Senenmerek

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Looking at the Languages chapter, I thought something was missing: Languages don't have a nice mechanical effect in-game. They're mostly there as a stumbling block, and that's not very appealing. In those situations where language matters, it is punitive: You can't communicate with the other guy, a spell with the lingual trait won't work because the enemy doesn't speak the right language, you can't read a scroll. These are very black-and-white effects. I think Intimidate is the only exception in the book, where the lack of a common language incurs a -4 penalty to Demoralize (and this is still punitive).

As a result, the motivation to learn languages, beyond pure flavor, is mostly a negative one: It removes a barrier. Thus, language feels like a tax.

The consequence of this, in my experience (with PF1, where languages where treated in mostly the same fashion), is 2 things:
- Players seek the most convenient magical solution to get rid of the language barrier (scroll of tongues or comprehend language), and it becomes moot.
- GMs wave the problem away (suddenly a translator NPC shows up, or something) whenever the barrier slows down the narrative.

I would like to suggest that a positive mechanical effect should be added. Something like: If you share a language other than Common with the creature you're talking to, then you get a +1 or +2 circumstance bonus to skill checks with the lingual trait. This would also apply if you speak Common with someone who knows no other language. Of course, if you don't share any language at all with the other guy, you still can't communicate.

The premise of this idea is that the majority of people have an ancestral first language, then learn Common on top of that (this includes humans, with a lot of regional languages in Golarion), but they don't speak Common all that well (unless Common is their only language). Therefore, addressing them in their first language helps with the communication and provides a bonus. This is similar to the real world situation where many people who don't have English as a first language learn it and can use it, but still prefer talking their own first language whenever possible.

Thoughts?