Is this as intended? Do human ethnicities really not learn their ethnic language by default, only Common?


Lost Omens Campaign Setting General Discussion

Sovereign Court

I mean, RAW it seems to be the case. Page 55 says that humans start with Common and if they have an Int bonus they gain more languages that they have access to. Page 430 says that your ethnic group gives you "access" to certain languages.

So an ethnic Varisian character (not a Taldan expat who happened to live in Varisia) doesn't speak Varisian, only Common, unless you invest in it.

This is a bit like saying "Latinos in the US speak English and if they're above average smart or took extra language classes, they also speak Spanish". Or "Native Dutch people speak English and maybe also Dutch".

This seems really stupid and insensitive. It's also a weird regression from PF1 where humans generally did know their own ethnic languages. And there seems to be no particular balance need for it either, considering that dwarves and elves do learn both their racial language and Common.

Silver Crusade

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It's a error when they updated the Langage rules, Humans are supposed to get a free floating langauge (not just their ethnicity langauge so as to not screw over players who play Taldans).

Sovereign Court

Rysky wrote:
It's a error when they updated the Langage rules, Humans are supposed to get a free floating langauge (not just their ethnicity langauge so as to not screw over players who play Taldans).

As in, officially said it's an error and it was supposed to say something different? I'd like to have a source to refer to.

Silver Crusade

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Mark Seifter on Arcane Mark Discord.

Note that it was just stated that it was a mishap and what it was supposed to be, it wasn't an official "this is exaclty how this is supposed to work and we'll be posting errata to exaclty say this"

We'll have to wait and see for an official clarification but that should be good for most non-PFS GMs (Campaign Clarifications will probably take care of that).


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I'd actually rather have the ethnicity language rather than a free floating one, even if that meant some would lose out. I see this mostly as fluff, unlikely to make any significant mechanical difference beyond having a background that makes sense.
Making it just a free floating language means some would ignore the background logic and take something that's more likely to be directly useful.

I'd actually like to see it apply to non-humans too, if they come from a region with a local language. Only makes sense they'd grow up with tri-lingual - local language, racial and Common.

Silver Crusade

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I'm pretty sure the free floating lanaguge would follow the samme rules for the other languages provided for having a high Intelligence, rather than being pick whatever you want.


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For what it's worth, I know many non-white Americans that speak only English (they're typically second or third-generation Americans).

The alternative is that a human with ten intelligence speaks only their own ethnic language and is thus unable to communicate with the rest of the party unless someone invests in intraparty communication.

Sometimes realism has to take a backseat to the game being playable.


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Quote:
The alternative is that a human with ten intelligence speaks only their own ethnic language and is thus unable to communicate with the rest of the party unless someone invests in intraparty communication.

I don't think OP is suggesting that 10 int humans only get their local language, just that they get common + ethnic, like most other races.


Squiggit wrote:
I don't think OP is suggesting that 10 int humans only get their local language, just that they get common + ethnic, like most other races.

For "playing someone from Taldor or Cheliax" to not be a strict downgrade, the "you can pick any common language" seems reasonable. Speaking Elvish probably isn't much more useful than speaking Hallit. After all those places where "Common" is the primary language tend to be especially cosmopolitan.


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thejeff wrote:

I'd actually rather have the ethnicity language rather than a free floating one, even if that meant some would lose out. I see this mostly as fluff, unlikely to make any significant mechanical difference beyond having a background that makes sense.

Making it just a free floating language means some would ignore the background logic and take something that's more likely to be directly useful.

Starfinder used a similar system, but it hardly mattered there since everyone in the Pact Worlds always seems to speak Common, and in those cases where you run into somebody who doesn't speak Common, they probably don't know any of your other languages either.

But for Pathfinder, assigning languages by ethnicity introduces some absurdities. After all, why should a Mwangi who grew up in Avistan automatically know how to speak Mwangi while a Taldan who grew up in the Mwangi Expanse does not?


David knott 242 wrote:
thejeff wrote:

I'd actually rather have the ethnicity language rather than a free floating one, even if that meant some would lose out. I see this mostly as fluff, unlikely to make any significant mechanical difference beyond having a background that makes sense.

Making it just a free floating language means some would ignore the background logic and take something that's more likely to be directly useful.

Starfinder used a similar system, but it hardly mattered there since everyone in the Pact Worlds always seems to speak Common, and in those cases where you run into somebody who doesn't speak Common, they probably don't know any of your other languages either.

But for Pathfinder, assigning languages by ethnicity introduces some absurdities. After all, why should a Mwangi who grew up in Avistan automatically know how to speak Mwangi while a Taldan who grew up in the Mwangi Expanse does not?

It's basically the same in PF, isn't it? The ethnic languages rarely matter. The non-human languages other races often get as bonus languages are far more likely to be useful. The orcs might speak common, but if you can eavesdrop on them, they'll likely be speaking orc.

It's not uncommon for immigrants to pass on their language for at least a generation or two as well as learning the local tongue. And it was common in colonial empires to not bother with the native languages. That would be a good fit for Sargava, for example.

But yeah, ethnicity isn't a strict fit. I'd be happy to allow "pick one" or even "take both". Much like I'd happy to do for non-humans who grew up outside of their homelands.


I think it would be a good homebrew rule for GMs to allow characters to pick from ethnic, national, and racial language for the one other than commom. And humans would be able to choose two. If all of those are common they could just choose any two, I guess.


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David knott 242 wrote:
But for Pathfinder, assigning languages by ethnicity introduces some absurdities. After all, why should a Mwangi who grew up in Avistan automatically know how to speak Mwangi while a Taldan who grew up in the Mwangi Expanse does not?

Well this is an interesting point, although I am going to disagree with the take you are expressing. Your perspective seems intent on continuing to view the character as "a Mwangi" even though they grew up in Taldor speaking only Taldane. Which is a racialized view of ethnicity, and actually conflicts with 'language as ethnicity' paradigm.

Instead, consistently following the latter paradigm, we would say any character who grew up in Taldor only speaking Taldane certainly should count as a Taldane. That doesn't mean they can't have more complex family background, which may even be "visually apparent" or have cultural elements they can roleplay around: "language as ethnicity" does not specify some "racial purity" it is totally compatible with such characters if you just drop the racialist assumption. If they are from Taldor and speak only Taldane, I don't see problem with counting as Taldane ethnicity, qualifying for Taldane ethnic Feats like other Taldanes and NOT qualifying for e.g. Mwangi ethnic Feats. Of course, it is up to player whether they want to say "my character kept their familial ethnicity even in Taldor, they still count as Mwangi ethnicity" but the logical outcome of language-as-ethnicity paradigm is that such characters will know their given ethnic language. So you can have multiple generations continuing like that, as long as they pass on language, and if they don't but instead solely partake in local culture/language around them, then that will be their ethnicity.

Of course, context for Mwangi/Taldane contrast is people uniquely equating Mwangi with "black africans" (culture/appearance). Which is regrettably how Paizo has chosen to develop setting so far, meanwhile there are multitude of ethnicities equatable to "white europeans", "middle eastern", "east asians" etc. Hopefully in future development of South Garund, Paizo will create new human ethnicities who appear just as "black african" but are ethnically/linguistically distinct from Mwangi, which may help people's perceptions to better adapt to "language as ethnicity" paradigm and not racialist paradigm.

One other thing is the way people focus on 'useful languages' which seem to be in the line of 'enemy monster languages'. I'm not fully sure what the intended rules are, but it seems currently the "Common list" includes alot of "monster languages" (and Core Demihumans) while not including any Human ethnic languages. I mean, it seems easy to justify including all Human ethnic languages in "Core list" on basis they are 'Core (SUB-)ancestries', but that doesn't seem to be what they are doing given the specific access granted to learn your own Ethnic language, or the ethnic language(s) appropriate to your home nation (which would be superfluous if already in Core list). It just seem to destroy any sociological verisimilitude for Underdark to have universal trivial learnability (INT bonus), but characters must jump thru extra hoops to learn a human ethnic language besides their own or those in their nation.

Insofar as many players do "care about" learning "enemy [monster] languages", it seems reasonable their own national background should matter in determining Demihuman/Monster languages they could have easy learning access to (with INT bonus languages, other options available for uncommon languages). E.g. Undercommon being 'universal easy access' seems overtly ridiculous, but it's probably reasonable to include for a few nations with stronger interactions with Underdark. Similarly for Giant, other monster languages, even Demihuman languages like Dwarven and Elven which AFAIK do not have universal presence across nations. If entire group of players is intent on "covering" range of "enemy monster languages" they could choose ethnic/national backgrounds of characters to enable access to those languages, in way that is sociological consistent with living in areas where interactions with (potentially) "enemy monsters" is common enough to enable easy language learning. Different characterrs having different languages is good for game IMHO, because it differentiates what it means to exist in world, and provides impetus for characters to act differently depending on situation VS the one face character always talking to every NPC. That also creates contextual roleplaying basis for their attitudes to these creatures, and "National Lore" would also provide relevant info re: those nationally relevant "monsters", rather than leaving it as "yup, you know Undercommon because it's universal easy access, I know you lived your entire life floating on boats in the shackles, and you don't actually know what creatures or nations exist in the Underdark, but hey, you know Undercommon because it sounds good to eavesdrop on enemy monsters with".

While Demihuman and Monster languages have room to be more localized, I would say the reverse is true of Human ethnic languages, which currently are harshly localized to their ethnicity and nations where they are predominant. AFAIK, Kelesh culture has strong mercantile tradition, so it seems reasonable to include in "easy access" for nations from Varisia to Jalmeray (but maybe not Ustalav?). Of course, that doesn't so much apply to a language like Hallit(Kellid) which will rarely be learned outside of it's native range except by scholars. So I think over-all a better approach is shrinking the universal "easy access" list (or even getting rid of it), and EXPANDING national "easy access" not only to include locally appropriate Demihuman/Monster languages (which are taken off universal list except for truly universally dispersed populations) but also Human Ethnic languages which DON'T even need to be major local demographic, but merely be common enough that people who want to can easily interact with them to learn language. The conceit of Absalom offering all Human languages actually seems to work by that principle, but the idea isn't extended more broadly (i.e. OK maybe Varisia doesn't offer EVERY ethnic language, but Osirioni or Kelesh merchants are significant enough they should be included). Of course "scholars" can learn Uncommon languages, but if there is to be sociological verisimilitude in game world, characters should learn languages their character could plausibly pick up socially.

I do REALLY hope they consistently follow thru on claimed 'language as ethnicity' paradigm, by requiring to know own ethnic language (which sounds like they support granting for free, possibly planning to make this free choice currently which I oppose). If you don't know the language I don't know why you need to count as that ethnicity, it just smells like racialism, which to be clear has implication of saying "black people can't count as Taldanes, they are forever Mwangi, and can never use Taldan-specific cultural Feats (or must jump thru extra hoops etc). Regarding the question of ethnic Taldanes whose ethnic language is "Common", I really think the disparity of them potentially "knowing 1 less language" is overplayed in that they know the designated most useful language and don't face problem of communication that a character who knew other language but not Common would have. IMHO allowing Taldans free choice of other bonus language (while other ethnicities fixed to own ethnic language + common) is plausible viable from game perspective, but I personally would go in different direction by granting them a bonus Lore skill (which could be Taldor Lore, or whatever fits their character) to represent learning effort that other characters put towards knowing Common. Really, that doesn't even need to be limited to Lore, it could be any skill IMHO (which could even be Society, i.e. prereq to Linguistics Feat which allows Uncommon languages).

Over all, I feel like the Language rules should be attractive to players actually interested in linguistic/sociological verisimilitude (even if stuff like process/length of learning languages is handwaved by mechanics). Because players who aren't interested in this can just ignore it, either directly ignoring the rules, or by GM "feeding" content that always stays in Common language assumption, rules should work for people actually engaged in topic. The current RAW just feels like it is actively opposed to anybody engaging the setting linguistically, as in it goes to lengths to tightly control Human ethnic languages while making "enemy monster languages" universally trivial to access. At which point, why even bother with 'national language access' and the like, why not just say 'you can learn any language you want'? (barring specifically rare stuff like Druidic or Terran etc). It's doubly weird when plenty of Paizo APs are very "political" and having multiple intersecting ethnic nationalities as primary enemies/NPCs is just as viable as Monster/Demihuman languages, so why distort the system towards the latter?

EDIT: I am optimistic in that it sounds like Paizo (or Mark Seifter) have stated the RAW is incorrect, so some FAQ/Errata is reasonable to expect. Just the minimum reflected in Mark's statement quoted here would still be very subpar IMHO (although at least better than current RAW) especially since it basically undermines the 'language as ethnicity' paradigm in favor of defacto racialist approach, but if they are doing FAQ/Errata, that would seem to leave the door open to a slightly broader revisioning (it would be simple enough to either drop "Common" access list completely or pare it down, while simultaneously expanding National language access lists). I've always seen Paizo say their setting is primary thing they are about, so I would think facilitating immersion via social verisimilitude would serve that goal.


I think the reason human ethnic languages weren't put anywhere but (I assume from the playtest) the Human section is to avoid confusing people playing in other worlds. Then again, they hardly did that for deities so maybe not.

Also, I'd like to point out that the Mwangi aren't the only African inspired ethnicity with the Garundi, Lirgeni, and Holoma. Though I agree that more new ethnicities from southern Garund might be cool.

However I definitely think you're right about having the option to base language, and in some cases ethnicity, on origin and cultural upbringing rather than genetics. And I think any race should be able to do that.


In general use ethnicity is broader and vaguer than that.

Not only is it shorthand for appearance - even on narrower levels than race. The Ulfen and the Shoanti are both "white", but generally distinguishable. Taldanes and Chelaxians would be hard to tell apart physically, IIRC, but have developed different cultures.

Beyond that, even when a language is lost by immigrants, other ethnic cultural traditions remain, in addition to physical traits. Names linger. Culinary traditions do. Religions often stay in family lines.

Even without racializing it, it often makes sense to think in terms of ethnicities for generations. Until everything blurs together through intermarriage. Longer if the groups remain isolated for one reason or another.


I'm not arguing for absolute validity of language as ethnic identity, I'm referencing what Paizo has conveyed. Linguistic basis of ethnonational identity does have very strong basis in world, but you certainly can find plenty of cases where identity crosses linguistic lines, or divides identity within given linguistic division, although lack of common language is strong barrier to mutually verifying shared identity and ongoing co-creation of culture (distinct from idealized image of past and isolated cultural artifacts which can adopted by other ethnic groups anyways).

Paizo has affirmed they are going with common linguistic definition of identity, as reflected by explicit classification of Taldanes and Chelish as same ethnicity. You reference religion as nonlinguistic ethnic adjunct, but with Religion being distinct character trait from Ethnicity, what is value in conflating them as RPG categories? If you want X religion common in Y ethnicity, then you can have X religion even if you don't speak Y language and don't count as Y ethnicity. Likewise with nationality, Chelish and Taldanes are distinct by national origin, so what utility value comes from conflating that character trait with ethnicity?

People in the real world can be totally inconsistent and blur conceptual categories to their convenience. But in RPG it's helpful for conceptual categories to be clear and consistent, if you count as Taldane then you don't count as Kelesh no matter what food you like to eat. Your official ethnicity can determine what Ethnic PreReq Feats you can take, and what Feats you can't take. Consistently hewing to linguistic basis of defining game term ethnicity doesn't mean you can't roleplay character that is more complex than "generic Taldane", you certainly can assume certain sympathies/antipathies based on family background and you can include further details such as visual appearance which allows GM to similarly roleplay response to details not directly mapped to ethnicity or other game terms. But to the extent ethnicity is a game term, it needs a consistent definition and application.


Wait, are there feats with a certain ethnicity as a prerequisite?


I don't have my hands on final rules in CRB, but since it is designated game term, why can't there be?
But if the game doesn't have every character specify the height of their nose, there can't be Nose Size Pre-Req Feats.


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Darth Game Master wrote:
Wait, are there feats with a certain ethnicity as a prerequisite?

PF1 did have such traits and feats, and there was even a prestige class (Ulfen Guard) with an ethnicity requirement.

I guess we will have to wait at least until the Lost Omens World Guide comes out to see whether they do anything like this in PF2.

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Darth Game Master wrote:
Wait, are there feats with a certain ethnicity as a prerequisite?

The Unconventional Weaponry human ancestry feat (p.57) suggests we'll see uncommon weapons that are accessible to specific cultures. Like Tien getting katanas and Taldane getting falcatas probably. There aren't any in the CRB that I have been able to find, but it would make sense to put that in the Lost Omens World Guide instead.

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PossibleCabbage wrote:
Squiggit wrote:
I don't think OP is suggesting that 10 int humans only get their local language, just that they get common + ethnic, like most other races.
For "playing someone from Taldor or Cheliax" to not be a strict downgrade, the "you can pick any common language" seems reasonable. Speaking Elvish probably isn't much more useful than speaking Hallit. After all those places where "Common" is the primary language tend to be especially cosmopolitan.

Speaking elvish probably comes up more often than speaking Hallit, but for both an elf and a Kellid character, it's weird if you were to start out not knowing your ancestral language, only the language of the Taldan imperialists.

I'm on board with everyone speaking Common (or Tien, for campaigns centered in Tian Xia) because making PCs pay to be able to talk to each other is a pain. But that's a convenience for PCs; I don't think all NPCs should be assumed to be quite so cosmopolitan. It would be plausible for a troll living in Varisia to speak Varisian, not Common.

So is being Taldan/Chelaxian a downgrade then compared to ethnicities that do have a separate language? Maybe, slightly. You could allow them to pick a different language, but perhaps only from the always available list. Cosmopolitan, but less niche depth. Or maybe they instead reap some social advantages of being from a standard-setting ethnicity.

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David knott 242 wrote:
thejeff wrote:

I'd actually rather have the ethnicity language rather than a free floating one, even if that meant some would lose out. I see this mostly as fluff, unlikely to make any significant mechanical difference beyond having a background that makes sense.

Making it just a free floating language means some would ignore the background logic and take something that's more likely to be directly useful.

Starfinder used a similar system, but it hardly mattered there since everyone in the Pact Worlds always seems to speak Common, and in those cases where you run into somebody who doesn't speak Common, they probably don't know any of your other languages either.

But for Pathfinder, assigning languages by ethnicity introduces some absurdities. After all, why should a Mwangi who grew up in Avistan automatically know how to speak Mwangi while a Taldan who grew up in the Mwangi Expanse does not?

In Starfinder you get Common, your racial language (if any; androids don't have one, and it's unclear if nuar have one or maybe have orcish), and your home planet's language.


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I think the thing is if you are living in a country where the traditional language is called "common" then you are likely living in a very cosmopolitan place where you could encounter a great number of people speaking a different language.


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I think calling it Common is a holdover from previous editions. It's Taldane, and I refer to it as such in my games.

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Fumarole wrote:
I think calling it Common is a holdover from previous editions. It's Taldane, and I refer to it as such in my games.

Both are used, same as 1st.


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Ascalaphus wrote:
David knott 242 wrote:
thejeff wrote:

I'd actually rather have the ethnicity language rather than a free floating one, even if that meant some would lose out. I see this mostly as fluff, unlikely to make any significant mechanical difference beyond having a background that makes sense.

Making it just a free floating language means some would ignore the background logic and take something that's more likely to be directly useful.

Starfinder used a similar system, but it hardly mattered there since everyone in the Pact Worlds always seems to speak Common, and in those cases where you run into somebody who doesn't speak Common, they probably don't know any of your other languages either.

But for Pathfinder, assigning languages by ethnicity introduces some absurdities. After all, why should a Mwangi who grew up in Avistan automatically know how to speak Mwangi while a Taldan who grew up in the Mwangi Expanse does not?

In Starfinder you get Common, your racial language (if any; androids don't have one, and it's unclear if nuar have one or maybe have orcish), and your home planet's language.

Yes, that is the exact system, and it can result in the character having anywhere from one to three base languages. But, since everyone in the Pact Worlds speaks Common, all the extra base languages really give you is a way for characters with common planetary or racial origins to hold secret conversations -- far more of a niche application than actually having to depend on those languages to communicate with someone who doesn't speak Common.

But in Pathfinder (either edition), you are far more likely to run into somebody who doesn't speak Common but who just might speak one of the other languages that you know.


David knott 242 wrote:
Ascalaphus wrote:
David knott 242 wrote:
thejeff wrote:

I'd actually rather have the ethnicity language rather than a free floating one, even if that meant some would lose out. I see this mostly as fluff, unlikely to make any significant mechanical difference beyond having a background that makes sense.

Making it just a free floating language means some would ignore the background logic and take something that's more likely to be directly useful.

Starfinder used a similar system, but it hardly mattered there since everyone in the Pact Worlds always seems to speak Common, and in those cases where you run into somebody who doesn't speak Common, they probably don't know any of your other languages either.

But for Pathfinder, assigning languages by ethnicity introduces some absurdities. After all, why should a Mwangi who grew up in Avistan automatically know how to speak Mwangi while a Taldan who grew up in the Mwangi Expanse does not?

In Starfinder you get Common, your racial language (if any; androids don't have one, and it's unclear if nuar have one or maybe have orcish), and your home planet's language.

Yes, that is the exact system, and it can result in the character having anywhere from one to three base languages. But, since everyone in the Pact Worlds speaks Common, all the extra base languages really give you is a way for characters with common planetary or racial origins to hold secret conversations -- far more of a niche application than actually having to depend on those languages to communicate with someone who doesn't speak Common.

But in Pathfinder (either edition), you are far more likely to run into somebody who doesn't speak Common but who just might speak one of the other languages that you know.

Not really my experience - at least with the ethnic languages. Some of the evil monster languages or outsider languages definitely.

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Rysky wrote:

Mark Seifter on Arcane Mark Discord.

Note that it was just stated that it was a mishap and what it was supposed to be, it wasn't an official "this is exaclty how this is supposed to work and we'll be posting errata to exaclty say this"

We'll have to wait and see for an official clarification but that should be good for most non-PFS GMs (Campaign Clarifications will probably take care of that).

This will be a non-issue for PFS as the new guide specifically notes that humans gain a bonus ethnic language (and half-orcs and half-elves may change their bonus ancestral language for an ethnic language).

My current understanding is that the omission in the CRB is an oversight that will be corrected at some point, though I don't currently have an ETA on that.


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As I recall, the half-elf and half-orc heritages don't even mention the ancestral languages of their non-human parents, possibly because Elven and Orc are already common languages freely available to humans.

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