there is a rumor about aeons having two true names and the need for both to take control of such creatures; this makes handling aeons tricky;5
  • a particular aberration was aware of his true name but tore it off.6

Nameless thing

When a creature, such as an aberration, celestial, fiend, monitor, or spirit enters the Material Plane from another plane or another universe altogether—one where the laws of magic are different—they may not have any true name and are designated as nameless things.1

Fragmentary names

Sometimes, a binder only knows fragments of a creature's true name, not the whole one. Still, they could try using the spell compel true name7 with the fragmentary name, or another true name ability against the opponent creature, although this is very dangerous as incapacitation can stack with this usage.4

A further danger to the caster failing in the use of compel true name is that this reveals the caster's true name fragmentarily or fully to its opponent.4


Paizo published a chapter about true names in Secrets of Magic 244ff.

For additional as-yet unincorporated sources about this subject, see the Meta page.

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Logan Bonner, et al. “5: Book of Unlimited Magic” in Secrets of Magic, 244. Paizo Inc., 2020
  2. Jason Bulmahn, et al. “Chapter 2: Mastering Magic” in Ultimate Magic, 101. Paizo Inc., 2011
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Logan Bonner, et al. “5: Book of Unlimited Magic” in Secrets of Magic, 245. Paizo Inc., 2020
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Logan Bonner, et al. “5: Book of Unlimited Magic” in Secrets of Magic, 247. Paizo Inc., 2020
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Jason Bulmahn, et al. “Chapter 2: Mastering Magic” in Ultimate Magic, 102. Paizo Inc., 2011
  6. James Case. (September 9, 2022). In Darkness, Hidden web supplement, p. 14.
  7. This spell is available only in Pathfinder Second Edition.