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D&D General Who gives demons/devils their (true) name?

So, demons and devils have a true name, and possibly a common name. Who gives these names to them?

Demons and devils are what is left of humanoids after they die, right? But typical demon/devil names do not sound like their humanoid names (I haven't seen a devil named John Smith yet, their names are more like Xargraroch). So, what happened?

Thanks in advance, hivemind!
 

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Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
No one.
No person anyway.
A true name is what Reality calls you.
It's is essentially what one's "essence" says if you read it
Every unique being, important place, or important object has a true name.

By stating a truename, you are invoking Reality itself and altering it.
That's why fiends don't like people knowing it.
 

Zsong

Explorer
It’s the name given to you at birth and all the titles you have. Thus the queen of England’s true name is very long.

just a different take on the previous persons post.
 

Hawk Diesel

Adventurer
I don't think they are given. In the Dresden Files, it suggests that true names are inherent to a creature's nature. Mortals also have true names, but unlike devils or demons, mortals have the capacity for change which can alter a true name to varying degrees.

Not sure if there is lore specifically in D&D to address this outside of the terrible 3.5e class that dealt with true names. But that would be my take.
 

Rellott

Explorer
The UA with the onomancy wizard had this sidebar about true names:

True Names
Onomancy, or naming magic, is a method of spellcasting
that uses a creature’s true name to enhance a spell’s effects. A true name is the name by which a self-aware creature identifies itself. This name might be the name a person was given at birth, or one a person chose or earned later in life. Whatever a name’s origin, the simplest way for you to know your true name is to think truthfully about yourself and then think, “My name is ...” Your true name is how you finish that sentence.
You can try to hide your true name by using a pseudonym, but you must be wary not to inhabit that false name too deeply. If a false name comes to be the best expression of who you are, it becomes your true name. Changing one’s true name is never a quick choice; it’s something that happens over time as a name becomes the creature’s truth.
As a quick guide, a creature has a true name if it understands at least one language or it has an alignment.
 

aco175

Legend
Knowing the true name of something supposed to give you power over them, at least in myth and fiction. Kind of like my dog knows his name and comes to me when I call. Of course it may be the tone of my voice and not his name at all. The power of one's will over the demon and not his name. Not sure.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
I assume Asmodeus has some Byzantine set of naming regulations to cover a damned soul's forcible reidentification in hell. I mean most are going to start as larva and not given a name unless they somehow manage to ascend the infernal hierarchy.
 

Zsong

Explorer
really it’s up to you what it means in the game. There’s a lot of lore in myths and legends that are contradictory. In the myths I like everything has a true name. I even have that the verbal components of spells are using true names. It’s part of every spell that has verbal components. It’s what power words are. Pick something and go with it.
 

TheSword

Legend
Supporter
If devils are souls that were once evil humanoids somewhere on a material plane then it’s cool if a devils truename can be discovered from its origin. That of the soul it once was. We know that names are linked to souls, tomb stones, or memorial plaques, even war memorials or cenotaph embody this idea.

Interestingly I know of two published examples where mortals became fiends and kept their mortal name post transformation. I’m sure there are others.

In 3.e the tyrant Lashan Aumersair became a larva and then rose through the ranks of Yugoloths to become a Nycaloth and was known by that name in the adventure Shadowdale.

More recently in Baldurs Gate: Descent, Thavius Kreeg kept that name as an Amnizu in hell.

Clues from a fiend’s likes, dislikes and fascinations, perhaps artifacts could lead to the discovery of a true name. Until that point they hide behind their category, nycaloth, Amnizu etc or euphemism - dark one, great lord etc.
 
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pming

Hero
Hiya!

So, demons and devils have a true name, and possibly a common name. Who gives these names to them?
That would be the Dungeon Master. You know, the "unseen and unknowable force of all of everything".
In fact, in my BECMI/BX/DD games (all of them) the whole "Immortal" path thing, where there are the "old ones" outside of even the regular Immortals...has an "outside of even the old ones". That outside is our actual reality with you, the DM, sitting at your table scribbling notes about how "The fetching young laundry maid is actually a 'reformed lich' that uses Shapechange every day". :D

^_^

Paul L. Ming
 



cbwjm

Hero
I remember reading something somewhere, I think in 2e, where their true name changes as they advance through the hierarchy. Not sure how they gained their initial name though.
 

zarionofarabel

Adventurer
Hiya!


That would be the Dungeon Master. You know, the "unseen and unknowable force of all of everything".
In fact, in my BECMI/BX/DD games (all of them) the whole "Immortal" path thing, where there are the "old ones" outside of even the regular Immortals...has an "outside of even the old ones". That outside is our actual reality with you, the DM, sitting at your table scribbling notes about how "The fetching young laundry maid is actually a 'reformed lich' that uses Shapechange every day". :D

^_^

Paul L. Ming
dungeonmaster.jpg

All hail the DungeonMaster!
 

GreyLord

Hero
Well you see when a mommy Demon and a Daddy Demon (or Devil) love each other very much...there comes a little baby Demon (or Devil).

Sometimes it's just a really powerful Human Mommy or Daddy with another Outsider that love each other very much...

Unfortunately, these Mommies and Daddies have some very weird ideas for what makes an astounding little baby name...

Just ask Graz'zt about it. He was mercilessly teased when he was in grade 1 and it continued until one day he started jumping all around like a little blue guy and tried to call himself Nightcrawler instead. After a brief stint with other kids he finally started to grow out of it in High School and then the REAL craziness began...
 

Iry

Hero
Probably given to them by Asmodeus. The process of becoming a lemure is absolutely horrendous, and intentionally scrubs away your mortal identity so you can properly conform. The number of Devils that come out of the process with their John Smith name intact can probably be counted on one hand. It's slightly more likely with direct promotions of extremely powerful or evil people, but even then the direct promote probably gets a true name assigned to them, only making them vulnerable as John Smith for a couple of decades before their identity transitions completely.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
So, demons and devils have a true name, and possibly a common name. Who gives these names to them?

Their names are not given to them. Their names are them. Asking them who gives them their name is like asking who gave you your skeleton - it is an innate element of your being, not separate from your creation.


Demons and devils are what is left of humanoids after they die, right?

Each setting has its own cosmology. In many game worlds, both the celestials and infernals predate humanoids.
 

jgsugden

Legend
It is just their common name in binary. :p

The origins of True Name appear to be a myth about Isis and Ra in Egyptian mythology. It was just a secret name there, it seems, as he seemingly had a lot of names and this was the real one while the others were lesser names.

It is up to the DM to decide, but there are some Forgotten Realms lore covering it that are a little inconsistent: True name

I like the naming convention in the FR. A weird vaguely messed up Latin name followed by a descriptive title, like "Bynalaxthus the Reticent".
 


Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
Um, who said demons are the remnants of dead humanoids? I’ve not heard the theory and think it makes absolutely no sense in a world that also has ghosts and undead.

Devils and Demons appear to be spirit beings born from Infernal stuff of Hell.

Anyway as to Names, the Alchemist have shown that the gross matter of Things and their quintessential energy is Things is of equivalent nature and able to be harnessed in potions or through the raw manipulation of magic.

What the alchemist and the wizards fail to tell us though is that in the flow nature from Matter to Energy and back again, there is an imperceptible vibration, a tone unheard by mortal ears but which forms the underlying Song of Creation

and each Form within the Song, each being, each intention, each thought, each of these has its own vibrant tone, its own True Name that can be drawn, altered and released as a new song
 

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