Linguistics is a character's aptitude for speaking various languages and deciphering scripts from languages they're unfamiliar with.

  • Primary Characteristic: Intelligence
  • Time to Perform: As part of an Interaction while speaking, or dependent on volume.

Linguistics is a branch of Knowledge that allows characters to speak in a variety of languages and decipher various texts. Unlike typical Knowledge skills, Linguistics represents both how much a character knows about a subject and their ability to apply their knowledge practically. Linguistics is split into two categories: the ability to speak a language and the general skill in deciphering texts the character cannot casually read. Each represents a different skill, and when a character puts a rank into Linguistics, they must decided which application they are putting their rank towards.

When communicating with other creatures, each rank in Linguistics represents how fluently the character can speak the language. The application of the skill in this instance is specific and automatic; the character either knows how the speak the language, or they don't. There are no skill rolls involved with translating in this case, as the character can think interchangeably in every language they know. Based on their ranks in an individual language, the player understands the following:

Fluency Content Understood
Basic The character understands the basic gist of what someone is saying in the language, but they miss out on the details and complexities of the conversation.
Fluent The character can talk to someone using the language, but they don't understands the eccentricities of the dialect.
Natural The character can talk to others in the language as if they had grown up speaking it for their entire life.

The second application, the ability to translate texts in languages they don't understand, is much broader, requires more time to use, and dependent on how much text they are attempting to translate; the longer and more complex the content they are attempting to decipher is, the more time and effort it will take to do so. The Difficulty of the Linguistics check is based on the following Table:

Complexity Description Time to Translate Difficulty
Basic The passage is short and easy to understand 1 round to 1 minute 9-10
Simple The passage is about a paragraph long with simple syntax 1 to 5 minutes 11-17
Complex The passage is about a page long with varied syntax and diction. 5 to 30 minutes 18-20
Challenging The character is attempting to translate 2-3 pages of a complicated text. 30 minutes to 1 hour 21-27
Cryptic The character is attempting to decipher 4 or more pages of content An hour to 1 day 28-34
Exhaustive The character wants to decode an entire book. 1 or more days 35+

Alternatively, Game Masters and players can use the second option to create coded messages. When making their own codes, the player makes a Linguistics check, opposed by whoever might decipher it.

Typically, characters start knowing at least one language; this might be the native language of whatever setting the campaign takes place in or a nebulous, Common language shared by everyone. Game Masters should decide which of the two is appropriate for their game and have characters spend ranks in Linguistic appropriately thereafter.