In reading the 1992 Forgotten Realms novel Pools of Darkness,

I noticed Tanetal the devil (a pit fiend to be precise) speaks his true name sdrawkcab.

I have not seen any evidence of this in other D&D books or actual D&D rules.

So, is this just Pools of Darkness or is it an official rule in any editions of D&D, because it seems like it would be unbalancing for any idiot with a spellbook who hears you talk for two sentences to exercise control over you.

Are there any editions of D&D in which this is a rule?


No, most devils hide their true name with extreme secrecy.

According to Tanetal's entry at the Forgotten Realms wiki, Tanetal's habit of peppering his speech with Latenat, his own name backwards, is a trait peculiar to himself, and not a typical part of true name lore.

According to AD&D 2e's Faces of Evil (1997), p. 7, devils and all other creatures possess a true name, or secret name. Devils go to extreme lengths to avoid allowing anyone to discover their true name, and would never utter it unless somehow compelled.

The Planewalker's Handbook (1996), p. 111, notes that true names are "closely guarded secrets". Learning a creature's true name requires arduous research, and only a few have been catalogued. This strongly suggests that most creatures, particularly those as intelligent as pit fiends, protect their true names by more reliable methods than simply speaking it backwards.

The secrecy with which creatures guard their true names is attested at least as far back as the AD&D 1e Unearthed Arcana (1985), and at least as recently 3e's Book of Exalted Deeds (2003) and Tome of Magic (2006).

A true name is more than just the creature's common name, but rather a secret name. For example, one Forgotten Realms novel gives Mephistopheles' true name as Thra'axfyl the Ambitious.

I also can't think of any other D&D work, Forgotten Realms or otherwise, where a demon or devil peppers their language with their own name.

| improve this answer | |

That would be no

True names aren't a concept referenced particularly or specifically with devils. In their first appearance (AD&D's first edition Monster Manual), it was noted that devils needed their names spoken in order to enter the plane of the speaker.

Also, the novel doesn't limit that to devils...

The pit fiend in question, when ruminating on how irked he is that his true name was spoken, reflects on it being a trait of all fiends that their names provide inappropriate power over them. That's definitely not the case.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.