Applied Linguistics
Ex Libris Nocturnis - By: Suleiman A. Allen (email: ) Summary: A new set of house rules for Vampire: the Masquerade. First, I feel obliged to comment that there is no satisfactory rule in any set of game mechanics to cover the obscure form of linguistic mastery which some rare individuals have attained. Those persons whom I have met who were polyglots and gamers have all commented that gaming rules either over-simplify the process of learning a new language, or else over-complicate them. The white-wolf system tends to over-simplify everything, reducing wide varieties of skill into convenient one-word packages. I like the storyteller system because of this simplification, which allows me to brush off players hounding me for more realistic rulings, and get on with the actual story at hand. Unfortunatley, in my current chronicle, this ruling is very pertinent. Therefore, I fall back on semantics. The ability of Linguistics (which is on everybody's character sheet) is for Linguistics, the study of languages, their structures, and their meanings. To speak additional languages, one now uses the knowledge of Polyglot. Linguistics (Skill) This is the study of languages, in it's academic form. A linguist may, given time, study and decipher any language into any other language, if there is some means of deciphering the fragment. The difficulty of this decipherment, and the accuracy of the translation, is set according to a case-by-case basis, defined by such things as whether the language is currently in use or dead, how large the fragment is, and how closely the language is related to a language which the character understands. Due to my own personal prejudices, Linguistics is a skill, rather than a knowledge - If you have a french-to-english dictionary, you can try to translate a french manuscript into english, but if you do not understand the fundamental rules of linguistics, it will be rough going, and the translation will be rather spotty. Archeo-linguistics (Knowlege) This is the ability to read dead languages (or written languages that do not have a relationship to the spoken word), without copying and translating. This is separate from the ability to speak a language, although a linguist could mumble their way though, given time. Each dot gives you the ability to decipher one character set, and the ability to make a skill roll, akin to linguistics, to translate a related character set. This might allow you, for instance, to translate an aramaic text if you know hebrew, but knowledge of hebrew would not allow you to decipher sequoiya, despite their both being syllabaries. Polyglot (Knowlege) This is the mastery of speaking, reading, and writing some language other than your own. Languages must be listed in the order in which they are learned. Each new language is a little more difficult. Your conversational skills in your fourth language will never be equal to your mastery of your second language. Each new language is considered to have it's 'skill' reduced by one dot, for the purposes of translation and conversation. These levels of skill are broken down to Basic Vocabulary, Conversational Vocabulary, Fluency, and Dialectic mastery. As each new language is learned, it becomes easier to learn more, but it is highly unusual for anybody to become completely fluent in more than two to four languagess without a special merit. * One other language at basic level. ** One language at conversational, one more at basic. *** One language at Fluent, second at conversational, two more at basic **** One language at Dialectic, second at fluent, 3rd & 4th at conversational, 4 more at basic ***** Two languages at dialectic, two at fluent, 5th & 6th at conversational, 10 at basic

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Language-related merits and flaws: These merits and flaws cover the aptitude, or lack thereof, which some people have regarding languages. Natural Linguist (1 point merit) Exactly the way it's written in the player's handbook. A natural linguist has a talent which makes using the linguistics skill easier… Natural Polyglot (3 point merit) This merit ennables the character to become fluent in as many languages as they can stand to spend experience on. No matter how many languages they learn, there's still room for one more. The polyglot knowledge is still required, but fluency is defined as if all languages spoken at the level of the second language. New languages beyond the second require 3 XP to learn, however (as well as the time and circumstances needed to become that fluent at the language - nobody can just go "I speak fluent russian now!") Gift of Tongues (5 point merit) Actually a form of innate magical ablility, the character has a semi-telepathic sense for languages, ennabling her to adapt to foreign tongues through assimilation. This assimilation takes a few days of immersion, and the character does not retain linguistic knowledge without the polyglot ability. Once you're immersed in armenian, you no longer remember english (at all) until once again immersed in english - at which time, you forget armenian. Polyglot defines the maximum number of languages a character with this gift can remember, and the maximum level of fluency with those languages. Disused languages atrophy, and are eventually are forgotten. Each new tongue pushes the old ones back a space, as the last spoken language takes the place of second-fiddle. This gift only allows the learning of spoken languages. Writing still requires a special skill (Academics or archeo-linguistics) Language inept (1 point flaw) This character has great difficulty comprehending languages other then the one she learned as a child. No tongue learned through the polyglot skill can ever be learned beyond conversational level of ability, and such mastery takes twice as long (Conversational ability is not reached until fluency would be achieved by another) Individuals with this flaw can not take any other language-related merit (natch) Bilingual (2 pt. merit) For those of you who only want to speak one other language, but want to speak it well, there is the merit of Bilingual. Like most merits, Bilingual can not be purchased or acquired after play begins, as a way of "mastering" one particular tongue or dialect. That's what Polyglot is for. Bilingual allows for complete fluency in one other language (or perhaps only conversational fluency for odd languages, like basque or navajo)

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