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yeti1069

How do you handle language? Or do you at all?

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In the films, and the EU, we see many examples of characters not being able to understand one another: Luke can't really understand Chewie, goes back and forth on how well he understands R2D2, presumably requires a translator when speaking to Jabba (he gives no indication that he can understand Huttese), etc...

 

Now, sure, we also see that some characters understand many languages: Han understands, Chewie, Greedo, Jabba, and probably a couple of others.

 

Yet there's no language mechanic for EotE...obviously, it could be handled as just a GM thing (you either do or don't understand this character), but how do you handle it?

 

Personally, I'm not a fan of everyone always being understood, but neither am I a fan of it being left entirely up to GM fiat.

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My first inclination, if I were to make some adjustment here, would be to tie languages to ranks in the various Knowledge skills, dividing languages among them as appropriate, but...I dunno. That still leaves out characters who can understand but cannot replicate certain other languages (I'm looking at you Wookies).

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I use a combo of destiny points and Knowledge-Xenology.  If they have a rank, they can flip a point to understand common galactic languages (I view common as any species in a published book).  The more rare the species, the more ranks in Xenology they have to have.  Whether the species speaks basic is up to me.  So that is my 'out' as far as narrative convenience goes.

 

Because of the Speaks Binary talent, I require that talent for that language, obviously.  This makes both the skills and the talents feel more important to the players, and has succeeded in giving them food for thought during XP expenditure.

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We can speak the native languages of the PCs in our original group.  We had to spend a DP to talk to a Wookie.  We now have language programs in our Datapads, but they only have a few languages, and are not the best at translating.  Silly despair roll on a computers check. 

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Because of the Speaks Binary talent, I require that talent for that language, obviously.  

 

This actually got me thinking... One of our PC's is an R2 unit and he speaks binary of course. Now the CRB states that it is understood that all players in a party understand each other so they posses the language skills to interact and communicate with each other.

However, this puts me in a pickle with the talent is you may understand.

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It helps to realize that the names of talents are not necessarily to be taken literally. Speaks Binary doesn't actually mean that your character is speaking in chirps and whistles - it just means that he is well versed in phrasing instructions to droids in a manner that best enables them to achieve the tasks he sets for them.

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It helps to realize that the names of talents are not necessarily to be taken literally. Speaks Binary doesn't actually mean that your character is speaking in chirps and whistles - it just means that he is well versed in phrasing instructions to droids in a manner that best enables them to achieve the tasks he sets for them.

 

Nowhere did I say my players would speak in chirps and whistles (no-one in the OT does when addressing R2) but the fact still remains that it indicates convercing with this particular party member is easier then it is with other droids that only converse in basic...

I guess it is not them who are good at binary but the R2 unit in understanding Galactic Basic... There, fixed it! :)

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Destiny points are the answer suggested. If the player really wants to know that language, have him flip a Destiny. If the GM really doesn't want the players to understand the language, he can flip a Destiny.

 

Do your players then make a list of what languages they have discovered they know? Will there be an issue that this list will just get longer and longer with the age of a campaign? I would put a cap on how many languages could be learned.

 

Perhaps 1 bonus language (beyond Basic and racial language) known per point of Intelligence? Maybe give a bonus by career type? A.i. Smugglers get around alot so they get an additional language. Example: A starting human player can learn 3 bonus languages. He decides to begin with the automatic Basic plus Wookie. He leaves the other bonus 2 languages undetermined. Then, he can later flip a Destiny chip to learn a language that becomes important. But, once he has determined he knows Basic, Wookie, Hutt, and Rodian, he won't be able to add any others without some house rule on a new Talent or picking up a new career that gives a bonus language.

Edited by Sturn

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The existence of Bocce, the widespread use of Huttese, Rodese, Durese, and Basic all make me feel pretty alright just handwaving it for the most part. If something more obscure were to come up I'd probably just have an Education or Xenology check and leave it at that.

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I just told my players to pick a couple languages they know, but to keep it reasonable. It kind of seemed out of place in this system to me to use a hard rule for it. It worked out pretty well and one player even elected to not understand or speak basic and instead has a little droid translator.

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I actually don't worry about it. Unless it's an uncommon or secret language, I generally figure that my PCs, as citizens of the galaxy, know enough to get by. Binary and Shyriiwook, for examples, are things my players wouldn't automatically know. Then again, they haven't strayed beyond the edges of galactic society, so the language barrier hasn't really come up yet. Though they do know Huttese -- that's been established.

 

When it comes up, I don't know how I'd handle it. Probably a number of additional languages equal to your raw Intellect for more common ones (Bothese or Dosh) and requiring a Xenology roll to get the absolute basics down for weird ones, like Cheunh. Success means you get the basics, Advantages can be spent to pick up on non-verbal cues, and Triumph means a realization like: "Oh, language X is actually very similar to dialect Y. Maybe they're related? Anyway, I understand it wholly."

 

Alternatively, I could require the Xenology roll on every language barrier, and just add a Setback die on weird language checks. The Intellect limit would be applied for number of times Destiny is used to understand a language, and one point is only good for one player.

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For the most part I don't bother with it.  However, the players know that when I start speaking in jibberish or chirps and whistles they have encountered someone whose language they don't know.  At that point no roll is allowed, they simply don't understand and must find an alternate method to communicate.  But this is rare.  I assume most business owners are going to speak Basic, most contacts I need them to understand, and other NPC's is based on whether they need to know or not.  The only time I would have them roll is if the NPCs were purposely speaking in a foreign tongue, then I would allow an Education check at Hard difficulty.

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 The only time I would have them roll is if the NPCs were purposely speaking in a foreign tongue, then I would allow an Education check at Hard difficulty.

I like that, speaking an unknown language to pass information in front of people without them knowing.

I think I might do it as an opposed Education check. I'm thinking of the scene in Tombstone where the Doc insults Ringo in Latin, then Doc and Ringo have this little verbal sparring match.

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Here's my flow chart to if the PCs know the language:

 

* Will it hinder the plot if they don't know the language in question?

Yes? Then they know how to speak it.

 

* Is it important to the plot that they don't know the language in question?

Yes? Then they don't know how to speak it.

 

There, sorted.

 

("But wait - we understood Rodian last week? Why cant we understand this one?"

"So you're familiar with all the Rodian dialects? Good on you!")

Edited by Desslok

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We tend to deal with it base on background + conveniency.

 

Worked for a Hutt?  You definately learned to speak Huttese (they refuse to speak anything else), and maybe Gamorrean or other thugish languages.

 

Got a Wookiee on the team?  Everyone speaks Shrywook (eventually, if they joined late).

 

Plot require you dealing with an Aqualish?  GM uses it as an impediment or else nominates the most likely* candidate(s) as the guy(s) who speak it.

 

 

*Traders and Smugglers are expected to be well travelled.  Mercs probably hang out with burly species more than the Scholar.  Chaps with Education probably speak many Core World languages.

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Because of the Speaks Binary talent, I require that talent for that language, obviously.  

 

This actually got me thinking... One of our PC's is an R2 unit and he speaks binary of course. Now the CRB states that it is understood that all players in a party understand each other so they posses the language skills to interact and communicate with each other.

However, this puts me in a pickle with the talent is you may understand.

 

We see (hear) on screen that different astromech droids have different tone and timbre to their "tweets" and "twooorls." It could be that your party is accustomed to communicating with their R2 unit, and can therefore get a sense of what he's saying; they can correctly estimate his communications (especially if it's simple like "affirmative/negative," or is just meant to convey a general attitude, like indignation or pleasure). And if it's important for the plot, they can have (for example) a datapad or shipboard screen that displays exact figures and data when necessary. Or however they want to handle that. 

 

But other astromechs might speak faster or slower, or have completely different tones to their "voices" with which your PCs are completely unfamiliar. 

 

This is the sense of things that I have got from reading lots of books and it makes a good deal of sense to me. Good enough to explain to my players, anyhow :) It'd be like if you only ever knew one person that spoke Spanish, and you spent all your time with him, and eventually you two learned to communicate and you got a general idea of what he meant when he was talking simply because of so much shared experience. But then you meet some other dude who is from a different part of the world and speaks Spanish, but much faster and with a different accent. You'd need to take some time to understand this new guy. 

 

Or you could just get the "Speaks Spanish" talent and move on :)

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There are ample ways for a character who does not strictly "share a language" with others to get their point across. In the OT, we had 3PO translating for R2 and Han translating for Chewie - this is complex concepts, mostly, as R2 and Chewie were perfectly capable of conveying emotion through body language and tone on multiple occasions that were clear to the audience, even if we don't know what was actually "said" in Shriywook and Binary.

 

This is how I prefer it. Language skills or minimum ranks for common languages are too much of a d20-esque pain in the ass for me. I assume that even if Player X doesn't speak Huttese, he will be kept in the loop by party members who might, without having the Rodian say "I translate" after every sentence. That's just implied.

 

On the flip side, we have the Ewok scenes where only 3PO could understand and nobody else could. In such a game event, and lacking a protocol droid or scholarly character who might be able to make a roll, I'd say you just don't get to know what what they're saying without flipping Destiny, and even then it'd be more of a gut understanding than actual "I gain translation powers."

 

Basically, if a language barrier isn't important to the plot (1 Wookiee in the party) there's no need to complicate it; assume translation (either strict or loose) is happening in the background without a declaration. If it's important to the plot for whatever reason, barring a character having a logical reason to know the language, they should be SOL for a bit or flip Destiny to gain some insight.

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I just assume everyone knows Basic or a 'pidgen' form of it. 

 

If it is really important to the plot, eavesdropping or something, I'll use an Intellect roll to check for misunderstanding or some such. 

I allow the PC's to invoke any skill that they can somehow tie to the event either as a Boost or a Proficiency die.   Exactly how depends on the players role playing and the situation.  

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