Monday, April 6, 2009

Issues I Have With Exalted and Their Fixes: Linguistics

As you might have guessed by now, I have a slightly inappropriate man-love for White Wolf's Exalted game which borders on the mildly obsessive. It's not the only game on my shelf, but it's the one I have the most experience with and feel most comfortable running. That's a big thing for a lot of GM's I know, comfort, it's why D&D is so popular, because people are comfortable with it, it's familiar and safe, and being that I've ran my longest running games in Exalted that's what it is for me.

However I do have some issues with the game, and some of those issues can be resolved with a few house rules. I don't usually house rule the games I run, my opinion is that if a game is so bad that I need to overhaul it, I should just run a different game. There are plenty of great games out there and I have money so why not spend it on a product that doesn't suck I say. So in-general my house rules aren't implemented because something doesn't work, but more about personal preference or that I believe my way might capture the feel of the game more effectively.

The first house rule I ever implemented in Exalted was to do with Languages. As written, the game makes it impossible to learn every language in the game. The number of Languages a character speaks is tied to the Linguistics skill which ranges from 1 to 5. You get 1 native language off the bat and 1 additional language per dot in Linguistics, meaning at Linguistics 5 (a legendary level) you know exactly 6 languages. Languages in Exalted are organized according to the overall geographical area they encompass while individual territories have their own dialects of these languages, it's assumed that once you know the main directional language of a region you can understand all the individual dialects. The main available languages are High-Realm and Low Realm (basically noble and peasant languages of the central continent), Skytongue, Seatongue, Forestspeak, Firetongue, Riverspeak, Guildcant, (a secret language of a worldwide merchant organization) and Old Realm (the ancient tongue of lost civilizations). Which means there are 9 languages that can be known in the game, not counting any of the barbarian languages or the secret claw runes of the beast people (not common but it does suck up a Linguistics dot).

So my solution was this, it makes sense that nobles and peasants in the realm would speak differently, but Exalted was a game about exceptional folks so for the High Realm and Low Realm languages I decided that if you had a dot in linguistics and spoke either High or Low then you spoke both. If a character had no linguistics training at all but was native to the Realm he would only speak one. To me this made sense. After that I decided that the 4th and 5th dots in Linguistics would be worth 2 additional languages respectively. That would mean that a character with linguistics 4 would know 6 languages, or 7 if one of them was a Realm Tongue, and a character with Linguistics 5 would know 8 or 9, which would effectively allow him to know every language in the game, which I think is appropriate for someone with an epic level of ability.

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