Language Rules Variant


ok, ive long had the opinion that the D&D language rules are inadequate. i found a variant in the "Kingdoms of Kalimar" corebook which i thought was quite good, and could be used for A2089. thought you might like to hear them.

i dont have the book, so i dont have all the specifics, but ill give you what i know so far.

Speak Language (Int, Trained only): class skill for all classes.

Read/Write Language (Int, Trained Only): x-class skill for all classes

Ancient Language (int, Trained only): x-class for all, encompasses speak and Read/Write for said language.

all characters begin at first lvl with their base language having 10 ranks (fluency) in both speak and Read/Write. they also gain (1 + Int modifier)x4 language skill points to spend on other languages as they see fit.

every lvl thereafter, they gain 1+Int mod language points to spend on bettering/developing language skills (though i think this should be limited depending on what they've actually been doing that lvl (no point getting to put a pt into russian if they havent actually been studying or coming across the language).

Read/Write language cannot have more ranks that the corresponding speak skill.

at 0 ranks, the character does not understand any of the language.
at 5 ranks, the character is competent, can understand common conversations.
at 10/11 ranks, the character can speak like a native (11 = native from specific region)
at 12+ ranks, this represents an advanced knowledge, only really available from intense scholarship of the language.

i would say that at 10 ranks, only archaic forms of the language would need a skill check (ranks + int mod +Misc [study aids????]) anything below 10 *may* require skill checks depending on the complexity of what was being said, etc. these checks would have to be made whenever the character attempted to speak/read/write/or understand anything in that language.

Taking 10 is only possible if there is no pressure to understand in a hurry (ie ten russian soldiers screaming commands at them)
taking 20 is only possible when there is plenty of time to try to understand.

these skills, i think, would NOT have a lvl limit like the other skills, allow the pc's to put as many ranks into each language as they wish, subject to previous rulings.

any ideas?

While an interesting concept there is a very good reason for the way the system is currently implemented. It is very difficult for your average DM or player to mix nonsense and real words when speaking in such a fashion that it would accurately reflect the various levels. Most people that I know have enough difficulties adjudicating how to handle stuff like innuendo, and this is far more complicated (what exactly is the difference in comprehension between 5 and 6 skill ranks for example?) Furthermore 10 skill points is a lot, especially on something with as little immediate value as a second language, using your system PCs start with fewer languages that they are competent at, much less can speak as well as a native speaker. If you must use this system I would recommend either working it like decipher script (which is plenty complex but at least has plenty of game testing and errata behind it) or make it 4-5 levels of competence, gives enough flavor to be interesting while not penalizing PCs interested in being linguists too heavily.