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There have been tons of threads and posts on this topic, check the Beta threads.
A distilled version of the content is:
For most situations, it's simply appropriate for the GM allow the players to communicate with the NPCs without much effort for reasons of gameplay. This means that it should be assumed, typically, that the players have enough familiarity with languages they encounter that no checks are neccesary to understand what is being said.
"All models are wrong, but some models are useful."
-George E.P. Box, Ph.D.
"It can scarcely be denied that the supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simpleas few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience."
Albert Einstein, Ph.D.
How do you handle languages known?
Officially, you don't, as it's not an issue in the vast majority of circumstances. Hell, it barely comes up in most Star Wars d20 games, since just about ever civilized species speaks (or at least understands) Basic.
Unofficially, there's been a slew of threads, particularly over in the Beta sub-forum, about various house-rules to cover it. Popular ones seem to be basing the number of spoken languages off a character's ranks in Knowledge (Xenology), just using straight Intellect, or creating a new skill called Languages.
Personally, I've only had on instance of two PCs not being able to comprehend each other (a Wookiee that didn't understand Binary and an Astromech that didn't understand Shyriiwook and couldn't speak Basic), and I just let the players pantomime it out.
If dealing with an NPC, I'd just add setback dice to any social skill checks depending on how obscure/out-of-touch with galactic civilization the alien culture in question is. Threepio got by quite well due to having talents that allowed him to negate setback dice on his Charm and Negotiate checks, and Leia probably had a rank in a similar talent, as she was able to do alright prior to hooking back up with the rest of the heroes at the Ewok Village.
Contributing Author of the GSA at http://gsa.thegamernation.org/
"If you've never seen an elephant ski, then you've never done acid."
- Eddie Izzard
I am planning on overlaying a bit of language stuff in mine. I am planning on letting them have like SEVERAL languages. I mean if you think about it, Han spoke Huttese, Rodian (expained in exp universe) and Wookie… Later in the movies Luke and Leia understand Chewie… later Luke understood R2.
I am planning on having people know like 5 languages plus 1 for every level of INT… or something like that. I also will allow them over time to understand a new one that they are spending time with. I always felt that there are SO many languages in Star Wars, and intergalactic travel is SO prevelent that people in general learn languages faster. I mean intergalatic travel has been around for 20,000+ years after all.
BrashFink - Writer, musician, artist, network ninja, gamemaster.
Personally I'm a fan of dropping rules that don't enter into 1 out of 100 games. Rules are for commonly occurring mechanics that are not intrinsic to the story (shooting, diplomacy, etc.). Language issues are NOT commonly occurring mechancs that ARE intrinsic to the story when they show up. So I feel like it is a good thing to be decided circumstantially e.g. through skill checks of macguffins like C3-PO.
Now there are certain styels of games where it makes sense to include language mechanics. A game that focuses on archeology or exploration would benefit from such rules. But for most games (ours included) I think it makes good sense to eliminate language rules, and I applaud FF doing so. It's one of those sacred cows most of us don't even realize IS a sacred cow.
My suggestion to GMs is: only add language rules if language issues are an important part of your games. If it only comes up VERY rarely, handle it in game rather than in rules.
My group has simply deferred to D&D as everyone understands Common regardless of if they can speak it, like Jawa's.
It makes for some fun roleplay as I am playing a Jawa and not speaking, just making actions.
Then call it what it is in Star Wars, Basic… heheh
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