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Alphabets and Languages

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Alphabets and Languages

Postby tehkory » Wed Dec 11, 2013 5:34 pm

What's more Tolkien than that?

Language doesn't 'exist' in Atonement's RPI codebase. How is that being remedied? Will we still have text-in-emotes? Will orcs have Westron and be able to speak 'the Common tongue,' as they did in Tolkien's works, or will the enemy speak Black Speech as their own Lingua Franca?

SoI's text system always left much to be desired, having beautiful handwriting in one script and sloppy handwriting, having scripts split up a little needlessy, having scripts kept rare(which wasn't the case in Tolkien's work), and more besides. What sort of work is being done on changing from Atonement's simplified system(Education skill means you can read, without it you can't) to a more complex, closer-to-canon system?
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Re: Alphabets and Languages

Postby Octavius » Wed Dec 11, 2013 7:53 pm

The languages and scripts on old SOI were imported wholesale from the old-school Middle Earth Roleplaying Game (MERP)... there were occasionally threads about how "canon" they really were. That said, it would be nice to have multiple languages (at least Quenya, Sindarin, Kuduk, and others relevant to our races).

Some of the nascent discussions...

As of now, we're minimizing code changes for Alpha to let Nimrod focus where he needs to. The conversation on skills so far was to keep Education as-is, but make it require one RPP. Literacy for Alpha would therefore be limited. Education (we might rename "Scholar") would also be a skill to help denote book-learning in addition to functioning as the old Literacy skill. It will work as it does on Atonement to give a bonus to the Medicine skill (Medicine and First Aid work together to increase chance of success. Adding Education reduces chance of critical failure). It would also have its own craftsets for Bookbinding and for Alchemy. (The old Apothecary crafts would divide up thus - medicine under Medicine, Alchemy under Education, Perfumery under Gardening, and soaps and candles under Farming.)

In place of written history, we're looking favorably on the proposal to have Music cover tale-telling and oral history, per the other thread.

We'll need to consider multiple languages and such for post-Alpha, so brainstorming here is still good.
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Re: Alphabets and Languages

Postby Brian » Thu Dec 12, 2013 8:00 am

I think it would be a good idea to simplify in terms of languages compared to what was out there in SoI2. What I would really like to see is a minimization to two scripts, the Tengwar and the Cirth, the Tengwar being your letters and the Cirth being runes. As such, the Cirth is more appropriate for using with stone/wood/metal etc. However, the Cirth would still be much less likely to be used and known, except by very well educated characters and Dwarves, who used them as their primary alphabet. Everywhere else in Middle-Earth used the Tengwar primarily though.

My ideal system would then be that this alphabet was paired with whatever language you were speaking. So, if you can speak Sindarin, and you can write with the Tengwar alphabet, you produce a document that is written in Sindarin using the Tengwar alphabet. That's it. It's really much neater and simpler than having a multitude of different types of script. If you can speak Westron, and you need to engrave some metal, and you happen to know the Cirth, then perhaps you use the Cirth runes in Westron. Anyone that can read the Cirth, and Westron, is then able to read what you made.

As far as languages go, I also think it'd be advantageous to keep it simple. The languages I think are appropriate are Sindarin, Westron Khuzdul, and possibly one form of Northman specific type language. That's it. Most everyone in Laketown would know Westron and the Northman language (I believe it's stated somewhere that as a trading town they all mostly knew Westron, but used their northern language amongst themselves). Even having the Northman language might be superfluous. Sindarin is there because it's the language of the Elves, and Khuzdul as the Dwarven language. In my opinion that should be it, for ease of access and simplicity, as well as thematically. There is no reason for there being any Adunaic, Quenya, or Black Speech in this setting. Adunaic, I'm not even sure if it ever really canonically got off of Numenor, Quenya would probably never have even been heard in the area of Laketown and certainly the elves of the Woodland realm didn't use it or likely even understand it (remember, these are silvan elves and Sindarin elves who specifically wanted to get away from the Noldor and the influence of Beleriand culture) and Black Speech was a thing that didn't even catch on in Mordor, let alone anywhere else.
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Re: Alphabets and Languages

Postby Throttle » Thu Dec 12, 2013 10:45 am

Back in the closed beta for the vaporware version of SOI, I recommended adopting speech-in-emotes and allowing it only for Westron. If there are any other languages, they can be spoken with say/tell -- they're unlikely to ever be used much, and since there'll be no overly exotic races (I hope; please no Haradrim and such) and orcs can be made to speak the common tongue under the canon, there will never be a PC who doesn't speak Westron. This eliminates any issue with emoted dialogue as well as the need to code new stuff for it.

I do hope speech emotes are kept. It was such a vastly superior way to express yourself as well as visually nicer with the distinguishable colour. The old-fashioned RPI tell/say format is really restrictive and there should be no reason to revert back to that. They're useful for more informal speech, but it really falls short when you need to do something scenic.
You notice a gigantic orb spider with raw-umber patterning's attention shift toward you!
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You notice a rugged orb spider with sepia patterning's attention shift toward you!
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Re: Alphabets and Languages

Postby Frigga » Thu Dec 12, 2013 11:06 am

I'll agree that simplifying language would be a plus. In our new setting, as noted, only a select handful of languages make canonical sense for anyone to encounter. And, if we can't code (or until we do) the non-Westron languages to work with the new speech-in-emotes code, I'd say that sounds like a good work around, Throttle.

My ideal system would then be that this alphabet was paired with whatever language you were speaking.


I've seen that work in other games, and seems to work well. You automatically write in whatever language you are set to speak, and a second option ("Scribe" I think is the command I've seen used elsewhere) allows you to set what script you use.

Something else I've seen is having a general script called say - "Pictograph" that is what allows you to "write" the description of a say a painting or some graffiti and allows others to "read" it. I can imagine this is the kind of writing that the goblins would primarily use. As literacy is likely moot for a good portion of the working population of Laketown (IE - does a fisherman need to know how to read to be a good fisherman?) merchants could then write price signs and other information that players would have access to, but would keep the distinction that IG their characters don't read.
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Re: Alphabets and Languages

Postby tehkory » Thu Dec 12, 2013 5:03 pm

Ichristus wrote:But a Tolkein game without heavy fantasy and supernatural elements abounding throughout will be a very barren and sad thing, at least to me. Is there any thought from staff on how this will be approached in the new world of Laketown RPI?

I feel the same way about this, except applied to writing. It's a sad, barren world that lacks Tolkien's flair and beauty that limits/greatly inhibits writing.
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Re: Alphabets and Languages

Postby Frigga » Fri Dec 13, 2013 8:37 am

We aren't looking in any way to inhibit writing or creativity.

Just getting away from having a lot of extraneous scripts that were never canonical (I think most of them originally came from MERPs). I think if anything, simplifying into having less writing/spoken languages will make things more accessible to people in-game not less, as they won't need to know any combination of dozens of languages or script skills to access it.
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Re: Alphabets and Languages

Postby Brian » Fri Dec 13, 2013 11:53 am

Frigga wrote:We aren't looking in any way to inhibit writing or creativity.

Just getting away from having a lot of extraneous scripts that were never canonical (I think most of them originally came from MERPs). I think if anything, simplifying into having less writing/spoken languages will make things more accessible to people in-game not less, as they won't need to know any combination of dozens of languages or script skills to access it.


Totally! The only thing that having so many different scripts and languages to write them in does is restrict the amount of accessibility by the player base. If the ultimate goal of writing something is to have it read by people, this is a bad thing.
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Re: Alphabets and Languages

Postby Emilio » Fri Dec 13, 2013 12:55 pm

Okay, I'm speaking from my own experience. When a group of people live in isolation, their spoken language will evolve with the passing of time, specially when they're influenced by people who speak a totally different idiom and even more when they lack a proper formal schooling. For example, Puerto Rico, everybody speaks spanish, but, it is heavily influenced by English. They use the word parking instead of aparcamiento while conversating in spanish. Also, Puertorricans in New York came to mix both languages so much that their spoken language is now known as spanglish.

All I am saying is to account for this when choosing a local language for the Laketown people.
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Re: Alphabets and Languages

Postby tehkory » Fri Dec 13, 2013 5:07 pm

Octavius wrote:TThe conversation on skills so far was to keep Education as-is, but make it require one RPP. Literacy for Alpha would therefore be limited.


This is what I'm referring to as limiting.

Frigga wrote:We aren't looking in any way to inhibit writing or creativity.

Just getting away from having a lot of extraneous scripts that were never canonical (I think most of them originally came from MERPs). I think if anything, simplifying into having less writing/spoken languages will make things more accessible to people in-game not less, as they won't need to know any combination of dozens of languages or script skills to access it.

Simplifying things makes it more accessible, yes, but the skill itself...well, it's sad to see it limited rather than just given as a starting skill.
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Re: Alphabets and Languages

Postby Frigga » Sat Dec 14, 2013 7:56 am

All I am saying is to account for this when choosing a local language for the Laketown people.


The local language of the Laketown people is Dalish. However, Westron is the language of trade (and the language of Men that Orcs speak), so most people would speak both.

Simplifying things makes it more accessible, yes, but the skill itself...well, it's sad to see it limited rather than just given as a starting skill.


I appreciate the feeling. However, I don't feel that in our setting every PC starting with Literacy fits with the theme. There is no free public education system like in modern societies, and as noted, being literacy would not be an investment neccessarily worth the time, effort, and money to someone growing up to be a farmer or fisherman.

Otherwise, there's this thought about the Rohirrim from Aragorn, mentioned in the Two Towers:

"They are proud and willful, but they are true-hearted, generous in thought and deed; bold but not cruel; wise but unlearned, writing no books but singing many songs..."

Accepting that this is likely a tenet of Northmen society at large, we'll be looking to augment/replace the idea of widespread Literacy, with a focus on Music and the role of skalds or storytellers.

You can see some starting conversation on that here:

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=284
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Re: Alphabets and Languages

Postby Octavius » Sat Dec 14, 2013 6:47 pm

Frigga wrote:. However, Westron is the language of trade (and the language of Men that Orcs speak), so most people would speak both.


The Hobbit book has everything speaking a common language.

The Peter Jackson Movies (inc. the new Hobbit) have orcs speaking black speach but understanding common. They also imply that understanding the speech of spiders and such is a power of the One Ring (Bilbo only heard it as if it was common.)

These movies adjust a lot of canon/expectations.
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Re: Alphabets and Languages

Postby Frigga » Sun Dec 15, 2013 8:13 am

The Hobbit book has everything speaking a common language.


Well, following Tolkien's conceit, the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogy were translated for us into modern English by Tolkien from a copy of The Red Book of Westmarch.

It would make for bad storytelling if half the time Bilbo had to write, the Dwarves were yammering again in that language I can't understand, who knows what they are saying. :lol: But you do have moments like that in the Lord of the Rings:

Frodo could understand little of what was said, for the speech that the Silvan folk east of the mountains used among themselves was unlike that of the West. Legolas looked up and answered in the same language.

So, most people speak the Common tongue (AKA Westron) but also may have languages of their own they speak in. But, given that Dalish isn't as fleshed out as say - Sindarin or even Black Speech scenes of people speaking it and them having the subtitles providing the translation (like they did in the Lord of the Rings films) doesn't work out as well.

The films may change expectations and naturally, we may incorporate some of those elements, but - the films don't arguably change canon. Otherwise, we'd all expect to see more stair-surfboarding Elves, lol.
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