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I think the rules for Raulothim's psychic lance are pretty vague. The spell description states (FToD, p. 21):

You unleash a shimmering lance of psychic power from your forehead at a creature that you can see within range. Alternatively, you can utter a creature's name. If the named target is within range, it becomes the spell's target even if you can't see it. If the named target isn't within range, the lance dissipates without effect.

Do you have to utter the creature's true name specifically? Or do pseudonyms work too?

As an example, the summon greater demon spell (XGtE, p. 166) clearly specifies "say its true name" - while in this spell, it only says "utter a creature's name", so it could also mean "I know this person by this name, even if it's a pseudonym".

Also, I think it might be a little overpowered to be able to hit even if you don't know the creature's true name.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Hello and welcome. I think your question as it stands is more of an opinion than something that could get a definitive answer, which is kinda a requirement of these forums. You could possibly rephrase to ask how this spell compares in power to other spells of the same level? (Also your question implies that you think knowing a creatures name makes it auto-hit? Which isn't the case: it merely allows you to choose that creature as a target if it's within range) \$\endgroup\$
    – PJRZ
    Nov 18 at 12:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ This may be relevant, or maybe not: the Unearthed Arcana with the Onomancer wizard has a sidebar on true names, though that is "true names" as opposed to "names". media.wizards.com/2019/dnd/downloads/UA-TwilightFireNames.pdf \$\endgroup\$
    – Phoenices
    Nov 18 at 22:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Phoenices I didn't know of its existence, but it sounds pretty interesting. Mechanics like this could incentivize roleplay and thinking out of the box while still having precise rules. It would have been an interesting addition to a manual like Fizban's... \$\endgroup\$
    – Nargacuga
    Nov 22 at 7:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you try it, try to get an allowance from your DM to be able to retry somehow if it doesn't work the first time. My DM said "if you do research on the target, you can retry," basically. If you can find someone's name by asking them, that works too. I would approve of adding it, but some people would say "This has nothing to do with dragons! Why did Fizban include it in his treasury?" Or maybe they'd fluff it as some kind of Raulothim-follower. Of course, they did include a psionic bolt and claim it was Raulothim-themed, so maybe it's not out of the question. A Raulothim wizard would be fun. \$\endgroup\$
    – Phoenices
    Nov 22 at 16:34
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Either option works

The guiding principles you should use when interpreting the rules for spells are:

  1. Spells only do what they say they do
  2. D&D 5e uses the natural language meaning of language if it's not a defined game term
  3. Specific beats general

For this specific spell, the description of Raulothim's psychic lance states, that as an alternative targeting option :

[...] you can utter a creature's name. If the creature is within range, it becomes the spell’s target even if you can’t see it. [...]

So, for this spell, the utterance of a name is a special rule for targeting that overrides the general spell targeting rules (namely that if you know a creatures name and they are in range you can target them specifically if they are in range). As the spell doesn't state "true name" we cannot assume any such restriction on the targeting.

Thus we fall back on the natural language meaning of a creature's name (some set of words or sounds that a creature of thing is known, addressed or referred to). Importantly, a name should uniquely identify a creature or thing.

For example, if you wanted to target a white dragon called Toby, King of The North (true name: Jolzoriat) in your campaign, a user of this spell could target them using one of two - four names (depending on how permissive your DM is):

  1. Toby
  2. Jolzoriat
  3. King of the North
  4. Toby, King of the North

What you cannot do is try to target "the white dragon" if you cannot see it.

Now, once a creature has become a target, the next paragraph of the spell description says:

The target must make an Intelligence saving throw.

This saving throw determines how much the target of the spell (either seen or named) is affected by the spell (assuming they are in range). But either way, there is no attack roll.

As to whether or not the spell is overpowered as a result of this (slight) modification to the targeting rules...no. The targeting only applies in very specific edge cases:

  1. where you know one of the names that a specific creature is known by
    • noting a specific creature's species/type/description are not its "name" under the natural language interpretation
  2. You are fighting them or intend to harm them
  3. They are hidden from you in some way
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    \$\begingroup\$ I love the concept of naming a supremely powerful white dragon Toby. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 18 at 15:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ Interesting...if you asked the (maybe white dragon wouldn't think of this...say its a green) dragon its name, and it lied and say "Jeff"...would "Jeff" work? If there is a henchman of the dragon named Jeff, and the dragon lies and says its name is Jeff...who gets targeted? \$\endgroup\$
    – sharur
    Nov 19 at 0:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ so the idea of a 'name' has no official guidance? It is up to DM's decision? \$\endgroup\$ Nov 23 at 13:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ArtickokeAndAnchovyPizzaMonica the idea of name within the game is the same as the idea of name within our world. Whether or not something is a name in English (or another language), or not, is something that inherently requires a judgement call, and thus requires adjudication by the DM. \$\endgroup\$
    – illustro
    Nov 24 at 13:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Zweiclops1206 Glad to have improved your day. :) \$\endgroup\$
    – illustro
    Nov 24 at 13:26

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