Language Point System

Languages are funny things. There are varying degrees of fluency, and the question of reading and writing. While many appreciate the simplicity of language management in 3E D&D, others may prefer a more detailed, flexible system that takes these things into account. So here I present a system once used by an old DM of mine. It is based upon a point system, where language fluency is rated from 1 to 20. If no written language is involved, or if the written language takes the same form as another already known (such as Elven and Drow, which both use the same alphabet, or various forms of Chinese to use a real-world example), then the language goes up to 10. The number of language points possessed by a character is based upon their Intelligence.

Language ratings

1-4 Just beginning to learn the language. You can recognize a few simple words, such as 'he' or 'run.' You are just learning the alphabet.
5-7 You have trouble speaking the language, though your level of understanding is somewhat better. Very poor writing skills.
8-10 You can stutter along in conversation, so long as those you're speaking with don't speak too fast. Atrocious accent. Poor writing skills.
11-12 You can keep up with a conversation without missing too much, although your writing skills leave something to be desired.
13-14 Acceptable fluency. You possess an accent, but can keep up with conversations. Your writing skills are also tolerable.
15-16 Good fluency. The level of most native speakers.
17-18 Excellent fluency. The character can speak the language not only well, but eloquently.
19-20 You are a Shakespeare. You possess a mastery of the language that allows you to craft and manipulate it as a smith does metal.

Languages without writing skills

1-2 Equal to 1-4 on previous chart
3 Equal to 5-7 
4 Equal to 8-10
5 Equal to 11-12
6 Equal to 13-14
7-8 Equal to 15-16
9 Equal to 17-18
10 Equal to 19-20

Number of Language Points

Intelligence Score Number of Language Points
4 10
5 15
6 20
7 30
8 40
9 50
10 60
11 70
12 80
13 90
14 100
15 120
16 140
17 160
18 180
19 200
20+ +20 per Intelligence point