Do Telepathy, Read Mind, etc. translate language?

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pkitty
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Do Telepathy, Read Mind, etc. translate language?

Postby pkitty » Mon Dec 24, 2018 11:33 am

My character speaks English and nothing more. They initiate a telepathic communication (either voluntary as for Telepathy, or involuntary as for Read Mind) with a soldier who speaks Russian and nothing more. What happens?

(A) Because the power is a direct mind-to-mind connection, it handles translation. I can speak with them, read their mind, etc. without issue.

(B) The power does not translate, so I only get general and vague information -- images, concepts, etc.

(C) The power does not translate, so it's useless unless I learn Russian or the Linguist perk.

(D) Something else?
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Re: Do Telepathy, Read Mind, etc. translate language?

Postby TorgHacker » Mon Dec 24, 2018 12:03 pm

pkitty wrote:My character speaks English and nothing more. They initiate a telepathic communication (either voluntary as for Telepathy, or involuntary as for Read Mind) with a soldier who speaks Russian and nothing more. What happens?

(A) Because the power is a direct mind-to-mind connection, it handles translation. I can speak with them, read their mind, etc. without issue.

(B) The power does not translate, so I only get general and vague information -- images, concepts, etc.

(C) The power does not translate, so it's useless unless I learn Russian or the Linguist perk.

(D) Something else?


GM's call.
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pkitty
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Re: Do Telepathy, Read Mind, etc. translate language?

Postby pkitty » Mon Dec 24, 2018 1:04 pm

Really? I'm all for leaving edge cases and minor things up to GM's call, but that seems like such a fundamental rules decision, especially given the detailed FAQs on things like Telekinesis. It seems off for both "Telepathy is a universal translator" and "Telepathy is completely useless without the right Language skills" to be 100% canonical.
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Re: Do Telepathy, Read Mind, etc. translate language?

Postby Atama » Mon Dec 24, 2018 1:49 pm

We’ve had multiple threads on languages and Deanna’s response is totally consistent with all of those past discussions.

As a cinematic game, many fiddly things that might lead to extraneous bookkeeping get waived. And it models itself after action films that tend to have everyone conveniently speaking English, unless it’s useful for the plot to have them not speak English (to show how “foreign” they are, to add a complication, to make a locale appear more exotic, etc.).

The game works the same way. If you have players that want to work as translators and invest in language skills then you’ll want to give them a chance to function in that role and you’ll throw in language barriers. Otherwise, you can just make it so there’s a convenient guide NPC or someone else who can translate or the Delphi Council provides translation tech, etc.

In the same vein, it boils down to what’s best for your campaign. Maybe it’s cool that your Telepath can use his powers to translate (especially since that character will likely have a high Charisma, since that skill uses that stat, and would be the party Face). Or maybe you want to use language barriers as a limit to the power. Decide what works better, let the players know, then apply that ruling consistently at the table.
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Re: Do Telepathy, Read Mind, etc. translate language?

Postby dehayhurst » Mon Dec 24, 2018 1:51 pm

That's exactly why it has to be situational. Is it something that can be communicated with an image? Then you don't need a language. Are the thoughts just unspoken words? Then you have the words but may not understand them. It's not a universal translator, it's also not useless without language. Hence some arbitration on the spot is gonna be required.

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Re: Do Telepathy, Read Mind, etc. translate language?

Postby utsukushi » Mon Dec 24, 2018 2:20 pm

I see your problem, pkitty, but I have to agree with Atama (and Torghacker) here -- they couldn't really nail that down without also nailing down exactly how important languages are supposed to be in the game, and that's something they've left open as, basically, a dial.

So yes, Telepathy can be useless without the right language skills, or it can be a universal translator, or it can be the excuse why, in a game where languages have been used as a barrier and it's not working out, now your party can start ignoring them without disrupting continuity, or it can be something in the middle like Dehayhurst just suggested.

If, in your game, the fact that your character speaks only English and the soldier speaks only Russian is important, then probably you don't want telepathy as a universal translator, because that renders it irrelevant. (I mean, yeah, only one character can talk to them, and in RL that can be important, but in games it just means you spend a couple turns with people saying, `tell him this' and then everybody just starts talking comfortably again anyway because it's silly to keep making you say, "I do that," when the GM is right there and totally understands.) If it's just a matter of realism - your group isn't comfortable ignoring the fact that many people around the world only speak their native language, but actually dealing with that is annoying, then Telepathy-as-translator is a great work-around. It lets you ignore that without denying it, but has some other utility so a player isn't having to give up something significant (like a Perk and a bunch of skill points (Linguist) or even a third of their starting spell picks (Gain Language) just so your team can talk to people.

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Re: Do Telepathy, Read Mind, etc. translate language?

Postby QuarrelBlue » Tue Dec 25, 2018 12:24 pm

"Should I take Language or Linguist when taking Telepathy?" can be crucial strategic issue when building a character, especially when designing an archetype not intended for particular campaign or GM(that is, NO GM's call).

Personally, I hope them to be neither USELESS nor MUST when considering Telepathy.
(A telepath can go along without Language or Linguist, but having such a skill and/or a perk can help reading/sending verbal thought more precisely.)
But unfortunately if such a precision is needed/useful or not depends on the situation a GM presents, and "How many GMs will present such risk/chance?" may be too metagame-heavy for character designing.

And, as Colleen Bridges on Living Land Day 1 shows, a starting Storm Knight often doesn't have such luxury to afford Language or Linguist, unless the team has room for a dedicated Multilingual Communication Specialist.

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Re: Do Telepathy, Read Mind, etc. translate language?

Postby ZorValachan » Tue Dec 25, 2018 12:58 pm

QuarrelBlue wrote:"Should I take Language or Linguist when taking Telepathy?" can be crucial strategic issue when building a character, especially when designing an archetype not intended for particular campaign or GM(that is, NO GM's call).

Personally, I hope them to be neither USELESS nor MUST when considering Telepathy.
(A telepath can go along without Language or Linguist, but having such a skill and/or a perk can help reading/sending verbal thought more precisely.)
But unfortunately if such a precision is needed/useful or not depends on the situation a GM presents, and "How many GMs will present such risk/chance?" may be too metagame-heavy for character designing.

And, as Colleen Bridges on Living Land Day 1 shows, a starting Storm Knight often doesn't have such luxury to afford Language or Linguist, unless the team has room for a dedicated Multilingual Communication Specialist.

This is why, aside from convention/demo games, the GM and players need to meet to talk about the game and what types of characters may work or not work. It definitely falls into GM's call with player input pregame.
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Re: Do Telepathy, Read Mind, etc. translate language?

Postby pkitty » Tue Dec 25, 2018 3:00 pm

Fair enough. In that case, I'm going to rule that any mind-to-mind communication automatically gives you the benefits of Linguist. If you actually have the Linguist perk, they synergize into full-fluency translation.
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Re: Do Telepathy, Read Mind, etc. translate language?

Postby Atama » Tue Dec 25, 2018 3:21 pm

pkitty wrote:Fair enough. In that case, I'm going to rule that any mind-to-mind communication automatically gives you the benefits of Linguist. If you actually have the Linguist perk, they synergize into full-fluency translation.

That’s a cool solution. :)
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