Spoken Languages & Food [was RP thesis...]

Matt Chatterley root at mpc.dyn.ml.org
Mon May 26 23:25:36 New Zealand Standard Time 1997

On Mon, 26 May 1997, Marian Griffith wrote:
> On Sun 18 May, Matt Chatterley wrote:
> > Everyone speaks one language with a degree of natural fluency, but also
> > has a native tongue in which they really communicate.. hmm, still feels a
> > bit artificial, but it's a workable situation.
> It really gets interesting if  you somehow manage to get the normal way
> in which somebody acquires a general language (or trade tongue as it is
> often dubbed): As a second language. This means that for each race speaking
> in that language means translating it from their native tongue. Quite likely
> the words may mean slightly different things to different races. E.g. a
> dwarf talking about caverns may mean an entirely different concept than
> an elf using the same word. And even more fun if one race uses concepts
> that are totally alien to others; a wonderful source for confusion.
> Now I don't expect this ever to be added to a game. translating is quite
> difficult enough in reality that it is much too hard to put in a game.
> But as a set of guidelines for RP it would add so much.

Indeed. The above is a truly excellent concept. Sadly, for the reasons you
also outline, it's an extremely hard thing to add (I wouldn't say never
though, there are many things knocking about now which would have been
unthought of in muds a year or so back). It also works very well just
'RPed', if you have good players.

It doesn't really help me address my problem though, since I have another
base aim which conflicts with any 'realistic' language representation - I
don't want to hinder communication by spoken language for one real reason.
Without an inordinate effort, it is no limitation at all (tells, poses and
such can get around it, since this is not an RP-based environment), and
it's really just a pain in the rear end. Still. It seems a nice layer of
detail to add to have people speaking in tongues, so to phrase it. A
tricky conundrum indeed.

My current approach will probably be to assign one 'general' language,
plus racial (or geographical) orientated languages (ie elvish, or
midlandish). Hmm.
> > Perhaps one can take the
> > standpoint that adventurers are especial, and were all educated to the
> > point of speaking a common language (although, if you have such things as
> > barbarians, it gets a touch far-fetched too). Interesting hurdle.
> Not to mention the fact that adventurers usually are the misfits who were
> forced to taking to adventuring for fear of meeting the gallow at home.

Heh. Whatever the circumstances, the 'adventurer' (clasically the central
PCs in a pen&paper RPG.. this is not so true in all MUSHes for instance),
is exceptional compared to everyone else. This makes it slightly more
reasonable to assume that adventurers can all communicate via a 'trade
tongue'. Only slightly though. :P
> [things about food snipped]
> Food as it is handled now is pretty pointless. A matter of annoyance
> more than anything else. If there is food than at least you should
> be able to die from lack of it, consume more of it when doint heavy
> labour (or magick), make it sufficiently varied that acquiring a
> healthy mix of foodstuffs (and preparing it so as to avoid the
> poisonous or diseased things) is difficult. In fact even acquiring
> food should be somewhat difficult in its own right. And races likely
> have considerably different requirements in this department. E.g.
> orcs and trolls and their ilk would be restricted to eating meat;
> preferably not long dead (if at all) and so on. 

Definitely. Munching 30 loaves just for HP gain, or because the mud said
'You feel hungry' is really pathetic, IMHO. I do plan on a mildly detailed
system of 'nutritional requirements' (not as detailed as tracking say..
vitamins, but noting that different foods in different states are
better/worse for different races).
> > Not so easy to do it
> > well, and it's not easy to tell if it's a truly desirable thing, which is
> > where I'm rather stumped. :)
> If you're working towards a game that is basically in the line of diku-
> muds then I'd say it's probably not worth it. In fact I would suggest
> you take out the entire concept of food and water.

Yeah. The 'diku' style H'n'S is very unsuited to the plaster'o'paris on
the top view it holds to food. My personal aim in mind here is a 'thinking
man's h-n-s' game, really. That is to say, whilst it might not be a purist
roleplaying game, and will involve hack'n'slash elements, you won't live
long if you try to plough through it robotically, and social interactions
will be of some import.

> If on the other hand you're aiming at a game that's highly focussed on
> roleplaying then you should seriously consider on adding a realistic
> system of food and drinks, and have racial and climatical affects and
> make acquiring and maintaining foodsupplies while travelling a serious
> consideration for adventurers. (If only to give them topics for RP that
> range beyond 'shall we kill Bubba the big bad Troll?').

Yeah. I do find however that food/drink become a bit of a pain in really
'high grade' RP environments, when they are anything beyond RP tools. Any
thoughts on this assertion? :)
> > <g> Masking the numbers would be a pretty obvious step (just didn't occur
> > to demonstrate it), but the rest is just style, really, and very
> > desirable. It's much nicer. ;)
> Anything that distracts players from the numbers (stats and experience) game
> is definitely desirable in a mud (in my opinion of course).

A noble sentiment, and one that I share. It's another reason why, whilst i
wish to keep the notions of numerative stats, hps, and levels (lets not
launch that one again.. these are not levels as you might know them, call
them guild-rankings, whatever), I wish to deal with them internally. The
player would see "You are very strong, and sturdy, but slow to learn."
Rather than "Strength: 50, Toughness: 50, Learning: 10", and "You are very
badly hurt, and bleeding." rather than "HP: 50/200".
> Marian
> -- 
> Yes - at last - You. I Choose you. Out of all the world,
> out of all the seeking, I have found you, young sister of
> my heart! You are mine and I am yours - and never again
> will there be loneliness ...
> Rolan Choosing Talia,
> Arrows of the Queen, by Mercedes Lackey

	-Matt Chatterley
"Fishing is complete and utter madness."  -Spike Milligan

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