Linguistics

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Description

Ability Score Used: Intelligence
Usable Untrained? No
Armor Check Penalty Applies? No


You are skilled at working with language, in both its spoken and written forms. Ranks in linguistics enable you to speak multiple languages, and decipher nearly any tongue given enough time. Your skill in writing allows you to detect forgeries.

As people learn languages, they achieve varying states of familiarity: pidgin, novice, fluent, and native.

Pidgin

At the pidgin level, Bluff, Diplomacy and Sense Motive checks are made at -5 penalties when attempted in this language.

  • Listen: When listening to conversations in the language, you understand approximately every third word. This is enough to generally determine the topic of the conversation, but is highly prone to misinterpretation, since you often mistranslate critical words (like "not") that can completely alter the meaning of the statement. If someone wants you to fully understand what they're saying, they must speak slowly, and use gestures and pantomime to supplement their statements.
  • Speak: You communicate at approximately the same degree a toddler communicates -- no full sentences, no conjugation, no subject/verb agreement, frequent mispronunciations, or incorrect word usage, etc. Only basic ideas can be conveyed, and technical conversations or topics requiring skill or training are impossible. Even regular conversations are painful affairs to observe, with each sentence taking around a minute to successfully convey.
  • Read: You can, very slowly, read the written language when you see it.
  • Write: You are not capable of composing written messages in the language by yourself.

Novice

At the novice level, Bluff, Diplomacy and Sense Motive checks are made at a -2 penalty when attempted in the new language.

  • Listen: You are able to listen to the spoken language with very little difficulty in understanding. An occasional word will be unknown to you, but you can nearly always follow all but the most complex or theoretical of conversations. You cannot understand idioms, euphemisms, or slang in this language, however.
  • Speak: You know approximately 1,000 words, and are capable of speaking in full sentences, though you still make frequent mistakes (using the wrong word, etc.). You can function reasonably well among people who speak this language natively, though it is obvious that you are not a native speaker. Technical topics are still very difficult affairs, and take much longer to discuss with a novice speaker as synonyms are sought and gestures replace jargon.
  • Read: Much as with listening, you are capable of reading the written word of the language with very little difficulty. Technical words, idioms, euphemisms, slang, and sarcasm, are very difficult for you, but otherwise, reading the language comes quite easily to you.
  • Write: You can write in the language with very little difficulty, though your writing lacks subtlety and nuance. You have a limited diversity of synonyms, so long text, especially descriptive text, will appear uninspired and trite to native readers. However, you can communicate most topics to a reader with little chance of misunderstanding.

Fluent

You take no penalties when interacting with people using this language.

  • Listen: You fully understand conversations in this language. Only a few words are unknown to you, and you can usually figure out what the word means after breaking it down to its root. You can only think in this language with effort and deliberate choice.
  • Speak: You are easily understood, and are highly capable of making your point efficiently. Your accent gives away your foreign status, however, and there is a chance you will incorrectly use a euphemism, idiom, or slang. You are highly versed in technical jargon for topics in which you have skill ranks, but have limited knowledge of technical jargon outside of areas you have actively studied. While you are perfectly capable of humor and sarcasm in this language, it tends to be a bit blunt, lacking the subtlety and nuance of a native speaker.
  • Read: You can easily read all but the most technical of texts at your normal reading speed. Technical texts can be deciphered, but take extra time.
  • Write: You are able to write the language easily, and even insert a flair or voice to your writing, making it your own. While you are perfectly capable of humor and sarcasm in this language, it tends to be a bit blunt, lacking the subtlety and nuance of a native speaker.

Native

You take no penalties when interacting with people using this language.

  • Listen: You fully understand conversations in this language. All words are either known by you, or easily understood with some context. You are capable of thinking in this language as easily as you think in your actual native tongue.
  • Speak: You speak with a perfect accent of a native, and are eloquent and easily understood. You are also fully knowledgeable of local idioms, euphemisms, and slang. You are capable of subtle humor and sarcasm, and can even use it such that only selected listeners will notice your digs at others present.
  • Read: You can quickly read texts in this language with no difficulty. Even poorly written documents, or shoddy handwriting, can be easily deciphered with enough context.
  • Write: Your writing is a perfect example of the language, containing grace and nuance, and capable of subtle humor or sarcasm. While actually creating written works of artistic merit requires either a Perform or Profession skill, you are well-positioned to use those skills.

Learn a Language

All player-character races speak, read, and write Common with "native" familiarity, beginning at character creation, regardless of their intelligence scores or any other factor. Some races grant an additional starting language (which is also known at "native" familiarity). In addition, player characters with high intelligence scores can gain bonus languages, one language per +1 modifier from their Intelligence score, which they select from their chosen race's list of available bonus languages. Bonus languages from high intelligence are known at "fluent" familiarity.

Each time you put a rank into Linguistics you can choose a language from among the basic starting languages or advanced starting languages, and gain "fluent" familiarity with both the spoken and written forms of that language. You may instead choose a language from the encountered languages list, but only if you have actually heard a conversation or read a document in that language at some point in the past. If you haven't been exposed to a language from the encountered languages list, you may not select it. You may NOT choose a language from the secret languages list, unless you find someone who is willing to teach it to you. (In most cases, teaching a secret language to someone outside of the group in which it is meant to be known is punishable by death. As they say, two can keep a secret if one of them is dead.) You can never learn a secret language by overhearing it, or even translating a sample of its text, due to its deliberately complex nature.

Upon placing your 10th rank into linguistics, you may select one of your known "fluent" languages, and advance your knowledge in this language to "native". You may select one additional known language from your "fluent" languages to promote to "native" familiarity for every 2 additional ranks after the 10th rank that you place in linguistics.

Characters may also gain "native" familiarity with a language that they know at the "fluent" level by seeking a trainer and paying them. See Character Retraining for details.

Comprehend Unknown Spoken Language

You may attempt to comprehend spoken languages in tongues you do not know.

If you already know the language at the "fluent" or "native" level, you do not need to roll this; you can interpret the language automatically. If you know the language at "pidgin" or "novice", you must still make this skill check, but you get a bonus on your roll (see modifiers section).

GM's should make this check in secret, due to the possibility of the player gaining incorrect information.

Action Required:

Free action

DC of Check:
  • Basic Language: 20
  • Advanced Starting Language: 25
  • Encountered Language: 30
  • Secret Language: 50
Modifiers to Check
  • Pidgin Fluency: If you already know this language at "pidgin" fluency, you reduce the DC by -5.
  • Novice Fluency: If you already know this language at "novice" fluency, you reduce the DC by -10.
  • Helpful Speaker: If the speaker is deliberately speaking slowly, or gesturing to assist your understanding, the DC is reduced by -10.
  • Eavesdropping: If the speaker doesn't know you are listening, the DC increases by +5.
  • Deliberately Quiet: If the speaker is whispering, or actively trying to keep others from listening in to his conversation, the DC increases by +10.
  • Interference: If the speaker is behind a thick door, or chewing food while talking, the DC increases by +10.
  • Combat: If you are trying to understand a foreign language that is being spoken in the middle of a fight, the DC increases by +15.
Take 10? / Take 20?

You can take 10 (assuming you are not in combat), but you cannot take 20.

Allows Assists?

No, things are happening too quickly for an ally, jabbering in your ear, to help you.

Results of Success

If you succeed by 4 or less, you understand enough of the conversation to get the general idea of what was said, including any proper nouns (person's name, place name, etc.).

If you succeed by 5 or more, you also learn the language at the "pidgin" level of fluency, assuming it is not a secret language. If the language is not a secret language, you may learn it at the "fluent" level of fluency if you spend one of your ranks in Linguistics to do so (that is, you have now successfully encountered enough of the language to learn it).

  • (Epic Only) If you have at least 21 ranks in linguistics, and you succeed by 10 or more, you learn the language at the "novice" level of fluency, assuming it is not a secret language. You must still spend one of your ranks in linguistics to learn this language at the "fluent" level of fluency.

Even though you might be able to understand some of a secret language via this skill use, you may not learn the language (even at the "pidgin" level) without the assistance of a teacher willing to teach the language to you.

Consequences of Failure

If you fail by 4 or less, you are simply unable to understand what was said. You are aware that you failed.

If you fail by 5 or more, or roll a natural 1, you misinterpret what you hear. Examples include guessing the opposite meaning (e.g., attack versus defend), the wrong timescale (hours instead of days), the wrong gender (she instead of he), the wrong location (inside instead of outside), etc. You are not aware that you failed.

  • (Epic Only) If you have at least 21 ranks in linguistics, you are no longer subject to misinformation due to a failed check. Failures at this level are always treated as though they were by 4 or less, even if you roll a natural 1.
Retry Allowed?

Assuming you know you failed, you may retry again if the conversation continues for at least 10 minutes. If you fail the second attempt, you must wait 24 hours before trying again with that language (regardless of whether you are exposed to new conversations or different speakers during that time).

You may not retry the check if you are unaware of your failure.

Provokes AOO?

No

Translate Unknown Written Language

You can decipher writing in an unfamiliar language.

If you already know the language at the "fluent" or "native" level, you do not need to roll this; you can interpret the language automatically. If you know the language at "pidgin" or "novice", you must still make this skill check, but you get a bonus on your roll (see modifiers section).

GM's should make this check in secret, due to the possibility of the player gaining incorrect information.

Action Required:

10 minutes per page.

DC of Check:
  • Basic Language: 20
  • Advanced Starting Language: 25
  • Encountered Language: 30
  • Secret Language: 50
Modifiers to Check
  • Pidgin Fluency: If you already know this language at "pidgin" fluency, you reduce the DC by -5.
  • Novice Fluency: If you already know this language at "novice" fluency, you reduce the DC by -10.
  • Hurry: You can attempt to reduce the time taken to 1 minute per page by increasing the DC by +10. You can attempt to reduce the time taken to 1 full round action per page by increasing the DC by +20. You cannot reduce the time taken to less than 1 round per page.
  • Take Your Time: If you spend 1 hour per page, you can decrease the DC by -10. If you spend 1 day per page, you can reduce the DC by -20.
  • Good Work Space: If you are in a quiet, well-lit, dry area, with few distractions, such as a study, you can reduce the DC by -5.
  • Multiple Documents: If you have multiple different documents in the same language, the DC is reduced by -5 per additional document. A document is text which can stand on its own.
  • Instructional Document: If the document was intended to teach something to the reader, the DC is reduced by -5. If it was intended to teach the language itself, the DC is reduced by -15.
  • Bad Penmanship: If the writer of the document has bad handwriting, the DC is increases by +5. If the writer had truly atrocious handwriting, the DC increases by +15.
  • Damaged Document: If the document is waterlogged, or otherwise damaged, the DC increases by anywhere from +2 to +20, depending on the damage.
  • Incomplete Document: If you only have part of the document, but not because of damage to the document, the DC is increased by +10.
  • Short Document: If the document is less than a full page in length (less than 250 words), but not because of damage, or being incomplete, the DC is increased by +2 per 50 words less than 250, rounding up, to a maximum of +10 for less than 50 words.
Take 10? / Take 20?

You can take 10 (assuming you are not in combat), but you cannot take 20.

Allows Assists?

Yes (up to 5 allies)

Results of Success

If you succeed by 4 or less, you are able to translate enough of the text to guess at the general meaning, including any proper nouns (person's name, place name, etc.).

If you succeed by 5 or more, you also learn the language at the "pidgin" level of fluency, assuming it is not a secret language. If the language is not a secret language, you may learn it at the "fluent" level of fluency if you spend one of your ranks in Linguistics to do so (that is, you have now successfully encountered enough of the language to learn it).

  • (Epic Only) If you have at least 21 ranks in linguistics, and you succeed by 10 or more, you learn the language at the "novice" level of fluency, assuming it is not a secret language. You must still spend one of your ranks in linguistics to learn this language at the "fluent" level of fluency.

Even though you might be able to understand some of a secret language via this skill use, you may not learn the language (even at the "pidgin" level) without the assistance of a teacher willing to teach the language to you.

Consequences of Failure

If you fail by 4 or less, you are simply unable to determine the contents of the message. You are aware that you failed.

If you fail by 5 or more, or roll a natural 1, you misinterpret the text. Examples include guessing the opposite meaning (e.g., attack versus defend), the wrong timescale (hours instead of days), the wrong gender (she instead of he), the wrong location (inside instead of outside), etc. You are not aware that you failed.

  • (Epic Only) If you have at least 21 ranks in linguistics, you are no longer subject to misinformation due to a failed check. Failures at this level are always treated as though they were by 4 or less, even if you roll a natural 1.
Retry Allowed?

Assuming you know you failed, you must wait 24 hours before trying again.

You may not retry the check if you are unaware of your failure.

Provokes AOO?

Yes

Speak / Write Unknown Language

You can attempt to speak or write in a language you haven't learned.

If you already know the language at the "fluent" or "native" level, you do not need to roll this; you can speak, read, and write the language automatically. If you know the language at "pidgin" or "novice", you must still make this skill check, but you get a bonus on your roll (see modifiers section).

GM's should make this check in secret, due to the possibility of the player gaining incorrect information.

Action Required:
  • Speaking: Free action (longer conversations will take longer, obviously)
  • Writing: Full-round action for 1 to 2 sentences, or 10 minutes per page.
DC of Check:
  • Basic Language: 20
  • Advanced Starting Language: 25
  • Encountered Language: 30
  • Secret Language: — (you cannot communicate in a secret language you don't know)
Modifiers to Check
  • Pidgin Fluency: If you already know this language at "pidgin" fluency, you reduce the DC by -5.
  • Novice Fluency: If you already know this language at "novice" fluency, you reduce the DC by -10.
  • Impeded: If your speech or handwriting are impeded in some way (e.g. chewing food, under a bed, etc.), the DC is increased by +10. This penalty increases to +20 if you are greatly impeded (e.g. manacled, gagged; but seriously, what game are you playing?).
  • Blood For Ink: If you lack paper, ink, or a writing implement, the DC (for writing) is increased by +2 to +10, depending on how creative you are forced to become.
Take 10? / Take 20?

You can take 10 (assuming you are not in combat), but you cannot take 20.

Allows Assists?
  • Speaking: no
  • Writing: yes (up to 5 allies)
Results of Success

You are able to communicate your idea with enough success to prevent its misinterpretation. It was likely an atrocious example of the language, however. Hopefully, no impressionable children were nearby.

Consequences of Failure

If you fail by 4 or less, you fail to convey your idea, and your audience is left wondering what you meant to say.

If you fail by 5 or more, or roll a natural 1, you said something you really didn't mean to say. This can range from reversing the intended message (e.g. leaving out a "not") to saying something insulting. In any event, your target audience will likely respond in a way you didn't intend. Depending on the intended message, your audience may become hostile, or otherwise have its attitude towards you reduced.

Retry Allowed?

No. Regardless of whether you know you failed, you just don't know how to express your meaning in this language.

Provokes AOO?

No

Detect Forgery

You can examine a document or credentials in a language you know, to attempt to determine whether or not they are a forgery. To detect a forgery, you must have seen an example of a known valid document (or credential), or have an actual sample on-hand to use as a foundation from which to work. If you do not have such knowledge, you cannot even attempt to roll.

GM's should make this check in secret, due to the possibility of the player gaining incorrect information.

Action Required:

1 round per page

DC of Check:

opposed by forger's Spycraft skill check.

Modifiers to Check
  • Foreign Language: If the forgery is written in a language you are entirely unable to read, the DC is increased by +10.
  • Pidgin Fluency: If you only have pidgin fluency in the language the forgery is written in, the DC is increased by +5.
  • Novice Fluency: If you only have novice fluency in the language the forgery is written in, the DC is increased by +2.
  • Fluent: If you are fluent in the language the forgery is written in, there is no penalty or bonus to the DC.
  • Native Fluency: If you have native fluency in the language the forgery is written in, reduce the DC by -2.
  • Familiar Handwriting: If the forgery attempts to mimic the handwriting of someone whose handwriting you are extremely familiar with, reduce the DC by -2.
  • Contradictory: If you have certain knowledge that is contradicted by the forged document, reduce the DC by -2.
  • Hasty Review: If you spend only a standard action to review the document, increase the DC by +5. If you spend only a swift action, increase the DC by +10.
  • Bad Lighting: If you are in flickering light (like a torch), the DC is increased by +2. If you are in dim light (and lack low-light vision) or worse, you cannot even attempt to detect a forgery.
Take 10? / Take 20?

You can take 10 (assuming you are not in combat), but you cannot take 20.

Allows Assists?

Yes (up to 5 allies). Assisting allies must be adjacent to the document. If there is not enough room, they cannot assist.

Results of Success

If your linguistics check equals or exceeds the forger's Spycraft check, you can tell whether the document is legitimate or a forgery.

Consequences of Failure

You believe the document to be legitimate. You are unaware that you failed.

Retry Allowed?

No

Provokes AOO?

Yes