Talk Talk (Simple Immersion Exercise: Languages)

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Whether it’s at an Organized Play Event or the precious four hours at a friend’s house, sometimes in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game we want to get into character fast. Rapid immersion helps get a game moving, improves verisimilitude, and helps characters (and their players) get to know one another… And it can be really easy to do with a quick exercise. Today we present – Talk Talk….

Simple Immersion Exercise: Talk Talk!

Every character with an Intelligence greater than three has a language, probably two. Often those with positive Intelligence modifiers have more than that. This exercise is best early game (intro session) or after a few levels have gone by and players might have ranked-up Linguistics. To initiate it, begin by asking around who speaks whatever language you want to start with that isn’t Common:

  • Who in the Party knows your racial language? If someone not of the character’s race speaks up, then follow-up with: Where did you learn it? Who taught you? The potential for ad-lib and fun is huge here as that the characters can swap histories, discovered shared background and otherwise connect. It could also give them fun tension if the native speaker doesn’t care for the way the newer learner speaks.
  • What uncommon languages does the party share? This can open a lot of doors. From shared memories (of course you both learned Aklo after that thing in Deepdark) to the establishment of “poor man’s telepathy” uncommon languages can open a whole new level or roleplaying experiences. Again comparative training stories, insights and fun ad-lib.
  • Who can read what? Parties benefit from knowing who in the party can help decipher what writing they encounter. Maybe the rogue’s benefit from a wizard’s aid another action on Disable Device is the inclusion of a translation of a series of obscure maker’s marks?
  • Does the character want to learn a new language? Learning a tongue from a party member as you travel is probably more realistic than a rapid study during a training visit to a local city. Begin the process in character. Be careful not to put the players or GM on the spot with too much delving into linguistics, no one is going to be able to assemble a goblin lexicon over a few minutes.
  • What does the language sound like? Imagining the guttural snarlings of Draconic of the soft whispers of Auran can be an entertaining pursuit. While real world comparisons can be fun (and fast) make certain not to portray real world cultures or accents without having a good grasp on  the groups comfort levels with it.
  • What linguistic quirks do the characters have? Is the dwarf prone only to scribe runes  with a chisel in stone? Slates could get pretty heavy after a few weeks of journaling. Does the halfling only speak elvish when drunk because of his dark memories fleeing the elven capital? Does a character hid knowledge of a language so they can eavesdrop easier on those who doubt he could understand?
  • What gets translated how? Like a children’s game of “telephone” a party can have an  amusing interlude when the GM relates his orcish words to the one party member who  understands and that party member chooses to translate.. with a dash of creative license. Just be careful someone doesn’t reveal their own linguistic prowess and call you on it mid conversation.

Whether they have a couple or a dozen, languages are a great way to establish immersion and verisimilitude in games. Envisioning the sounds, varieties and motives behind the linguistic nature of your gaming group’s characters can be just the warm-up you need to get into orc “negotiation” mindset.

Wanting to pick up a new tongue? How about the words of awesome, found  in our rules expansion options? You can check out our Pathfinder content at these fine vendors: d20pfsrd.comdrivethruRPGpaizo and RPGNow.

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