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Old 06-09-2017, 09:14 AM   #4
Join Date: Jun 2006
Default Re: Discworld Language Talents

Originally Posted by panton41 View Post
I've wondered how to make C3PO who knows an effectively unlimited number of languages and realized that making someone Omnilingual is like trying to make someone invencible. There's going to come a breaking point where it makes sense to shift to the infinite version than adding more of the limited levels even if it doesn't fit the character.
I don't know that this is so bad. In truth the number of people who are actually fluent in more than a handful of languages is fairly small, even here in a world with billions of people and thousands of languages. It kind of makes sense that the even more rare people who actually master a dozen or more have something qualitatively different - something that maybe *would* let them learn everything they actually encounter with the same effort normal people need for three or four.

FWIW, my current version of Omnilingual moves most of the complexity to the limitations. I've left at 60 base for consistency, leaving that breakpoint around 10 languages, though I think you could make a case for 30 points (breaking at 5):

Omnilingual 60 points.
You can ignore the language rules. You understand, speak, read and write anything you encounter just like a native.
Special limitations:
Accented (-10%). You speak everything with your native accent, making it relatively clear you are not a native speaker. To avoid that, you'll need to make Mimicry rolls, or to buy an Accent perk for each language.
Accessibility. You may take an accessibility limitation to a group of languages based on the fraction of people in the setting who speak one of them.
For language family groupings on modern Earth Indo-European is -20% Sino-Tibetan, or its Chinese branch, are -30%, Niger-Congo, Austronesian, or the Indo-Iranian, Germanic or Romance branches of Indo-European, are -35%, any other language widely accepted family is -40% or less.
For “geographical” groupings of languages East Asian is -20%, European (including colonial expansions) is -25%, Indian -30%, Southeast Asian -35%, African (excluding the colonial ones or Arabic) -35%; Indigenous American -40%, Papuan -50%, Indigenous Australian -50%
Comprehension Only (-25%). You understand other languages just fine, but can only write or speak them if you have actually learned them. As a side effect, immersion does not count as study time toward learning a language, because you are never actually “immersed”.
Learnable Only (-20%). You only know languages you could theoretically have learned – it doesn't apply to genuine first contact situations, undeciphered extinct languages, or eldrich tongues that can only be comprehended by the irretrievably mad.
Limited List (-20%). You must keep a list of the languages you know, if it isn't on the list, you don't know it right now. You must specify how you add new languages to the list, which can be anything that takes more than a minute and could not easily be done during a conversation.
You [can] combine this with Learnable Only if that makes sense with your method of expanding the list. With both, your method will fail if the language isn't generally available, which is sensible enough for something like “find a Worldnet connection and take 5 minutes to download and install a new language package”, not so much if it is “spend a day deciphering the unknown text” or “have sex with a native speaker”.
If you start play with a list of more than a dozen languages, this costs an extra point for a Cross-Trained perk.
Passive Only (-20%). You only ignore the detailed language rules when the languages come to you, if you go looking for a foreign tongue, you don't know it. You don't necessarily know many languages, you just never need those you don't – the important signs just happen to be bilingual, if you open a conversation with foreigners, they just happen to know whatever language you used, if you need to read something, there is an excellent free translation available and so on. This form is well suited to characters with Serendipity or other luck based powers.
Preparation Required. You can take this, but be sure you understand what it does. Preparation applies to [each use], and a use defaults to 10 seconds (p.B101). In this case I'd let it stretch through an entire conversation, or even reading an entire book if you do it at one sitting, but it certainly does not mean the fact you could speak a language earlier lets you do it again without re-preparing it.
Reading Only (-60%) You can read anything, but can only understand, speak or write it if you have learned the language normally.
Telepathic (-10%). Your ability only works in the physical presence of somebody who knows the language. It doesn't usually work for writing, phone conversations, recordings and the like – though it may if somebody else on your end could understand. It's also blocked by mind shields.
MA Lloyd
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