Thursday, March 24, 2016

GURPS Languages

Collaborative Gamer's GURPS Language and Some thoughts

Language should be treated like a Real World Superpower. We take it forgranted now, but it is a superpower by the amount of difficulty and challenge that goes into learning and MAINTAINING it. Like any bilinguist knows, constant exposure of the other languages is important.

I have a Teacher who took Chinese when he was much older, at college, and proceeded to gain mastery from there. Even a professional Langauge Learner and a Teacher he has limitations in his mastery. Training for more than 10 years and even then he has many barriers and limitations. These are some of my learning notes.

Matching Expectations: That language is a superpower
If players dont feel the same way then too bad. If your player feels that way than awesome for them. This goes for anyone reading this, if you believe that Language is Easy good for you and you dont need to read further. If you think it a much taken for granted ability then lets work on making it appropriately so.

Framing Language as a Super Power.
Having more than 1 Language is a superpower when both cultures are really leveraged or complimentary. In the Philippines someone who can speak good english and has vernacular that is impressive gives off a good reaction bonus. Language should be a Reaction BONUS that we begin to notice more in this More Globalization World.


  • Reaction Bonus. Being familiar with the ways of a culture and the langauge coming from a foreign culture grants a reaction bonus or in any game system a better situational challenge.
    • Special Access. From getting Access to the "Special Menu" to small perks, having a Language can allow for much deeper dive into a People and Culture (if you can imagine or dream up, or you happen to be insatiably curious about People and Culture) then there is a world that can be opened up about it. 
    • Common Ground. How people live and make a living is opened up by language and culture and thus the ability to sympathize, empathize, or understand the other person becomes a way to find common ground.  
  • So many skills become available. Using defaulting, a character can use the Defaulting Skill or Language penalty, which ever is worse or better when using a language or cultural relevant skill. 
    • Signalling for Credibility, Attraction, Negotiation, Saving Face all work differently in different cultures and languages. 
    • Asking Questions - a very potent ability gets nerfed with language barriers and being able to ask questions is definitely an opportunity opening option when there is access to a language. 
  • Innuendo and Cultural Norms. Blending In, Not Making Waves, or Going with the Flow in a culture can be important if one is to observe and to find out more information. No one wants to stick out or draw attention to one'self and Cultural and Language access helps fly below the radar. 
Why People in the Real world Learn Languages
Learning some languages is harder than some Master Degrees simply because its not about understanding but about Hacking your brain so that Ideas start forming in more than one language. The Mastery, the ability to use a language the way I use my own natural language is a lot of brute force brain hacking. 
The way we carry strings of words and ideas around in clusters and in less than a second can recognize and create word patters - imagine how many hours of constant drilling and study that boils down to. 
Being able to appreciate the doors and worlds it opens is what leads for some Fun Framed Language Challenges and that Languages are not disposable. Just because there are Millions of Bilingualss doesnt means that Languages are such a Disposable Skill. if that was the case then Knowledge Workers with Language specializations would not get much pay. 
I hate it when stories or media Cheapen mastery - the sacrifice and constant overhead needed to maintain a skill. The scarcity of attention


GURPS B23-B24


Speak/Comprehend
Read/Write
Broken
1
1
Accented
2
2
"Native"
3
3


Writing, Public Speaking, Poetry, Performance arts, Calligraphy, Interrogation, Body Language, and Psychology can be used with any language/culture possessed.

Realistically
Language works more like this below. Especially in Chinese and Arabic with very strange scripts.



Speak Comprehend Read Write
Broken
1
1
1
1
Accented
2
2
2
2
"Native"
3
3
3
3


Rules Tweak: Harder Languages.
see these references of Languages by Difficulty. Also this Voxy Info-graphic and Language by Speakers. Note that another metric is Language by User Generated Content. This means measuring a language by how much Content out there and having access to that content gives access to the language learner. Can't seem to find any census about that. For English, 510 Million Speakers

Easy (Regular GURPS Points)
  • Spanish. (420 Million Speakers)
  • Italian
  • Portuguese 
Medium. (regular GURPS +1 cost per level)
  • Russian
  • Hindi (490 Million Speakers)
  • Thai
Hard (regular GURPS, +2 cost per level)
  • Arabic (255 Million Speakers)
  • Chinese (1 Billion Speakers)

Add to the Cost, from 1-3. The GURPS as is would be great in English Speaker learning Spanish. But as the English Speaker somethign harder like

Partial Broken. Instead of -3 B24 the character has an additional penalty equal to the missing points for full Broken level.
Partial Accented. Instead of the -1 B24 the character has additional penalty equal to the missing points for full Accented.
Partial "Native". The character has a penalty in impersonating any Accent or trying to overcome his accent. So a very skilled speaker of the language has no problem learning the accent of the various other speakers of the same language.

So A person with 3 points can on be a Fluent Speaker of Spanish, Partially Accented in Hindi, or a Broken Japanese Speaker.

When I run my games this will be the default. Since I relate my games to globalization, frontier markets of SEA and Africa, these really are super powers.


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