More queries. How far reaching do people tend to go with this one? DO you let Latin (hermetic terms) be basically +1 for anything hermetic that uses that ability- such as how long it takes to write a summa? Or would you incline towards requiring (writing) or even more specific (writing summa)
I am in two minds, it seems quite far reaching and generous, but if it is supposed to reflect the hermetic idiom, would it not be covered by ettiqette rather than the language.
I understand the desire to distinguish between church latin and classical latin (a distinction in our present world) and extending that to the Order of Hermes, but is it more than cosmtic?
A specialization that applies to 99.9% of your combat situations is not a specialization: it is a plain "free" +1 level.
It isa pretty broad "specialization", so it is somewhat abusive. It is like having a specialization in "spells" in your finesse. it is not bad, only somewhat more like a freebie level and less of a specialization. We use it and find it perfectly OK, but it makes us laugh somewhat that being "specialized" is so broad. Noting wring with that, though
Yeah, a least with brawl you have to choose between dodge and knife...
I personally have a strong distaste for swords in general. Going for someone with a sword is about meaning business for sure - but planting an axe in someone is gonna hurt a whole lot more. In battle swords are almost always secondary weapons with troops being issued a proper fighting weapon like a spear or an axe. Yeah we all know about the romans and they do break the mould - but seeing as the weeny lil' sword they used was part of a combo that included a really heavy javelin, a massive shield, a couple of darts it is debateable to call any of these items the 'primary weapon'.
Swords are good because with skill you can defend yourself better with them than something like an axe or spear. Not because they are better for mass combat.
If you are in any doubt about the vaue of a spear as the ultimate weapon for close cobat though - aks yourself which weapon the armies of today equip their troops with for hand to hand combat.
A: a bandana and week of intensive training watching rambo movies
B: a D&D sword practising on larger targets so they get d12 damage (after the instructor has explained the whole 'd' concept and told them a dodecahedron is not a dinosaur)
C: a cunning device that turns a rifle into a spear
The skills are designed to be grainy, and so are the specialties.
It only makes sense that apprentices who learn Latin in the context of Hermetic Magic and for the most part for that purpose alone would have a specialty: Hermetic Usage. This isn't abusive, especially if the SG enforces the fact that they do not speak fluent Latin with a score of 4+(specialty:Hermetic usage) except with regard to Hermetic concepts!
So, when speaking with academicians, senior church leaders or learned nobles, they are only "functional" in Latin, nothing more (that's the game term, page 66.) And "functional" ain't reel good, reed them words their in that part n u just sea! (The phrase "do not normally have to repeat themselves" is, I think, the most telling.) Any SG should feel free - perhaps obliged - to misrepresent any technical subject that is not Hermetic.
(I also, for my own sagas, reduce Native Language back to 4, ala 4th ed. Any kid who's pulled out of the environment of their mother tongue and immersed in an entirely foreign one, with zero opportunity to speak that earlier language, will simply not be "fluent" 15 years later. But that's must me.)
A (longsword) specialization, doesn't apply to 99.9% of combat situations though. It only applies to those situations when a character is using a longsword, which is quite narrow. Sure, your character might almost always use a longsword, but that's because he is a specialist in using a longsword.
A specialization doesn't mean "being good at one rarely used application of an Ability", it means "being good at one application of an Ability". If your character happens to be designed and played so that he almost always uses the Ability in a way that his specialization applies, then that's great. You are playing a character who is good at what he does.
Likewise, if your character is designed in such a way that his specializations only infrequently come into play, then your character is just not very good (relatively, speaking) at what it is that he finds himself doing. He would be better if he was doing something else. Which is fine, too. It's just a different character concept.
The most obvious affect of permitting this format is that magi are very unlikely to have scores Latin: 5 at character creation.. Saving a big chunk of XP, and frankly players are unlikely to be trying overly hard to improve it. If you permit this specialisation characters can still function as wizards potentially with a Latin score of 3. The specialisaiton being enough to move them into the 'i can read category'. Even just taking a score of 4 plus this specialisation allows mages to write a decent chunk of material in a season and for only a few character will that ever matter anyway. Even at 4, you save 25 XP from the meagre allowance in character creation.
The inevitable story outcome being magi who actually don't speak latin all that well, but are generally fluent in their own bastardised version of it.
Yeah, which is why I said "senior church leaders".
During this period many clergy were about as dedicated as a stereotypical frat rat, joining "for the party" and putting only a minimal effort into education while enjoying (and abusing) all the perqs. It was this shift that led to the various splinter orders and later splits from the mother church.