Pathfinder RPG Discussion & Proposal: Regional Languages




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  1. #1
    Na Bith Mo Riocht T! COPPER SUBSCRIBER
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    Discussion & Proposal: Regional Languages

    I'm a little rushed as I've got to pack to go out of town for a couple of days so I probably won't get everything I want to in this post, but I wanted to kick this off as it impacts a character I've got up for review.

    I've always liked my characters to speak the language of the region from whence they hail, and so I added "Irthian" to Breninyr's list (spending a Linguistics point on it).

    ~~ As I think about this, I also recognized that although Kalinn doesn't specifically list her tribal language, I've begun sprinkling HaGruut words liberally into her posts. Hmmm. ~~

    However, jkason made a few points in his review that I agree bear looking at.

    The presence of a "Common Tongue" is a very handy conceit and gets around a lot of (often tedious) communication difficulties. And I think it makes good sense from an ease of use standpoint for at least all PCs to speak Common. However, from a realism/immersion perspective, it doesn't make nearly as much sense for NPCs - especially those from isolated communities - to speak Common. If regional languages exist, those NPCs would realistically speak only their local tongue.

    I guess my preferred way of handling this would be to give PCs an additional language, with the requirement that they speak both Common and their regional language. It would be left to the GM of the particular game as to whether or not encountered NPCs speak Common. There will be a few cases where this grants some small communication advantage to two PCs from the same area, or to PCs adventuring in their home region, but I really don't see this as a game breaker.
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    Hmm.

    My initial reaction was concern for the potential in-game problems communication adding regional languages could cause, but those could mostly be worked around by a willing DM (setting aside the potential of a hard-line enforcement of them. "You don't speak Irthian? Too bad.").

    I do think there are a lot of potential world-building problems that could be caused, although I'm not sure about their degree of severity. For one, we'd probably need to determine as a group at least some of the regional languages, as well as potentially how frequent they are (i.e. does this whole swath speak one language, or does this one village speak one language?). I also worry about the consistency of enforcing the need for regional languages in certain locales: if we're making an adaptation based on realism, I'm not sure I like the idea of leaving things too flexible from one GM to the next, which would potentially break realism, although that would probably be the way it would happen. PCs would also need to be retroactively changed to include their regional language; not a huge problem, but worth noting.

    Just some initial thoughts. I have to say that my gut reaction is that I'm not too fond of the idea of adopting regional languages for E'n in any substantive way. I'd be more open to allowing the option for PCs of speaking a bonus regional language for free, but having this would only really serve a fluff function (in the way Mowgli's currently using them) that isn't necessarily reflected consistently across E'n. I just feel like trying to consistently implement regional languages would be something of a hassle.

    I'm not trying to be a downer; just my initial thoughts.
    Last edited by Qik; Saturday, 12th May, 2012 at 05:27 PM.

  • #3
    Forgotten Realms used to do a lot with Regional Languages. A starting character would typically get Common as an automatic language and then their regional language as well. Dwarves would get common, dwarven and their automatic regional language. If we were to go this route it might be worth modeling after that.

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    Qik's thoughts are really the impetus behind my 'preferred method' below. If a GM wants to include an NPC who speaks a regional language exclusively - either as part of a plot device or purely for fluff he could, but by and large this method would prevent the need for official adoption of a ton of regional languages and keep the idea mainly in the realm of fluff. This is fine with me, and would free up a skill point for Bren. It wouldn't have come up at all if I hadn't actually spent a skill point and listed Irthian as one of Bren's languages. But I'd really like to have my characters speak a 'native tongue' in addition to common, and actually list that tongue on their sheet.

    I've just sort of assumed that different countries have their own language and that it really doesn't matter that much because everyone also speaks common - and I think this is a fine way to approach it.

    I would say that if we decide to make official regional tongues there's no need to have hundreds of 'em. There aren't that many separate countries - each country could have one, with the Baronies all speaking slight different but completely understandable dialects. I could easily see doing the same for racial languages. Tal Hallow Gnomes and Venzan Gnomes speak Gnomish, but with slightly different accents and vocabularies.

    My emphasis isn't on realism, but on adding another tool for immersion, character building and fluff.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mowgli View Post
    Qik's thoughts are really the impetus behind my 'preferred method' below. If a GM wants to include an NPC who speaks a regional language exclusively - either as part of a plot device or purely for fluff he could, but by and large this method would prevent the need for official adoption of a ton of regional languages and keep the idea mainly in the realm of fluff. This is fine with me, and would free up a skill point for Bren. It wouldn't have come up at all if I hadn't actually spent a skill point and listed Irthian as one of Bren's languages. But I'd really like to have my characters speak a 'native tongue' in addition to common, and actually list that tongue on their sheet.

    I've just sort of assumed that different countries have their own language and that it really doesn't matter that much because everyone also speaks common - and I think this is a fine way to approach it.

    I would say that if we decide to make official regional tongues there's no need to have hundreds of 'em. There aren't that many separate countries - each country could have one, with the Baronies all speaking slight different but completely understandable dialects. I could easily see doing the same for racial languages. Tal Hallow Gnomes and Venzan Gnomes speak Gnomish, but with slightly different accents and vocabularies.

    My emphasis isn't on realism, but on adding another tool for immersion, character building and fluff.
    I'm on board with what I think is your take (and comparable to IW's point, too) - just allowing PCs the option of a free regional language. That way we don't have to worry about implementing regional languages on a wide scale, but we're allowing players the option to develop their PCs (and, potentially, the world) in this way. I don't see anything game-breaking/unfair/the-sky-is-falling-esque with allowing a free regional language.

    Just in case: I vote YES to allowing PCs one free regional language.

  • #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Mowgli View Post
    I would say that if we decide to make official regional tongues there's no need to have hundreds of 'em. There aren't that many separate countries - each country could have one, with the Baronies all speaking slight different but completely understandable dialects. I could easily see doing the same for racial languages. Tal Hallow Gnomes and Venzan Gnomes speak Gnomish, but with slightly different accents and vocabularies.
    I lean towards yes on this vote as I don't see it doing anything but adding some fluff, which seems to be the desire. Just a couple of questions.

    Will the initial regions and languages be defined on the wiki shortly after this proposal passing?

    Will the change be retroactive to existing characters?

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    I'd say yes to making it retroactive - if players want to give their existing characters a regional language that would only be fair.

    As to adding them to the Wiki - I'm more than happy to add a line to the Irthos page. In general I'm in favor of languages being named after their origins (Venzans speak Venzan, Irthians speak Irthian, etc.)
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    Quote Originally Posted by IronWolf View Post
    Will the initial regions and languages be defined on the wiki shortly after this proposal passing?

    Will the change be retroactive to existing characters?
    First, I'm also in favor.

    As for IronWolf's questions:

    Following Mowgli's idea, every country would be its separate region except for the (undefined) countries of the Landadel Baronies which would all fall under one region (and which I think should include Venza). I think the regions should be a bit broader and follow Mowgli's model for the Landadel and in general follow the divisions I've used on the wiki page 'Geography'. So the regions could be 1) Landadel, 2) Ouhm River, 3) Seithr, 4) Inner Sea (including Irthos, based on my memory of their history), 5) Southern (Rhat'matanis), 6) Jiragoan, 7) Northern Isle (Illi Esse)

    I think the change would have to be retroactive to existing characters.

  • #9
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    Though it's small, I'd be in favor of Irthos having their own language. Part of this is entirely selfish/subjective - it was Bren's sheet that sparked the discussion - but there's some justification a well.

    Irthos is sandwiched between two regions with their own language (three, with the Seithr), and is set up as a buffer between the two. Their language might be a blend of the three, but distinct from each. If it were to be identified as one of the three rather than as it's own I'd say it would most likely be Seithr, as Irthos is situated within the Seithr mountain range.
    "Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats."
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  • #10
    Yes to the general concept.
    Yes to the first regional language being a freebie.
    Yes to the list from GE, adding Irthian and HaGruut, but please also add Broken Common as well.
    Yes to retroactive.
    Yes to "ancient" versions of the languages for when the GM wants to force a linguistics check.

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