Friday, August 15, 2014

Pathfinder House Rules: Learning New Languages

There are a number of minor rules that I've never liked about Pathfinder. One such rule is the method for learning new languages. For those unfamiliar with Pathfinder, I'll explain how this rule works.

Within the game, there is a skill that characters can select called "Linguistics". As the name implies, this skill allows characters to decipher different forms of writing, create & detect forgeries, and learn new languages. Whenever a player puts a rank into the Linguistics skill, that third feature takes effect and the character learns a new language. 

That means if a player were to place 20 ranks into Linguistics over the course of their character's entire adventuring career, they'd learn 20 different languages. I don't know about you, but I feel like that's a little excessive. With that in mind, I've been toying with some house rules to fix the problem. Right now, I've created two different solutions that I feel will improve this rule; One tries to model the idea of slowly learning a new language, while the other is much more simplistic and straight forward. 

The first rule allows you to select a new language each time you put 2 ranks into the Linguistics skill. However, unlike the previous rule, you aren't completely fluent in the language (at least, not at first). When you first select a language, you are simply "literate". This means you can read the language, but you don't know it well enough to actually speak it and hold a conversation with someone who is fluent with that language. When you select the language again, you finally become fluent with the language. 

The second rule doesn't possess the levels of fluency that the first one does. Instead, you simply learn the language each time you put 5 ranks into the Linguistics skill. This version of the rule is much closer to the original, but offers a slower progression and limits you to four new languages over the course of your character's adventuring career.

While my Pathfinder campaigns have currently use the second rule due to its simplicity, I've contemplated switching to the first one to see how it might work at the table. Feel free to use either of these rules in your games.

((Also, I'd like to thank my friend Corbin. He's offered to take on editor duties for this blog, which takes a load off my shoulders. Thanks buddy!))