Language Throws (5e Variant Rule)

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Language Throws[edit]

This optional rule attempts to address the true variety of language without inhibiting functional gameplay as severely as language impacts reality. This is for players who are looking to make a deeper, richer world with more complex social enviroments, and to bring language forward as a meaningful gameplay element. It does this by approaching the problem the same way 5e approaches other old gameplay impediments: we make a game out of it!

Characters each know two or three "languages" granted by their character templates, as per usual. Consider these languages as language groups from now on. For instance, all Western languages have similar structures, so "Western" would be an equivalent "language" by this system.

Within each language "known" by a character, there are many independent "dialects". In this case, we are using the word dialect in a manner akin to its meaning in regards to Chinese, where there are hundreds of fully incompatible dialects which, to a Western understanding of language, would be considered independent regional languages. For example, if Western was a language, it would have English, French, German, Spanish, and Italian as its major dialects.

Within any given dialect, there may also be occasional accents which are difficult to understand. For instance, with English as a dialect of Western, you would have accents for British, Australian, and American.

There are also Exotic dialects. An exotic dialect is where a chatacter's native tongue does not match what they are speaking. For instance, a man who speaks Western French would speak Western English with a french accent. This would be treated as an exotic accent, rather than as an independent accent in its own right.

Each language is assumed to have a pidgin language or trade tongue, and anyone who knows the language should know that dialect (unless they're an NPC). This ensures the party can at least communicate among themselves.

Whenever a character first encounters a tongue they have not encountered before, they must make a language check. The check is made using INT or CHR, whichever is higher. The DC is as follows:

  • 10 for an accent of a known dialect
  • 15 for a dialect of a known language
  • +5 if spoken with an exotic accent.
  • +5 if the tongue is secret, archaic, or dead.

If they succeed, it is assumed that the character knows and understands the tongue from then on, and it should be noted on their character sheet. For example, a party of adventurers are trying to leave the country to chase down a mysterious villain, when they are stopped by the guards of the neighboring nation at the border gates. Though they all speek common, the neighboring nation has its own dialect. The party makes their rolls, and as it turns out, only the bard can understand them! The bard now must negotiate the whole situation.

Written language operates under the same rules, with the exception of accents, which are not expressed in any normal script. Rather, a particularly unusual hand or very bad chicken scratch warrants the same DC modification as an exotic accent, but is only meaningfully applicable to the writing of a single individual.

Example Language Tree[edit]

  • Western (Language)
  • English (Dialect)
  • British (Accent)
  • Australian (Accent)
  • American (Accent)
  • French (Dialect)
  • Metropolitan (Accent)
  • Meridional (Accent)
  • Belgian (Accent)
  • Swiss (Accent)
  • Aostan (Accent)
  • Quebec (Accent)
  • Acadian (Accent)
  • Levantine (Accent)
  • German (Dialect)
  • Low Franconian (Accent)
  • Low Saxon (Accent)
  • High Franconian (Accent)
  • High Saxon (Accent)
  • Spanish (Dialect)
  • Hispanic (Accent)
  • Old World (Accent)
  • Italian (Dialect)
  • Tuscan (Accent) (Dead)
  • Gallo-Rhaetian (Accent)
  • Gallo-Italic (Accent)
  • Italo-Dalmatian (Accent)
  • Sardinian (Accent)
  • Scots (Dialect)
  • Insular (Accent)
  • Northern (Accent)
  • Central (Accent)
  • Southern (Accent)
  • Irish (Dialect)
  • Dublin (Accent)
  • Southwestern (Accent)
  • Northern (Accent)
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