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Author Topic: Languages Discussion  (Read 10995 times)
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Exile
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« on: June 12, 2010, 11:21:28 AM »

An effort to summarise the language rules, as they presently stand (I think)....


Basic Principles
Languages come in three tiers: pidgin, basic (also known as competent), and fluent.  Every character is fluent in their native language; some cultures teach more than one to their children and you get those for free at character creation if that's the case.  DH has also given out at least one language for free to fit a character's Heroic Path and background. Smiley

Literacy, as an aside, is never free (unless you're an Hermetic Channeler).  It costs 2 points (see below for points) each time to buy literacy in each individual language; not all languages have a written form, but most do.

Similarly, some languages (Courtier and High Elven) are too complex to have a 'pidgin' level - a single point put into them is just progress towards reaching basic comprehension, and doesn't give any realy ability to communicate.  Others (Black Speech and Snow Elf Patrol Sign) are deliberately simplified, artificial languages, and only exist at "pidgin" level.

Simple, eh?

'Free' Languages
Remember the "points" I mentioned?  Every character gets (2x Int bonus) in points at character creation, to spend on languages - but there's a stage to deal with before that, since Midnight's languages are inter-related.  Here's where things definitely get complex, unfortunately.

This lists the relationships between languages that DH is using.  It disagrees with Midnight 2e on some key points and the nature of some linguistic relationships, so don't trust that book for this game.

These aren't extra languages you choose to learn or that are deliberately taught to you - some languages are closely related, so simply by knowing one you know a bit of the other (think of some of the closesly-related Romance languages, or German and Dutch in the real world).  Most of those relationships aren't two-way, however - I think that only Halfling and Danisil give understanding in both directions.

"Primary" means that knowledge in that language gives some knowledge in the ones listed.
"Related" means that some knowledge in that language is gained from the ones listed.

You do get to stack bonuses, but they are only considered in a sensible order - and nothing can take you to fluent understanding of a language except for proper study.  Basic is the best you can reach for free.

Likewise, you can't be boosted above the primary language's tier - so knowing two primary languages at pidgin doesn't get you the related tongue at basic.

Your native language is the first one that we look at when working out what related languages you might gain free levels in.

As an example: Erenlanders are automatically fluent in Erenlander (it's their native tongue).  It's closely related to Colonial, Norther, and Trader's Tongue - and gives pidgin in all three.

Colonial and Norther are also able to give insights into Trader's Tongue - but since it was gained at the same time as them (all coming from Erenlander) and they're at the same level, no bonus to Trader's Tongue can be claimed while they are at pidgin level.  Similarly, if the character picks up pidgin Old Dwarven or High Elven his understanding of Trader's Tongue will remain at pidgin.

I hope that all that makes at least some sense.

After character creation
Every skill rank put into Speak Language gets you a point to put into languages.  You cannot put more than a single point into a single language at a single level - but you can improve your understanding of multiple languages at the same time.

Improving your understanding in a primary language after character creation can boost related languages, but subject to the rules above: no language can be boosted above the basic tier for free, and learning a new language can't raise the related language above the level of the new language.


All perfectly clear, I'm sure.
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« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2010, 11:38:47 AM »

Personally, when I've run Midnight, I've run with something along the lines of the following:

Languages give 1-point bonuses to understanding (and speaking) closely-related tongues, but never to more than the level below the primary language(s) giving the boost.

To provide an example: fluency in Erenlander gives you pidgin in Trader's Tongue (among other things).  Being fluent in Erenlander and having basic in Norther would still only give you pidgin in Trader's Tongue.  Fluency in Norther as well as fluency in Erenlander would let you claim basic in Trader's Tongue.  No matter how many other related languages you learned, to reach fluency in Trader's Tongue you'd need to actually study it and sink a point into getting that last level.

It makes it a little harder for people to rack up conversational competence in a wide range of tongues by acquiring Erenlander at fluent and then adding a level here and there to maximise the number of free bonuses they get.  It also makes the "two (or more) for one" bonuses (where putting 1 point into one language gets you a much greater amount in return) harder to pick up.

A more generous variation would be to always interpret things as helpfully as possible: so if you'd got basic competence in Norther and fluency in Erenlander you could claim pidgin in Trader's Tongue from your basic Norther, and further boost TT up to basic because of your fluency in Erenlander.

But those are purely personal 'takes' on things.  Midnight 2e's base rules strongly imply that you're never intended to get beyond pidgin for free, no matter how many languages you speak; others give you many more bonuses.
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« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2010, 02:09:00 PM »

I'd almost be inclined to say that only fluency in a language gives points toward other languages. 

i.e. Fluency in Erenlander gives pidgin in Norther, Colonial, and Traders, but Competence in it give you nothing.  But then, fluency in Erenlander and Norther would give you competency in Traders.

Nothing but work gives you fluency.

But that's just my personal take.
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« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2010, 02:34:40 PM »

MN 2e covers things in even more detail, for some languages - e.g. basic in either Colonial or Norther gives you pidgin in Erenlander; basic in both Colonial and Norther gives you basic in Erenlander.  There are some odd things about the structure as written - Erenlander giving you pidgin in Trader's Tongue but not helping at all with any human language; neither of the Sarcosan tongues appearing to be related to each other (though Colonial helps with both Erenlander and Trader's Tongue); Orcs, repeatedly described as brilliant natural linguists, getting no mechanical bonuses to learning them....

The general theme does seem to be that you need basic to claim anything at pidgin, and that nothing gives you fluency for free.
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Doomed Hero
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« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2010, 03:24:21 PM »

The general theme does seem to be that you need basic to claim anything at pidgin, and that nothing gives you fluency for free.

That sounds like the golden rule on languages. I think as long as we keep that in mind, this issue becomes a lot easier.

Would you mind checking over people's languages and making sure the numbers add up with that in mind?
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« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2010, 03:25:45 PM »

Taking a 'generous' line otherwise?  So that if you've got basic in one primary (e.g. Colonial) and fluent in another (e.g. Erenlander) you qualify for basic in the related language (e.g. Trader's Tongue)?
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Doomed Hero
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« Reply #6 on: June 12, 2010, 03:26:26 PM »

yes.
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« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2010, 12:55:27 AM »

I got the impression from the 2e book that the lack of relation between the two Sarcosian languages was intentional...Courtier was developed by the elite class to obfuscate what they were saying from the masses...keep that train of thought and let it percolate for a millennium or so and you'll get two languages that intentionally diverged.
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Doomed Hero
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« Reply #8 on: August 29, 2010, 02:53:02 PM »

In the downloads section there is now a fantastic languages chart that will clear up a lot of confusion. Most of it we've covered here, but if you're still wondering, I'd recommend checking it out.
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« Reply #9 on: July 22, 2011, 06:15:18 PM »

I'm reviewing my languages and I've got a few questions...again. I know this has been done to death.

So when you say:
Quote
Every character is fluent in their native language; some cultures teach more than one to their children and you get those for free at character creation if that's the case.
Is this referring to what the book calls "Automatic" languages? The term 'native' isn't used there so I wanted to clarify. The example of Erenlander probably isn't the best since it only has one listed. I'm trying to figure out if I'm correct in giving fluency to my character for all automatic languages listed for her race (unless it says otherwise). The reason for my doubt stems from the following quote in the book:
Quote
Most characters begin play with fluency in at least one of their automatic languages and varying levels of competence in other automatic languages.
Doesn't that read as if it isn't the case that you get fluency in all of them? Of course, it doesn't clarify what they mean or what level they'd start with if not fluent.

I understand how the "closely-related tongues" thing works in general but I'm trying to make sense of the following:
Quote
Characters may not begin play with skill ranks in languages other than those listed as automatic or bonus languages.
So, does this mean that if I would normally gain some sort of free related competency but the language isn't on the list for my race that I wouldn't gain it? For example, my elfling is fluent in Erenlander which gives competency in Colonial and Norther. But Norther isn't listed as a bonus language for elflings. Does that mean she can't gain any free competency in Norther despite the Erenlander influence? If I can, then what exactly is the point of the bonus language list? Are they just the only ones I can "pay" skill points for (e.g. I couldn't raise the Norther with skill points, but I could the Colonial)?
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« Reply #10 on: July 23, 2011, 01:40:20 PM »

This topic always gives me a headache. Whatever the actual rules may or may not be, I think it's time we shot the confusion with the common sense gun and let it die messily.

s this referring to what the book calls "Automatic" languages? The term 'native' isn't used there so I wanted to clarify.

Your Native tongue is based on the culture you're raised in. If you're a human but you were raised by elves your Native tongue would be elvish. Some cultures speak more than one language. Some languages are closely linked to others. First you figure out what you speak, and then you figure out those language's derivatives.

After that you apply any extra points you'd like to spend to increase your fluency.

my elfling is fluent in Erenlander which gives competency in Colonial and Norther. But Norther isn't listed as a bonus language for elflings. Does that mean she can't gain any free competency in Norther despite the Erenlander influence?

Of course you get Norther. It doesn't matter if you've never heard Norther spoken. You speak a language that is a direct linguistic descendant. As soon as you heard it you'd be able to pick out bits and pieces. It would be like an english speaker hearing old english or a spanish speaker hearing latin. It's hard to make out, but not impossible.

Quote
Most characters begin play with fluency in at least one of their automatic languages and varying levels of competence in other automatic languages.
Doesn't that read as if it isn't the case that you get fluency in all of them? Of course, it doesn't clarify what they mean or what level they'd start with if not fluent.

Ok, that's just confusing. I think it's referring to the fact that while you might start with Fluency you don't necessarily start with Literacy. Or something like that. Hell, I don't know.

I think I've just decided to overhaul the Midnight language system. Crap.
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« Reply #11 on: July 23, 2011, 04:04:51 PM »

We'd already overhauled it.  Neither MN 1e or 2e are coherent, and no extant version I've seen answers all questions.

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Doomed Hero
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« Reply #12 on: July 23, 2011, 04:19:52 PM »

What we did is a good start. It just needs to be done in a new thread and properly laid out for ease of reading. (and then picked apart until everyone can understand it easily and agrees that it makes sense)
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neverfox
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« Reply #13 on: July 23, 2011, 04:23:18 PM »

Well, Exile or DH, if you have a few extra minutes, will you check Ivy's languages? I redid them when I changed to Wyrd (because my attributes changed). I think they are correct but I want to be sure.
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« Reply #14 on: July 23, 2011, 04:29:43 PM »

Come to think of it - another explanation for the fluency comment could be that some critters can't have Fluent rank in their native language because it's capped at Basic complexity (Black Speech).

But overall the official iterations of the MN language rules are fine demonstrations of how to write most of a rather nice system. Tongue

For Ivy - what languages are you counting as "native" for her, DH?
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Doomed Hero
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« Reply #15 on: July 23, 2011, 04:47:07 PM »

She was raised by Halflings and never had any dealings with her elven side, so just give her the regular Halfling language package.
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neverfox
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« Reply #16 on: July 23, 2011, 04:57:59 PM »

I gave her Halfling and Erenlander as native (along with pidgin Jungle Mouth) per the Halfling-raised Elfling text. I raised those two to Literate with points. I then took the related languages (TT - raised to fluent with a point, Colonial, Norther).
« Last Edit: July 23, 2011, 05:28:58 PM by neverfox » Logged
Doomed Hero
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« Reply #17 on: July 23, 2011, 10:50:18 PM »

I think you did it slightly out of order. You figure out related languages before you spend skill points.
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neverfox
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« Reply #18 on: July 23, 2011, 10:58:04 PM »

Well, yeah. I didn't mean to imply that I did it in precisely that order. I was just going down the list, describing how I got the levels of competency I have listed on my sheet.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2011, 11:00:55 PM by neverfox » Logged
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