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In World Of Darkness each Demon possesses a true name and knowing their true name allows you to exercise control over them. There is a mention of being able to study a fallens mannerism, actions and so on in order to discover their true name and I wanted to ask if there were mechanics for doing so or if it was up to storyteller interpretation?

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There are mechanics!

Demons

First of all, a true name can be given voluntarily by a Fallen.1

A demon’s names (both the Celestial Name and the True Name) are crucial aspects of his identity. A demon’s Celestial Name is essentially reflective of his title, station or task as defined at the dawn of Creation. One could compare it to the original derivations of Western surnames. A person named “Miller,” for instance, owes her surname to an ancestor that ground grain for a living at some point in the past. The True Name of a demon, however, is much more inscrutable. It’s a description of his very soul, the equation of all the sounds, vibrations, numbers and syllables that add up to the sum of his very being. 2

But even Demon contains rules on how to discover that:

a being with the means to investigate the character can discover her “new” True Name by the means described on p. 256 of Demon 3

That section lays out foundations to (re)create a True Name:

What kinds of activities can yield clues to a True Name? Here are some examples:

  • Looking through occult texts to find names of demons and matching them up with your subject’s acts (Intelligence + Occult). Just finding the right books would be a story in itself, though, as tomes of true occult knowledge are rare and jealously guarded by their owners.
  • Investigating a crime scene, looking for the subtle touches that betray the criminal’s personality. (Perception + Investigation)
  • Interrogating the demon’s followers, finding out how they address her in their blasphemous rituals. (Manipulation + Intimidation)
  • Ransacking the demon’s sanctum, finding her personal belongings and seeing what they say about her. (Perception + Empathy)
  • Observing the demon’s handiwork. Every time a demon performs an invocation, she leaves an imprint in the fabric of reality, similar to a psychic fingerprint. (Perception + Occult)

Players are bound to come up with other ideas for learning fragments of True Names, and Storytellers should decide if an idea is valid and what traits are involved. The difficulty of these rolls is always high — usually 8, possibly 9 if the action is particularly unusual.4

Mummies

If you happen to be one of the Reborn and possess Nomenclature, it's just two skills you need to have, play some story and spend XP, then you get the True Name. With that, you can do many things besides just the stuff from the Demon book, because Nomenclature requires True Names. To learn a Demon's True Name requires you to learn their personal name first (requiring Subterfuge 2+) and then follow up by deciphering the complex supernatural name from that (requiring Occult 4+). That is a longer process and requires understanding the Fallen's true self, so extensive observation and maybe contact with them or their products is needed - and then spending some experience.5


1 - Demon the Fallen: Player Guide, p.7.
2 - Demon the Fallen: Player Guide, p.19.
3 - Demon the Fallen: Player Guide, p.125.
4 - Demon the Fallen, p.256.
5 - Mummy the Resurrection, p.125: Learning True Names.

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Entirely up to ST interpretation. You could make it an extended roll with Int+Investigation or the like, but only if they knew a certain facet of angelic/ demonic lore and language. Research and luck are the keys, and even then, if the person trying doesn't get it juuuust right, the Fallen will be... irritated.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center. \$\endgroup\$
    – Community Bot
    Sep 4, 2023 at 23:58
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There are no official mechanics, so it's up to ST. But I can give you my way of thinking about this:

From the lore (Demon the Fallen) standpoint, imo it would be extremely difficult and require inhuman levels of knowledge both linguistic and magical. In my games it would be probably possible only for Demons, Mages and maybe Mummies to do with relative ease, as it needs to be "said" both in physical realm as well as it needs to "vibrate" through the whole tapestry of the universe by magical means.

Vampires have all the time in the world to study linguistics so their ability to pronounce Demon's name would be dependent on how exactly their blood magic compares to other forms of supernal powers and how exactly Vampires are able to practice it. Bacialy you need to decide if blood magic is closer to Linear Magic of mortals or does it have any semblance of "awakened wisdom" in it's practice. Mages are the closest to understanding the true nature of the universe so their research and pronunciation could be close to natural.

From that I would rule that the closer the pronunciation is to the correct one the better the effects you can get from it. While even a mortal can linguistically get it close enough to technically summon a demon, he would have to prepare a lot harder and be a lot luckier than a Mage.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This sadly directly contradicts the rules in the Demon book and Player's guide. \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Mar 25 at 13:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh, I'd be sure to check them out. You are right that they are guidelines in DTF and I was wrong that there is none of them at all. However they are only vague examples of story related beats and tests. So I hope you can see how I didn't really remember them as full fledged mechanic. When it comes to mummy - wow that is cool... Nomenclature for the win ! \$\endgroup\$ Mar 25 at 13:35

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