The Cultures skill tracks the cultures — and associate languages — with which you’re familiar. Except for automatic language gain, this skill combines all the benefits of Spycraft 1.0’s Cultures and Languages skills, allowing you to adopt a culture and communicate with its natives. This skill is common to traveling characters, as well as explorers and adventurers of all types.
Focus Options: Central America, Eastern Asia (including China), Eastern Europe (including Russia), Northern Africa, Northern America (including Greenland), Oceania (including Australia), South America, Southern Africa, Southern Asia (including Southeast Asia), Western Asia (including the Middle East), Western Europe.
Combat Actions: None.
Dramatic Conflict: None.
Sample Knowledge: Clothing, art, music, literature, and traditions common to each focus culture; political and social history; subculture and community information (e.g. hackers, gamers, truckers, or terrorists within a given region).
(Int; Secret; Disposition, Hearing)
Time Varies • Base Error Range 1–2
Each time you interact with a character or group that doesn’t share at least one of your Cultures focuses, you must make a Communication check. The DC and error range of this check are determined by the listener’s home region and the complexity of the information you want to convey, as shown on Table: Communication Checks.
With success, you manage to convey the message in the time listed on Table: Communication Checks.
With failure, the message is lost in the translation. Per the GC’s discretion, Communication checks are not required when the characters speaking share a language, even if they’re from different regions (e.g. an American, a UK national, and an Australian are speaking English).
Relative Linguistics: Individual languages are never tracked; instead, communication is handled by region, with a character posessing a focus in a region able to adequately communicate with any other character possessing the same focus. Further, the modifiers presented on Table: Communication Checks do not presume that anyone making or targeted by a Communication check speaks English. Instead, regions with fewer recognized languages tend to present less difficulty than those where dozens — or even hundreds — are in common use. For example, North America has a +0 DC modifier as the vast majority of the region speaks only one language, while Northern Africa has a +10 DC modifier due to its many native languages.
Synergy Skills: Impress, Networking, Sense Motive.
Threat: If the message is a monologue, the number of full actions required to convey it is reduced to 1/2 standard (rounded down, minimum 1 full action). Otherwise, you convey the message as if its complexity grade were 1 lower (i.e. you convey an average message with 1 free action, a complex message with 1 half action, etc.).
Critical Success: You discover a rhythm with those in the conversation and need not make further Communication checks to speak with them for the remainder of the current scene, no matter how complex your messages.
Error: The message is lost in the translation, but comes out as another plausible — and humorous or distracting — statement (per the GC’s discretion).
Critical Failure: The message is lost in the translation, but comes out as another plausible — and insulting — statement (per the GC’s discretion).
|Circumstance||Time Required||DC||Error Range Increase|
|Simple message (“The mercenary has a radio.”)||1 half action||15||+0|
|Average message (“There are three assassins — one behind each pillar in the room.”)||1 full action||20||+1|
|Detailed message (“Get the hostages to the life rafts. I’m going to the bridge to take down Fa’la”)||2 full actions||30||+2|
|Monologue||3+ full actions*||40||+3|
|Listener’s Home Region|
|* A monologue requires a number of full actions equal to the seconds required to recite it divided by 6 (rounded up).|
|Spycraft 1.0 featured a Languages skill check that allowed agents to retroactively know the native language in each area they visited. This is ideal for the superspy genre, but strains plausibility in most other genres. Thus it was left out of the core Spycraft 2.0 design, which presents a broader foundation for any modern or near future setting. We expect that many people will still want to include this rule in their games, however, so here it is, updated to fit into Spycraft 2.0’s Cultures skill. We strongly recommend that if you use this check in your game, you track cultures and languages separately. Thus, each character is familiar with the cultures defined by his skill focuses, but doesn’t arbitrarily gain the associated languages. Instead, each character begins play with a number of languages equal to his Intelligence bonus + 1, and gains new languages only with the following skill check. This adjustment to the system requires a robust list of languages (at least 20). The division is left up to the Game Control and players, though excellent lists are available in both the Spycraft 1.0 Espionage Handbook and the Stargate SG-1 Rulebook.|
Each time you come across a foreign language that you don’t already know and that you haven’t encountered in the course of your missions to date, you may make a Linguistics check to see if you can ‘get by’ using it. The DC and error range for this check is determined by how common the language is across the globe — in the real world, as shown on the Linguistics Table.
|Language Commonality||DC||Error Range Increase|
|Common (e.g. English, Spanish, etc.)||15||+0|
|Uncommon (e.g. Croatian, Swahili, etc.)||20||+1|
|Rare (e.g. Basque, Navajo, etc.)||30||+2|
(e.g. Ancient Greek, Aramaic, etc.)