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    Default 3.5 D&D Language System

    One of the things that always bothered me about 3.x DnD is how languages are marginalized.

    As someone who has traveled and has a decent amount of experience with such, I always have RPed my character's as having different levels of command over a language.

    Now there's a way to mechanically represent that.


    Part 1: The skill.
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    Speak Language:

    It now requires 3 ‘class ranks’ in Speak Language to gain complete fluency with a given language. Partial ranks are also possible, as shown below:
    1 Rank: Rudimentary conversation with a limited vocabulary. Able to convey basic intentions, or obtain very common and straightforward information. Make a DC 14 intelligence check to understand general meaning of another conversation. Incur a -6 competence penalty to skills regarding the use of that language.

    2 Ranks: Casual conversation with an average vocabulary. Able to communicate effectively regarding common matters, generally understandable and able to understand conversation. Incur a -2 competence penalty to attempting to pass as a native speaker or debate or understand things of an unusual or obscure nature (such as matters requiring a Knowledge (the planes) skill).

    3 Ranks: Completely fluent. With some immersion and further practice, able to speak as well as a native speaker. Complete vocabulary.

    5 Ranks: Mastery. You have Mastered this language, including obscure or ancient forms of it. Your vocabulary is impressively extensive, and your understanding and command of the language enables you to flawlessly communicate with others. Gain a +4 competence bonus on language-based skill checks while using a language you have Mastered.

    -Spells such as Comprehend Languages and Tongues grant the equivalent of 2 ranks in all languages to their recipients.
    -Characters start the game with a number of class ranks in Speak Language equal to 1 + Int modifier in addition to their automatic languages.
    -People are considered to have rank 3 in their native language (such as Elven for elves), and 2 ranks in any other automatic language (such as Common for elves).


    Part 2: The spells.

    Comprehend languages is a 3rd-level spell.

    Tongues is: Brd 4, Clr 5, Sor/Wiz 5.

    Otherwise they work as-written (noting the above system).


    Part 3: Feats.

    Linguistic Training [General]

    Prerequisite: Speak Language 4 Ranks.

    Benefit: Gain 5 class ranks in Speak Language, these may be spent on any number of languages.


    Linguistic Specialization [General]

    Prerequisite: Mastery (rank 5) of a language, Int 15+.

    Benefit:
    While using a language you have Mastered in language-dependant spells or abilities, you gain a +2 bonus on your effective level (as considered by that ability). Furthermore, you gain a +2 bonus to your spell-save DCs on any language-dependant compulsions or enchantments you cast.

    Linguistic Mastery [General]

    Prerequisite: Mastery (rank 5) of three languages, Linguistic Specialization, Int 15+

    Benefit: Gain a +4 competence bonus on all language-dependant skills. This bonus stacks with that granted by Mastering a language.
    Furthermore, Speak Language is always a class skill for you, and you may purchase Speak Language ranks at half the normal cost.
    Finally, you may cast Comprehend Languages at will.
    Last edited by Kizara; 2008-09-16 at 06:11 PM.

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    Default Re: 3.5 D&D Language System

    Interesting, but it still keeps some languages shelved into oblivion. Most people converse in common anyway.

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    Default Re: 3.5 D&D Language System

    Huh. This is pretty much the same as what I've been trying to use in my game, except more fleshed-out. I'll definitely keep this one in mind - especially considering my world doesn't really have a "Common".

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    Default Re: 3.5 D&D Language System

    Awesome. Just the sort of thing that I like, language and realism nut that I am. Reminds me of the "Read" skill that I posted once, as a replacement for Decipher Script. (Except, your system is simpler than mine...)
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    Default Re: 3.5 D&D Language System

    Hmm... I plan to have my next character be a Yuan-ti pureblood who doesn't speak most of her languages fluently. Perhaps I can use this for her.

    Good job on making mechanics that support role-playing by the way.
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    Default Re: 3.5 D&D Language System

    I like this, its kind of like the Rolemaster Language system, but it had 6 ranks, each with a different level of understanding. I like it, I will have to use it for my potential campaigns.
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    Default Re: 3.5 D&D Language System

    That's pretty good, especially since someone like me (who has studied both German and Spanish in high school) knows basics of the language's grammar, some vocabulary, etc. but should not be hired as an interpreter for a foreign delegate. Speak Language is too all-or-nothing as it stands in Core. Good job.
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    Default Re: 3.5 D&D Language System

    Awesome! I love languages despite the fact I never get further than 1 rank in speaking it Though as a linguist own my own way, I like this. It's not too complicated, but just enough so. I have used something like this in the past but I hardly remember what it was, though I do think that the first rank only allowed you to read and write and the second rank was speaking so you were always one step better in reading and writing than in speaking.

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    Default Re: 3.5 D&D Language System

    Thank you all for the positive response.

    To answer some particular comments:

    Interesting, but it still keeps some languages shelved into oblivion. Most people converse in common anyway.
    I cannot create mechanics that dictate the proliferantion of languages in your campaign. If you feel a language isn't popular enough, that has everything to do with your campaign setting and very little to do with my language mechanics.

    Huh. This is pretty much the same as what I've been trying to use in my game, except more fleshed-out. I'll definitely keep this one in mind - especially considering my world doesn't really have a "Common".
    Awesome. Just the sort of thing that I like, language and realism nut that I am. Reminds me of the "Read" skill that I posted once, as a replacement for Decipher Script. (Except, your system is simpler than mine...)
    Thanks. The key is to fully-integrate the system into the game as a whole and to make it 'click' with anything that it might effect or be affected by it. At the same time, you need to make it straightforward enough and not more of a pain then it's worth.

    Hmm... I plan to have my next character be a Yuan-ti pureblood who doesn't speak most of her languages fluently. Perhaps I can use this for her.

    Good job on making mechanics that support role-playing by the way.
    Thank you. I had a character that slowly became a half-celestial, and I tried to RP her increasing native use of the language. While I didn't have much of a problem doing that, it was anti-climatic when I already had the language at level 1, and technically didn't get any better at it.

    That's pretty good, especially since someone like me (who has studied both German and Spanish in high school) knows basics of the language's grammar, some vocabulary, etc. but should not be hired as an interpreter for a foreign delegate. Speak Language is too all-or-nothing as it stands in Core. Good job.
    Thanks. I have been to Spain, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Britain myself. It was those experiences that helped me flesh-out this system.

    Awesome! I love languages despite the fact I never get further than 1 rank in speaking it Though as a linguist own my own way, I like this. It's not too complicated, but just enough so. I have used something like this in the past but I hardly remember what it was, though I do think that the first rank only allowed you to read and write and the second rank was speaking so you were always one step better in reading and writing than in speaking.
    I strongly considered having a seperate 'tier' for reading. However, that would 'break the camel's back' per-se and make the system too complicated. This is meant as an abstraction, as the normal skill is. However, I do manage to allow a degree of representation.

    If you wanted to track your character's ability to read and write a language seperately with my system you certinally could. You could 'buy' each level with only half a point (as class).

    Personally, unless you are a barbarian, I would just use it as is, and keep the current level of abstration.



    Thanks again for your feedback everyone. If you're interested, check out my 2d10 variant thread on this page. It was made with a similar level of skill as this system (or so I hope). :)
    Last edited by Kizara; 2008-03-04 at 04:49 PM.

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    Default Re: 3.5 D&D Language System

    This is quite similar to the GURPS Fourth Edition languages, which is one of GURPS' strong points over D&D. Although something like this requires much more work in a system like D&D, I think you did a nice job. Good work.

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    Default Re: 3.5 D&D Language System

    Quote Originally Posted by osyluth View Post
    This is quite similar to the GURPS Fourth Edition languages, which is one of GURPS' strong points over D&D. Although something like this requires much more work in a system like D&D, I think you did a nice job. Good work.
    Thank you. I have no knowledge or experience with GURPS, so that is interesting. Glad to know I've improved the system.

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    Default Re: 3.5 D&D Language System

    I really like this. I always axe Common in any world I play, so this is actually really interesting a means to make the part matter. Having personally studied 4 foreign languages (Swedish, English, German and French) back when I was in school, I can appreciate it being difficult to actually master a foreign language. Also, it's fairly easy to make it a big deal in a campaign, so I may just introduce this system to the next campaign I DM.

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    Default Re: 3.5 D&D Language System

    Benefit: While using a language you have Mastered in language-dependant spells or abilities, you gain a +2 bonus on your effective level (as considered by that ability). Furthermore, you gain a +2 bonus to your spell-save DCs on any language-dependant compulsions or enchantments you cast.
    Seems fair. I might also suggest some modifiers to 'social' skills like Bluff, Intimidate, Gather Information or especially Diplomacy depending on your fluency in the subject's language.

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    Default Re: 3.5 D&D Language System

    This is beautiful.
    Though may I suggest a synergy at +1 at 3 ranks, for similar languages?

    Like once you learn one romance language, learning the rest of them is a lot easier... or so it seems.
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    Default Re: 3.5 D&D Language System

    Yea, some sort of bonus for having learned same type of a language should be there; English was tough for me to learn, but Swedish and German much less so. Same would apply to starting Spanish now that I've learned French. And indeed, knowing Latin supports all of those.

    Also, once a person knows 10 languages, learning new ones becomes ridiculously easy. So there should be some bonus to them for each language you've learned.

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    Default Re: 3.5 D&D Language System

    Quote Originally Posted by Alfryd View Post
    Seems fair. I might also suggest some modifiers to 'social' skills like Bluff, Intimidate, Gather Information or especially Diplomacy depending on your fluency in the subject's language.
    The skill itself does this, not the feat. The feat just further allows you to gain benefit on your magical abilities.


    This is beautiful.
    Though may I suggest a synergy at +1 at 3 ranks, for similar languages?

    Like once you learn one romance language, learning the rest of them is a lot easier... or so it seems.

    Yea, some sort of bonus for having learned same type of a language should be there; English was tough for me to learn, but Swedish and German much less so. Same would apply to starting Spanish now that I've learned French. And indeed, knowing Latin supports all of those.

    Also, once a person knows 10 languages, learning new ones becomes ridiculously easy. So there should be some bonus to them for each language you've learned.
    Some good ideas and points here. The key is not to overcomplicate the system.

    However, another feat would simulate that easily. I'll make one up and add it to the OP.

    Thanks for the feedback/input.

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    Default Re: 3.5 D&D Language System

    Thank you!
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    Default Re: 3.5 D&D Language System

    As far as a Common tongue goes, my games have a Trade Common, which in this system would cap out at either 1 or 2 ranks - it's meant as a simple language anybody can learn quickly to convey basic information, not something you're going to speak to your family over dinner.

    I like this system, though I think some of the bonuses obtained from higher language ranks are a bit extreme. Maybe give 4 ranks a benefit - at 4 ranks, you can speak and understand at full speed, handle most dialects, and pronounce without a noticeable accent. Native speakers would start at rank 4 in their first language, then. Though 5 ranks' benefit is somewhat extreme - that's the equivalent of years of study at the university level. Is this skill considered generally cross-class? I could see taking till at least 7th level to learn obscure and archaic versions of a language, but 2nd level is way too early for that degree of mastery IMO.
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    Default Re: 3.5 D&D Language System

    Quote Originally Posted by Leicontis View Post
    As far as a Common tongue goes, my games have a Trade Common, which in this system would cap out at either 1 or 2 ranks - it's meant as a simple language anybody can learn quickly to convey basic information, not something you're going to speak to your family over dinner.
    That's an interesting take on it.

    I like this system, though I think some of the bonuses obtained from higher language ranks are a bit extreme. Maybe give 4 ranks a benefit - at 4 ranks, you can speak and understand at full speed, handle most dialects, and pronounce without a noticeable accent. Native speakers would start at rank 4 in their first language, then. Though 5 ranks' benefit is somewhat extreme - that's the equivalent of years of study at the university level. Is this skill considered generally cross-class? I could see taking till at least 7th level to learn obscure and archaic versions of a language, but 2nd level is way too early for that degree of mastery IMO.
    I may have gone a bit overboard here trying to make languages more useful and important. I am not going to give level requirements to these skills, as that would create too much complication, but I may consider moving master level up to 6 ranks and then have the 3-4 ranks divided up a bit.

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    Default Re: 3.5 D&D Language System

    Got a bit necromanced here it seems. Which is fine since I missed this one.

    Skill itself should be tweaked IMO. Give fluency to rank 3; as well as a native speaker doesn't mean it's completely fluent with full vocabulary. Can speak and understand just fine works for rank 3. Give complete vocabulary and perfect grammar and whatnot to rank 4. Give smaller bonuses there (half of mastery). Then give mastery at rank 6 so at 1st level a sage/scholar/whatever can have mastery of a language with skill focus, but no one else. Spells would give rank 3 this way.

    Overall, a good job.
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    Default Re: 3.5 D&D Language System

    Quote Originally Posted by cnsvnc View Post
    Got a bit necromanced here it seems. Which is fine since I missed this one.

    Skill itself should be tweaked IMO. Give fluency to rank 3; as well as a native speaker doesn't mean it's completely fluent with full vocabulary. Can speak and understand just fine works for rank 3. Give complete vocabulary and perfect grammar and whatnot to rank 4. Give smaller bonuses there (half of mastery). Then give mastery at rank 6 so at 1st level a sage/scholar/whatever can have mastery of a language with skill focus, but no one else. Spells would give rank 3 this way.

    Overall, a good job.
    I agree more-or-less. I will be revising it in the near future.

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    Default Re: 3.5 D&D Language System

    Have you played in my group at any point? This is almost exactly the same as a system my group has used in the past. We ended up making Speak Language a class skill for all classes, and allowing one skill point to buy two ranks for classes like bard and noble which already had Speak Language as a class skill to help offset the increased skill point cost of speaking languages; otherwise, it would become prohibitively expensive to speak new languages.

    I think that spells should stick to granting 2 "language ranks". It's a way to make actually speaking the languages superior to just casting a spell and knowing every language in existence.
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    Default Re: 3.5 D&D Language System

    Quote Originally Posted by bahamut920 View Post
    Have you played in my group at any point? This is almost exactly the same as a system my group has used in the past. We ended up making Speak Language a class skill for all classes, and allowing one skill point to buy two ranks for classes like bard and noble which already had Speak Language as a class skill to help offset the increased skill point cost of speaking languages; otherwise, it would become prohibitively expensive to speak new languages.

    I think that spells should stick to granting 2 "language ranks". It's a way to make actually speaking the languages superior to just casting a spell and knowing every language in existence.
    I disagree with making it easier to buy the ranks. You already can get some substantial bonuses as well as roleplaying prestige with your ranks. Learning languages shouldn't be easy or cheap.

    The first thing you do is make languages more imporant by making them in more demand (less supply from spells, more value from having them) and then you make them require a bit more work to get. Thus have I done.


    As for spells granting rank 2, I agree and intend to keep that.
    Also, I'm glad other groups have my love of languages as well, but I assure you I made this completely from scratch.

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    Default Re: 3.5 D&D Language System

    I agree with Chump lump, and actually was thinking of using that exact same system. Here is how I would group SRD

    Grimlock
    Undercommon
    Dwarven
    Gnome

    Terran

    Common
    Giant
    Halfling
    Gnome
    (bonuses don't stack. Upon three ranks in Gnome pick a group)

    Sahugain
    Kuo-Toan
    Slaadi
    Aquan

    Sylvan
    Elven
    Treant

    Thri-Kreen
    Formian

    Celestial
    Auran

    Abyssal
    Infernal

    Draconic
    Ignan
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    Default Re: 3.5 D&D Language System

    Quote Originally Posted by Kizara View Post
    Also, I'm glad other groups have my love of languages as well, but I assure you I made this completely from scratch.
    You misunderstand... I was just surprised by the similarities, and meant that more as a joke then anything else. I guess it fell flat, though...
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    Default Re: 3.5 D&D Language System

    Several questions/comments come to mind.

    Questions:
    1) Do you intend for speak language to remain a cross class skill for most characters?
    And if you do, does speak language keep the cross class skill cap?

    2) How do you see Speak Language interacting with Decipher Script?

    3) What is the effect of having four ranks?


    Comments:
    1) If you do keep speak language as a cross class skill (in order to retain the superiority of appropriate classes in this area), you could have six levels at a cost of half a rank each.

    2) The cost seems too expensive for a campaign with the number of languages and range of travel of a 'standard' D&D campaign. IMO The current rules for languages are can be too simplified, but this goes too far the other way, making it painfull to learn languages compared to other skills.

    3)
    Quote Originally Posted by ChumpLump View Post
    This is beautiful.
    Though may I suggest a synergy at +1 at 3 ranks, for similar languages?

    Like once you learn one romance language, learning the rest of them is a lot easier... or so it seems.
    Quote Originally Posted by Kizara View Post
    However, another feat would simulate that easily. I'll make one up and add it to the OP.
    A feat does not simulate that. The feat (Linguistic Mastery) may be usefull for a specialist (although spending that many skill points and then spending feats on top is a pretty heavy cost for a PC), but the synergy effect helps relativly ordinary characters who are learning a language similar to their own.

    4) The feat Linguistic Mastery is mechanically awkward.
    (a)Is Speak Language a Language depenadant skill? I assume from your write up it's not, but intuitvly it should be.
    (b)As writen Linguistic Mastery gives a far bigger bonus to classes without Speak Language as a class skill than those without.
    (c)The way Comprehend Languages works (in your system effectivly a +2 bonus to some uses of the skill) makes the last two ranks of a language less usefull to a character with this feat than to one without.
    (d)This feat makes it likely that the charcters who will get the most use out of it will have an awkward mix of free, cross-class, and half-price skill ranks.

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    Default Re: 3.5 D&D Language System

    Quote Originally Posted by Roog View Post
    Several questions/comments come to mind.

    Questions:
    1) Do you intend for speak language to remain a cross class skill for most characters?
    Yes.
    And if you do, does speak language keep the cross class skill cap?
    My original intent was no, but I may change that. Its not really appropriate for PCs to have Mastery at level 1.

    2) How do you see Speak Language interacting with Decipher Script?
    Although the explanitory text deals with verbal ability, it applies equally to written ability. The same difficulties (or lack thereof) one has with understanding a language orally, one still has understanding its written form.

    3) What is the effect of having four ranks?
    Currently none. I am going to split rank 3 (fluency) up into 3 and 4, and make Mastery rank 6. After doing so, rank 5 will serve as nothing but a stepping-stone to mastery.


    Comments:
    1) If you do keep speak language as a cross class skill (in order to retain the superiority of appropriate classes in this area), you could have six levels at a cost of half a rank each.

    2) The cost seems too expensive for a campaign with the number of languages and range of travel of a 'standard' D&D campaign. IMO The current rules for languages are can be too simplified, but this goes too far the other way, making it painfull to learn languages compared to other skills.
    1) Yes, that is my intention. I am going to be revising this a bit for my next campaign.

    2) I don't agree. If you are traveling alot and meeting alot of different types of people, then you can use spells/items to be able to communicate with people. However, I am more interested in simulating how languages actually work here then character convience.

    A feat does not simulate that. The feat (Linguistic Mastery) may be usefull for a specialist (although spending that many skill points and then spending feats on top is a pretty heavy cost for a PC), but the synergy effect helps relativly ordinary characters who are learning a language similar to their own.
    You are correct, none of my feats currently simulate that. It was my intention at time of posting that to make one. I have since forgotten my idea for that and have shelved it.

    4) The feat Linguistic Mastery is mechanically awkward.
    (a)Is Speak Language a Language depenadant skill? I assume from your write up it's not, but intuitvly it should be.
    (b)As writen Linguistic Mastery gives a far bigger bonus to classes without Speak Language as a class skill than those without.
    (c)The way Comprehend Languages works (in your system effectivly a +2 bonus to some uses of the skill) makes the last two ranks of a language less usefull to a character with this feat than to one without.
    (d)This feat makes it likely that the charcters who will get the most use out of it will have an awkward mix of free, cross-class, and half-price skill ranks.
    a) I'm not sure what you mean. It's somewhat obvious that "Speak Language" is Language-Dependant? I mean, how could it not be?

    b) You are correct, although its not THAT much better, as only the "speak language is always class" aspect of the feat works for those without it being class. Most of the bonuses the feat give still apply to those with it as a class skill. The reason that wording is in there is so if someone masters a language (as class or (with signifigantly more investment) as not) they can continue putting resources into languages at a reduced rate. This also helps alieviate your Comment #2 issue.

    3) No, it gives you effective rank 2. Not PLUS 2. So, if you already have rank 5, it does nothing for that language for you. It is superflous.

    4) Not sure what you mean, perhaps I'm just too tired right now...

  28. - Top - End - #28
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Kobold

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    Default Re: 3.5 D&D Language System

    If you are changing to half ranks rather than ranks, then this makes your language system a whole lot less skill intensive, which mitigates the situation I was attempting to point out in comment #2.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kizara View Post
    2) I don't agree. If you are traveling alot and meeting alot of different types of people, then you can use spells/items to be able to communicate with people. However, I am more interested in simulating how languages actually work here then character convience.
    Just because something is inconvienient for characters does not necessarily mean it should be inconvienient for players.


    How many languages do you see characters knowing at different levels in a system like this?

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Piedmon_Sama's Avatar

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    Default Re: 3.5 D&D Language System

    This would add an awesome level of detail to any campaign setting. I don't like to use "common" in my campaigns, either, and I'd love to institute a setting where different countries have different languages and PCs simply have to deal with the difficulty--but my players would probably complain bitterly about the extra complication.

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    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    Leicontis's Avatar

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    Default Re: 3.5 D&D Language System

    For synergy - perhaps attaining 5 ranks in a language gives something like 1 rank or 1/2 rank in all related languages? Someone with a degree in Spanish is going to have a relatively easy time understanding Italian, for example, while someone with only a basic understanding won't be able to understand much of either. Maybe spread it out, giving the synergy rank 1 point at a time over 4th and 5th levels? Even total mastery of a language won't give you more than a basic understanding of its relatives, but it will make learning them a lot easier.
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