Follow Up: Magical Languages in Shadow World

Now that I have had a few years of playtesting on my magical languages I thought I would blog a quick update. This is a follow up to my 2018 blog post on the subject and the added comment I posted in response to others.

For a quick summary here, I have made magical languages a skill rather than just a assumed ability that is gained when learning spells. In fact, it’s odd that Rolemaster doesn’t embrace magical languages as skills given the need to codify virtual anything as a skill. (I’m looking at you RMSS!) My goal is to create barriers to learning spell lists within my “free market” approach without arbitrary rules about Open/Close/Base or learning lists via “A”, “B”, “C” et al spell picks. (Base list restrictions is just another “Rules for Rules” example).

I originally had 20 or so magical languages I was trying out, but over time I’ve reduced them to just over a dozen. This is due entirely to my thoughts on mapping the development of magic use from the Ka’Ta’Viir (arguably Arcane or possibly Mentalism) to the multiple “realms” that I use in BASiL. So while I created a few of my own, I started with the base magical languages that Terry helpfully provided! I generally classify them as “High” or “Low” which corresponds to Base/Closed and Open classifications in Spell Law.

Aludos:* The “alphabet” of Enruning. Aludos is the language of “short hand” magic used in inscriptions, runes, glyphs, sigils, hieroglyphics and other codified, written magic. This is not a spoken language, but Aludos allows a caster to execute inscribed magic as well as interpret other’s work. (This magical language replaces the function of the Rune skill)

Elemos. High language of Elements. This language is used for casting the high spell lists of Elemental Magic.

Enruth:† Language of Imbedding Magic. Used for alchemy and enchanting objects. Glottogonic analysis suggests the Enruth evolved from a mingling of Elemos and Aludos.

Krônyt:* The High language of physics magic. Used for spatial, physical and time manipulation spells.

Kugor: The High Language of Dragons. It is virtually impossible for other races to use due to limitations of the vocal chords.

Kuskarûk: An arcane language utilized in “Dark” spellcasting. It is believed to be a corrupted form of Orhan power and was introduced to Kulthea through the Charon pantheons.

Logos:† (‘The Word’) The discipline of word-thoughts: mnemonics, method of loci, meditation, transcendence and schema that allows a caster to utilize Mentalism magic.

Meanas: The high language of Illusions, Shadow and Misdirection.

Morgradoth. Language of the Pales and Void. Used for Demonic summoning and controlling spells.

Nomos: “Common” Language of the Essence, used for most lesser Essence spells lists.

Sylmaria: High Speech of the Flows. Almost musical in nature, it is required for spell lists involving the Flows of Essaence. This language is very difficult to learn. Its teaching is closely guarded by Loremasters and Navigators.

Shurak: Language of Fire

Uscurac: The ancient magical language of the Ka’Ta’Viir and “Arcane” magic.

Var Arnak: Language of the spells of the Unlife.

Xytos:† Language of Power-words (Essaence). This language is a limited vocabulary of single word spells and closely related to Uscurac.

With BASiL spell lists are assigned a language. So a caster that wants to learn a diversified selection of lists will probably need to expend additional DP’s learning multiple lists. In addition, the caster can’t cast a list above the level of their Magical Language skill rank AND the Magical Language skill bonus is the bonus used for the SCR. All and all it’s worked great and mimics the original arbitrary spell list acquisition rules using the core Rolemaster premise: skill acquisition.

5 Replies to “Follow Up: Magical Languages in Shadow World”

  1. Maybe you said it already in a previous post, but just in case.
    If the language skill bonus is used for the SCR, do you have any use for the spell list bonus? Is it used for spell mastery like in RMU?

    1. Correct. Expertise in the magical language drives the success of the spell casting, but expertise in the spell list itself drives the caster ability to modify and adjust the spells. I don’t have spell mastery as a skill. Make sense?

  2. So what if you had 20 ranks in Spell A that required Language X, but only 5 ranks in that Language X? Or is it not possible to have studied a specific spell for that long and to that level without the language to go with it? Does this just add additional cost to skills? Is this just a cap on over casting mechanics (vs ESF and PP expenditure)?

    1. 1. Yes, the skill rank of the language caps the level of spell you can cast. If you assume a certain technical aspect to a spell, you need the corresponding education background to interpret and use it. As as example, someone at 4th grade reading level won’t be able to grasp Shakespeare, or a high school student may not be able to utilize a doctoral level text book on physics or quantum mechanics. If you’ve ever studied a second language, you realize that understanding the grammatical rules (language structure) and having a wide vocabulary is essential to reading for comprehension. A 50th level spell will be complicated, and require a equally high level of technical sophistication.

      2. It does create a development cost, but replaces the arbitrary rules around open/closed/base.

      3. I allow for overcasting. It’s still a risk since the caster may not be able to full translate the spell, correctly enunciate the verbal components, etc.

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