LANGUAGE RULES

As on earth, the languages of spoken in Tòlanar can be classified into various phylogenetic families. For the purposes of the game, these families are divided into Branches, Groups, and Complexes. The individual languages themselves can be subdivided into dialects which can be grouped into clusters of closely related dialects. The linguistic classification tree is shown below.

Family

A.      Branch

1.       Group

a.       Complex

1)      Language

A)     Cluster

    a) Sub-cluster

1.      Dialect

Not all levels will be present in any one language’s classification, which means that there is no differentiation at that level. For example all the languages in a linguistic family that has no branches listed are considered to be of the same branch, and languages within a branch that has no listed groups are all considered to be part of the same group, and so on.

Where a language is listed as having dialects, a character is assumed to learn either the local dialect or the “standard” dialect of that language, if that language has one (not all do).

When a character learns a language, he is assumed to be at least functionally fluent in that language and generally will not have to make an ability check when talking unless the character is attempting something beyond normal speech, such as trying to influence an audience, understand a complex or esoteric subject, pass as a native, read lips, eavesdrop, etc.  The Ability on which the check is based will be determined by exactly what task is being attempted, for example Charisma will be used of oratory and Intelligence for understanding an obscure passage in an ancient tongue and so on. As well, a Check is required when attempting to speak a language in which the Character is not proficient. The following table gives some rough guidelines.

 

TABLE 1: Sample Language Tasks

Task

Difficulty

DC

Ask for directions, express greetings and farewells, say, "I don't understand," "I like," and "I don't like," describe colors, etc.

Very easy

5

Carry out a full conversation with a native speaker as long as the topic of discussion is straightforward. Identify a speaker of a language known to the character by their accent.

Easy

10

Speak and understand the language as well as a native, although with an obvious accent, or identify the native language of the speaker of a language not known to the character (or the native dialect of a known language) by accent.

Medium

15

Understand technical topics, esoteric poetry, and similarly complex linguistic areas, speak with only a slight accent, or identify the native dialect of a speaker of a language not known by the character by accent.

Hard

20

Speak the language so fluently that even native speakers cannot identify you as a foreign speaker unless they succeed on an Intelligence check (DC 15). If the listener is familiar with your native language, the DC falls to 10. In terms of the extent or speed of the character's comprehension, success at this level of difficulty in a language does not differ from full professional-level proficiency.

Very hard

25

 

If the language in question is the character’s native language (or equivalent – see Improving a Language below), then the relevant ability check is modified by a +10. When trying to communicate in a language with which the character doesn’t have skill, the check is modified by how closely related the language in question is to a language the character speaks as follows:

TABLE 2: Language Task Modifiers

Target language is…

Mod1

Dialect in the same sub-cluster

-1

Dialect in a different sub-cluster -2

In a different dialect cluster of the same language

-5

In the same complex

-10

In the same group

-15

In the same branch

-20

In the same family

-25

In a different family

-302

1.       These modifiers stack with the Native Language bonus, so a character trying to communicate in a language in the same group as his native language would have a total modifier of -5.

2.       The Native Language bonus does not apply to languages in a different linguistic family.

Learning a language.

According to the section on page 187 of the 5E PHB, to learn a language a character must first find a teacher (any proficient speaker or specific group of proficient speakers will do as long as the character has regular daily access to them for a number of hours) and then spend 250 days learning the language. As this number is somewhat arbitrary and does not fit nicely into the Tòlan calendar, for this setting it requires 240 days or 8 months (this change applies to learning any new skill or set of tools). If the character is in an area where the language is commonly spoken and he has the exposed to it and has the opportunity to speak it on a daily basis then the time required is reduced to 6 months (180 days). Learning a language is progressive, and a character will learn it gradually over time as shown in the following table.

TABLE 3: Progress Learning a Language

Days1

Mod

Days1

Mod

Days1

Mod

0 (0)

-30

90 (45)

-19

180 (90)

-8

30 (15)

-26

120 (60)

-15

210 (105)

-4

60 (30)

-23

150 (75)

-11

240 (120)

0

1.       The number in parentheses is used when the character has both a teacher and is in an area where the character has daily exposure to the language.

Note: If the process is interrupted and the character does not have the opportunity to use the language daily, then the process effectively reverses and the character loses proficiency as time passes.

Improving a language

If a character spends a second 240 day period learning a language (in this case the character needs only a teacher or to be in a place where the language is commonly spoken; however the time required is not reduced unless the character has both ) then the character gets a +5 bonus when using that language.

If the character spends a third such period learning the language, then he is considered to speak it like a native and so gets the +10 native language bonus in that language. As with learning a language, this is a gradual process and the bonuses are gained incrementally over time as shown below.

TABLE 4: Progress Improving a Language

Days1

Mod2

Days1

Mod2

30 (15)

±0(+5)

150 (75)

+3(+8)

60 (30)

+1(+6)

180 (90)

+3(+8)

90 (45)

+1(+6)

210 (105)

+4(+9)

120 (60)

+2(+7)

240 (120)

+5(+10)

1.       The number in parentheses is used when the character has both a teacher and is in an area where the character has daily exposure to the language.

2.       The number in parentheses gives the modifier gained during the third training period.

 Note: Unlike with the initial learning period, this process does not reverse if interrupted, and the character can break the time into blocks as long as each block of time is a full 30 days (or 15 if both a teacher and daily exposure are available).