Languages in the Fifth Age
During the Fourth Age, the Heroes of the Lance traveled all across Ansalon, fighting dragons and all sorts of dangers. But everywhere they arrived, they were understood. Cultural richness is part of Ansalon's main quality: its diversity. And as far as every country has some special features, each one of them have a proper language.
In AD&D, to avoid Heroes to be misunderstood or not to understand special country's languages, they created the Common tongue, a kind of language spoken by all intelligent creatures in Ansalon. But we know it's not a realistic situation, as nobody in our world can speak the same language. In certain campaigns, some Narrators can ignore Common language and use these two optional rules. The first option is recommended if you want a simple game, without many rules; the second case is advised for Narrators who have access to "A Saga Companion" Rule Book. Enjoy!
Method #1: Reason, Wealth and Quests
This method uses the Table below as a font of information. When the player finishes his/her character, the Narrator look for Reason, Wealth, Quests and Reason code in Heroes' Sheet. Finding the right numbers, the Narrator add or subtract its values, and the final result will determine the number of languages that Hero knows, and his/her literacy ability.
An example: Don is a new Hero in the campaign. His Narrator decided him to check his languages. He has Reason 5(C), Wealth 3 and Quests 7. Reason 5 granted him 2 languages, and Quests 7 gives him one more language. Because his Reason code is only C, he loses one language. He decided his two languages are Solamnic and Abanasinian, because he's from Solamnia and he intends to study Mysticism, and Abanasinian is one of the most spoken languages in Citadel of Light.
Other ways of acquiring Literacy: Jack is illiterate, because he was left in the middle of a forest when he was a child. He is neither a mage nor a rich man, but he wants to learn how to read and write. He tells the Narrator he is studying to become literate, and the Narrator keeps this information. When he advances from anther Reputation category, he flips a card. If the number is bigger than his Reason, he can learn how to read and write. If he had a teacher, the card may be equal or bigger than his Reason score. Also, if Jack had a B code in Reason and Spirit, he would be literate since the character creation.
As your hero advances in Quests, Wealth or Reason, the number of languages is increased by the position number he earned in the table. If a hero with Quests 6 reaches Quests 7, he receives one more language. This is correct if the hero has traveled a lot to new places he never had been before, or if he had spent some time learning a new language. If a hero belongs to a different race or country used in the campaign, the Narrator can give him one more language so he/she will be able to use the most common language in the campaign. When this hero attains a new language using the table, the Narrator may opt not to give it, because the hero has already taken it in the beginning of the game.
Method #2: Language Skills
If you use "A Saga Companion", you may choose to give more skill points beyond normal only to be spent in languages. Using the table below, which is based on an old AD&D table, you can find out how many extra points each hero should gain. About heroes' literacy, any hero can acquire the Scribner skill and have the ability to read and write.