Language system & traits


We've put fairly extensive effort into making the resultant text varying levels of intelligible depending on your skill/intelligence, incl. following real polyglot patterns like whole words usually coming out right even if the rest of the sentence is gibberish, or mispronouncing words such that you might be able to figure out what they're *TRYING* to say, or introducing extra stuttering and filler words when a speaker is struggling with a language. The result varies, but has had a satisfying effect with critters' second languages degrading when they are stressed to a noticeable degree to others, and critters picking up a language in order to glean the basic gist of what others are discussing in it around them.

The actual code goes something like this: for each language you speak, you have to pass a skill check on every word to say it correctly. If you fail, each letter of the word is jumbled up unless you pass an additional skill check, leading to words being somewhat intelligible if you're close but not quite there yet. Then you have a small chance to stutter at the end of the word if you fail a check there, hemming and hawwing as you struggle to express yourself in an unfamiliar language. This process then repeats, sans stuttering, for the listener, their own understanding filtered through their ability to comprehend the language. All of this is more or less invisible to the players, who simply type in a piece of dialogue and see it come out the other end altered or not.

Crucially, the traits in our character creation include the option to start without speaking Common, or having no native language. The latter is fairly straightforward, the former a bit more complex, since all other critters of every species can speak Common. You can pick up any language book and start learning a language, but there are no books on Common. Everyone speaks it. If you didn't grow up speaking it, it's hard for you to start, particularly since no one even really thinks of it as a *real* language and will have trouble teaching you.

For this trait we've implemented a system of "language immersion" -- the only way to learn Common is to figure it out by just being surrounded by people who speak it until you begin to slowly decipher the meaning. First intelligible words will gradually emerge from the nonsense, then slowly whole sentences, until you can finally attempt to speak it on your own. But speaking is harder than listening, and it takes more time still to be understood. Even fully immersed, such critters will have trouble recalling and using longer words and will have to express themselves with shorter ones. This is a fairly rewarding journey compared to the relatively straightforward drawback of not starting with your native language; harder to compensate for, but more rewarding to experience, and adding extra flavor to your roleplay.

More info on all the traits here:

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