Language Skills

The ability to express oneself through the words, their pronunciation, and the methods of combining them as used by a considerable community requires training and experience in its use. All characters are assumed to have achieved a passable ability to communicate in the spoken mode of either the Common Tongue of Man or in their respective racial languages. This is reflected by the inherent Language (1) skill. Characters of non-Human race must choose upon generation whether to know inherently the language of their racial group or Common. Note that the choice of Common as the lingua franca of a non-human character instantly identifies that character as being from Mannish lands - most commonly a city, but occasionally servitude or slavery to a Mannish master might explain this. This identification will not necessarily be eliminated by learning the racial tongue at some later date. The character will (if not careful and or skillful) be easily identified by native speakers for his "foreign" origin.

The learning of languages is undertaken within the same strictures as those for Professional Skills and Methods except that the character may choose to double his learning time in order to continue occasional adventuring.

The ability of a character to learn languages is limited by his intelligence. The total number of skill levels a character may learn, in addition to the inherent one, in the language skills is equal to his Intelligence -3. The development of Language Skills follows the general pattern; level (1) conversational, level (2) "high" or "formal" and level (3) written. This does not imply that a character with a language (2) skill must speak the language with formal diction, just that he is familiar enough with it to generate appropriate formal communications.

Ancient languages have no "conversational" level and must be learned to level (2) before any advantage is gained for that knowledge. However, this level does include the ability to read (though not to write) the language. Additional constraints for the learning of Ancient languages may be found in the Language; Ancient skill section.

An example character with Intelligence of 16 could therefor become conversationally fluent in up to thirteen plus his native (or the Common) languages. Further advancement in any of those skills would be blocked by the Intelligence limitation. Of course, he could choose to develop reading and writing skills in up to four languages, while still having enough left on his limit to also learn the secret cant of his order. Knowing the language is only half the battle, however. Expressing oneself eloquently or persuasively with that language requires an appropriate skill test.

Language; Modern

Min. Attributes: Speech 6

This skill applies to those languages (determined by the referee) that are regularly spoken in the world of the campaign. Some examples are the Common Tongue of man and the racial languages of quasi human characters and even the more usual languages of the social and intelligent antagonist races such as the Orc or Goblin.

1 Conversational language. An understanding of the conversational syntax and vocabulary sufficient for communicating common ideas.
2 High language. Understanding of the honorific and formal extensions and syntax of the language common in Court, the practice of Law and the Cloister.
3 Written language. Understanding of the symbology and syntax of the language in written form.

TIME OF STUDY: 4 months

Language; Ancient

Min. Attributes: Speech 6, Intelligence 12

This skill applies to the "seven ancient languages" consisting of Latin, Arabic, Hebrew, Sanskrit, Greek, Celtic and Mandarin. These are the languages of the written mysteries of Miracles and Magic.

1 Familiarity. Introduction to the symbology and structure of these (always written) languages. No understanding or communication is possible with this level of study. A work written in a language known at this level would, however, be recognized as having been written in that language.
2 Reading/Speaking. The student is able to read (aloud), memorize and understand the language. True communication at this level is still Strenuous(D5) as the understanding required to form syntactically comprehensible phrases is still lacking. It is only at this level that the language is considered "known".
3 Writing/Communicating. The student has achieved sufficient understanding of the language to express himself with it comprehensibly.

TIME OF STUDY: 6 months

Language; Secret

Min. Attributes: Speech 6

Many guilds, orders and other institutions create an alternate set of understandings for common words and phrases in the common language(s) of these institutions. The most notable are the Thieves Cant, Druid's Tongue and the Battle languages of many armies. These "languages" allow two persons who are both initiates to communicate secrets of the institution to each other through apparently innocent or at least innocuous conversation. Communication requires that both conversants are using the same modern language as a base and that they are of the same institution. There are even considerable regional differences within some of the larger institutions such as the Thieves Guild and the Druids. Battle languages are common only to the army in which they are taught and are intentionally different between armies (especially opposing ones).

1 Speaking and understanding the verbal communication via the language.
2 Understanding of the symbology of either physical postures and or signal elements (such as Battle Flags, hand signals, or intonation marks) within that institution.

TIME OF STUDY: 4 months

Language; Music

Min. Attributes: Intelligence 10

1 Reading and following (with either the voice or a known instrument) the instructions of written musical notation. The quality of the interpretation is dependent on the character's musical skill.
2 Transcribing music, either available by repetitious play or by imagination (composing), to written notation. Accuracy tests would involve Intelligence and legibility tests, either Art or Dexterity.

TIME OF STUDY: 4 months

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updated on:   11 Feb 1999