Translating books - what are the rules (if any?)

Supposing a magus has a book in Greek he wants to translate to Latin, how to go about this? What does it take?

Obviosuly he doesn't just read the book and write his own version in the desired language, because he can only write up to half the level.

But is it enough to just copy the book, but to a different language? Even if he has high enough language abilities in both languages (and BTW how much is needed here? same as for writing, I suppose, so 5+, or is it harder bcause you need to avoid any mistakes ortherwise the book gets corrupted or useless?), it should be more difficult, and thus time consuming,than merely copying.

Perhaps it should count as if he was writing the book, but the normal limits of half level are ignored. Then it could take a long time, since the full level needs to be acumulated with the translator's Com+Language. Also, I'd say he'd need to use the lower of the two language abilities used.

Art & Academe page 87 , Translations sidebar.

You need both languages at 06 for no reduction in Quality
and (Area) Lore of at least 03
if the character has not lived in the culture from which the text is translated.
(or lose 1pt of Quality)

I would prefer demanding higher score in languages ( 7 or 8 ), but with the ability to avoid loosing quality for each point below required by doubling time used. But im probably too nasty in this as i´ve done a bunch of translating.
And thats today, with super easy access to dictionaries as help for odd words or phrasings.
Basically, you need well above normal fluency in both languages to translate decently, much more so if you have no dictionaries to help.

Well, normal fluency is 4. Fluency as a native is 5, and 5 is sufficient to be able to write extremely well. So wouldn't 6 be well above normal fluency, in agreement with your suggestion?


Thank you for the rapid reply. I should've known that it would be in A&A, but IDHMBWM so...

A score of 6 seems fair. And it seems my guess that it takes time as for writing Summae was about right.

Normal fluency is 5. A foreigners ability to handle a language is a mostly useless comparison.
You have to be overall much better than the average native to handle translations to that language well.

7 or 8 as i said is probably far more realistic, the upper more so than the lower. BUT, on a gaming-level, 6 might be more reasonable.

I just checked the books. I see the prob lem lies there, not in any disagreement here. The book essentially describes fluency as level 4 both in terms of speaking and reading/writing. Its fluency (5) is more like university-educated in the real world. So, if I read by the labels I would say reading should be 5, writing books 6, and translating 7 as Direwolf suggested. If fluency is 5 it really does make sense to have translation at 7. If I go by the book rules and most of the descriptions I would change the labels so 4 is fluency and I would give natives rank 4 to start. I'm not sure how it came about that any literate native should be good enough to write a book, but that really seems to be the source of the oddness.


Well, if you are literate, you can write. The result can be called a book, no matter if it is five pages of the incoherent scribblings of a preschooler.

Forbidding writing for low scores in a language feels completely wrong. Lowering/capping quality, sure. :slight_smile:

Yes, but now we're just playing with semantics as opposed to looking at something in a useful way vis-a-vis the rules for books.

I can agree with that. I think capping, since it would have to scale somehow with communication since no one with a poor language score could communicate as well as the same person with a high language score, would get ugly quickly. Lowering the quality is probably an easier way to go. It could be as easy as replacing the +6 in the qualities with +Language, to a maximum of 6. But then you get the Language 1 person with Com+3 and Good Teacher writing better than the Language 6 Com 0 person. Perhaps replacing the +6 with 2x(Language)-6, to a maximum of 6, would work better. Anyway, this is entirely in the realm of house rules.

As a general rule, I'll let players with lower scores write if they know the alphabet. I just won't let them write something too substantial or complex, restricting educational texts to those with scores of 5.


Go the other way, set a base quality modifier which you get at lets say Score 7, for each below that you get a quality reduction, for each above you might get an increase.

While it is true that anybody with the capacity to write letters can write a book, a book written by a preschooler isn't going to become a recognised translation of an existing tome. Having rules that produces quality 1 books just opens the door for abuse of insane communication and other virtues.

I personally like the 'must have at least 6 in each language' rule - it makes things nice and clean and easy to calculate. If you want to put in some variance, impose a quality penalty for area lore - probably -1 per point missing.

This opens a whole new avenue to the enterprising scribe - translating books in their own language to improve quality. If I can take someone else's book in a subject and apply my virtues to it by translating from Latin to Latin, it could well end up being higher quality than the original. You could call this process 'editing'. :slight_smile:

That sounds like Glossing, from Covenants. Where a magus with Art at least half of what the book is, and with higher Communication makes notes in the book while reading, for +1 Quality (once only). Also, you can't translate from one language to the same. While I see translating from one langue to another one risks losing some information, I don't see a translation improving the insight from the original work. But the Translator might Gloss the text, if he can add anything to it.

I don't see why you couldn't gloss as you translate (or even copy) and even add your own comments drectly into the text.
It'd be dishonest certainly, but that's different.

I'm also of the oppinion that you can do this. If you're honest you just write that the book is a translation with additions.
My point is that translating and glossing are two different things. And that if somebody house rules translation to be able to raise quality, if you yourself could write a better book, "translating" from latin to latin should not give greater benefit than glossing.

Thats why i said "might get"...

Yes you could. The game calls it glossing though. Which is a bit broken as well. Because it allows someone with 1/4 of the original writers skill to make "corrections". Thats just not enough, its more likely such a "glosser" would cause the NEED for corrections!


I basically agree, except I wish to clarify this bit:

It's not corrections, it's clearifying the language and explaning what the author means.

I've had textbooks with what was basically glossing. They were a godsend.

The orginal author clearly understood his subject to a very high degree, but he was basically incomprehensible.
Our lecturer gave us copies of hs own notes for the book, which weren't much use in themselves, but made the textbook make sense.

Oops, bad phrasing on my part indeed. Thanks for the glossing... :mrgreen: