135
$\begingroup$

The power of True Names over demons is unbelievable:

  • A Lamashtu demon can drain you of your blood in under 5 seconds, blend into shadows, and travel at the speed of darkness. Yet it will crumple like a wet napkin, if only you know its True Name.

  • Your average Glabrezu is 18 feet tall, 4000 pounds of muscle and claw, and yet more cunning and skilled in the secret ways than most men. It stands no chance against the power of the True Name.

  • The Nabassu have the strength of a hundred men, they spread plague by their mere passing, their very visage so terrible men have been known to die of fright upon seeing them. See their strength; see how easily you fall to their muscle and skill. They, too, are helpless to resist the power of their True Name.


Why does reciting a creature's T̸̊ͬ̃͟ř̡̓ͪͥ͌ͦ̀͘ú̷̧̇ͮ̐̒͝e̓ͮ͐̽͐̽͋͆͏ ́Ņ̵̵͋̒̐̊̽â̓ͪ̈̈́mͦ͐̅ẽ̂̐͗̑ͪ͐̕͜҉ in the ur-language of Adamic grant such power over them? Answers will be judged based on plausibility. Specifically, given that demons are probably at least as smart as humans, why would they just have such a vulnerability? I'd prefer a solution involving as little magic as possible, ideally none.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – Serban Tanasa Apr 29 '16 at 16:56
  • $\begingroup$ Names have power. There are places where people will refuse to tell you their full name so you can't have magical power. There are legends that if you know the true name of God, you can use it to create whatever you want. $\endgroup$ – Howard Miller May 24 '16 at 0:27
  • $\begingroup$ Speed of darkness? $\endgroup$ – rappatic Jul 26 '17 at 6:35
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @pagie_ Yes. That fast. $\endgroup$ – Serban Tanasa Jul 27 '17 at 14:44
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @rappatic: Darkness is faster than light, it's already everywhere, and when the light comes along it needs to be faster to get out of it's way. $\endgroup$ – Binary Worrier Nov 13 '17 at 13:29

33 Answers 33

1
$\begingroup$

Naming is often at the heart of creation myths. Gods name things in order to create them. This guy does a thorough job of spelling that out here, but his first example is crystal. "Let there be light." And then there was light. The light is named and then it's created.

The Power of Names: In Culture and in Mathematics

I've always taken the true name concept to be tied to this idea. If you know the true name of something, you know the name the divine spoke to create it. With that name comes the knowledge or power any creator of a thing would have over it's creation. That's pretty much root access level to a piece of creation or a soul/spirit in the Demon's case.

Furthermore, in the case of demons, there's often a turning away from the natural order of things that twists them somehow. If you know the true name of the demon, you know it as it was before it was turned. The pain and inner turmoil of being reminded of it's true self, the being as it as just after creation before it rejected its own role in the natural order has all kinds of implications you could tie into a set of laws for a speculative setting.

You want a mess with a demon? Remind it of what it used to be. The ex-angels in particular really hate that.

$\endgroup$
0
$\begingroup$

Demons keep their names and other details from people and other demons so that they can not know their weaknesses. Saying the name of the demon is admitting that you know one of their secrets, and if you know one you could also know the rest. Naturally the demon will not want to tell others secrets about him. So he agrees to sign a contract with you in exchange for your silence. He won't try and kill you because if you know his weakness then you could have planned for his attack like Batman plans for Superman turning to the dark side. There is no way he'll attack you unless he knows for certain that you can't kill him.

$\endgroup$
0
$\begingroup$

One reason I can think of is the nature of the true name. Whether it's a demon, a table or a person, the true name is called a true name, because it's not something you just call someone. It's a representation of everything that person or thing is, and everything that makes up that person or thing. A true name is like a definition of that person or thing's complete character. Therefore, if you recite/know the true name of a demon, basically, you know it's full character, including strengths and weaknesses, so you'd be able to defeat it.

Another possible reason is that the demon itself just internally breaks down when it hears it true name. Because it knows that the true name is a definition of what it is, and what kind of being it is. So when it hears the name, it just breaks down, hearing how truly horrible it must be. I guess it's similar to someone shouting at you all your imperfections and mistakes and the things you hate about yourself all in one shot. Magnified like a thousand fold.

$\endgroup$

protected by Serban Tanasa Apr 21 '16 at 13:54

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

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