Flexible System for Learning Languages

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Flexible System for Learning Languages

Post by Malcadon on Fri Dec 28, 2012 1:49 am

I have been thinking about handling the learning of languages in settings where cultures are mixed and isolated, and languages are too deserved to be listed. Namely for settings like Gamma World/Mutant Future and Carcosa. Then it hit me: Why bother making lists of languages, when they players can roll to see if they know the language of a new encountered NPC (and the people of that NPC).

This assumes that even if a character does not know a given language, he can construct the language from other languages he is familiarity with, so that a character can easily know a patchwork of languages and dialects. It also assumes that the languages in general, within the setting, are simple and easy to learn. In chaotic environments like Gamma Earth and Carcosa, the characters would need to be flexible with their linguistics skills!

How this works, is that when you encounter a new group of NPCs or intelligent mutant monsters, you roll 2d6 and (after applying adjustments) consult the table below to see the extent of how well you you can speak to them. Once your level of understand is established, you can communicate in that way from now on. After a full week of contact, you can roll 2d6 (plus adjustments) to see if you can become better at their language. On a 10 or more, you get better by one grade, or two grades on a 12 or more. On a 3 or less, you are stumped, and you require a full month of contact before you can make further progress. Further more, the Referee may rule that you have a permanent (but superficial) accent or speech pattern with that language, even when you become a fluent speaker. This could be the dropping or swapping of a random vowel or consonant, or even a lisp, rasp, hack or grunt. Speech patterns includes things like dropping or swapping some words, contractions, talking like Yoda, and so on. Mind you, all this is also about adding some flavor to the game.

+2Your Intelligence is 20 or more.
+1Your Intelligence is 16 or more.
-1Your Intelligence is 4 or less.
-XYou are a different race (use race-base Reaction Adjustment*, but as a minus).
+1The language is crude/primitive.
-1The language is complex/elaborate.
+1You have some context to understand it (a related language or lexicon).
-1It is too foreign to you.
-2It is totally alien to you (as in space aliens, angelic/demonic creatures or Cthuloids).
(*Pure Humans have a —3 instead of a —2, with Mutant Plants)

2-3"I do not comprehend at all?"
4-6"I do not understand, but I'll figure it out."
7-9"I think I understand you... A little?"
10-11"I speak it fairly well."
12"I speak it fluently!"

"I do not comprehend at all?"
The language is too complex to understand. It will take you a full month of contact before you can speak it a little.

"I do not understand, but I'll figure it out."
You do not understand the language, but its not too complex to figure out -- after a week of effort.

"I think I understand you... A little?"
You know the language enough to convey only simple terms or ideas. e.g. you can say "I need food.", but you can't say "Have you eaten blue-fungus soup before?" Because you speak so poorly, you get -2 to all reaction rolls.

"I speak it fairly well."
You are familiar enough with the language to speak it normally, but with a noticeable accent or odd pattern. Complex concepts, like jokes, poems and metaphors maybe hard to understand or expressed.

"I speak it fluently!"
You can speak it as your own tongue. You speak it so well, you get a +1 to all reaction rolls!

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