Homegrown Campaign: Language vs Culture?

All topics including role playing games, board games, etc., etc.
Post Reply
User avatar
AslanC
Ulthal
Posts: 515
Joined: Wed Aug 20, 2008 7:00 am

Homegrown Campaign: Language vs Culture?

Post by AslanC »

So as some have seen I have my campaign good to go and it is doing well.

But I made a choice to have all my cultures be based off of European ones...

Pendria is like England

Elise is like France

Oleta is Spain

Thess is Greece

Aquilar is Germany

Verendi was Rome

etc...

Now each of them has their own language and such, but as I look at all fantasy gaming and most literature, there may be different cultures in worlds, but for the most part human ones (white humans anyways) all share language.

Which do you think is better? Should my Aquilarans have Germanic accents? Should Elise have place names in French?

Or is it better to just show the cultural differences without all the "funny talking"?

What's your two cents?
_________________
=-=-=-=-=-=-=
Earth Alpha: Yet another RPG blog!

=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Visit the new BASH Forums!

=-=-=-=-=-=-=

User avatar
concobar
Ulthal
Posts: 774
Joined: Sun May 13, 2007 7:00 am

Post by concobar »

In my campaign world the various cultures have their own languages and dialects. If a person chooses to come from the empire of the jade throne he speaks zhou as a native language and can not communicate very well with persons who do not speak zhou. I do have a merchants language as well that any human player can spend BPs to learn if they are smart.
_________________

User avatar
AslanC
Ulthal
Posts: 515
Joined: Wed Aug 20, 2008 7:00 am

Post by AslanC »

This is what I have been doing, but I am wondering if it was the best way to go.

Does it make the world come alive? Or does it make the world just a sterotype?

Generic fantasy doesn't do it and I am shooting for vanilla (with sprinkles) but I worry this is more like 32 flavours.
_________________
=-=-=-=-=-=-=
Earth Alpha: Yet another RPG blog!

=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Visit the new BASH Forums!

=-=-=-=-=-=-=

serleran
Mogrl
Posts: 13866
Joined: Mon Oct 13, 2008 7:00 am

Post by serleran »

I usually don't bother since the party won't last long enough to discover the world anyway. But, it is neat to think about.
_________________
If it matters, leave a message at the beep.
Serl's Corner

User avatar
AslanC
Ulthal
Posts: 515
Joined: Wed Aug 20, 2008 7:00 am

Post by AslanC »

sererlan that makes me sad to hear man.
I tend to be lucky and my groups last. Our previous game was a super hero game (DC Legacy characters using MSH) and it last well over a year
_________________
=-=-=-=-=-=-=
Earth Alpha: Yet another RPG blog!

=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Visit the new BASH Forums!

=-=-=-=-=-=-=

serleran
Mogrl
Posts: 13866
Joined: Mon Oct 13, 2008 7:00 am

Post by serleran »

Don't be sad -- it just means they wind up finding adventure in localized areas, or get killed off quickly through unwise decisions. If they wanted to explore the whole of the world, I suppose I could wing it well enough. But, I just try to keep relevant info in the noggin as needed.
_________________
If it matters, leave a message at the beep.
Serl's Corner

User avatar
mgtremaine
Ulthal
Posts: 472
Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2008 8:00 am
Location: San Diego, Ca
Contact:

Post by mgtremaine »

I think Serleran is pointing out that the question is of scope. Think about something like Greyhawk and Oerth. Oerth is huge but most of the first decade of almost everyday adventuring took place in a small area Greyhawk. So if you are trying to map out a huge amount of land with cultures, languages, cities etc... Don't be too surprised if you don't end up using it unless you run the world over a very long [some would say a very very long] period of time.

I found my worlds getting smaller everytime I would decide to start over. I'm now down to a single continent about the size of Australia a few islands all in a disc shaped prime material. I can almost deal with the various factions at this point, and shift around when I want new and exotic locals. But honestly most low to mid-level adventures still take place around the one main city the world is named after. Go figured
-Mike

User avatar
AslanC
Ulthal
Posts: 515
Joined: Wed Aug 20, 2008 7:00 am

Post by AslanC »

The west is a small and focused area of a much larger world. It just has enough countries in that are to provide diversity.

My point (which seems to be being missed by the lion's share of the comments ) is this; Which do you prefer and why?

Only on the internet could you ask the question "black or white?" and get answers about how they like red
_________________
=-=-=-=-=-=-=
Earth Alpha: Yet another RPG blog!

=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Visit the new BASH Forums!

=-=-=-=-=-=-=

serleran
Mogrl
Posts: 13866
Joined: Mon Oct 13, 2008 7:00 am

Post by serleran »

Culture -- language is a sub-component, so I see absolutely no need to further segregate the two.
_________________
If it matters, leave a message at the beep.
Serl's Corner

User avatar
AslanC
Ulthal
Posts: 515
Joined: Wed Aug 20, 2008 7:00 am

Post by AslanC »

I lean that way as well, but...

Vanilla is vanilla
And there in lies my consternation... is it better for vanilla fantasy? I can't decide.
_________________
=-=-=-=-=-=-=
Earth Alpha: Yet another RPG blog!

=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Visit the new BASH Forums!

=-=-=-=-=-=-=

User avatar
mgtremaine
Ulthal
Posts: 472
Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2008 8:00 am
Location: San Diego, Ca
Contact:

Post by mgtremaine »

AslanC wrote:
Only on the internet could you ask the question "black or white?" and get answers about how they like red

Oh I don't think it's just the Internet .

As long as I dug myself into this hole I'll respond to the real question also.

Culture, I don't think I've ever used spoke languages as a game feature, written sure for hidden knowledge that needs to be deciphered, but never mucking about with languages seems like it would slow things down too much.

-Mike

User avatar
AslanC
Ulthal
Posts: 515
Joined: Wed Aug 20, 2008 7:00 am

Post by AslanC »

In my world the Old Trade language (Common) was Verendish (sort of Latin), but for the past 400 years or so it has been Pendrian (English). So does it make sense that in that time most cultures would have adapted?

Or do I even need to explain it away? Do I just hand wave it and say everyone speaks the same language despite different cultures?

In the Forgotten Realms everyone speaks common, everything is named in Common and that's that. Sure there are other languages, but only when you really get away from the "European" part.

Same for Greyhawk.

I know nothing of Ptolus, or Kalamar but I suspect they and Airhde is the same.

So by having different languages does it make my world alive or pretentious?
_________________
=-=-=-=-=-=-=
Earth Alpha: Yet another RPG blog!

=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Visit the new BASH Forums!

=-=-=-=-=-=-=

serleran
Mogrl
Posts: 13866
Joined: Mon Oct 13, 2008 7:00 am

Post by serleran »

I usually just go with something very basic for languages --

Intelligent Non-Monsters speak Common, unless I have a really good adventure reason for them to not.

Intelligent Monsters speak Monster and might be able to speak Common.

Intelligent Magic Items (including Constructs) speak Mind-Language which can be either or both Monster and Common depending on what I want it to do.

Saves the headaches of parties that can't even talk to each other, much less whatever they might encounter.
_________________
If it matters, leave a message at the beep.
Serl's Corner

User avatar
AslanC
Ulthal
Posts: 515
Joined: Wed Aug 20, 2008 7:00 am

Post by AslanC »

See I think about Tolkien... there are a plethora of languages in the world but to only ones spoken are Elvish and Westron(?). Even the orcs speak Westron instead of the Black Speech of Mordor...

What exactly is Monster?
_________________
=-=-=-=-=-=-=
Earth Alpha: Yet another RPG blog!

=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Visit the new BASH Forums!

=-=-=-=-=-=-=

serleran
Mogrl
Posts: 13866
Joined: Mon Oct 13, 2008 7:00 am

Post by serleran »

Usually growls, snorts, cackles, pointing, nodding, and all manner of foul sounds and motions.
_________________
If it matters, leave a message at the beep.
Serl's Corner

User avatar
AslanC
Ulthal
Posts: 515
Joined: Wed Aug 20, 2008 7:00 am

Post by AslanC »

RFLMAO!!!!!!!!!!
_________________
=-=-=-=-=-=-=
Earth Alpha: Yet another RPG blog!

=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Visit the new BASH Forums!

=-=-=-=-=-=-=

User avatar
Sundog
Red Cap
Posts: 248
Joined: Wed Apr 01, 2009 7:00 am
Location: The Black Country, UK

Post by Sundog »

Language is only a useful distinction if you intend for a lack of appropriate language skills to be important (do you want to introduce native guides/interpreters as important NPC contacts, for example). Likewise, cultural differences are only useful if they're going to be important in the game. Beware of disneyfication.

In the end, vanilla is a fine flavour, all its own.
"History teaches us that men behave wisely after they've exhausted all other alternatives."

CharlieRock
Lore Drake
Posts: 1946
Joined: Sun Sep 24, 2006 7:00 am

Post by CharlieRock »

If you do include more languages then you should also alter the mechanic allowing PCs a greater amount of starting languages then the current "INT Bonus = Bonus languages" model because that will only lead to epic frustration when your team does finally start to get out and around.

It shouldnt be a system like D&D3's where players were asked to spend skill points on other languages instead of "real" skills since what always happened was no one ever did because they wanted the best Search, Spot, and Swim skills they could get and when they ran into someone who spoke a different language they blamed the DM for making the NPC so alien.

Many europeans speak more then one language.
_________________
The Rock says ...

Know your roll!

User avatar
AslanC
Ulthal
Posts: 515
Joined: Wed Aug 20, 2008 7:00 am

Post by AslanC »

They all get Common + their Int bonus in languages + their native tongue (which for most is Pendrian). The really well read characters (monks, clerics, knights, paladins, bards and wizards) get double their Int bonus in languages.

It seems to work as they have only dealt with Pendrian (Common), Elisian and Goblin languages since they set out.

Nope I thought about it and I think I am of the opinion that languages are what keeps the world alive to me
And I love doing the accents of the npcs
_________________
=-=-=-=-=-=-=
Earth Alpha: Yet another RPG blog!

=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Visit the new BASH Forums!

=-=-=-=-=-=-=

User avatar
Sir Ironside
Lore Drake
Posts: 1595
Joined: Sat May 02, 2009 7:00 am

Post by Sir Ironside »

Well, even though you 've made up your mind, I'm going to add my two cents anyway.
I'll just preface by saying, any questions pertaining any group dynamics you should really consider what your group would be more attracted to and adjust accordingly. Now I am not saying that you should never try something new with them, I am saying you know your group better than anyone else, so it is a little difficult to give an answer that is good for you.

None the less I prefer to make language mean something in the games I run. Most rpg has some kind of rule about language but it is hardly utilized in the actual campaign.

There is a middle ground, that I mostly use unless language is one of the focal points of the world. I start with a common language (merchant or what have you) so the players interaction, with the world- for the most part- leaves them unmolested when talking to NPC's. This way language doesn't become overbearing or makes what should be easy more difficult. If they are struggling with language every 2nd NPC of more, they'll get frustrated or bored or both.

I do use language- that makes sense- in only key situations. It doesn't mean that every NPC will not make sense to the entire group, it may also mean that only one or two might know the language that the NPC is speaking. It also means that there is a possibility that only a couple of your players characters might know the same language.

When your players discover that they can talk to another member of the party, without the rest of the party know what is said, or when speaking to a NPC and only they can translate- they can leave out parts that they share with the group ro even tell them something completely different. I think it is OK to introduce a little paranoia with the party.

But, like I said above, it really depends on your group and if they would have fun with something like that.
_________________
That is SIR! to you!
"Paranoia is just another word for ignorance." - Hunter S. Thompson

User avatar
Fiffergrund
Lore Drake
Posts: 1082
Joined: Thu Mar 30, 2006 8:00 am
Location: Toronto, Ontario

Post by Fiffergrund »

I suggest that the current spoken language be common, and the "cultural" languages be in dis-use. Not necessarily ancient and/or forgotten languages, just rarely spoken and learned.

Then you have the option of bringing that flavor into the game through old texts and writings without burdening yourself with having multiple spoken languages in current use.
_________________
Sir Fiffergrund, Lord Marshal of the Castle and Crusade Society.

He Who Hides Behind The Elephant's Back
Marshal Fiffergrund, Knight-Errant of the Castle and Crusade Society

CKDad
Master of the Kobold Raiders
Posts: 1205
Joined: Fri Nov 14, 2008 8:00 am
Location: Somewhere in Maryland

Post by CKDad »

I like having different languages; they add to the complexity of the world, true, but they make the world live. They also provides more potential adventure hooks. For example, in my face-to-face game, the characters found a book written in what appears to be an old version of the language of another realm. They're currently visiting the abode of a wizard who they've been told may be able to translate the book, only to find the wizard's home invaded by monsters...

I do take Serleran's point (I think) that one can adventure perfectly well in a relatively small area, so that issues of language and culture (beyond simple urban/rural differences) don't play a large part. Different people like different scopes of games.
_________________
"I don't wanna be remembered as the guy who died because he underestimated the threat posed by a monkey."
"I don't wanna be remembered as the guy who died because he underestimated the threat posed by a monkey."

User avatar
Rigon
Clang lives!
Posts: 7202
Joined: Mon May 01, 2006 7:00 am
Location: Conneaut Lake, PA

Post by Rigon »

I agree with CKDad, the extra languages add depth to a campaign world. Plus it gives spells like tonuges a use.

R-
_________________
Rigon o' the Lakelands, Baron of The Castles & Crusades Society
The Book of the Mind
Castles & Crusades: What 3rd Edition AD&D should have been.
TLG Forum Moderator
House Rules & Whatnots
My Game Threads
Monday Night Online Group Member since 2007

Post Reply