What we have here is a failure to communicate -- language learning and 2E


Pathfinder Society

Grand Lodge 5/5 ⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Online—PbP aka Hmm

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One deliberate design choice that I find interesting is that 2e has made it harder to communicate across linguistic barriers.

What I have noticed so far:

1) Magical means of communication are much reduced:

  • Share Language is gone.
  • Comprehend language is a second level spell, and only by heightening it to 3rd can you actually speak the language.
  • Tongues is a fifth level spell, and uncommon to boot.

    2) Non-magical means of communication are much reduced:

  • Society Skill allows learning languages only through the multi-lingual feat.
  • Society Skill only allows you to decipher languages in writing, not speech.
  • The only way to create pidgin tongues is through a 15th level feat, Legendary Linguist.

    3) There is no reduction in the sheer number of languages in the world.

    There are so many languages, and we travel to so many places.

    ★ --- ★ --- ★ --- ★

    If we can't communicate, we're going to be fighting more often, and having trouble making new friends and allies.

    I think we're all going to be hiring a lot of translators. As someone who is used to hearing the patterns in a new language and deciphering it quickly to communicate, this feels way too high level. Will the society be offering guidance for hiring translators or getting translator ally boons? I realize that one of my first actions as a society member in a new area will be looking for a hireling who speaks the local language and my own. Being proactive about hiring translators and guides may be the best solution.

    Hmm

  • Sovereign Court 4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

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    Hilary Moon Murphy wrote:
    3) There is no reduction in the sheer number of languages in the world.

    But mysteriously, most critters will still speak Common. Because that's what it says in their copy-pasted Bestiary statblock :P

    2/5

    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

    Grand Archive Tier 2 Cost 4 Fame = Translator (2 languages)

    Nomadic Halfling = 2 languages (and 50% boost to Multilingual feat)

    Silver Crusade 5/5

    Blake's Tiger wrote:

    Grand Archive Tier 2 Cost 4 Fame = Translator (2 languages)

    Nomadic Halfling = 2 languages (and 50% boost to Multilingual feat)

    Nomadic halfling allows one to make a character that specializes at being a linguist (which is nice) but the cost is so high I'd expect it to be a fairly rare thing.

    In PF1 similar abilities cost the much lower cost of 1 skill pt a level. I DID see characters who invested highly in linguistics but not many.

    Silver Crusade 5/5 ⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Germany—Bavaria

    I kinda like that change, it makes learning languages more meaningful and you can have obscure old languages that players can not be expected to understand immediately.

    Learning languages has been ridiculously easy before.

    2/5

    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

    You do realize that I'm making any claims that these this fix any real or perceived issues with language accessibility?

    I was merely pointing out a couple of other ways to gain extra languages for those interested in the information. But you're right. Not everyone wants to be a halfling.

    Grand Lodge 5/5 ⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Online—PbP aka Hmm

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    I've built a lot of characters who were invested highly in linguistics. Maybe because I really like languages... I just want to be able to communicate. I think the Grand Archive boon is great, but like everything else, you'll have to wait to get it.

    Maybe I'm the only one who worries about this kind of thing. I guess we'll see how the adventures play out.

    Hmm

    Venture-Agent, Canada—Ontario—Ottawa aka Mistwalker

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    You are not the only one who worries about things like this HMM.
    And I also tend to have characters who are linguists, knowing multiple languages.

    2/5

    3 people marked this as a favorite.
    Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
    Jean-Marc Comeau wrote:

    You are not the only one who worries about things like this HMM.

    And I also tend to have characters who are linguists, knowing multiple languages.

    Yeah, not alone at all. I've also been concerned about PF2e's limits on learning languages.

    Silver Crusade 5/5

    Hilary Moon Murphy wrote:

    I've built a lot of characters who were invested highly in linguistics. Maybe because I really like languages... I just want to be able to communicate. I think the Grand Archive boon is great, but like everything else, you'll have to wait to get it.

    Maybe I'm the only one who worries about this kind of thing. I guess we'll see how the adventures play out.

    Hmm

    One related thing that I've noticed is that if you want a particular character concept in PF2 you often have to pick one out of a very few (often 1) options.

    For example, I'm currently trying to build a "know it all" character. The only reasonably viable options I'm seeing are Wizard who multiclasses into bard for bardic knowledge (wizard feats seem largely "meh" to me so this can happen by level 4) or a high int Bard. Bardic knowledge seems all but essential for this as, at least in PFS2-01, lore skills and ONLY lore skills cone up a LOT.

    Or building an archer wizard pushes you hard to either elf or human (for the 2 general feats required for proficiency in a bow).

    I'm not at all sure whether that's a good thing or not but it's certainly a thing. It's almost certainly a thing that will happen less and less as more resources get published.

    As you say, I'm going to have to see how it plays out in practice.


    Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
    pauljathome wrote:
    For example, I'm currently trying to build a "know it all" character. The only reasonably viable options I'm seeing are Wizard who multiclasses into bard for bardic knowledge (wizard feats seem largely "meh" to me so this can happen by level 4) or a high int Bard. Bardic knowledge seems all but essential for this as, at least in PFS2-01, lore skills and ONLY lore skills cone up a LOT.

    A high INT Rogue who multiclasses into Bard could also be good for this, because in addition to being able to pick up Bardic Lore at 4th level you can really easily become trained in a huge number of other skills, not to mention having heaps of skill feats to work towards getting Assurance and Automatic Knowledge in the big 4 monster identification skills.

    Silver Crusade 5/5

    rooneg wrote:
    pauljathome wrote:
    For example, I'm currently trying to build a "know it all" character. The only reasonably viable options I'm seeing are Wizard who multiclasses into bard for bardic knowledge (wizard feats seem largely "meh" to me so this can happen by level 4) or a high int Bard. Bardic knowledge seems all but essential for this as, at least in PFS2-01, lore skills and ONLY lore skills cone up a LOT.
    A high INT Rogue who multiclasses into Bard could also be good for this, because in addition to being able to pick up Bardic Lore at 4th level you can really easily become trained in a huge number of other skills, not to mention having heaps of skill feats to work towards getting Assurance and Automatic Knowledge in the big 4 monster identification skills.

    You're absolutely right.

    I didn't include that because
    1) one answer on how to make ANY skill focused character is "rogue" (let's face it, that Nomadic halfling linguist is very likely a rogue) :-)
    2) I'd already decided I wanted a spellcaster and forgot that when posting :-(

    I'm less than convinced that assurance is much use in general. Far too often you just assuredly fail. And at 2 skill feats per skill it's expensive even for a rogue.


    Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
    pauljathome wrote:
    rooneg wrote:
    pauljathome wrote:
    For example, I'm currently trying to build a "know it all" character. The only reasonably viable options I'm seeing are Wizard who multiclasses into bard for bardic knowledge (wizard feats seem largely "meh" to me so this can happen by level 4) or a high int Bard. Bardic knowledge seems all but essential for this as, at least in PFS2-01, lore skills and ONLY lore skills cone up a LOT.
    A high INT Rogue who multiclasses into Bard could also be good for this, because in addition to being able to pick up Bardic Lore at 4th level you can really easily become trained in a huge number of other skills, not to mention having heaps of skill feats to work towards getting Assurance and Automatic Knowledge in the big 4 monster identification skills.

    You're absolutely right.

    I didn't include that because
    1) one answer on how to make ANY skill focused character is "rogue" (let's face it, that Nomadic halfling linguist is very likely a rogue) :-)
    2) I'd already decided I wanted a spellcaster and forgot that when posting :-(

    I'm less than convinced that assurance is much use in general. Far too often you just assuredly fail. And at 2 skill feats per skill it's expensive even for a rogue.

    Yeah, I'm not super convinced that Automatic Knowledge is actually worth it (I mean seriously how often do you actually have target numbers to identify real threats that Assurance can hit?), but it's a neat build and I want it to be good ;-)

    4/5

    rooneg wrote:
    pauljathome wrote:
    For example, I'm currently trying to build a "know it all" character. The only reasonably viable options I'm seeing are Wizard who multiclasses into bard for bardic knowledge (wizard feats seem largely "meh" to me so this can happen by level 4) or a high int Bard. Bardic knowledge seems all but essential for this as, at least in PFS2-01, lore skills and ONLY lore skills cone up a LOT.
    A high INT Rogue who multiclasses into Bard could also be good for this, because in addition to being able to pick up Bardic Lore at 4th level you can really easily become trained in a huge number of other skills, not to mention having heaps of skill feats to work towards getting Assurance and Automatic Knowledge in the big 4 monster identification skills.

    I'm doing a high INT rogue who plans on multiclassing into wizard, and yeah, that is a lot of skills. The plan is for something arcane trickster-like or spellfilcher-like.


    The Untrained Improvisation feat helps somewhat, giving half or full level to untrained skill checks. The human feat Clever Improviser helps even more. You get Untrained Improvisation, plus you can attempt skill actions that require you to be trained. So you can know a little about everything.

    Any other ancestry could take the Adopted Ancestry feat to gain access to this this feat as well. As humans are pretty much everywhere it's not much of a stretch to be "fully immersed in another ancestry’s culture and traditions".

    Liberty's Edge 1/5

    Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
    pauljathome wrote:


    Nomadic halfling allows one to make a character that specializes at being a linguist (which is nice) but the cost is so high I'd expect it to be a fairly rare thing.

    I'm not saying that I was messing around with a high Wizard who doubled as a translator but you know, I'm not saying that I wasn't...

    4/5

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    I hope the "Speak Local Language" spell from Heroes of the Streets returns soon. That was a favorite on mine in 1E. Alternatively, the return of "Voluminous Vocabulary" from Ultimate Intrigue would be welcome.

    The fact that both of these spells existed in 1E indicated an understanding by the designers that communication needed to be made easier, I wonder what happened to make them take it in the opposite direction.

    1/5

    Mimo Tomblebur wrote:

    I hope the "Speak Local Language" spell from Heroes of the Streets returns soon. That was a favorite on mine in 1E. Alternatively, the return of "Voluminous Vocabulary" from Ultimate Intrigue would be welcome.

    The fact that both of these spells existed in 1E indicated an understanding by the designers that communication needed to be made easier, I wonder what happened to make them take it in the opposite direction.

    Not a chance. There was a determined effort to reduce the ability to communicate, so unless the person driving that bus leaves Paizo abilities that increase the ability to communicate will not see the light of day.

    The obvious answer to why is that mysteries are the new preferred style of story. Divinization, and especially communication, got the nerfhammer hard. Apparently too many people found that their intricate plot was undone by a simple detect magic or detect evil.

    Silver Crusade

    Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
    thorin001 wrote:
    There was a determined effort to reduce

    Spells that completely invalidated non-spell abilities and effects.

    The two spells Mimo brought up I could see coming back.

    1/5

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    Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

    Why is effective communication a bad thing with the current design principles?

    Is it an effort to revive 'death vagrancy' after several years of sane, involved, and interesting stories?

    Sovereign Court 4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

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    Wei Ji the Learner wrote:

    Why is effective communication a bad thing with the current design principles?

    Is it an effort to revive 'death vagrancy' after several years of sane, involved, and interesting stories?

    I think "intentionally blocking effective communication" is an exaggeration.

    I think going from "most of us speak at least ten languages" back to "hey, you know this obscure language, that's impressive" is a more accurate description.

    It's actually somewhat expensive to know languages now, but the other key question is whether everyone we encounter will still happen to speak common. Or maybe we're actually going to see more encounters where languages really matter now.

    Scarab Sages 4/5

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    Just as long as scenario designers are taking the new limitations on languages into account. It really isn't fun to get into a scenario, get to where you're going, and then have the GM ask, "Ok, who speaks Tien?" only to find out no one does, and the majority of NPCs don't speak Common.

    Finding information written in an obscure or ancient language that is helpful, but not necessary to complete the scenario is fine, and it rewards investing in languages. Finding information written in an obscure language that brings the scenario to a halt, because you can't get to the next step until you translate it is problematic in a campaign where you can't guarantee someone in the party is investing in being a translator.

    1/5

    Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

    What will make it worse is when via gamer osmosis word gets out of a certain language being needed and EVERYONE gets that one because they don't want to miss points/bags/whatnot because they didn't have 'x' language...

    Sovereign Court 4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

    I'm counting more on the "if you have the language, this part of the scenario gets easier/you don't need to spend that resource", than "if you don't have the language, you just plain miss out".

    For example, "if you speak the language you don't need to rely on the translators and get a +2 on checks to influence". Nice but not the end of the world if you don't have it.

    Or "the Society will provide you with five helpful things for your mission; if you don't speak the local language you must select a translator as one of them". Again, nice if you have it, not the end of the world if you don't.

    It would be a very foolish scenario writer that hard-bakes an absolute need for a language into a scenario. And I think Linda e.a. are good enough editors that they'd catch that mistake.

    Shadow Lodge 4/5

    Lau Bannenberg wrote:
    Wei Ji the Learner wrote:

    Why is effective communication a bad thing with the current design principles?

    Is it an effort to revive 'death vagrancy' after several years of sane, involved, and interesting stories?

    I think "intentionally blocking effective communication" is an exaggeration.

    I think going from "most of us speak at least ten languages" back to "hey, you know this obscure language, that's impressive" is a more accurate description.

    It's actually somewhat expensive to know languages now, but the other key question is whether everyone we encounter will still happen to speak common. Or maybe we're actually going to see more encounters where languages really matter now.

    I think this is a welcome change, and I'm writing this as someone with a character fluent in 38 languages. It will make language boons that much more sweeter.

    Scarab Sages 4/5

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    Lau - It happens now, though. Generally, it’s because a creature is included that you’re supposed to interact with that has a standard stat block, and that stat block doesn’t include common. Thus my hope that what you say is true and they are taking it into account more now than in the past. That’s only half the issue, though. How many scenarios would have been brought to a halt if no one could speak thassilonian (or ancient osiriani, or jistkan, or iobarian, etc.), or cast comp languages, or at least make a linguistics check? It sounds like the Society skill is going to be super important as it seems to be what’s taking linguistics’ place. Since the skill also seems to be covering part of what local and history do in 1E, I’d say it looks like a group should make sure they have someone with the Society skill, or they should spend the fame to get a hireling boon for the skill.

    Grand Lodge 5/5 ⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Online—PbP aka Hmm

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    Society cannot do what linguistics did, though... You can't use it to understand spoken languages, and you can only use it to make pidgin tongues if you are legendary. It's weird, because I used to make pidgin tongues all the time when I traveled. I could learn languages quickly, decoding them quickly, communicating wherever I went. I would arrive somewhere on the train, start hearing the patterns and sounds around me, and start speaking with people.

    (That was when I was in my teens and twenties and thirties... It's harder for me learning new languages now at age 50. My brain doesn't have the same linguistic felicity that it once did.)

    But my point is that I'm a totally normal person. Normal people with the teeniest bit of linguistic skill can do this in real life. It should be something locked behind 'expert' proficiency, not legendary. Bah. I know we're in a fantasy game world, and that real world abilities has nothing to do with it. But it bugs me that Society cannot be used to figure out what is being said.

    However, I do trust Linda that they won't shut adventures completely down if we don't speak a language, and they will provide us translators when we really need them. It's just scary to me because communication doesn't seem to me to be a way of shortcutting the story... It's a way of making the story richer and more meaningful.

    Hmm

    Envoy's Alliance 5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

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    The gnomish barrister looks up from her book, How to communicate. "I am learning comprehend languages as soon as I can, and it will be likely the first spell that I heighten. A lawyer, not being understood in court? However will be effective?"

    Scarab Sages 4/5

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    Hmm - I was referencing Society specifically for the written languages Pathfinders encounter. It seems like it will be a necessity. Golarion has way too many ancient and obscure languages for someone to know them all. For the most part that’s even true in PF1 with double language Tengu and Gnomes and languages being “cheap” at just a skill point. Who takes Iobarian? But that’s come up in one, possibly two recent-ish (last 2 seasons) scenarios. In PF1, one of my first purchases for anyone who can use it is a scroll of comp languages. Even as a brand new character with only starting gold. Because even in tier 1 intro scenarios obscure languages show up in written form, and sometimes in ways that are critical to the scenario.

    Pip - I think part of the point of the thread is that you can’t get comp languages until several levels in. Even then, I believe it’s an Uncommon spell, and it’s not yet clear how to get access to Uncommon spells. (I don’t have the book yet, so I am going off what I’ve read elsewhere for it being Uncommon. Archives of Nethys doesn’t seem to list what category spells are in on their entries). So I’m not even sure when you get 2nd level spells that you can take it. If it is Common and available that helps a little.
    Ok, strike that. It looks like I misread and it is a Common spell. It’s Tongues that’s Uncommon.

    Envoy's Alliance 5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

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    Pip nods. "I know that I have to wait to get Comprehend Languages, and it will be a long wait because my cheapskate player did not spend the points to make me third level! That's why I said that I would get it as soon as I can! It'll just be a long wait. But you're right that at least I can decipher the written stuff!"

    P.S. My cheapskate player was the same person who started this thread.

    Scarab Sages 4/5

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    Lol. I didn’t notice. Fooled me!

    Liberty's Edge 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Maryland— Baltimore aka Qstor

    pjrogers wrote:


    Yeah, not alone at all. I've also been concerned about PF2e's limits on learning languages.

    Not to thread jack but that's one of the things I really dislike about 5e is the difficulty in learning new languages.

    I haven't fully wrapped my head around PF2 but it's good to see that learning languages is also an issue.

    I have a bunch of PFS characters like my bard that usually added a point in Linguistics every level to learn a new language. Even with my ranger PC I added points in Linguistics to have him learn the languages of his favored enemies.

    Grand Archive

    My PF2 Half-Elf with the 10 Intelligence started with Common, period. Despite the fact that he has Elven ancestries...

    This could be read as 'why don't half-elves have both Common and Elvish'? But I note that the Half-Orc is in the same boat.


    Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
    Morton Mazon wrote:

    My PF2 Half-Elf with the 10 Intelligence started with Common, period. Despite the fact that he has Elven ancestries...

    This could be read as 'why don't half-elves have both Common and Elvish'? But I note that the Half-Orc is in the same boat.

    This is an error in the Core Rulebook. Humans (and thus a Half-Elves) are supposed to start with common plus one other language plus your int mod extra languages, which would let you take elvish.

    Silver Crusade 5/5 ⦵⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Indiana—Southern aka CanisDirus

    rooneg wrote:
    Morton Mazon wrote:

    My PF2 Half-Elf with the 10 Intelligence started with Common, period. Despite the fact that he has Elven ancestries...

    This could be read as 'why don't half-elves have both Common and Elvish'? But I note that the Half-Orc is in the same boat.

    This is an error in the Core Rulebook. Humans (and thus a Half-Elves) are supposed to start with common plus one other language plus your int mod extra languages, which would let you take elvish.

    (Emphasis mine)

    Do you have a source for this? Ty in advance!

    I'm helping a friend make their first PF2E character (half-elf) and they also noted that neither half-elves nor half-orcs get their parent languages. Because both of these heritages are human, they do benefit from the Cultural Languages portion of the PFS character creation guide, so a half-elf or half-orc with an intelligence 10 would still get Common plus a "modern human language" as well.

    >.>
    <.<
    Unless they are Taldane, in which case I'd encourage the player to flesh out their back-story to potentially include time spent visiting relatives/adventuring elsewhere on Golarion just long enough to learn the lingua-Galta.

    2/5

    Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
    Mike Bramnik wrote:
    rooneg wrote:
    Morton Mazon wrote:

    My PF2 Half-Elf with the 10 Intelligence started with Common, period. Despite the fact that he has Elven ancestries...

    This could be read as 'why don't half-elves have both Common and Elvish'? But I note that the Half-Orc is in the same boat.

    This is an error in the Core Rulebook. Humans (and thus a Half-Elves) are supposed to start with common plus one other language plus your int mod extra languages, which would let you take elvish.

    (Emphasis mine)

    Do you have a source for this? Ty in advance!

    Roughly 25min into this video from the designers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oe0eJrrAlUE

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