After some reflection, I’m dropping languages from the campaign and the character sheets.
There are several reasons for this.
- Mechanically, they duplicate effects already covered by Investigation, Streetwise and Common Knowledge (i.e. Smarts). They’re therefore not necessary.
- Heroes in the source literature always seem to know just the right language for the occasion, so no language skills is a better reflection of them.
- The guidance from Clint Black at Pinnacle is that characters shouldn’t take Knowledge skills unless they are (a) a prerequisite for an Edge or (b) expected to be used in every session; languages are neither, so they’re not desirable.
- In metagame terms, PCs are savvy enough to choose complementary languages, so that as a group they can talk to anyone they need to talk to. Languages as a restriction on communication therefore doesn’t work, and if they did, I prefer the PCs to succeed or fail based on their interpretation of clues, rather than because one blew a roll against a Language skill.
If necessary, I’ll replace language rolls with a Common Knowledge roll. This will be a straight roll against Smarts if the PC’s background suggests he should be able to figure it out, and a roll at -2 if nothing in his background argues for him knowing it.
For example, someone with Arcane Background (Magic) would roll against Smarts to decipher an ancient tome of sorcery, whereas someone without that Edge would roll at -2, and someone with the Illiterate Hindrance wouldn’t roll at all.