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Always knows a name

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One of my players has an idea for a power: Always knows people's names, and the names of things. (Even if he doesn't know what it does or how to use it).


My first thought is a very broad Knowledge skill bought at sufficiently high level (40-) and a -2 limitation (only to know names).


Can anyone think of a better way to build such a power?

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Re: Always knows a name


Does knowing a name matter in your campaign ?

Is it a spy game ? a true magic game ?

Hard to build the power without context.


Although your basic build above seems valid, but is not supernatural.

Can someone be zeroed out ? (ie this character cannot know it)

to me a KS would have to based on something somewhere being recorded, to be knowable.

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Re: Always knows a name


I'd ask him how the character knows the name; what is the in-game rationalle? That might suggest a solution. Is it that he has learned the name of all things, does he (somehow) pluck the name from the thing itself (perhaps some species of telepathy?), is it, basically, a detect (and is the detect, in fact, a cheap and foolproof form of telepathy?)? I'd also want examples of what it will be used for - you've identified the possibility of seeing through disguises and shapeshifts, but it goes deeper: what is a name? Is it something intrinsic to the thing, or is it just something that it is known by. What about language? If the Gethrona call it a 'Shemin' and the Itralli call it a 'Trestak', what will this power return? If it is 'all the names' then it is also, potentially, a cheap way to know an awful lot of an awful lot of languages.


This is one of those nebulous powers that is, probably, not a problem in practice, but I think you, as GM, need to know more about it before you can come up with a reasonable build.

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Re: Always knows a name


What it calls it self: Retrocognitive Clairsentience (Mental Group),

+3 to PER Roll,


Rapid: x10,000,000,000 (10 levels so either 317 yrs or 3 months depending using seconds or time chart

(78 Active Points);

Limited Power Power loses almost all of its effectiveness (Only to know what it is called(persobnal name); -2),

Retrocognition Only (-1),

No Range (-1/2),

Instant (-1/2)

Real cost 16 pts


This should cover anytime it has introduced it self

you could change to hearing sense group and hear what ever name has been called or called it self

if the game is using True Names(that has power over the target) then the limitations should be zero


you might want to also have Universal Translator for those unpronouncable languages

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Re: Always knows a name


What if 2 things have the same name? There are examples of the same word meaning something in one language and something different in another. Is it the language of origin or the language of the country where found? What if the 2 people have the same name exactly? Does it give birthdates and hometowns or even relationships to sort them out? Would an actor be his name or the name of the character he is playing? Could it be fooled and by what?


This sounds like a bizarre power gaming attempt to get something for nothing. Ask him how he plans to use it in the game and build it based on game effects and not special effects. This sounds like discriminatory sense via another angle.


If I called a horse a "zog" and it was my horse, would he get "zog" or horse? Would the name be the proper name or the common name or the latin classification of something? This is massively too vague.

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Re: Always knows a name


I have a friend who always knows the name of things. It is KS - Bullsh-t as he is never correct but sounds great.


Would the name have anything to do with what anyone else calls it? That sounds like he would need telepathy to give image directly into the mind so all would know what it is. Language is too complex to just do it that way. Have him spend too many points to instantly get the name telepathically and then telepathically alter what he says so everyone around hears the exact name as they understand it. That sounds like exactly what he wants and it would have no game effect except make him perfectly clear on what he is talking about.

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Re: Always knows a name


you can also go the GM route and tell him what you will allow in your campaign based upon how you build it.


if its a KS thing then he can only get relevant, fairly well known names (he knows ALOT of names, not every name). This represents your well trained Wizard in a "Names Are Power" type magic system. Long Study and research has given him the knowledge of names. This does NOT however apply to Proper Names "He would call "Steve" a human, he wouldn't know his name was Steve" KS: True Names, 18-. This gives you almost total control of the power as you can set the roll modifier depending on how likely you want him to know the name of something (20- or something like that is probably about the top, no need to go REALLY high with this, that is just an attempt to prevent you, the GM, from putting a reasonable limit on the power)


If it is somewhat more mystical you can give him "Telepathy + RetroClair" so that he has a limited ability to read peoples minds to learn what they call themselves, and a limited ability to know what items are called as well. This is much more powerful than the KS and should basically allow him to know the name of anything/one within reason unless the name has been shielded in some fashion.


The "Detect Name" option is probably too powerful. There is no feasible way to stop it that isn't GM Fiat (you have to basically flash/drain this power). This shuts down a LOT of plot opportunities and is really too cheap for the power it would provide in many games. If you WANT this to be really powerful of course this is the way to go.


Finally, don't forget that RAW there are almost no absolutes in HERO. This power should be included in that. I would definitely tell the player that there is no way to build a power that will let him know the name of ALL things ALWAYS. There are different ways to build this that will get various different amounts, but he should be prepared to expect to come across items that he cannot name.

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Re: Always knows a name


Sounds like it would be fun to role play.


GM: OK, you're trying to sneak into the castle through the kitchens. Roll to open the gate on the tradsmen's entrance.


(Player playing the Rogue rolls dice.)


GM: Good enough. The gate is well maintained, and quietly opens onto a small courtyard. You see and smell a garbage pit, you see no guards.


Team Leader: They would not have left this unguarded. It's a trap. Taking a closer look at the garbage pit. (rolls dice)


GM: Something in the garbage pit moved. Something big.


TL: What is that thing?


Character Who Always Knows A Name: An Otyugh.


TL: What's an otyugh?


CWAKAN: That thing.


TL: How do we kill it quietly?


CWAKAN: Haven't the foggiest.


Rogue: What say we back out quietly, I'll re-lock the gate, and tomorrow we go to the Temple of Knowledge and consult their otyugh expert?


CWAKAN: That would be Norton.


Rogue: Or we could feed him to the otyugh.

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Re: Always knows a name


OK, after further discussion with the player, the power is a mystical one; a side effect of him being granted a 'true name'.


It provides, through cracks in the cosmic yardlefrip, the current name being used by the person or thing. If someone's in disguise, he gets the name of their disguise, not their real name. if something of a given type has a given name, he gets that rather than the class name (if Farmer Butterworth's named his favourite cow Bessie, he gets Bessie rather than cow). It is, he says, intended to be little more than a gimmick.


On the basis of this, I think Nolgroth's Detect suggestion is the best way forward.


The others have potential for different flavours of the power (and I also considered Telepathy, only to learn name, as a possible way of allowing him to bust through a disguise name to get the real one with high enough success).

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