Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
fulk

LIteracy

Recommended Posts

How do you treat literacy in your games?  For example, in a non-automatically-literate setting, would you allow it as a Lore Skill during chargen? Or, only as a Hobby Skill for those characters with professions w/o access?  Would you allow it as automatic for some social classes?  For example, a 15th or 16th century Gentry higher character might be expected to be literate in the real world.  Is such a setting would make a noble character buy Literacy or just automatically have it?

 

Just curious.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, I would allow (have allowed) substitution of Literacy for a Lore, if it made sense.  I might make it automatic for some social classes in some settings, in principle, but not in my current game.

You're the GM.  It's your Mythras.  If it seems reasonable, do it; if it causes problems later, fix it retroactively and apologize to the players. :-)

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In RQ6 (which is what I happened to have a hardcopy of in front of me), Literacy is a learned skill that certain careers pretty much require. You can learn to read, and a failed roll will mean that either you can't decipher the script at all or you misconstrue it *how badly garbled it turns out depends on how badly you blew the roll). I personally would only call for a roll on script that is exceptionally difficult or dramatically important -- for insignificant scripts, you can either read it or not without a roll.

I haven't looked at it yet to determine how the system treats foreign languages to the PCs. To take a historical example, a Byzantine trader who has ventured to China might be literate in alphabetic languages to a degree (he can at least make out what the text says phonetically), but until he puts forth the effort to learn it he would not be able to read China's pictographic script at all. The Chinese trader in Byzantium would have the same problems until he puts the effort into learning to read Greek. I'm wondering how to model this process to create characters who understand multiple means of writing that are markedly different from each other.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As a simplest first pass, treat every language--written or spoken--as a separate skill, with a separate score.  If you feel like being kind, allow some language skills to Augment others.

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/20/2018 at 12:40 PM, fulk said:

How do you treat literacy in your games?  For example, in a non-automatically-literate setting, would you allow it as a Lore Skill during chargen? Or, only as a Hobby Skill for those characters with professions w/o access?  Would you allow it as automatic for some social classes?  For example, a 15th or 16th century Gentry higher character might be expected to be literate in the real world.  Is such a setting would make a noble character buy Literacy or just automatically have it?

 

Just curious.

Really depends on the setting.  I might go with any of your suggestions, depending.

One thing, however -- If literacy is an automatic thing for some characters but not others, I will usually look for something else to give the PC's who don't get that freebie; not necessarily point-for-point, but something.  An urchin might get some streetwise, a peasant might get some "animal handling" or some such; etc etc etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes.  Setting is important.  I suppose I my original question was really setting specific.  In 15th - 16th C Italy, for example, should Gentry and higher get Literacy as a free skill? I would say yes but maybe only at half base value (Intx2). 

In general in play, I wouldn't roll Literacy much.  If you can read you can read.  Perhaps one might roll for particularly dense texts or to glean some subtle piece of information that isn't obvious from a first read. 

One thing I think is useful, is to set some bench marks.  CoC and old BRP stuff used to have some basic benchmarks for skills. Something like:

25%+:  Capable.  You can  read standard stuff. Don't need to roll for most stuff.  High school education.

50%: Base professional level. You're a good writer and can read technical stuff at a low level. Professional scribe. College level education in the field. 

75%: Skilled professional.  PhD or literary professional. Experience scribe, high level.

90%: Master.

Or something like that.

 

NT

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, I basically agree.  Like Customs, you might want to give everyone Literacy in the mother tongue, at some base level--could be same base as the spoken language, but possibly lower.  IIRC, the rules give guidelines like you have mentioned for spoken language, but not written.  I think the percentages are rather different, though.

In my home game, and the scenarios I write, literacy is not a given.  Sometimes I throw in a clue that will give the characters an advantage, if anyone can read it. ;-)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/23/2018 at 7:31 PM, fulk said:

Yes.  Setting is important.  I suppose I my original question was really setting specific.  In 15th - 16th C Italy, for example, should Gentry and higher get Literacy as a free skill? I would say yes but maybe only at half base value (Intx2). 

In general in play, I wouldn't roll Literacy much.  If you can read you can read.  Perhaps one might roll for particularly dense texts or to glean some subtle piece of information that isn't obvious from a first read. 

edit -- I do not believe the historical record allows of a definitive answer on this point.  You can make a case either way, depending on what "feels right."   But I wouldn't presume 100% literacy, ever, in ANY segment of the populace.  There will always be a few poor students whose teachers just gave up, a few regressive parents who refused to permit it, etc...

I might suggest that literacy is also prevalent in some of the mercantile classes, who deal with trade-agents both in person and via correspondence, and may also write to customers, vendors, gov't, etc; big enough that they cannot keep their whole business in-mind and/or need to extend their "presence" via letters-of-authorization.  They really want to KNOW if that letter authorizes the agent to make them indebted for up to 1000 florins, or up to 7000 florins...  :blink:

Also, I'd presume more literacy in families more-tied to religious organizations:  clerks & minor religious functionaries who are hired to tutor family-members, etc; as a way of benefitting the Church or whatever abbey/etc the tutor comes from.

###

Last but not least, don't discount the ability to write as part of a Literacy skill.  In large part it was her high Literacy that gave Hildegard of Bingen such immense influence all the way back in the German church of the 1100's... not exactly the most #MeToo - enlightened place/time/context !!!   A good Literacy roll to influence someone might make a huge difference to how things play out.

Edited by g33k
see edit as noted above

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For a different take, After the Vampire Wars does Linguistics, which encompasses spoken and written word equally. one language per 10%

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Raleel said:

For a different take, After the Vampire Wars does Linguistics, which encompasses spoken and written word equally. one language per 10%

Does this acknowledge language families and subfamilies?

Personally, I can read a few languages without having to use a dictionary for every third word, and a couple more with such aid, but most of these are Germanic or Romance Indo-European languages, with Finnish my only halfway literacy level non-Indoeuropean language.

To contrast, a tenant of mine from Kenia speaks English (a Germanic Indo-European language) (and learns German), Swahili (a creole based on Semitic languages) and a tribal (Bantu) language. That's much more of a linguistic spread stance than mine.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It doesn’t go into that level of detail. If it was important to my game to have that sort of distinction (say, a game involving heavy diplomacy), I’d probably use the Hero system language chart for determining compatibility and do modifications from there. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×