On Language Maximum Score Values

Directly to the point: what is the maximum score value for a language?

AFAIK there is no hard cap given to languages, but the books seem to STRONGLY imply that the maximum attainable value is SIX.

I have seen people say things like "if you know Classical Greek 6, your best way to get Common Greek 5 is by raising Classical Greek to 7. But is there any rationale at all that allows Language 7 besides "it's an Ability so you should be able to raise it to the value you want"?

The point is, your language score translates directly to what you can or cannot do, there is no roll. 4 is functional, 5 is fluent, 6 is elegant. Let's assume 8 is somehow attainable (say, Puissant Latin, or by expending an extra 75xp after Latin 6 instead of being reasonable and learning another language). What does it mean? How do two people with Latin 8 speak to one another? Remember, it can't be about how well they build phrases or arguments, since that would be covered either by Artes Liberales (grammar, rethoric) or Craft: Poetry.


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You can write down your lab texts faster (ArM5 p.102, Latin x 20 levels per season). :wink:


You can also write summae faster (accumulates Com + Language every season towards level).

But if writing faster is all that a higher than 6 language score entails this:

  1. should be of no use with speaking (you sure can have Classical Greek 20, but for speaking purposes it is treated as 6, and you still speak Common Greek at score 4);
  2. indicates that the rules for writing summae and translating lab notes to lab texts should really use Profession:Scribe instead of Language (or a combination of both).

I mean, you would spend 75xp from Language 6 to Language 8. This could be used to become fluent in another language. And all the practical knowledge that this entails is a few tricks on how to write faster? Seems weird to me.


Not practical use, no.

Anyway, it doesn't really matter if your command of the language is superior (score of 7 or more), because no one around you will understand the subtleties of what you say. You are always limited to the score of your interlocutor.

It's not just about writing faster though.

If you want to write a book that teaches the language, you are limited to half your score as the max level for the book.
So if you want to write a L4 book on Latin, you'd need to have Latin 8+ to do so.


as with most books which are not arts, core rules suggest these are available up to level 8 which means some author must have had the ability at level 16.I would expect that most of these authors would be highly focused academics who are unlikely to appear in the game.


That is actually what prompted this thoughts. I'd very much like to write a L5Q25 summa on Latin (anything less than L4 is useless to learn languages). But is this even possible? You'd need Good Teacher and Com +4 to manage a L9Q13 summa (which you can than reduce the level to gain quality). We are then talking about Latin 18.

A L5Q13 would be the next best, requiring Latin 10 (without Puissant, mind you).

What does even mean to have Latin 10, assuming its possible to raise your Latin to such score? If it's only "you write really faster" I'm inclined to say that it's not really attainable (as in the rules technically allow it, but since there is no real meaning to that in the narrative it's not feasible), and that Language is indeed capped at 6.


Assuming you want to learn Latin from a book written in Latin. For a L4 summa on Latin written in, say, English, that would be useful for English speakers, of course. If Latin 8 (or higher) is attainable (circling back to the topic's subject).

I don't think language is capped at 6, but let's just say it's extremely unlikely for someone who doesn't also have artes liberales or who is well-traveled. For a living language, the character could be schooled in regional accents. It could mean the character is well versed in many specialized vocabularies, and regional expressions. For a dead language, perhaps the character studied the historical evolution of the language, including its branches and foreign linguistic influences that slipped here and there. Perhaps the character can debate on how the meaning of XYZ changed comparing author A of 234 BC with author B of 123 AD, yet author C of 214 AD used both meaning interchangeably, which was atypical of the era. You know, I'm fluent in my native language, but do I think I have the same language score as the best known poets or linguistic post-doctorates? Hell no. I'm sure someone somewhere is wincing internally at the milisecond I'm not losing over unpronounced letters and commas when I talk.


I don't think that is canon. In fact, I seem to remember that the Thebes book explicitly says that the only way to be able to author texts in Classical Greek is to get Classical Greek to 5. There is no shortcut via another Greek language.

Furthermore, if you use Common Greek to communicate with people speaking Classical Greek, both parties are penalised. So your 7 may give an effective 5, but the other party, having learnt only Classical Greek to 5, has an effective 3, so your communication is at 3. A chain is never stronger than its weakest link.

No, I see no reason to cap any ability, even if the only benefit of high levels is the linguistic and metacognitive understanding which makes a brilliant teacher and textbook author.

I'd say that scholars who study languages deeply, or authors who seek to find deep subtleties may achieve a score higher than 6, but only someone of comparable skill would be able to grasp the subtleties they write.
It would be a once in a millenia person who might get a score above 10 in a Language, but players can achieve that, if they so choose. Most everyone will settle for a score of 5-6.

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Shakespeare had English (drama) 8.

I think they underrate Shakespeare. He had such a wide repertoire that most of his work appears to have been written by a different person. That, I think, is one of the clever effects of scores beyond 6.

What I was referring to was the expert's ability to emphasise critical aspects and draw on a wide range of examples. That really helps when you teach the language, not necessarily when you use the language to teach something else.

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From ArM5 .66:

This Ability [Living Language] also covers artistic compositions in the language, and telling existing tales with verve and passion.

So it makes sense it could go well beyond 6.
Sure, it won't help much in communicating correctly with someone who also knows the language well - but note that very high scores in most abilities won't help you accomplish simple tasks better: Artes Liberales 10 does not make it any easier to compute 3+4 than Artes Liberales 6.

At this point is it even the same Ability, or have you started learning Old Language? Or maybe it should be covered by History, Area Lore or something else (just like translating requires Area Lore to account for the cultural differences according to A&A)? I'm not against it, just thinking out loud.

About this, Craft:Poetry and Artes Liberales. You know the words, you just can't write like that (in the case of poetry) and has no deep grasp of the inner workings of language (Artes Liberales).

Very true, both observations. I had overlooked them, and they solve one of my points of contention with this Language issue.

I read this part before posting. I'm pretty sure (well, I could be pretty wrong of course) that this is just because no one had thought in terms of Craft:Poetry, Profession:Preacher or Profession:Storyteller before. In the end it kinda boils down to how the troupe wants to deal with artistic compositions and stories, by using a new ability or Language.

Of course not. It helps you to make complex calculations, such as 3×4, or divisions!

Profession: Scribe is used for copying text, as compared to writing them based on your specific requirements which uses the Language skill. P:S does not require having to think about what you want to write, it is only reproducing what someone else has create.

Another area Language skills are used is in creating and breaking ciphers, as found in HoH:TL.

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also in translating texts, though I don't know that that has a benefit over 6, though it seems like it should...

Maybe the standard summa rules shouldnt apply to Language ability scores??

And there is a large list of English words (quite a few in common usage) apparently created by Shakespeare.

Does that mean that any character with a language skill of 8+ automatically expands the language?
ie their skill is so great, they know more of the language than actually exists?