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    Ernir's Avatar

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    Default [3.5] Speak Language - revised skill

    Does the way languages were implemented in 3.5 annoy anyone here? You learn a language by spending a skill point or two, and this allows you to master the language perfectly - often to the point where people forget to list the languages their character knows. Languages are a small skill point tax that doesn't come up at all, once spent. This may be appropriate for some games, but it has annoyed me since the day I first touched a PHB.

    What I am replacing:

    The Speak Language skill as it is presented in core 3.5.

    What I am trying to accomplish:

    Enhancing verisimilitude when it comes to languages, without increasing day-to-day bookkeeping.

    What I have done:
    A new skill!

    Speak Language (Cha); Trained Only

    Like the Craft, Knowledge and Profession skills, Speak Language is actually a collection of related skills. Speak Language represents study the character has undertaken in a particular language, such as Common, Elven, or Draconic.

    Check: This skill is special in the way that it is usually not rolled, you virtually always take 10 on it. See below for how this skill is used.

    Action: Talking is a free action. Writing takes 1 minute per page.

    Try again: Yes.

    Speaking
    The DC to communicate using a language is 20 minus the listener's skill modifier with that language.
    A successful check means the listener understood you. Failing to meet the DC by 4 or less means the point of the message got across, but some details might have been missed or misunderstood. Failing by 5 or more means the listener did not understand you at all. Failing by 10 or more might mean some horrible misunderstanding, at the GM's discretion.

    Writing/Reading
    The DC is the same as for Speaking, above. Reading and writing does not have to be learned separately, assuming a character can read and write, he can do so for all languages he knows.

    Special: Every character has a native language, and some also have secondary languages, as given in the description for each character's race.
    Characters start with 4 ranks in their native languages, and 2 ranks in their secondary languages. You get a +5 bonus on checks regarding your native tongue, and can always choose to take 10 on the skill with regards to that language, even if in combat or otherwise stressed. Your native language is always a class skill.

    Synergy: If you have 5 or more ranks in a particular Speak Language skill, you gain a +2 bonus on all other Speak Language skills. The bonus is cumulative for each language you have with more than 5 ranks.

    Trained only: You can not attempt to speak a language you have no knowledge of. Neither do you have any chance of understanding a language you do not know.

    Updated Racial Entries

    • Humans
      Native language: Common
      Secondary language: None
    • Dwarves
      Native language: Dwarven
      Secondary language: Common
    • Elves
      Native language: Elven
      Secondary language: Common
    • Gnomes
      Native language: Gnome
      Secondary language: Common
    • Half-Elves
      Native language: Elven OR Common, pick one.
      Secondary language: Elven OR Common, the one not picked as a native language.
      Special: Speak Language is always considered a class skill for a Half-Elf.
    • Half-Orcs
      Native language: Orc OR Common, pick one.
      Secondary language: Orc OR Common, the one not picked as a native language.
    • Halflings
      Native language: Halfling
      Secondary language: Common


    Examples

    Example 1:
    Two Charisma 10 Humans are conversing in common. Each has 4 free ranks in the skill, and a +5 bonus for Common being their native tongue. Each has a +9 bonus on the check, so the DC to speak common to them is 20 - 9 = 11. They easily make it by taking 10, which they can always do.

    Example 2:
    A Charisma 10 Human wants to talk to a Charisma 8 Dwarf using Common. The Human has a +9 modifier on the skill (+4 free ranks, +5 for Common being his native tongue), but the Dwarf only +1 (+2 free ranks, -1 for his Charisma 8). The DC to speak Common to the Dwarf is 20 - 1 = 19, which the Human can just barely make by taking 10. Likewise, the Human will always understand the Dwarf, as long as the Dwarf takes 10 on the skill.
    Problems might arise in combat, when the Dwarf can no longer take 10 on the skill. In that case, the Dwarf will still always understand the Human (the DC and the dwarf's skill modifier are unaffected), but the Dwarf will occasionally have trouble getting his point through in a timely manner, his broken grammar and tendency to use native slang getting in the way.

    Example 3:
    A Dwarf and an Elf are attempting to communicate using Common. Neither of them is particularly good at it, so they must always take their time when communicating, rolling until they meet each others' DCs. This can be assumed to happen off-screen unless accurate communication comes up for some reason (such as for purposes of passing along a secret message).

    Example 4:
    A Human is attempting to tell an Ogre that he is coming in peace. The Human has a +9 modifier, the Ogre -1. The DC to make the Ogre understand Common is 21. The Human can not make the DC by taking 10, so he rolls.
    He gets an 11 on the die, for a total of 20. While the Ogre does not understand what the Human is saying, he understands that the Human does not wish to fight.
    Last edited by Ernir; 2010-10-20 at 06:17 PM.
    Halfling healer avatar by Akrim.elf.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Speak Language - revised skill

    The only way this doesn't hamper people with low skill points such as Fighters is if you give extra skill points to everyone for the persous of learning speak language skills.
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    Default Re: [3.5] Speak Language - revised skill

    10 ranks in any single language skill is enough to reliably make almost any creature understand you, regardless of what language they can (or can't) speak. Is this intentional?

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    Default Re: [3.5] Speak Language - revised skill

    Quote Originally Posted by Silverscale View Post
    The only way this doesn't hamper people with low skill points such as Fighters is if you give extra skill points to everyone for the persous of learning speak language skills.
    Well, you do get bonus skill points. "Characters start with 4 ranks in their native languages, and 2 ranks in their secondary languages."

    If you are referring to the fact that languages now demand more than 2 skill points in order for anyone ever to master it completely, well, yes, that kind of was the point.

    Fighters and their ilk not getting enough skill points is a separate issue, I think.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ashtagon View Post
    10 ranks in any single language skill is enough to reliably make almost any creature understand you, regardless of what language they can (or can't) speak. Is this intentional?
    No, it wasn't.

    In fact, the skill is entirely missing information about trained and untrained checks. It wasn't supposed to be used this way. Need to fix.

    EDIT: Fixed.

    However, should I take the time and make rules for pantomiming?
    Last edited by Ernir; 2010-10-20 at 06:18 PM.
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    Default Re: [3.5] Speak Language - revised skill

    ok, as written now, a typical native speaker with Cha 10, 4 free ranks, and the +5 native bonus, will roll a total of 19 against a DC 16. That works.

    A non-native speaker of common (say, a 1st level dwarf) will typically roll 12 against a DC of 16 (with a human). So no talking in combat with friends for him.

    Does the +5 bonus apply to only one language, or all native languages, or all native and secondary languages?

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    Default Re: [3.5] Speak Language - revised skill

    That's interesting if you'd like to make language a bigger option in your game, even between PC's. Might offer some interesting role play when the party elf and dwarf only understand each other half the time.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Speak Language - revised skill

    Quote Originally Posted by Ashtagon View Post
    ok, as written now, a typical native speaker with Cha 10, 4 free ranks, and the +5 native bonus, will roll a total of 19 against a DC 16. That works.
    The intention was that the DC would be 20 minus the entire bonus the listener has with the language. The example two-

    Quote Originally Posted by Ashtagon View Post
    Does the +5 bonus apply to only one language, or all native languages, or all native and secondary languages?
    Only the native languages was what I had in mind (the "other" languages characters start with aren't native).

    Hmm. A skill trick, available only at character creation, making you bilingual? Could make sense...
    Quote Originally Posted by Ormur View Post
    That's interesting if you'd like to make language a bigger option in your game, even between PC's. Might offer some interesting role play when the party elf and dwarf only understand each other half the time.
    Yeah... it's not appropriate for games not focusing on such things.

    Still, I was hoping to create a rule that doesn't get in the way except in fringe circumstances.
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