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Useless merits?

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  • #16
    It's a 1 point merit, and it is useful with some thought.

    Imagine you're pretending to be someone who has achieved Golconda, and you've got a few dubious abilities which "prove" this. One of them is your power to lay hands on mortals and fix small wounds, another if your Bright Aura which looks like that of a mortal. Or perhaps your concept is a sort of "living saint" to a deeply religious community which has migrated from a Catholic country; if during a religious reverie you can perform what looks like a tiny miracle, that is quite useful.

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    • #17
      Originally posted by Pnizzle View Post
      Yeah. The languages change is not popular.
      I don't mind moving languages to backgrounds just that someone with 5 dots of a language background should be as spectacular as Avatar or Node.. so something like... "you know all languages at this level" vs... 5..

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      • #18
        Languages aren't a Background, they're a Merit. And I've found that it's very popular, mostly because most people don't set out to play higher level polyglots.

        The Linguistics Knowledge was worthless. Everything it could have done was handled by Academics anyway, baring granting you a lot of languages. It was only cheaper if you wanted 9+ extra languages on your character (not counting the Natural Linguist Merit on top of things). If you want a bi- or trilingual character, the 1 dot Merit version is vastly superior.

        I have never been in a game where being conversationally fluent in more than four or five languages has ever mattered. Every time I've seen a character where broader linguistics is valuable, it's due to being able to translate academically. To which there's a very simple solution: Either just let Academics handle it, or add a "Trained Linguist" Merit that's two or three dots, and gives you access to a large array of languages, dialects, and so on without having to learn them all as fully fluent languages.

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        • #19
          I've almost never been in a game where being conversationally fluent in a language other than "Local" mattered. Sure, some games are globe-trotting affairs and being able to converse with the locals in Harare or Minsk is a challenge, but 99% of the time a VtM game is limited to a single city. Which is why I usually just allow people to know whatever languages they want to know. I'm against background taxes, so i don't make people pay extra for being, for example, a Polish immigrant.

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          • #20
            Originally posted by 11twiggins View Post
            It's a 1 point merit, and it is useful with some thought.

            Imagine you're pretending to be someone who has achieved Golconda, and you've got a few dubious abilities which "prove" this. One of them is your power to lay hands on mortals and fix small wounds, another if your Bright Aura which looks like that of a mortal. Or perhaps your concept is a sort of "living saint" to a deeply religious community which has migrated from a Catholic country; if during a religious reverie you can perform what looks like a tiny miracle, that is quite useful.
            Then Healing Touch is 100% useless for you because it very explicitly only closes "the puncture wounds left by drinking blood." Right in the merit's text. Doesn't close paper cuts, doesn't fix oil burns, doesn't remove splinters. Only puncture wounds left by vampire fangs when feeding.

            And before anyone starts "But you don't have to read it so strictly, you can have it work on any wounds" - that's not the point. The question is not if I can write merits which are actually good, the question is if this already written merit is good. And it isn't. Even in the absurdly narrow use case it doesn't actually work as written. My ability to homebrew should not be taken into account when discussing quality of the printed material.
            Last edited by Kammerer; 02-13-2018, 10:26 AM.

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            • #21
              Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
              Languages aren't a Background, they're a Merit. And I've found that it's very popular, mostly because most people don't set out to play higher level polyglots.

              The Linguistics Knowledge was worthless. Everything it could have done was handled by Academics anyway, baring granting you a lot of languages. It was only cheaper if you wanted 9+ extra languages on your character (not counting the Natural Linguist Merit on top of things). If you want a bi- or trilingual character, the 1 dot Merit version is vastly superior.

              I have never been in a game where being conversationally fluent in more than four or five languages has ever mattered. Every time I've seen a character where broader linguistics is valuable, it's due to being able to translate academically. To which there's a very simple solution: Either just let Academics handle it, or add a "Trained Linguist" Merit that's two or three dots, and gives you access to a large array of languages, dialects, and so on without having to learn them all as fully fluent languages.
              Then why should 4-5 lanaguages cost 4 to 5 points? If more than 3 lanaguages "doesn't matter" then why not have Natural linguist basically give you the ability to comunicate with anyone verbally? I mean does "world record polyglot' really matter much mechanically that say you'd have to spend hundreds of xp on it?

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              • #22
                Swap languages back to exponential system rather then scaled. Natural linguist should be one point and removes any trace of accent or nuance that shows you as an outsider.

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                • #23
                  Only very dedicated concepts don't require multiple languages in my experience. I think the lowest number of additional languages any of my characters have had was three. Hell in Dark Ages Britain you need Anglo-saxon for commoners, Norman French for the noblity as well as latin if you want to be able to understand the clergy and or read and write. Then there are all the regional languages which have mostly died out now but were very much in use back then. If you want to be any kind of scholar then add a half dozen more to be taken seriously...

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by Kammerer View Post
                    I've almost never been in a game where being conversationally fluent in a language other than "Local" mattered. Sure, some games are globe-trotting affairs and being able to converse with the locals in Harare or Minsk is a challenge, but 99% of the time a VtM game is limited to a single city. Which is why I usually just allow people to know whatever languages they want to know. I'm against background taxes, so i don't make people pay extra for being, for example, a Polish immigrant.
                    The problem is that "local" varies a lot. In most English primary countries, English is all a person might need. However there's advantages to speaking other languages as well. In the US being able to speak Spanish is a highly valued skill in most metro areas (as the most common language after English in urban environments), with plenty of other languages being commonly spoken in areas with either long traditions of a second language frequently with unique dialects (Penn Dutch, Louisiana Creole, Filipino Tagalog), or cities with large concentrations of immigrants.

                    If I'm running a game in Baton Rouge, does anyone need to speak Creole? No. Does speaking Creole offer a character some unique story options because they can interact with some communities way more easily than people that don't? Yes. More then enough for a 1 dot Merit (the cheapest possible thing without being free) to represent the difference. I don't think it's fair to call this a "background tax" because it's paying for something that actually separates your character as having an advantage over others.

                    Now, there are lots of places were being bilingual is so common I'd say anyone living there for a significant amount of time would have to be fluent in both to get on with daily life and giving both languages away for free seems sensible to me, because not speaking both would be more of a Flaw than not.

                    Originally posted by Lian View Post
                    Then why should 4-5 lanaguages cost 4 to 5 points?
                    Well, 3 to 4 points, since you get one for free and all. And because it's about as cheap as they can be in the system. The Linguistic Knowledge is worth 2 points per dot, and it would cost 6 points to get to the same place. Shaving 2-3 points off the old way of doing it seems good to me...

                    If more than 3 lanaguages "doesn't matter" then why not have Natural linguist basically give you the ability to comunicate with anyone verbally? I mean does "world record polyglot' really matter much mechanically that say you'd have to spend hundreds of xp on it?
                    "Doesn't matter" in this sense means, "doesn't come up in play." I've never played in a VtM game where being able to snipe someone at 2 miles has mattered... that doesn't mean I think it should be something as cheap as a 2 dot Merit for anyone to be able to do. The pricing of things is a mixture of value to the game and enforcing the setting. A 2 dot mundane Merit that lets you converse with anyone on Earth is silly. Natural Linguist already gives you a dice bonus to trying to deal with languages you don't fluently speak and bonus languages. This is plenty because it lets the ST do things like set difficulties appropriate to the character. Two Natural Linguist characters, one that only speaks European languages, and the other that speaks mostly south east Asian languages, can have different difficulties in translating a scroll in archaic Chinese even if neither is a specialist in ancient Chinese linguistics.

                    I'm also not sure where you're getting the "hundreds of XP" thing. Assuming you have the Natural Linguist Merit (since you want to be a world record setting polyglot, why wouldn't you take this?), there's no way to hit 100 XP to hit the highest numbers of spoken living languages people are capable of, let alone hundreds; keeping in mind there's no record on this, because there's no standard on tests of fluency or how to count dialects, creoles, and similar things, but thirty (so Natural Linguist + 15 instances of the Language Merit) is about where you'd be there.

                    Originally posted by Pnizzle View Post
                    Swap languages back to exponential system rather then scaled. Natural linguist should be one point and removes any trace of accent or nuance that shows you as an outsider.
                    Why?

                    Exponential is a pain to deal with. People don't learn languages is chunks like that, especially if they're looking at disparate languages. What does exponential add?

                    Why should being a Natural Linguist eliminate accents? Those aren't the same thing. Being able to speak lots and lots of languages doesn't mean your accent magically goes away. Removing accents is a different sort of training that should be covered with something like Expression (ex: most newscasters and actors do accent work as part of their professions) which the dice bonus from Natural Linguist can already apply to.

                    Originally posted by jamiemalk View Post
                    Only very dedicated concepts don't require multiple languages in my experience. I think the lowest number of additional languages any of my characters have had was three. Hell in Dark Ages Britain you need Anglo-saxon for commoners, Norman French for the noblity as well as latin if you want to be able to understand the clergy and or read and write. Then there are all the regional languages which have mostly died out now but were very much in use back then. If you want to be any kind of scholar then add a half dozen more to be taken seriously...
                    DAV20 uses different rules which address the differences of the times. Literacy itself is a 1 dot Merit, and provides an academic knowledge of the dominate academic language where you live (default Latin). And the Multi-Lingual Merit is more expensive than the V20 Language Merit, but provides languages based on Intelligence, allowing slightly more at start for the same price if you also invest in decent amounts of Intelligence. Though Multi-Lingual turns into the same thing as Language once you get past that initial Intelligence boost. There's also the Lingua Franca Merit for characters to speak a common trade tongue.

                    Revised DA also made it clear that Languages were meant to be expansive. If you took "French" you didn't have to take one instance for each regional dialect.
                    Last edited by Heavy Arms; 02-13-2018, 07:00 PM.

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