Linguist Virtue vs Native Language

Linguist (Minor General Virtue, HoH:TL p.25) states that any experience points put into languages are increased by a quarter.

Does that include the character's native language, thus freeing up 15 xp to be spent elsewhere during Early Childhood?

After all, with this virtue a language score of 5 only requires 60xp, instead of usual 75 xp.

(BTW, my initial opinion would be that Linguist does not apply to native language.)

Reading Linguist literally, it affects the xp to be put into the native language, too.

In many campaigns a need for specific foreign languages - both living and dead - is detected only later. And learning them to a useful level 3 or 4 during a campaign takes quite some time and effort in ArM5. So IMO Linguist is a virtue that a troupe should rather encourage in characters - and there is no need to cut down on its impact at character generation: I'd definitely apply it to the native language from the beginning.

(EDIT: In case a troupe doesn't like this, they could require to put the 15 saved xp into a second language already in early childhood, thereby simulating an environment conducive to the formation of a Linguist from the beginning.)


Looks like it.

Contrary to what other posters wrote, in my opinion by a strict reading of the rules the Virtue Linguist does not apply to the native language. By the rules, a character gets a score of 5 in his native tongue, not 75xp. You could stretch it a little, and say that since a score of 5 normally corresponds to 75xp, a character gets another 19xp in his native tongue ... but in any case, this is not the same as saying that your character can reduce his xp to 60 (before application of the Virtue) and move the remaining 15 elsewhere. No character can reduce his starting native language xp to spend the points elsewhere (except by taking the feral upbringing flaw -- but then one may not start with a native language at all).

That said, Linguist to me seems a fairly weak virtue (compare with e.g. with Gift of Tongues from HoH:TL -- still a minor Virtue, and it allows you to speak with anyone who speaks to you) so "pumping it up" a little would not be unbalancing. I like the approach suggested by OneShot.


If I were to jazz up Linguist, I'd reduce the related language penalty which is usually -3. I think it fits better with the concept. As it stands, you need score 7 in Greek (140 or 112 xp) to read ancient greek. If Linguist also reduces the penalty, you'd need score 6 (84 xp) to read it. Goodbye Swabian or Franconian, hello High German! (GotF p138)

But I do like that you must have the specific language you desire to write in and cannot use say Greek for Attic Greek no matter how high your score is in the Greek tongue, to write in Attic Greek. Nothing more twinkish and annoying than the "going to buy my native Greek to 6 or 7 and save 20 xp over those suckers who chose to buy the Classic Greek".

Of course I love the expressly stated line in the book that says no matter who the character is and where they come from they can never have Latin as their native tongue. Really? Because then you turned around and made a character in one of the books who had Latin as a native tongue. ugh. Not to mention, what if your magus is a child of a magus. Would it not serve the magus well to teach their offspring the tongue of the Arts to advance them critically in learning during apprenticeship?

Though the idea of cooing and singing lullabies in Latin seems comical.

Sorry just realized nothing I have written has much to do with anything... did it again damn it. :laughing:

This is clearly wrong. See HoH:TL p.25: "All Study Totals for any Language are increased by a quarter, as any experience points you put into any language at character generation."

This is correct so far.

And this is stretching character creation rules quite some.

So - barring things like Feral Upbringing - in his first 5 years a character gains a score of 5 in his native language. The player can't scrimp here, or push the native language already beyond 5: it is always a score of 5. But nowhere it says that - contrary to all normal practice of character generation and development - the xp for a character's native language would not be accounted for. As accounting for early childhood is part of character generation, by HoH:TL p.25 the Linguist character does need only 60xp to learn that score of 5. You would stretch very far by demanding to just drop the remaining 15 xp. Though a troupe might consider - as I mentioned in another post above - to limit their application.


IIRC Gift of Tongues is an heroic virtue, so only available to mythic companions. Not something you can give to a grog, while Linguist can.

The gist of this is true. But characters with the Legacy flaw or magi with the Mythic Blood virtue can also have Heroic virtues. So magi and ungifted Redcaps with eminent ancestry can also have Gift of Tongues, without being Mythic Companions.

When fiddling with a Seeker Tytalus once, that then never got used, I ended with givng her Mythic Blood mainly for the Gift of Tongues. But we have grogs with Linguist in the campaign, who make good use of it. Also see Grogs p.54 'Translation'. :slight_smile:


I'll buy this.

But that's actually Ezze's point. sure, all study totals and any XPs you put into a language at character creation get a +20% bonus, but you do not actually put XPs into native language at character creation - you simply recieve a score of 5.
I fail to see how Ezze is "clearly wrong" here?

Because by stating

(underscore mine, as usual) he explicitly contradicts the description in HoH:TL of the virtue Linguist, as I quoted it above: "All Study Totals for any Language are increased by a quarter, as any experience points you put into any language at character generation." (Underscores mine again, to make reading verrry simple.)

You see something different than he wrote and I rejected as wrong above, though, when arguing

First, you get a 25% bonus here. And second, I already addressed your issue above, writing

So: dropping the remaining 15 xp above is an extreme, overly harsh measure. It is not plain wrong, though.


One Shot, actually Vespasian did see exactly what I meant.

Native language is an explicit exception to what you call "all normal practice of character generation and development". Normally, a character receives xp. With native language a character gets a starting ability score of 5 "directly" without passing through a study total and an xp gain. Thus, Virtues that modify the xp gain are not applicable, by a strict reading of the rules.

This is similar to what happens with supernatural abilities gained through Virtues. Virtues such as Premonitions or Second Sight give a character a starting score of 1 in the corresponding ability. They do not give a starting score of 0, plus 5xp. Thus, a character with Premonitions and an Affinity in Premonitions still gains a starting score of 1, not a score of 1(3) as if that character had gained 8xp.

So what you meant wasn't what you wrote. That happens.

It is certainly not an explicit exception - as it is nowhere stated as such. If in early childhood "characters gain a score of 5 in their native language", this does neither specify nor imply that they do not account for the pertinent xp. You'd just like it to be so.

The phrase always used for this in ArM5 is "Choosing this Virtue confers the Ability abc 1 (page 6x)." This phrase explicitly links a Virtue with an Ability score of 1, bypassing xp. You just posit here an connection between Virtues bestowing Supernatural Abilities and Abilities gained in early childhood, though, which I feel is far-fetched at best.
Indeed, picking specific Virtues or Flaws as patterns to interpret normal rules (i. e. those not involving any Virtues or Flaws) is a typical device to lead a discussion astray: you can find almost everything in the descriptions of Virtues and Flaws, after all.


The way Metacreator handles it, which isn't the same as the official rules all the time, but is pretty decent, is you get your native language, score 5, XP 0.

Out of curiosity, One Shot, is there something in the RAW which you feel strongly implies that one's starting native language has experience associated with it, rather than being more akin to the Supernatural Abilities?

I know. That's the easiest way to design the software. :slight_smile:


How's these:
(1) To have a Supernatural Ability, an ungifted character needs an appropriate Virtue. And the only thing such Virtues do is giving the Ability. So it is natural to keep the rule from older ArM versions and give her the score 1 together with the Virtue. A living language, however, is just a standard Ability everybody can learn the same, so one should make as little exceptions for it in the rules as possible.
(2) The ArM5 p.31 'native language' with level 5 without appropriate assignment of xp would become a unique, weird exception among all those living languages a character - in particular a Linguist - will learn during his life. Just think of the bilingual gentleman character from the holy roman emperor's court, who starts the game with Italian 5 and High German 5, and wouldn't be able to tell for his life, which of these two is his 'native language'.
(3) There is not only Linguist, but there are also other Virtues and Flaws affecting living language skills: e. g. Affinity with French is a very useful virtue for poets. Just think of Marie de France: of course French was her native tongue - and if we would be quirky about it and assign a Marie de France character no xp for her first 5 levels French, her Affinity with French wouldn't work half as well as an Affinity with Latin for her confessor. Who would claim, that this is intended and serves a purpose?

There should be more reasons. There always are more reasons against arbitrary exceptions. But I stop here for now.


Not quite! More accurately, I managed to accurately convey my thoughts to everyone on this thread, save you :slight_smile:

One Shot:
I'm sorry, I must be stupid.
I can see where you state you opinion, but can't find your argument anywhere? :question:
Could you point it out to me?

I think that what OneShot is saying is that technically the Linguist Virtue does apply to a character's native language, as it does to all languages - if a character places xp into his native language (e.g. to raise the score from 5 to 6) those do get the 25% bonus. In these terms, the literal phrasing of the original post was not 100% accurate, nor am I 100% accurate when I say that Linguist does not apply to native language. However, speech and writing is about conveying meaning, and meaning comes not only from the words spoken or written, but also from the surrounding context. So that when the original poster says:

it's clear that, by asking "does that include the character's native language", he's really asking whether one can use the the Linguist bonus to "recycle" some of the 75xp. And if I am answering to that post by saying:

I'm really saying that I agree with the original poster that there should be no interaction between the Linguist Virtue and the initial score of 5 a character gets in his native language, because the character gets a straight score, rather than xp; clearly I'm not arguing that Linguist will never affect subsequent xp placed into that language. It takes profound cognitive problems to misinterpret these posts - or a willingness to nitpick for nitpick's sake. Just like correcting the statement about the 20% bonus, that should really have been a 25% bonus. No one needs the correction to understand what the poster means, so anyone correcting the statement is doing it to make the discussion more confrontational rather than clearer.

From what I've observed, One Shot tends to be like that, at least on this board. I wouldn't mind really, but it's a pity because it does tend to disrupt conversations on the board, and it wastes OneShot's (otherwise evident) knowledge of the game, culture and analytical talent on petty arguments (plus, it keeps me wondering if he's been involuntarily offended or something).