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Flavorful text in my rpg?

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mindwarper10
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Joined: 06/13/2010

Okay, so first off my game I am working on is based off the ideas in the book I am writing. That said, both have magic, obviously. In my game players have the ability to craft their own spells, its a very intricate system, and to me it is lovely.
But I was wondering, in your opinion would people like it better if I added the word for each of the effects in each of the magical languages (In my game the spellcasting languages are draconic, daemonic, and celestial, was going to have demonic or fiendish so that I could have the good/evil concept with celestial, but decided language and magic should be a neutral factor)
In my spell craft system everything from range to damage, and all the mechanics of the spell (Is it permanant? Can it only be used once in a lifetime? can it only be used a certain amount of times per day? if it has an area can it affect allies negativly, or enemies positivly?) so everything would have this flavor text.

So tell me your opinion (on the flavor text idea, if you have an opinion on the little bit of what Ive told you, I suppose you can say something, its not like I can stop you, but I dont think I have told you enough to judge it!)

You would like to nerd it up at your next rp wouldn't you? hahaha!

HandwrittenAnthony
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Flavour vs. Rules

Hi mindwarper, it sounds like you've put a lot of work into your magic system!

In regards to using your fictional language within the game, my recommendation would be to keep the fictional names for flavour text only. Any functional text - that is, the rules, mechanic names, effects - should all be in plain language for easier understanding.

Having an intricate and engaging setting is great, but it's important that it doesn't get in the way of the gameplay. Players won't naturally know your languages, which would make playing a game that uses that fictional terminology exclusively incredibly difficult to play.

The exception to this is proper nouns of course. You should use canon naming structures for your magic spells. But when it comes to describing how they work, the plainer your language the better.

There's a fine balance when using fictional languages! Perhaps if you feel comfortable sharing an example, we might get a better idea of what you're trying to accomplish. =)

mindwarper10
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Well I don't intend to make

Well I don't intend to make the text part of the mechanics, hence the word flavorful, simply to spice up the look/feel of reading. I would simply have the word in each language positioned after the description. Then people could more or less peice the words together. It may even help name a custom made spell, instead of saying "thirty foot missle fire damage cannon blast thing!" it'd be like fles mistis fres! (Don't have a set up language per say yet, but when I get to it I will..I just wanted to be sure it was even worth doing, because I find it interesting personaly when someone puts so much work into their creation, even just a story book, that they have words for language in their world.)

SlyBlu7
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I was an English major,

I was an English major, focused on poetry and creative writing, and dual majored in Secondary Ed. Anyways, we were told that language can make or break a good setting - there's no middle ground. We were given examples like Dr. Seuss, where his languages are often silly and make no sense at all: outside the realm of a children's book (and sometimes, even in that capacity) nonsense languages can sound absurdly stupid. Executed well, like in Tolkien's books and (grudgingly) Christopher Paolini's books, language can add a level of immersion to your story.

It should be noted that neither of the latter authors force their language on you - in fact, while Tokien developed the whole of the Elven, Dwarfin, and even Numenorian languages, he hardly even uses any of them in the books - by hardly I mean *maybe* one or two isolated cases of Elven and Dwarfin. Paolini on the other hand - trying too hard to be Tolkien - used the languages a bit more often, and almost lost the effect. Instead, it seemed like he was running around saying "look, I made this awesome language, learn it! Learn it like those Lord of the Rings fans do!"

Creating fictional worlds and creating fictional languages are two entirely different skill sets. The best fictional languages are formed by people who have studied Linguistics and more importantly Etymology. Understanding how words are organized within a language (German/Latin/Spanish having genders for words, whereas English has none) through Linguistics lets you begin translating sentences by restructuring them (Japanese, for example, finishes questions with a verbal question-mark). Etymology then steps in, and allows you to "evolve" words from one language to another.

What you *don't* want to do is simply 'translate' your way through a dictionary. You want to translate on an "as needed" basis until you have created a set of parameters for each word/sound (all nouns end with '-do' for example) and a template for each type of sentence. Then you can begin creating a "world dictionary" if you want.

Developing a language is dangerous, and unless you are going to pack your rulebook with short stories to thoroughly explain the cultures and origins of the language, then I would avoid putting them in. Your book and your game exist in two separate vacuums. I should be able to pick up and enjoy your game without ever knowing about your books, and I should be able to sit down and read your book without having to play some sort of companion game.

HandwrittenAnthony
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Mindsplosion.

That's a serious infodump of some excellent linguistics and writing advice, SlyBlu7. If I could "Like" your post, I would click that button, then click again to unLike it just so I could have the satisfaction of clicking it over to Like again.

mindwarper10
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(whats wrong with Christopher

(whats wrong with Christopher Paolini? I thought the Aragon series was well writtin...movie sucked, books were good though, admittidly not Dragon Lance, but hey, those were the best series ever, so they wouldn't be that good!)

While all really good info, it is stuff I already know.(except of course about your education...I hope that is not something I already knew...that would scare me) I too would "like" your comment however, as it is very important stuff.

Avianfoo
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It's flavour text. If adding

It's flavour text. If adding a single funky (made up) word adds flavour then go for it. I would suggest that it also has some flavour text besides that single word but I think that was a given anyway. Flavour text is hardly read while actually playing a game so I don't see the harm in adding a single word at the beginning or the end of the flavour text.

That said, beware of funky words that actually have a meaning in other languages.

MarkKreitler
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Been There, Done That...Almost

Back in high school, I tried something similar for my build-a-spell system. It didn't add anything.

People will name their spells as they like. RPers will call their "10-die fire-based ranged attack" "Fireball," or "Jor'duns Flaming Vengeance," while people who play for the mechanics will call it "Fire Spell #1" or "10-die ranged fire attack."

As others have noted, developing a language takes training and skill. When I looked at my game notes 10 years later, I realized how little of both I had. One of my best decisions was *not* to use the linguistics system.

Your mileage may vary, but as a general rule, the less specific structure you introduce into your game system, the more flexible it becomes and the more types of games you can run.

Good luck!

Avianfoo
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Forgot to mention that

Forgot to mention that Pathfinder has made a build-your-own spell system in Ultimate Magic. So why is it not used? Because it is balanced into boringness. All combinations of spells you could make are pretty much the same as/similar to existing spells. Though maybe if there were more choices it would have been a bit better. But that is not the topic of this thread. This is about adding made up words to represent each part of the spell. Which I think would be kewl.

kos
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Knights of Legend

The old computer RPG Knights of Legend (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knights_of_Legend) had a build-your-own spell system where spells were made by combining syllables of the elven language. Each syllable of the spell name corresponded to target class, range, power, effect, etc.

When buying "premade" spells from NPC mages the spells were written in elven, which means that you had to get out the game manual and translate to figure out what they did.

When designing your own spells, there was the option of renaming it rather than leaving it as the elvish name. In practice I always gave English names to my spells because they were easier to remember.

Overall, I think that having spells in a mystical language is rather cool, but in practice most players are going to use their native language rather than trying to learn a new language.

Regards,
kos

MarkKreitler
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kos wrote:Each syllable of

kos wrote:
Each syllable of the spell name corresponded to target class, range, power, effect, etc.
kos

That's exactly what I did with my system...

kos wrote:
Overall, I think that having spells in a mystical language is rather cool, but in practice most players are going to use their native language rather than trying to learn a new language.

...and that's exactly what I found during play.

You hit the nail on the head, Kos.

mindwarper10
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Joined: 06/13/2010
First and foremost I very

First and foremost I very much appreciate the input.
Ive been told multiple times that when it comes to naming things, foreign words, or oherwise made up words, I am really good at coming up with good stuff.
That aside, there is always a chance that when trying to make something sound like an actual word, it might actually be a word, and if it offends someone (thats too bad as its all in fun and in a language that doesnt actually exist even if it does actually exist as a word in an existing language....is what I would like to say) Its not hard to change it.

One thing you don't have to worry about is boringness with my spell creation system. The biggest thing that I am worried about is making it balanced, at first I was worried about it being overpowered (In example, D&D (god I hate refering to D&D, you would almost think that was the only rpg I have ever played!) there are those who believe wizards are overpowered because they literally can do anything...which they can't, and really even at epic levels you still have to be a smart wizard and not just blow everything up...because the barbarian or fighter next to you who is chaotic evil might just cut off your d***...ah the fun times...) but after reviewing it for the 10000th(over 9000!) time, I got worried it may be underpowered. One thing is for certain, the spells with more effects aren't always the best.

I rather assumed people would use their native tongue, I know as matter of factly I would, but like in Magic the gathering, sometimes It felt like I was collecting the cards just for the flavor text, and some for the names.

and while It dont show here, I GOTS THAT TRAININ AN SKILL! HOH YEAH! (Seriously though, I will be modest and say I am not fluent in Russian, German, or Spanish, but I know a decent amount in/about each. I am not being modest when I say my French and Italian are not up to par...especially since the one word I know in Italian is not even a good word...as it refers to man parts...) and while obviously my grammer here is...spectacularly crappy, I dont bother with it unless I am working on an important document....such as my book I am righting that this game is based off of.

As is, I don't know if I really should put the flavor text, my biggest worry about making it is the same thng everyone else has already stated, regardless if its for fun, its still developing a language....most languages have grown over time and were not developed over night (unlike Rome!)
I may have to coerce...force...er ask? yes! Ask my friends to help me build the language. while holding a whip in one hand, and a gun in the other...not sure what kind....probably a glock seeing as how ill be a cop here before long...

Morgothrond
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I even...

What I did in my RPG with my group, is that I had that Wizards had to actually say the word component on the spells. Mind, the mechanics and all rulesets are in plain spanish, but a requirement for the spell to be successful was that players had to actually recite the words. They were normally one or two words, but it was pretty fun. The language of magic i was using was Nahuatl (aztec speak XD)

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