Minor Point: Are People Literate?


General Discussion


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Characters live in a pseudo-medieval world, are they assumed to be literate?

As far as I can tell there is no reference to literacy in the rule book. Seems worth a one liner somewhere.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Ring_of_Gyges wrote:
Characters live in a pseudo-medieval world

The level of technological and societal development we see in Pathfinder and Golarion puts it somewhere in the late-medieval or post-medieval periods. Literacy rates were well on the rise by this point in time.

Also, Golarion never really had the kind of political and economic collapse that western Europe saw with the fall of the Roman empire. Given that its societies have been much more stable for much longer than in the real world, I would expect higher rates of literacy.


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Ring_of_Gyges wrote:
As far as I can tell there is no reference to literacy in the rule book. Seems worth a one liner somewhere.

I just reread the Language section (pg 40). You're correct. The first sentence is "your character’s ancestry section states which languages she speaks at 1st level." It repeats the "speaks" point again and again - except for a subsection on sign language - but I didn't see anything about reading. So... RAW - we're all illiterate?

The only reference to literacy that I could find in the rulebook was in the What others probably assume about Barbarians section (pg 52), "Believe you have bizarre superstitions and poor education and might be illiterate."

I think the RAI assumption is that the PCs are literate but there's nothing spelling that out. Considering that Goblins are PCs now it probably should be spelled out given their cultural views on reading.


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I honestly thought this would be a thread ripping a new one on people that come here to nag and complain without actually giving a proper read on the rules.


In 3.0, Barbarians actually were illiterate by default, they had to spend 2 skill points to gain literacy in all the languages they spoke.


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Lightning Raven wrote:
I honestly thought this would be a thread ripping a new one on people that come here to nag and complain without actually giving a proper read on the rules.

Same, and I was loving it.

Too bad it was an actual question... That said, I usually consider most people in Golarion literate, with perhaps farmers and lower workers struggling with writings.


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In general I find the answer to questions like this is:

"In general 'yes' because it makes things easier, in particular cases 'no' when it makes things more interesting."


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Ring_of_Gyges wrote:
In 3.0, Barbarians actually were illiterate by default, they had to spend 2 skill points to gain literacy in all the languages they spoke.

That or multiclass, which all barbarians did anyways.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

It is odd not to mention it as I would assume the answer is yes. Its not like Golarion is anywhere near a medieval tech level, its far beyond that. Or it was, maybe with all the magic nerfs it'll revert some.


It might be assumed that "Common" is a very simple language to learn, since so many nations and peoples use it. The kind of language an otherwise illiterate person could learn, or a traveller to a foreign land could quickly learn.


EberronHoward wrote:
It might be assumed that "Common" is a very simple language to learn, since so many nations and peoples use it. The kind of language an otherwise illiterate person could learn, or a traveller to a foreign land could quickly learn.

Though generally learning reading at all is the hard part. Once you've got that, it's no harder to learn to read and speak a second language than just to speak one.

Possibly easier, since you can write stuff down.

(Assuming here that the written languages use similar alphabets, rather than something like Chinese.)


While it's not exactly a rule to that effect, the Barbarian text

page 53 wrote:
[Others Probably...] Believe you have bizarre superstitions and poor education and might be illiterate.

very, very strongly implies that literacy is the norm.


Countries like Galt have broadsheets that are regularly produced, giving me the impression of widespread literacy.

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