Improving languages from default.

So, starting a campaign in the Greater Alps Tribunal and we are creating a bunch of grogs. We have settled on High German (Bavarian) as being the default language, though we have some grogs who are from elsewhere in the tribunal who speak Romansh or Low German.

The question I have is whether you would allow learning language from default. The Rhine Tribunal Book notes that those who speak High German and those who speak Low German default to each other at -2. So, if someone had Low German at 5, they could presumably speak to someone with High German as if they had a 3. Suppose I wanted to increase their High German to 4. Should I spend 20 XP to increase their High German from 3 to 4, or 50 XP to increase their High German from 0 to 4.

I am thinking it is reasonable to make it 20 XP to increase it from 3 to 4. On the other hand, I am not sure I feel comfortable with all of the ways that could work out. In particular, Ancient Greek defaults to common Greek at -2. Do I want Thebian magi to start out with that sort of an advantage in their preferred dead language?

What are peoples thoughts


This matter have been discurssed several times with diferent points of view and severan houseruling ( affinities, px, bonus, -x... Et cetera)

If you dont mind i tell you my personal hoseruling based on de very real field.

You first select how close are the languages A & B

3/5-Brothers/Sisters ( neighbour languages with same root)
2/5-cousins (sligly simillars/comon evolution)
1/5-far relatives( same estructures/some words)

Now you categoriced the distance betwen languages you apply a bonus of [px] in brackets

EG: A Latin B Languedoc we stablish 3/5 so:

A Latin. score 5 Px75
B Languedoc. Score 3 Px 0 + [45]

But now you want to improve your languedoc with a local friendly girl while you are on relax... Say so... 5px

A Latin. score 5 Px75 + [3]
B Languedoc. Score 4 Px 5 + [45]

But A is also recieving this bonus
Note that is treated as "puissance" so never enter incomputation for further improvements.

Now imagine you learn by need a bit of C Astur-lionaise 3px. To reach score 4...

We consider it 2/5 with languedoc and 3/5 Latin

A Latin. score 5 Px75 + [3B] + [2C]
B Languedoc. score 4 Px 5 + [45A]+[1C]
C Astur-lionaise. score 4. Px 3 + [45A]+[2B]

Allways round down.

In this way you improve the languages faster ( as in real life) if you study simillar languages and every knowledge you adquire in one have a little in all others

I recognise that this sistem could yield to munchkinism if atacked but i think is more consistent than RAW because you only get bonus of new px and there is never feedback. And also can evolve with your char...

Hope you like my sistem.

For the problem of the Low German speaking grogs above, you could after a year or so just change their specialization in Low German to get on in High German. This would denote, that they can mix sufficient High German into their Low German to use their specialization when communicating in High German. It also would mean, that Low German speakers would notice the High German influence in their language.
Something like that, but more refined, you find with Low German authors in the late 1100s and early 1200s, who adapted their language to be understood by High German readers. See e. g. ... as_Romance .


EDIT: From this you can derive, that a literate person speaking Low German 5 with specialization literary is able to read Middle High German authors like Hartmann von Aue, Walther von der Vogelweide and Neidhart.

I propose what the original poster suggested, use the modified "related language score" as the base score to improve from. High German 5 equals Low German 3, 20xp grants you Low German 4. Or you can spend 30xp for High German 6 which equals Low German 4 anyways.

I offer you the example of the Languages House rule I use in my own saga...

IMS you'd have to raise from 0. Ars Magica doesn't know Skill Defaulting to the degree as it is used in GURPS (where it presents its own mathematical challenges).

IMIRLS, we just use "each tribunal, one language", adding latin, hebraic, Norse and saga driven old and lost languages. No language give bonus in any other. We dropped the difference between 'classical/dead' and "living" language (there is one greek language only in the saga).
Thus, in Normandy, we speak French. In Rhine, German. In Loch Leglean, Scottish, Theban, Greek, Levant, arabic, Novgorod, Russian...

We don't like to use too many modifiers in such basic things as language because it's slow everything for something which we feel like a false idea of "realism".

The only problem with that sistem is that it dont evolve...

What if after learn those 20px that char raises its latin another... 2 points... Start over?

Latin doesn't count as it is a Dead Languages. The rule only applies to Living Languages related to your Native Language.
And I should point out that, even with the system as is in RAW, it is cheaper to buy one language at a high score and speak the rest at a penalty (7 minus 2 is still 5)

With regards to increasing the native language (Low German) rather than the new language (High German) That works fine at character creation, but once play starts, it would be source quality 8 to increase High German and I am not even sure what would be a source of study for increasing Low German.

Very few things seem as bad in Ars than the "buy this language up high to save points"

I understand the ability to communicate using the languages, but I appreciate that you cannot write in that language. However I wish it was RAW that you also cannot read a language if you don't have the language.