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    Default [New Skill System] Language Proficiency

    [New Skill System] Language Proficiency

    Designed for Crossroads: The New World (but hopefully useful to other settings and campaigns)


    Every character gains a Native Language at first level (unless they take the Born of Two Peoples feat, in which case they may take up to two Native Languages, depending on which Cultures they select). The character speaks their Native Language(s) at the “Native-Speaker” level of proficiency, and all other languages at the “Untrained” level. For every rank invested in Linguistics, a character can increase their proficiency in any language by one fluency-level.

    Speaking or understanding a language in which you are less than "Fluent" requires you to make a roll: d20 + your Linguistics modifier + either your Wisdom modifier (if you are trying to understand someone else) or Charisma modifier (if trying to make someone else understand you). Roll each only once per conversation. If you fail, you cannot try to communicate with that specific individual in this language until you have gained a level. (Thus, it is possible, if you succeed in one roll but fail the other, to hold a conversation where you can understand the other speaker but they cannot understand you, or vice-versa.)

    The difficulty of the roll depends on creature type and how closely the individual's language is related to any of your own languages. It is easiest to communicate with those who speak languages which are related to your own. In this case, if the individual's language is a member of the same language family as any language you know, the DC is 10. If the individual does not know any of these languages, the DC is 20. (See Linguistics, Pathfinder Player's Handbook, pg. ??). The DM may choose to ignore this check at his/her discretion, in the interest of keeping things moving and to satisfy the demands of the plot.

    The above DCs increase by 5 if the speaker is a fey, giant, or monstrous humanoid; they increase by 10 if the speaker is an elemental. If the other individual is of any other creature type, communication via spoken or written language becomes impossible (though abilities and spells like Telepathy and Comprehend Languages can overcome this obstacle).

    If the speaker is deliberately trying to make themselves understood, you gain a +2 circumstance bonus on this roll. If you are attempting to interpret their speech from outside normal conversational distance (such as eavesdropping), you take a -4 penalty on this roll.

    It is possible to take 10 on a Linguistics check, but only if the listener is willing to wait several minutes for the speaker to get their point across.

    Untrained (0 ranks)
    You haven’t the foggiest notion of how to communicate with speakers of this language. You can sometimes pick out the names of people and places you’re familiar with, and you can use pantomime to signify certain actions, but anything beyond the simplest statements is impossible for you to discern or express clearly.
    • You take a -15 penalty on Linguistics checks to communicate with speakers of this language.
    • Understanding or communicating anything more complex than a one- or two-word sentence automatically results in failure.
    • If you miss the DC by more than 15, the result is treated as a critical failure.


    Novice (1 rank)
    You can ask for food and shelter, take and give directions, and complete most simple transactions without forgetting your courtesies and honorifics, but unchaperoned immersion in this language is often confusing to you, and can be frightening if any serious misunderstanding arises.
    • You take a -10 penalty on Linguistics checks to communicate with speakers of this language.
    • If you miss the DC by more than 10, the result is treated as a critical failure.


    Intermediate (2 ranks)
    You know basic vocabulary words (time and date, cardinal directions, family and relationships, weather, etc.) and phrases (greetings, farewells, titles, etc.), but your sentences are clumsy. You restructure your sentences awkwardly, to avoid exposing your ignorance of certain words and grammatical rules. You speak this language well enough to hold a simple occupation, such as a manual laborer or animal-herder.
    • You take a -5 penalty on Linguistics checks to communicate with speakers of this language.


    Conversational (3 ranks)
    You can usually carry an entire conversation with a native speaker, making only the occasional grammatical mistake or using the wrong word. You are able to discuss some abstract concepts, and rarely need to ask others to speak more slowly or repeat themselves. You speak this language well enough to hold a more complex occupation, such as serving drinks in a tavern or making deliveries.
    • You take a -2 penalty on Linguistics checks to communicate with speakers of this language.


    Fluent (4 ranks)
    You can speak this language almost as well as someone who learned it from birth. Your linguistic skills would not prevent you from holding any professional occupation.
    • You take no penalty on Linguistics checks to communicate with other speakers of this language, though it’s still possible for native-speakers to make their speech incomprehensible to you through euphemisms, wordplay, and slang.


    Native-Speaker (5 ranks)
    This language is your mother-tongue. You speak it as easily as breathing or walking.
    • You do not have to make Linguistics checks to communicate with others who speak this language.
    • You gain a +2 competence bonus on Diplomacy checks against those who have this language as their culture's Native Language.
    • This level of proficiency can only be attained by characters who possess a Culture which has this language as its Native Language.


    Literacy
    The ability to read and write is entirely separate from linguistic skill with a given language. Instead it is represented by a series of feats, which are described here.

    Language Feats
    • Polyglot: (first-level only) You speak 3 additional languages at the intermediate level.
    • Gift for Tongues: (first-level only) Each skill point invested in Linguistics grants twice the usual amount of fluency (+2 instead of +1).
    Last edited by SuperDave; 2014-08-01 at 02:24 PM.
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    Default Re: [New Skill System] Language Proficiency

    Quote Originally Posted by SuperDave View Post
    Should players have to make a Linguistics check to understand the speaker, or is the system difficult enough already?
    The penalty should go both ways. IE: If Player A speaks Novice French he would have a penalty to speak or understand French. This could get really silly if for some reason you have to people meet who only have a language neither of them speak well in common.

    Quote Originally Posted by SuperDave View Post
    How many ranks should you have to invest to increase your proficiency by one category?
    This question is one of the reasons I really wasn't sure about tying linguistic ability directly to a skill. We still have the issue where Rogues can pretty much always be the best linguists and clerics will be awful. Which just seems wrong to me.

    Quote Originally Posted by SuperDave View Post
    Would learning one language make it easier to learn another in the same linguistic family?
    I feel like it should. Maybe modifiers to the Linguistics checks to understand would be more appropriate.

    Quote Originally Posted by SuperDave View Post
    Should learning languages at an young age be easier?
    Technically this is most true for very young children, and if you're exposed to more languages at that young of an age the best way to represent it might be to take the Metis feat instead.


    Quote Originally Posted by SuperDave View Post
    How would spells like Comprehend Languages, Speak with Dead, and Tongues affect (and be affected by) this system?
    These spells should all still function exactly as they're written. Comprehend let's you understand but you still have to work to make yourself understood. Tongues lets you understand everyone and speak any language, but specifically states that you speak one language at a time meaning if you are talking to one person who understand Spanish and one who understands Algonquin you can understand them both but only speak to one of them at a time. And Speak with Dead just means you need to know a language they speak to get any real use out of it.

    Quote Originally Posted by SuperDave View Post
    Lastly, what about reading? Should players have to invest a few extra ranks in order to read a language they speak, and if so, how many should it require? Or should Reading be an entirely separate Skill, with its own score and Ranks? as anyone who works in early childhood education can tell you, reading is not a skill which flows naturally from speaking a language.
    Reading is awkwardly handled by DnD in general. For ease of use it might be best to leave it as it is. If you turn it into a skill we again have the problem of clerics not being able to read

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    Default Re: [New Skill System] Language Proficiency

    There actually is a class feature called Voice of the City which has mechanics which may be of interest.

    Most importantly, they have DCs.

    20 for if the language shares an alphabet (you could swap that to "shares a root"), and 30 if it doesn't.

    I'd reduce those DCs by 10 each so that a 1st level character at least has a chance of saying a few words in a language they are Untrained in.

    It also has a +5 bonus to the DC if the other creature is some particular creature types, and a +10 to the DC if they are of some other type.

    I think this needs more polish, but I like it so far.
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    Default Re: [New Skill System] Language Proficiency

    Quote Originally Posted by zabbarot View Post
    The penalty should go both ways. IE: If Player A speaks Novice French he would have a penalty to speak or understand French. This could get really silly if for some reason you have to people meet who only have a language neither of them speak well in common.
    So in order to communicate, both characters have to make a check: one to speak and one to interpret. And depending on their respective skill with the language, they'll get bonuses or penalties to their rolls. Is this correct?

    Quote Originally Posted by zabbarot View Post
    This question is one of the reasons I really wasn't sure about tying linguistic ability directly to a skill. We still have the issue where Rogues can pretty much always be the best linguists and clerics will be awful. Which just seems wrong to me.
    Hmmm, you're right. Is there a way that we could tie the number of Skill points you can invest in Linguistics to your Int mod, or something similar? That way Rogues won't have a monopoly on Linguistics, and smarter characters still get to speak more languages than dim ones.

    Maybe your Int mod generates special skill points that could only be spent on Linguistics? Or would that only serve to complicate things needlessly?

    Quote Originally Posted by zabbarot View Post
    I feel like it should. Maybe modifiers to the Linguistics checks to understand would be more appropriate.
    You mean a bonus for the listener to understand the speaker of this other language?

    Quote Originally Posted by zabbarot View Post
    Technically this is most true for very young children, and if you're exposed to more languages at that young of an age the best way to represent it might be to take the Metis feat instead.
    Fair enough. This wouldn't really apply to PCs anyway, since they'll probably all be adults.

    Quote Originally Posted by zabbarot View Post
    Reading is awkwardly handled by DnD in general. For ease of use it might be best to leave it as it is. If you turn it into a skill we again have the problem of clerics not being able to read
    Most characters are going to be illiterate anyway, so reading won't be a huge deal in this setting, for the most part.

    Maybe the ability to read could be the next step above "Native-Speaker"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Amechra View Post
    There actually is a class feature called Voice of the City which has mechanics which may be of interest.

    Most importantly, they have DCs.

    20 for if the language shares an alphabet (you could swap that to "shares a root"), and 30 if it doesn't.

    I'd reduce those DCs by 10 each so that a 1st level character at least has a chance of saying a few words in a language they are Untrained in.

    It also has a +5 bonus to the DC if the other creature is some particular creature types, and a +10 to the DC if they are of some other type.
    Thanks for pointing that out. I'm not sure that the abilities as-written really fit with this system (it shouldn't be too easy for the players to understand outsiders, after all), but it's good to have concrete DCs.

    A lot of the creature types mentioned may have only a little representation in our setting, but I like the idea that it's easier to communicate with humans (or at least with members of your own species) than with outsiders. I'll see what I can do about incorporating some of this into the system.

    Quote Originally Posted by Amechra View Post
    I think this needs more polish, but I like it so far.
    Thanks! Glad you like it so far. (BTW, did you mean that it needs more polish, or more Polish?)
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    Default Re: [New Skill System] Language Proficiency

    Alright, so I learned a few things about Pathfinder, and came up with some ideas. I also reordered what I quoted from you in order to address it in less confusing way.



    Communication
    Quote Originally Posted by SuperDave View Post
    So in order to communicate, both characters have to make a check: one to speak and one to interpret. And depending on their respective skill with the language, they'll get bonuses or penalties to their rolls. Is this correct?
    Yes, basically here's my idea: Fluent and Native Speakers don't have to roll at all. Anyone below that has to roll to understand or convey an idea. So best practice will be to have an interpreter in the party who knows a couple languages fluently.

    Language Families
    Quote Originally Posted by SuperDave View Post
    You mean a bonus for the listener to understand the speaker of this other language?
    I've been thinking about this, since we grouped the Native American languages into families instead of keeping the individual languages I'm not sure we'd have any bonuses to give them. So it might be best to leave this idea out. It did give me an idea for a rework of the Smatterings Feat from Races of Destiny.

    Skill Points
    Quote Originally Posted by SuperDave View Post
    Hmmm, you're right. Is there a way that we could tie the number of Skill points you can invest in Linguistics to your Int mod, or something similar? That way Rogues won't have a monopoly on Linguistics, and smarter characters still get to speak more languages than dim ones.

    Maybe your Int mod generates special skill points that could only be spent on Linguistics? Or would that only serve to complicate things needlessly?
    So I learned how skills work in Pathfinder and I think they fixed it a bit. You suggested 2 points in Linguistics give a 'rank up' in a language. Going by that if you put a point in it at every level then you could be Fluent in two additional languages and Intermediate in a third, which really isn't so bad. Born of Two Worlds gives you one more and when I write up the Couereur de Bois class (it'll be easier than medicine man, I promise) I'll slip in some language related bonuses.

    Quote Originally Posted by SuperDave View Post
    Most characters are going to be illiterate anyway, so reading won't be a huge deal in this setting, for the most part.

    Maybe the ability to read could be the next step above "Native-Speaker"?
    That would be a bit awkward, in some ways learning to read a new language is easier than speaking it. ie I can read French and Spanish but I would not want to even try having a conversation :P

    If we want most characters to remain illiterate it might be best to only tie it to a feat. The other option I would suggest is leave it as a skill point buy off but link the cost to culture. So characters from cultures where more people read would be more likely to be literate. Also I think we might be underestimating literacy rates a bit. Preliminary research(read wikipedia) suggests reading was stressed in continental Europe (but not England) especially in Sweden.

    I'm thinking for some cultures we can add an "Educated" feat and have it grant literacy in their native language along with a couple knowledge skills added to the class skills or something to represent schooling. This would probably make the most sense for Chinese and Western Cultures.

    Certain characters should definitely be literate though. For instance if someone was a Catholic Cleric (also I would argue that they get Latin as a bonus language at Fluent)

    Quote Originally Posted by SuperDave View Post
    Thanks! Glad you like it so far. (BTW, did you mean that it needs more polish, or more Polish?)
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    Default Re: [New Skill System] Language Proficiency

    Quote Originally Posted by Amechra View Post
    There actually is a class feature called Voice of the City which has mechanics which may be of interest. Most importantly, they have DCs.
    OK, is this what you meant on how to integrate the DCs into the "Language Proficiency" system?

    Speaking or understanding a language in which you are less than Fluent requires you to make a roll: d20 + your Linguistics modifier + either your Wisdom modifier (if you are trying to understand someone else) or Charisma modifier (if trying to make someone else understand you). Roll each only once per conversation. If you fail, you cannot try to communicate with that specific individual in this language until you have gained a level. (Thus, it is possible, if you succeed in one roll but fail the other, to hold a conversation where you can understand the other speaker but they cannot understand you, or vice-versa.)

    The DC of the roll depends on creature type and how closely the individual's language is related to any of your own languages. It is easiest to communicate with those who speak languages which are related to your own. In this case, if the individual's language is a member of the same language family as any language you know, the DC is 10. If the individual does not know any of these languages, the DC is 20. (See Linguistics, Pathfinder Player's Handbook, pg. ??).

    The above DCs increase by 5 if the speaker is a fey, giant, or monstrous humanoid; they increase by 10 if the speaker is an elemental. If the other individual is of any other creature type, communication via spoken or written language becomes impossible (though abilities and spells like Telepathy and Comprehend Languages can overcome this obstacle).

    If the speaker is deliberately trying to make themselves understood, you gain a +2 circumstance bonus on this roll. If you are attempting to interpret their speech from outside normal conversational distance (such as eavesdropping), you take a -4 penalty on this roll.
    ...But I wonder if I'm making things more complex (and easier on the players) than they need to be. Rolling a d20 + Linguistics (including your Int mod) plus your Wis/Cha mod seems like a too many bonuses to one roll, in my book. Should they maybe just roll a d20 and add only their Linguistics modifier? That'd make the roll harder, and the math simpler, which are probably both good things.

    What do you think?
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    Default Re: [New Skill System] Language Proficiency

    Sorry, it took me so long to write my last post that I didn't see that you had already responded, zabbarot.

    Quote Originally Posted by zabbarot View Post
    Communication

    Yes, basically here's my idea: Fluent and Native Speakers don't have to roll at all. Anyone below that has to roll to understand or convey an idea. So best practice will be to have an interpreter in the party who knows a couple languages fluently.
    I like it. Every prospective Lewis and Clark Expedition needs a Sacagawea, after all.

    Let me know what you think of the modified "Voice of the City" mechanics I posted. There might be a way to integrate those mechanics with your idea for both parties making rolls to have a successful conversation.

    Quote Originally Posted by zabbarot View Post
    Language Families

    I've been thinking about this, since we grouped the Native American languages into families instead of keeping the individual languages I'm not sure we'd have any bonuses to give them. So it might be best to leave this idea out. It did give me an idea for a rework of the Smatterings Feat from Races of Destiny.
    Well, the languages aren't set in stone yet. I assumed that each tribe would speak the language that tribe actually speaks in real life. It might be a little complicated to look each one up and see if it's related to any language you know, but Wikipedia is a pretty good resource for stuff like that, and the DM can always just wing it if need be.

    Quote Originally Posted by zabbarot View Post
    Skill Points

    So I learned how skills work in Pathfinder and I think they fixed it a bit. You suggested 2 points in Linguistics give a 'rank up' in a language. Going by that if you put a point in it at every level then you could be Fluent in two additional languages and Intermediate in a third, which really isn't so bad. Born of Two Worlds gives you one more and when I write up the Couereur de Bois class (it'll be easier than medicine man, I promise) I'll slip in some language related bonuses.
    I'm excited to see it! Will it be a French-only class, or could anyone who seeks their fortune in lands they're not familiar with gain levels in it?

    Quote Originally Posted by zabbarot View Post
    That would be a bit awkward, in some ways learning to read a new language is easier than speaking it. ie I can read French and Spanish but I would not want to even try having a conversation :P
    That's true, but it assumes you already know how to read the alphabet being used. Plus, the act of reading is an incredibly difficult skill to learn, especially for adults (who get frustrated and embarrassed and give up).

    Quote Originally Posted by zabbarot View Post
    If we want most characters to remain illiterate it might be best to only tie it to a feat. ... I'm thinking for some cultures we can add an "Educated" feat and have it grant literacy in their native language along with a couple knowledge skills added to the class skills or something to represent schooling. This would probably make the most sense for Chinese and Western Cultures.
    I think that an "Educated" feat would be the most elegant solution. Reading opens up dramatic possibilities in your life, so even if you had to take a separate feat for each language you want to write in, it would put you so far ahead of your peers that the cost would be worth it.

    There's a great scene in Black Robe where a Jesuit missionary demonstrates the power of literacy to an Algonquin friend. First, he asks the guy to tell him "something I couldn't possibly have known", and writes it down. Then, he walks across the camp and hands it to his priest-in-training. The youth then speaks aloud a fact which (from the Algonquin's point of view) he has absolutely no way of knowing. The Algonquin guy's mind is totally blown.

    The ability to communicate with someone you can't see, who you've never even met, who might be thousands of miles away (or hundreds of years in the future) is an incredible power. It's difficult to overstate just what a game-changer it is to learn to read, especially when that ability is not common. It's easy for modern-day Americans to forget about that because we learn it at such a young age; that also makes it easy to forget just how frustrating the process of learning it can be.

    I guess what I'm saying is that the cost of reading should be steep, but the rewards are so great that they'll pay for themselves many times over. (However, it shouldn't necessarily be tied to culture; there's no reason a Native couldn't learn to speak and read English just by dealing with traders and missionaries, but continue to live a traditional lifestyle.

    Quote Originally Posted by zabbarot View Post
    Certain characters should definitely be literate though. For instance if someone was a Catholic Cleric (also I would argue that they get Latin as a bonus language at Fluent)
    That seems like a fair bonus. Latin was a mark of great prestige, and every man envied those who could afford to have it taught to their sons. So great was its power that just knowing how to speak it might grant significant social bonuses in European societies.
    Last edited by SuperDave; 2013-08-14 at 02:12 PM.
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    Default Re: [New Skill System] Language Proficiency

    Quote Originally Posted by SuperDave View Post
    I like it. Every prospective Lewis and Clark Expedition needs a Sacagawea, after all.

    Let me know what you think of the modified "Voice of the City" mechanics I posted. There might be a way to integrate those mechanics with your idea for both parties making rolls to have a successful conversation.
    I think that works basically how it's written, although I think as written it means that you would use either your wisdom or charisma modifier in place of your intelligence modifier for that roll.

    Quote Originally Posted by SuperDave View Post
    Well, the languages aren't set in stone yet. I assumed that each tribe would speak the language that tribe actually speaks in real life. It might be a little complicated to look each one up and see if it's related to any language you know, but Wikipedia is a pretty good resource for stuff like that, and the DM can always just wing it if need be.
    it's just a question of whether or not it's worth the work. By all means feel free, but it might just be a bit overcomplicated.

    Quote Originally Posted by SuperDave View Post
    I'm excited to see it! Will it be a French-only class, or could anyone who seeks their fortune in lands they're not familiar with gain levels in it?
    I'm thinking the entrance requirement will be a non-native culture and fluency in a Native American language.

    Quote Originally Posted by SuperDave View Post
    That's true, but it assumes you already know how to read the alphabet being used. Plus, the act of reading is an incredibly difficult skill to learn, especially for adults (who get frustrated and embarrassed and give up).

    I think that an "Educated" feat would be the most elegant solution. Reading opens up dramatic possibilities in your life, so even if you had to take a separate feat for each language you want to write in, it would put you so far ahead of your peers that the cost would be worth it.

    There's a great scene in Black Robe where a Jesuit missionary demonstrates the power of literacy to an Algonquin friend. First, he asks the guy to tell him "something I couldn't possibly have known", and writes it down. Then, he walks across the camp and hands it to his priest-in-training. The youth then speaks aloud a fact which (from the Algonquin's point of view) he has absolutely no way of knowing. The Algonquin guy's mind is totally blown.

    The ability to communicate with someone you can't see, who you've never even met, who might be thousands of miles away (or hundreds of years in the future) is an incredible power. It's difficult to overstate just what a game-changer it is to learn to read, especially when that ability is not common. It's easy for modern-day Americans to forget about that because we learn it at such a young age; that also makes it easy to forget just how frustrating the process of learning it can be.

    I guess what I'm saying is that the cost of reading should be steep, but the rewards are so great that they'll pay for themselves many times over. (However, it shouldn't necessarily be tied to culture; there's no reason a Native couldn't learn to speak and read English just by dealing with traders and missionaries, but continue to live a traditional lifestyle.
    A feat seems fair to me. Especially with the bonus feat from culture available.

    Quote Originally Posted by SuperDave View Post
    That seems like a fair bonus. Latin was a mark of great prestige, and every man envied those who could afford to have it taught to their sons. So great was its power that just knowing how to speak it might grant significant social bonuses in European societies.
    Agreed.

    I had one other thought. Possibly letting people pay a skill point to go from 'Fluent' to 'Native' in a language. Basically this would be buying off the accent.

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    Default Re: [New Skill System] Language Proficiency

    Quote Originally Posted by zabbarot View Post
    I think that works basically how it's written, although I think as written it means that you would use either your wisdom or charisma modifier in place of your intelligence modifier for that roll.
    I meant that your Int mod is going to be part of your Linguistics skill checks, because Linguistics is an Int-based ability. So that's already being added to your Linguistics rolls in any case.

    So you're saying that the modified "Voice of the City" rules are fit to be incorporated? No more changes you'd suggest?

    Should increasing your proficiency cost two ranks, or four?

    Quote Originally Posted by zabbarot View Post
    I had one other thought. Possibly letting people pay a skill point to go from 'Fluent' to 'Native' in a language. Basically this would be buying off the accent.
    As it stands currently, the requirement for attaining the "Native-Speaker" level of proficiency is "possess[ing] a Culture which has this language as its Native Language". It should definitely be possible to learn to speak as skillfully as a native, but only if you actually "go native". Spending two ranks to make the final jump seems a little too easy to me.

    But maybe that's too steep a cost? How difficult is it to lose one's accent?
    Last edited by SuperDave; 2013-08-16 at 01:29 PM.
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    Default Re: [New Skill System] Language Proficiency

    Quote Originally Posted by SuperDave View Post
    I meant that your Int mod is going to be part of your Linguistics skill checks, because Linguistics is an Int-based ability. So that's already being added to your Linguistics rolls in any case.

    So you're saying that the modified "Voice of the City" rules are fit to be incorporated? No more changes you'd suggest?

    Should increasing your proficiency cost two ranks, or four?
    I think the modified rules will work, but we should roll some dice to test it. Increasing proficiency should definitely not cost 4 ranks. It's just too much.

    Quote Originally Posted by SuperDave View Post
    As it stands currently, the requirement for attaining the "Native-Speaker" level of proficiency is "possess[ing] a Culture which has this language as its Native Language". It should definitely be possible to learn to speak as skillfully as a native, but only if you actually "go native". Spending two ranks to make the final jump seems a little too easy to me.

    But maybe that's too steep a cost? How difficult is it to lose one's accent?
    Well it takes two ranks in Linguistics to go up a Language level so starting with no knowledge of the language at level 1, a character will be fluent in that language at level 8. That is some hefty investment in learning a single language. They've effectively already spent 8 skill points on this language. So one more skill point to get a +2 diplomacy bonus seems fair to me.

    I figure that for any character who this would be worth it they probably have common enough dealings with the culture in question to justify getting rid of their accent. From the few linguists I know it seems like losing an accent takes a few months of submersion in a language after you already know it. I remember seeing a paper that said people subconsciously copy the accents of those around them to fit in.
    Last edited by zabbarot; 2013-08-16 at 03:24 PM.

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    Default Re: [New Skill System] Language Proficiency

    So, I just scanned this thread and I didn't see this discussed in too much detail but perhaps I missed it. The way that the skill checks are described in the first post, I'm wondering how you'd handle failure. It seems that, given the gradient nature of language learning introduced by this little system (which I love!), then people can be proficient to one degree or another. And, if you have some proficiency but you still fail a check, does some information still come through? I'm just thinking that, even though I might only know a handful of words in a language, even rather complex communications will be partially comprised of simpler morphemes or whole words (or whatever) that I do, in fact, understand.

    I don't know. Maybe that's a little more complex than you want it to be. It seems to me, though, that even the check itself already reflects the level of proficiency's help with or hindrance to effective communication, being in a position where you might have reasonably succeeded (i.e. having some proficiency in the language) shouldn't allow for you to understand nothing.

    I don't know if that's clear or not, but I can try rephrasing later if I lost everyone.

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    Default Re: [New Skill System] Language Proficiency

    Quote Originally Posted by zabbarot View Post
    Well it takes two ranks in Linguistics to go up a Language level so starting with no knowledge of the language at level 1, a character will be fluent in that language at level 8. That is some hefty investment in learning a single language. They've effectively already spent 8 skill points on this language. So one more skill point to get a +2 diplomacy bonus seems fair to me.

    I figure that for any character who this would be worth it they probably have common enough dealings with the culture in question to justify getting rid of their accent. From the few linguists I know it seems like losing an accent takes a few months of submersion in a language after you already know it. I remember seeing a paper that said people subconsciously copy the accents of those around them to fit in.
    Oh man. I didn't even think about the total cost. Eight levels to speak one language perfectly is pretty steep. Maybe it should be one rank to improve your proficiency? That'd make it a lot easier for one character to learn several languages, or become fluent much quicker. Do you think one rank per level is too cheap, though?

    Also, I suppose that losing your accent isn't that hard. I'm removing the "must-have-Culture" requirement for becoming a "Native-Speaker".

    Quote Originally Posted by Morgarion View Post
    So, I just scanned this thread and I didn't see this discussed in too much detail but perhaps I missed it. The way that the skill checks are described in the first post, I'm wondering how you'd handle failure. It seems that, given the gradient nature of language learning introduced by this little system (which I love!), then people can be proficient to one degree or another. And, if you have some proficiency but you still fail a check, does some information still come through? I'm just thinking that, even though I might only know a handful of words in a language, even rather complex communications will be partially comprised of simpler morphemes or whole words (or whatever) that I do, in fact, understand.

    I don't know. Maybe that's a little more complex than you want it to be. It seems to me, though, that even the check itself already reflects the level of proficiency's help with or hindrance to effective communication, being in a position where you might have reasonably succeeded (i.e. having some proficiency in the language) shouldn't allow for you to understand nothing.

    I don't know if that's clear or not, but I can try rephrasing later if I lost everyone.
    I think I followed what you were saying, Morgarion. Failure is going to be handled on a gradient, like you suggested. The better you roll, the more you understand the speaker, or the more your meaning is conveyed to the listener. Dramatic failure is more likely when you're just starting out (miss the DC by more than 10 = critical fumble), and would indicate that you seriously misinterpret the speaker's meaning (for example, you might think that a man who's trying to sell you a horse had just given it to you as a gift). On a regular failure, the sentence would just come out so garbled that you couldn't make heads or tails of it, and you would have to try again. If you beat the DC, you understand them, and if you beat the DC by a lot, then you gain some kind of other insight, like sensing the speaker's true motive, or catching him in a lie.

    As for what exactly the listener understands, there aren't really specific rules. I figured I'd let the DM wing it, since every sentence is so different from every other sentence.
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    Default Re: [New Skill System] Language Proficiency

    OK, on the advice of AdmiralSquish, I dropped the number of ranks needed to increase your level of proficiency from two to one. I think that's easier to remember, and means that learning a language will be less of a drain on a character's limited pool of skill points. This should also make it much easier for characters to become polyglots, dabbling in several languages and learning just enough to communicate with almost anyone they meet.
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    Default Re: [New Skill System] Language Proficiency

    Lately I've been thinking about changing the language system from relying on skill ranks invested in Linguistics, to just having it based on your total bonus to Linguistics. Here's my reasoning:

    Say you've got two first-level characters, one who has Linguistics as a class skill and one who doesn't, and they both invest one rank in Linguistics. Even if neither has a bonus to Int, the first character now has +4 to all Linguistics checks, while the other has a measly +1. Now despite the fact that the first character has four times the linguistic skill of his companion, both characters speak exactly the same number of languages, and equally well (one at the "native speaker" level, and a second at the "novice" level). This becomes even more unfair if the first character does have an Int bonus, which is probably why he's investing skill ranks in Linguistics in the first place.

    I think it would be more fair to say that each point of Linguistics bonus improves your fluency in one language by one degree.
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    Default Re: [New Skill System] Language Proficiency

    I like the idea of counting the Int bonus in. But I'd up the ranks required. Either two ranks per degree, or one rank for untrained/novice, but two from novice to intermediate etc.

    Reasons:
    1) so that high skilled chars have something to do with skill points
    2) to represent increasing time investment in learning

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    Default Re: [New Skill System] Language Proficiency

    I don't think it should be based off total linguistics mod, if only because there's the question of 'what happens when your mod goes down'? Say, you take intelligence damage, or you suffer some sort of penalty? Or the inverse, do you suddenly gain more languages when you put on an int-boosting item, and lose them when you take it off?

    I seem to vaguely remember something about gaining additional language abilities from a high int when a character is created. I don't remember if it was that you gained some basic level of proficiency with a number of languages equal to your int mod, or if you gained virtual linguistic points equal to your int mod, but there was some way to start with more languages.
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