Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Rules, rulings, bits, and notes from Session 146

More notes and such from Session 146 - Yeth Hounds & Moonbeams.

- The weapon Bruce was asking after was Death's Reaper from DF6: 40 Artifacts. I subsequently emailed the group with this:

"I don't recall ever saying it existed in the game. It may or may not.

Remember what I said about DF8, DF6, etc. not being shopping lists? Don't spend money or character points asking about those items specifically. Pressed for a yes or no, I'll always pick no . . . which means I won't make it available ever when I'm stocking the deeper depths.

In other words . . . if you push me on a truthful yes or no for the campaign world, I'm going with no. But also, don't look in GURPS books, find stuff you might like, and then ask for it in-game. I may or may not be using it. It's not like I placed a rumor about Death's Reaper or a similar-sounding weapon.

- We're trying to think of a better name than "Common" for the lingua franca of the game world. It's not the only human language - there is D'Aboan, Orisian, and Molotovian, at least, plus whatever they speak in Cashamash, so "Human" or "Humanish" is out. The Kingdom isn't named yet, not even here. Stericksburg isn't a big enough town to lend a name to a language, and the language predates the town. So we're thinking. I'll take suggestions but I'm likely to shoot them down - it's got to strike me as right.

- I need to get a re-edited version of my stripped-down TG-based grappling rules. Yes, for me, even "Fantastic Dungeon Grappling" is too long and complex. I found players who relied on grappling didn't actual have any real inkling of the rules, and I made a mistake because I forgot something I'd done and had zero people to notice. So I did that last night.

- The yeth caused a -5 to all rolls if you fell victim to their howl. I let someone halve it on defenses. Actually, it's -5 if you choose not to run away, and like Curse, those kind of penalties are flat and across the board. Someone said it was really nasty, but hey, this replaces being forced to flee. Everyone despises that, so I'm not really open to complaints about how being able to stand and fight with a penalty needs to be coupled with a lower penalty that treats defenses favorably.

- I'm seriously considering fixed Deceptive Attack levels. Not that they saw a lot of use in this fight, but those that did varied from -1 to -3, and just a flat number would be easier for me, the GM. Maybe I'd make an exception for a Trademark Move, but probably not - if only because I need to remember all of those, too, and giving a +1 to hit for an exception that complicates things doesn't seem like the best move.


  1. Oh, I like languages, so there are my suggestions for the name:
    1) Trade language, because traders and merchants across the world speak it,
    2) Vulgar language, because ignoble people speak it (that means there is or was the Noble lanuage for nobles),
    3) Civil language (in contrast with languages of different barbarian tribes),
    4) Lay language (in contrast with the language of the Church - althow maybe modern Church had been reformed and also is using Lay language, but the name stuck,
    5) Folk (or Folkish) language, because common folk speaks it (also, maybe the nation of the Kingdom is just called the Folk, and the Kingdom is called Kingdom of Folkland or something like that),
    6) King language, because the King and his men speak it.
    7) Imperial language, if there is (or was) some Empire, in which this language is (or was) used as main or official language.

    I am not native English speaker, sorry for mistakes or for bad wordplay, if there is some.

    1. None of them really jump out at me, but they have gotten me thinking a bit about some options. Thanks!

    2. It is entirely up to Peter and his group (maybe a player will declare he speaks X and by Peter's practice player "facts" become reality to define the setting). I see nothing wrong with your English. Good post, Angor.

      The problem I have with these names is they are all descriptive and generic. In the real world no language is called " language". Languages have names, like countries and people, single words that are proper nouns like English, Hindi, Cantonese. The problem with Folkish or King language are that they are non-specific...which folk (there are many groups of common folk in different areas that have different languages) or which king (does the language name change every time the king changes and it is named after him, or is it really "king" language and regardless of who is on the throne it is always "kingish"?)?

    3. Thanks.

      These names were made descriptive and generic on purpose. The idea was to change name "Common language" to something less dull and more interesting, but still pretty generic.

      Also, in reality there are lots of languages with strange names, if we translate them. For example, German language in Russian is called "немецкий язык", literally "Language of the mute people". And Cymraeg (Welsh language) is literally "Language of compatriots".

    4. They're a bit prosaic in name, for sure, which isn't common. But "Imperial" would be a good name for a fantasy empire language (or a Science Fantasy empire language), and King's Speech becoming King's Speak becoming Kingspeak isn't crazy. They just don't fit.

      One player did try to claim Cornish, as his character is from Cornwood, but if we go with that, it's clearly the language of the entire area as he has no issues speaking with the rest of the group. Even the guys from the far south speak this language, so it would be odd to name it so.

    5. Maybe there was some sort of Cornish Empire (or Cornish Confederacy/Heptarchy) in the past? Also, maybe people from Kingdom of Cornwood speak Wood Cornish, people from Kingdom of Cornplain speak Plain Cornish, people from Kingdom of Cornshore speak Shore Cornish and so on. And people from outside just call this area in general Cornish Kingdoms and their (very similar) languages are named Cornish.
      People from the far south can speak this language as "lingua franca" (especally if they trade with Cornish Kingdoms), but can have their oun native tongues.

    6. The problem with Cornish being some kind of language of conquest/hegemony is that it doesn't match the established, observed facts of the campaign. Cornwood is canonically a smallish island country to the west, but isn't a major player in the area around Felltower. I can't violate known facts . . . no retcons!

    7. 1. Greece in the 2nd century BC or Italy in the 8th century AD also were not major powers, but Greek and Latin were "common tongues". England nowadays is not a very major power, either. Empires tend to collapse, languages tend to remain.

      2. Probably, Cornwood was not original homeland for Cornish people, just some wild woody island in the west, named Elfwood, Orcwood or Drakewood, which was then conquered during westward expansion of the Cornish empire and renamed Cornwood (like Romania was not homeland for Romans).
      Maybe language of Cornwood just is the purest Cornish, so it is used when people, who speak different dialects of Cornish, need to talk to each other. Or maybe not, and language of Cornwood is some sort of archaic or strange dialect of Cornish, while by "Cornish language", which is used as "common language", people mean Trade Cornish, or High Cornish, or language of mighty Kingdom of Cornia, or language of large City of Cornhaven, or something like that.

    8. 1) They were "common" but not the exclusive language for Europe. "Common" in DF Felltower is the exclusive, main language for big chunks of the known world of DF Felltower.

      2) Is interesting, but violates known facts in the game world. Part of the facts, even, are things the character from Cornwood has mentioned about his homeland. No retcons, again.

  2. I use something like this:

    Every PC has Native/Native in their native cultural language. Unless players arrange it in their backgrounds, none of these languages match up exactly, although most default at -1 to other languages of the same race, and -2 to "related" races. Two halflings might speak "Lower Worchestershire" and "High Burrowtun." Two humans might speak French and Danish (this represents a seething linguistic cauldron of fairly narrow extent.)

    This is OK though, because every PC also speaks "Trade Tongue" at accented/accented. Due to the nature of the trade tongue, very few people other than professional merchants or scholars speak it at the native level. (The trade tongue is the bastardized descendant of an older imperial language, "High Phalutin" and defaults to it at -1. Folks interested in old lore often learn High Phalutin at native reading level. Some churches also use High Phalutin as a liturgical language)

    Another feature of the trade language is that while most polyglot assemblages end up speaking it to each other, almost nobody is artistic in it and nobody speaks it as their native language. (The few Phalutins to survive the collapse of the empire were eaten by a voracious dragon.)

    Fun side effects:
    Munchkins have 5 points of literacy to sell off.
    Everybody gets to speak with a cheezy accent. (I find this fun.)
    It's very easy to justify books, engravings, etc. in obscure languages.
    Due to the racial defaults, someone with native level in a language can often decipher obscure writings, but perhaps not perfectly.
    No bookkeeping, except on the voluntary level.
    Keeps with DF silly language tradition.

    1. Martinl, that is freakin' amazing. Wish I had thought of that for my home campaign.

  3. Call the common tongue Argot. Sure someone might get it, but probably not.

    1. I think it's a bit too in-jokey that the main language is a secret one.

      Like Trogdorian, suggested by one of my players, it's amusing but not what we'll end up using.

  4. Replies
    1. Funny, but too SJG and not sufficiently Felltower.

  5. The comments on a Trade tongue made me think, if the peoples in the area came up with a common language to facilitate trade, maybe they called it Mercantile Cant. This later got shortened to Murican. Even now, provincial traders will shout at foreigners to 'Speak Murican!"


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