From: Joseph Troxell (jmt107@psu.edu)
Date: Tue 13 May 1997 - 13:01:39 EEST

Here's a quick write up of Swordspeak and how it works in IMG. It's not
heavily edited, but I hope that I spelled that scimitar wielding moonie's
name correctly.....


Swordspeak originated in the Cult of Humakt. It is widely used in the Cult
of Yanafal Tarnils (and hence, by Lunar Officers). It is unusual for anyone
outside either cult to know Swordspeak. Many Orlanthi chieftains with
Humakti huscarls know the language, as do many who frequently employ Humakti

The language centers around two uses: warfare and duels.

Swordspeak is capable of communicating any topic relating to warfare. Like
any language, it contains strengths and weaknesses. For example, there are
over a dozen terms for "soldiers" in the language; denoting a wide variety
of troop types and equipment (for example, there is one word that means,
"well equiped pike soldiers in a phalanx" and another that means "poorly
trained peasant levy with pikes"). Yet, communicating "farmer" becomes
quite lengthy since the nearest and shortest equivalent is, "peasant warrior
who scars Ernalda with weak blade."

Swordspeak is also used to challenge another to a formal duel. In this
manner, people unfamiliar with the language will not even be aware a
challenge has been issued. The reason for the challenge (typically when one
party feels insulted) along with the severity (death, first blood, etc.) can
be communicated. This allows the man challenged to accept, back down, or
even apologize without losing face to those not fluent in the language.

The "verbal" component of the language is a combination of words, sign
language, and body language. Much of the language is of a silent nature,
either using sign language or body language. The verbal component is often
used to supplement or enhance the non-verbal part. The silent nature of the
language is four fold. First, it allows Humakti who have sworn to remain
silent to still communicate with others in their cult. Second, it allows
troops to silently communicate with their commander and not reveal their
location to enemy troops from unnessecary noise. Third, hand and body
gestures can be seen across the battlefield, when often voices will not
carry over the din of battle. Fourth, it allows speakers to secretly
communicate with each other in plain view of others (shifting your weight
onto your right foot and hooking your left thumb in your sword belt is the
sign for "watch your back, you're being followed").

In addition, there is a written component of swordspeak. The written
component heavily borrows from several language families (often picking and
choosing the closest written equivalent for a word in swordspeak). In
addition, it also contains a host of secret symbols and glyphs. The symbols
and glyphs take a variety of forms. Many are quite simple and ingenious in
disguise; an innocent looking pile of sticks may mean "wait here at dawn for
my report" in swordspeak. There is also a set of glyphs associated with the
written form which can cover as much information as the "spoken" language.

Initiates of Humakt and Yanafal Tarnils are typically trained to at least 5%
in the spoken and written forms of the language. Typically, others are only
taught if it is deemed vital for them to have a command of the language by a
Sword. The Gamemaster must use discression in what can be communicated
using the language. It is flat out impossible for two Humakti to hold a art
critique in the language. Yet, it is possible to communicate, "this village
had a poor crop and food supplies are low."


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