A bear speaks in the forest and an oracle is around to hear but can't . . .


Rules Questions

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as FAQ candidate.

I have an interesting problem and puzzle. Perhaps people can help.

As suggested above, it has to do with oracles. In particular it has to do with oracle curses.

The problem:

A PC oracle has the deaf curse.

Advanced Players Guide wrote:
You cannot hear and suffer all of the usual penalties for being deafened.

As to the game definition of deafened (which is pretty straightforward, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to quote):

Core rules wrote:
A deafened character cannot hear. He takes a –4 penalty on initiative checks, automatically fails Perception checks based on sound, takes a –4 penalty on opposed Perception checks

The fore-mentioned deaf oracle is in the woods with his friend. The oracle casts "Comprehend Languages" and is under it's effect for ten minutes per level.

Core rules wrote:

You can understand the spoken words of creatures or read otherwise incomprehensible written messages. The ability to read does not necessarily impart insight into the material, merely its literal meaning. The spell enables you to understand or read an unknown language, not speak or write it.

Written material can be read at the rate of one page (250 words) per minute. Magical writing cannot be read, though the spell reveals that it is magical. This spell can be foiled by certain warding magic (such as the secret page and illusory script spells). It does not decipher codes or reveal messages concealed in otherwise normal text.

Nowhere in the description of Comprehend Languages does it say or suggest that the spoken character has to hear the spoken word.

I'm putting my ruling in spoiler brackets, so that people have a moment to think on this problem before reading how I ruled, because I want others to have a moment to think about this before being biased by my own answer.

Attempting to follow RAW, my ruling is:

If the friend actually manages to speak something (that is, the friend is not under a silence spell and could expect to be heard by other characters at the distance the oracle is) then the oracle "can understand" what is said.

What say others? I am interested in a ruling for PFS Organized Play.

Many thanks, Scott


nope, the oracle has the knowage of the meaning of the words in the language being spoken. She understands apple means manzana, and cat means gato, but she can't hear that the person has said manzana or gato so she can't understand that person.


.....or you could have the oracle drip a single skill point into linguistics, which is how it is handled in PFS, as seen in this FAQ.

Much, much easier than relying on a 10 min/level spell for all social interactions.

But if you MUST press the issue....I suppose that, because you gain lip reading from linguistics, then technically it could be included in the comprehend language spell's effects.

I would say though (this is me being silly; ignore overall)- she would not understand the bear speaking unless the bear could speak an actual language (awakened bear?) or the oracle has Speak with Animals going. And even then....reading bear lips?


*Edit* Ninja'd

Not quite as useful, but another to way communicate with other PC's would be just to put a point into Linguistic so you can read lips. There is a PFS FAQ that lists it as a valid option.


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I think if I were the DM I would rule against using comprehend language to comprehend bear(lip reading) as lip movement is a side effect of speaking not a language in it's self. But your not going to find an official ruling on it so I guess it would be up to the DM.


sageann wrote:
I think if I were the DM I would rule against using comprehend language to comprehend bear(lip reading) as lip movement is a side effect of speaking not a language in it's self. But your not going to find an official ruling on it so I guess it would be up to the DM.

I could vaguely imagine an excuse that the Speak with Animals spell translates bearnesian into common/whatever language, and that whatever magic makes you think those sounds sound like normal words could make you think the lips are moving like they were making the normal words.

Assuming that this isn't something vaguely like telepathy (or at least the words appearing in your head). I do not know anywhere enough about those spells to really tell the finer points of talking with bears.


ok with Speak with Animals I can see it. (was was more trying to be funny with the bear(lip reading) anyway) lol


Wait, there's an actual bear involved here? I thought the Bear was just a metaphor for his burly buddy. Yea, in that case reading lips would be iffy.


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I'm assuming the bear is just for effect. Obviously comprehend languages is not supposed to let you understand bear.

I highly doubt anyone is going to let you get away with using it to understand others when you are deaf either - that's a pretty common sense ruling and your interpretation requires, if not serious bending, at least overlooking of RAI.

Just get lip reading for one point in linguistics and be done with it.


Blakmane wrote:

I'm assuming the bear is just for effect. Obviously comprehend languages is not supposed to let you understand bear.

I highly doubt anyone is going to let you get away with using it to understand others when you are deaf either - that's a pretty common sense ruling and your interpretation requires, if not serious bending, at least overlooking of RAI.

Just get lip reading for one point in linguistics and be done with it.

As the one to bring up the bear originally, I apologize. I just really enjoy responding to funny titles.

Admittedly, I would have probably gone with an Treant for this joke, due to the fact they can talk normally (and heck, some of their abilities are focused in serving as translator between men and plants, and they even have their own unique language so they can keep secrets from both sides it seems), and due to their obvious connection in a parody of the common phrase.

But yeah, back to the point: yeah, just drop a point in linguistics. This simplifies everything.


The real answer is that the deaf curse is a foolish attempt to write rules for something that runs contrary to the very idea of a tabletop RPG and should never under any circumstances be used by a player character.

There are a lot of page wasters in PF that are just poor implementations of a concept, but the deaf curse, like the wizard specialized in carrying around siege weapons, is a problem at the conceptual level and nothing will fix it.

Really, why on Earth would you want to show up at a roleplaying game with a character designed to force you to roleplay ignoring everything your coplayers say? Why would they want to play with someone who ignores them? Why would their characters want to go into high risk situations with someone who can't hear them shout warnings and can't benefit from the standard communications cantrip?

Just say no to death adventurers.


Many of he rules use every day langauge. The intent is clear. PFS use RAI over RAW so coming to the table with this, even if it worked by RAW would not work.

The Exchange

I don't know. Curses are curses for a reason! Often when I roleplay I want a hardship or disadvantage to overcome. Communication difficulties are often fun.

The deaf oracle in question has lipreading, and has also dipped into arcane-blood sorcerer and has taken a raven familiar. This allows the oracle to get an empathic sense if something is said in Taldane or is hearable by the bird that is urgent dangerous or insulting (by the bird's understanding), and turn to pay attention (with lipreading)

This keeps the curse a serious disadvantage (the bird doesn't recognize nearly enough potential dangers, and there is a delay in translation, and the bird that is flying around is always under threat itself). But it keeps the curse from preventing interaction entirely.

Atarlost wrote:

The real answer is that the deaf curse is a foolish attempt to write rules for something that runs contrary to the very idea of a tabletop RPG and should never under any circumstances be used by a player character.

There are a lot of page wasters in PF that are just poor implementations of a concept, but the deaf curse, like the wizard specialized in carrying around siege weapons, is a problem at the conceptual level and nothing will fix it.

Really, why on Earth would you want to show up at a roleplaying game with a character designed to force you to roleplay ignoring everything your coplayers say? Why would they want to play with someone who ignores them? Why would their characters want to go into high risk situations with someone who can't hear them shout warnings and can't benefit from the standard communications cantrip?

Just say no to death adventurers.


If you are deaf, you cannot hear the words. Now if they are communicating in a nonverbal language, such sign language, or the light reflection language of the butterfly people, or the scent based language of the skunkoids, then you would understand the language.

Shadow Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Atarlost wrote:

The real answer is that the deaf curse is a foolish attempt to write rules for something that runs contrary to the very idea of a tabletop RPG and should never under any circumstances be used by a player character.

There are a lot of page wasters in PF that are just poor implementations of a concept, but the deaf curse, like the wizard specialized in carrying around siege weapons, is a problem at the conceptual level and nothing will fix it.

Really, why on Earth would you want to show up at a roleplaying game with a character designed to force you to roleplay ignoring everything your coplayers say? Why would they want to play with someone who ignores them? Why would their characters want to go into high risk situations with someone who can't hear them shout warnings and can't benefit from the standard communications cantrip?

Well, I'm afraid that one of my more enjoyable, fun, and interesting characters happens to be a deaf oracle, so you're completely wrong and your attitude is worrisome. Calm down - this isn't something you should be so angry about. Being uncreative doesn't give you a license to judge which other characters are fun for other people to play.


I would not let you understand a thing you didn't actually perceive. You can understand the language, but if you can't hear it, that doesn't help much.


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I just found this from the PFS section.

Quote:

What does a deaf oracle (or other deaf PC) need to do in order to read lips?

In Pathfinder Society Organized Play, any PC may learn to read lips with a rank in Linguistics as if they had learned a new language. When reading the lips of a speaking creature within 10 feet in normal lighting conditions, the reader need not make any skill checks. In situations of dim lighting, extreme distances, or to read the lips of someone trying to hide their words from the reader, the reader must make Perception checks (DC determined by the GM based on the situation). A lip reader may only understand spoken words in a language it knows.

I understand the spell does not give you ranks, but I think it would still be legal. Remember this is a PFS ruling, not a normal game ruling so the rest of you will have to ask your GM to allow this as a houserule.

Silver Crusade

Vod Canockers wrote:
If you are deaf, you cannot hear the words. Now if they are communicating in a nonverbal language, such sign language, or the light reflection language of the butterfly people, or the scent based language of the skunkoids, then you would understand the language.

My confusion is this: The spell (as written) doesn't give a mechanism.

It doesn't say that "the character's brain can now comprehend any language which the character perceives." As written, it only talks about the end result, "you can understand the spoken words of . . ."

A reading of the spell which is consistent with RAW is that the spell itself serves a "translator" function. In order to reconcile RAW with what seemed reasonable, I imagined that the spell acts as a daemon (programming-like, not a neutral evil daemon) which translates any language perceptible where the spell is, directly into loose thoughts in the subject's head in rough line with the original language.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

My deaf oracle has a trait that reads body language and I have understood that lip reading is a standard. (There is no skill, feat or language that goes into lip reading)

He also has Linguistics. Being dual cursed, I am wanting to be 4th level so bad to use Oracle's Burden on someone...


thaX wrote:

My deaf oracle has a trait that reads body language and I have understood that lip reading is a standard. (There is no skill, feat or language that goes into lip reading)

He also has Linguistics. Being dual cursed, I am wanting to be 4th level so bad to use Oracle's Burden on someone...

If he's in PFS, he needs one of those ranks in Linguistics to be Lip Reading per the FAQ quoted above...


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Silver Crusader Aleksi wrote:
Vod Canockers wrote:
If you are deaf, you cannot hear the words. Now if they are communicating in a nonverbal language, such sign language, or the light reflection language of the butterfly people, or the scent based language of the skunkoids, then you would understand the language.

My confusion is this: The spell (as written) doesn't give a mechanism.

It doesn't say that "the character's brain can now comprehend any language which the character perceives." As written, it only talks about the end result, "you can understand the spoken words of . . ."

A reading of the spell which is consistent with RAW is that the spell itself serves a "translator" function. In order to reconcile RAW with what seemed reasonable, I imagined that the spell acts as a daemon (programming-like, not a neutral evil daemon) which translates any language perceptible where the spell is, directly into loose thoughts in the subject's head in rough line with the original language.

This is the equivalent of saying that a blind character that casts read magic can suddenly see the words on a page, so long as they are arcane texts.

Both spells were written from the context of normal circumstances, that is, you can hear, or see. If something else makes it so you can't hear (curse) or see (blinded) those override this. Any other reading is a strained effort at best.

In neither case does either spell say it overrides status afflictions, so it does not.


Quote:
You can understand the spoken words of creatures or read otherwise incomprehensible written messages. The ability to read does not necessarily impart insight into the material, merely its literal meaning. The spell enables you to understand or read an unknown language, not speak or write it.

emphasis mine: surely to understand the spoken word you need to hear it.


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Atarlost wrote:

The real answer is that the deaf curse is a foolish attempt to write rules for something that runs contrary to the very idea of a tabletop RPG and should never under any circumstances be used by a player character.

There are a lot of page wasters in PF that are just poor implementations of a concept, but the deaf curse, like the wizard specialized in carrying around siege weapons, is a problem at the conceptual level and nothing will fix it.

Really, why on Earth would you want to show up at a roleplaying game with a character designed to force you to roleplay ignoring everything your coplayers say? Why would they want to play with someone who ignores them? Why would their characters want to go into high risk situations with someone who can't hear them shout warnings and can't benefit from the standard communications cantrip?

Just say no to death adventurers.

Meh, lip reading has been around since the 1500's (at least, that is what the one source my googlefu could find said...supposedly. Man, it is apparently hard to find a 50 year old book on lip reading online...). Even without it, there is still sign language and writing. There are plenty of ways to roleplay this disability without it 'ruining' everything. Sometimes we want to roleplay people who overcame adversity to achieve great things.

Admittedly, I am not entirely sure how superpowered divine disabilities play into that entirely (might not have been the most sensitive choice in designing the oracle, although one that has its representation within culture, for better or worse)

Silver Crusade

Ways to deal with deafness:
Linguistics [lip reading] is your friend.
Perception is your friend.
Sense motive is your friend.
By extension, alertness is your friend.
Hearing-ear familiar. A raven or certain improved familiars can speak or understand common. That empathic bond can warn you you are being threatened, propositioned or made fun of by other characters in the language the familiar knows. Works nicely with lip-reading as a warning to get within ten feet and watch so-and-so's lips. And free alertness sure doesn't hurt!
If you're getting fancy, hire a chronicler that acts as your mobile sign-language translator (you and the chronicler will both need linguistics [drow sign languge] too)

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Hero Lab does not have a Lip Reading language to choose from. I understand it as having a rank in Linquistics will allow the character to lip read, a normal thing a Deaf character would do to better commuticate.


dragonhunterq wrote:
Quote:
You can understand the spoken words of creatures or read otherwise incomprehensible written messages. The ability to read does not necessarily impart insight into the material, merely its literal meaning. The spell enables you to understand or read an unknown language, not speak or write it.
emphasis mine: surely to understand the spoken word you need to hear it.

Not if the spell repeats what is said inside your mind.

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