Speech acts

“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” — Proverbs 23:7

Speech acts are special abilities granted through the power of primordial otiyot or shoresh roots.

The discovery of speech acts came about through research into the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, and Eretz researchers describe the larger study of speech acts as performativity. The secular world calls supernatural abilities “speech acts” because they involve combining the primordial letters. The more religious call this process Yetzirah, though evil acts and curses are called Yetzer Ra’ magic.

According to a corollary of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, speech acts happen when the yetzirah process transmutes the user’s consciousness into phonemic code, which are then manifested into matter and energy.

Typically, a character may perform a speech act that is based off agent’s natural shoresh family or the natural family of an item or equipment he is using at no bonus or penalty.

The following factors may make speech acts easier:

  • The speech act is the exact same as the agent or object’s shoresh and not a permutation: +1R
  • Using a raw shoresh root that matches the speech act: +1R
  • Using a prepared root byproduct from a matching shoresh root: Varies, but usually +1R or more
  • Using a sefer, alfon or other reading device to produce letters/code: Varies, but usually +1R or more
  • Roleplaying the prescribed vision for that root. (Requires 1 action turn of setup): +2D roll
  • Using sign language of the letters with hands: +1R

The following factors may make speech acts harder:

  • Only envisioning or thinking about the Speech Act letters, without speech, signs, actions or tools  -4R roll
  • Only speaking the letters and their conjugations: -2R
  • The speech act is one or more cipher node degrees away from the agent’s or object’s shoresh: -2D for each additional degree of distance

If a speech act attempt fails, the Narrator may explain how, whether it failed to happen, or was dodged or deflected. If a permutation is gaffed, the permutation might backfire, or if it hits the target, gets absorbed and makes the target stronger.

Like weapons, your dice may “explode” if you roll for damage and hit a target letter (shoresh letter?)

Glossary

This glossary contains some Milhamah RPG gaming terms and their comparison to other common RPG jargon:

Agent (or Player Agent): A character controlled by any player who’s not the Narrator, aka a playable character in other RPGs. Agents are subjects, but most subjects aren’t agents.

Attribute: One of seven main qualities that determine a subject’s general aptitude: Dominance, Vigor, Grace, Creativity, Wisdom, Peace and Blessing.

Cipher: One of three different ways in the Milhamah universe to alter a letter, also known as Atbash (red), Albam (blue) and Akhbi (green). To perform ciphering a letter on a die, flip the die 180 degrees to its other side. Sometimes an ability may call for a player to perform XC, where X equals a number. Flip over that number of dice according to the color and cipher recommended.

Domain Tag: Known as tags or manners for short, these are descriptors that sort of work as elements in Milhamah. Many RPGs have a handful of elements: Fire, ice, lightning, earth, etc. But Milhamah has hundreds that encompass materials, creature types, verbs and more. Many attacks and speech acts have tags, and those abilities will gain a bonus when comboed with other tags, or when targeting opponents with certain tags.

Freezing: Setting one or more dice away from the others. Frozen dice still count on the table, but they cannot be rolled, flipped or altered until they’re unfrozen.

Gender: The nature of a entity that usually corresponds with sex on a physical or abstract level. Not only do subjects have a gender in Milhamah RPG, but so do objects and places. The most common genders are masculine and feminine, though neuter and common (either way) are sometimes seen too.

Kind: A broad descriptor for the class of sentient being a subject is. Common ones are Benei Adam, Anaq, Nefil, Malakh, Shed, Beast, Bird, Creeper, Fish, Bug, Shellfish, Slime, Golem and Machine. This often correlates to species, race or ancestry in other RPG games.

Narrator: The player who manages the mission, referees rolls and rules, steers the plot and acts out side characters, including villains.

Object: Any item that a subject or agent may carry and use. Object subclasses include instruments, weapons, armor, accoutrements, consumables, tools and sundries.

Part (aka Lexical Class): Often known as class in other RPGs, this is the profession or archetype that broadly defines what your agent or subject does. There are 12 main ones in Milhamah RPG, with each corresponding to a lexical class or part of speech: Noun, Pronoun, Adjective, Determiner, Numeral, Verb, Adverb, Conjunction, Complementizer, Preposition, Particle and Interjection.

Place: These are the locations, site, cities or battlegrounds in the world of Avgad. Each domain has a shoresh that governs it. Enemy-occupied areas are often called domains.

Rank: A level from 0-32 that determines a subject’s status. Rarity, reputation, status and excellence increase rank. Rank 0 is Clear and is unable to fight or survive in most dangerous settings. Ranks 1-4 are White (Able to beat Bavel’s troopers and privates), 5-8 are Yellow (Able to beat Bavel’s sergeants and squad leaders), 9-12 are Orange (Able to beat Bavel’s flunky officers), 13-16 are Teal (Lieutenant), 17-20 are Blue (Captain), 21-24 are Brown (Colonel), 25-28 are Black (General) and 29-32 are Red (Marshal/supernatural). Agents may turn in Merit Points to increase their rank.

Shoresh Root: A shoresh root, or shoresh for short, is composed of a sequence or combination of radicals, or Hebrew letters. Usually there are three or four radicals to a shoresh, and only rarely two or five.

Subject: A character in a Milhamah story who is often played by the Narrator, i.e., a nonplayable character (NPC). These are usually villains, creatures, commoners or temporary allies. These characters usually aren’t as complex as agents unless they are very important to the overall story. While playable characters in Milhamah may be considered subjects too, playable characters are more commonly referred to as agents.

Successes: These are counted whenever a player rolls a die that matches a letter of a target shoresh or scores a “* Wild” face. Skills that require a target shoresh that’s three letters long need at 3 successes to succeed in an unopposed roll. 

Tags: Tags are semantic descriptors which subjects, objects, places and more have that define what they are. Also known as Manners.

XD dice: The number of actual dice on the table that a player is able to roll during a roll or action. The default for rolling is 8D, and typically the maximum is 12 (unless your Narrator wants to buy extra dice and apply house rules). Some status ailments or situations in which your character’s physical acuity is strongly challenged or impaired (such as wounds) may reduce the D count to 6D or even lower. A conscious, aware character may have a minimum of 4D.

XR dice: The number of reroll dice a player is allowed to roll on a second roll, following a first roll. Attribute numbers  are based on rerolls. Status ailments that reduce mental or social competency  are more likely to hinder rerolls.

XS dice: The number of successes a player rolls. In opposed rolls, an agent doesn’t need to hit a set target of successes greater than 1. He only needs to roll as many or more than his opponent. However, if the character rolls a natural shoresh, the agent may get a stupendous result that exceeds expectations. Status ailments that are spiritual in nature or reduce luck are more likely to negate what would typically be successes.

 

 

 

Exploration

Exploration is one of the backbones of adventuring in the “Milhamah” RPG. Characters are encouraged to pioneer into new wildernesses and search out treasure such as rare materials, mysterious shoresh roots and, of course, the 22 foundation letters.

The Narrator should give MP whenever the team uses their skills and roleplaying to find:

  • a historic, grand, undiscovered or mission-critical area in a domain.
  • A powerful, rare or valuable artifact, e.g., an undiscovered shoresh root, or one of the foundation letters.

Random Encounters

When called for, roll an alef 1DN to determine whether your party gets a random encounter. The Narrator may make original charts to determine enemy parties, but for general use, you may follow these guidelines:

  • Enemy stronghold: Once per room or atrium; Wild, 1(0) or 2(0)
  • Sea: Once/Day, Wild
  • Jungle: Twice/Day, Wild, 1(0) or 2(0)
  • Desert: Once/Day, Wild or 1(0)
  • Town: Once/Day, Wild
  • Urban: Twice/Day; Wild, 1(0) or 2(0)
  • Field: Once/Day, Wild or 1(0)
  • Mountain: Once/Day; Wild or 1(0) 

 

Parts of Speech

Parts of speech are Milhamah RPG’s answer to character classes. Known as parts for short, they are a template as a way to specialize your character for success on campaigns.

When choosing a part, a player should pick an even balance of positive and negative modifiers for stat alterations and blessings/curses. A character may also choose a part and opt to neither alter stats nor take any blessings or curses.

Example: A noun character could pick GRA -1 and PEA +1 as his stat alterations. Or he could pick WIS +1,CRE +1, DOM -1 and VIG -1. But he couldn’t pick GRA -1, BLE +1 and WIS +1.

Example: A verb character could pick True Knight as a blessing and Blood Knight as a curse. But he couldn’t simply take Determined as a blessing and not have a curse.  

Nouns (שום)

Nouns are artists who create the substance for new things. They are artisans, creators, scientists, inventors and builders who use their practical skills to bring their ideas and plans to life. Yet they aren’t vain dreamers. They see themselves as people of deep substance, who through their arts or crafts usher truth into reality and reveal it. They are into designing and customizing their environment, like engineers or summoners.

In the Holy Tongue Society, the Article is defined by the character Shem ‘Etzem. Shem has the dream of being the Evaluator of Names, who cleanses imprecise words of their lies and corruption and rectifies them.

Stat alterations: CRE+1, WIS +1, PEA +1, BLE +1, DOM -1, VIG -1, GRA -1
Skills (Pick 3): Crafting, Engineering, Speech Acts, Science, Building, Business, Medicine
Dice Special:
Use 1 Merit Point: May pre-roll before deciding which action and associated shoresh to pursue

Blessings: Entrepreneur, individualist, self-confident
Curses: Overburdened, Perfectionist, Fake, Drama Queen
Gain Merit: Creating a new invention, item or speech act; solving a tough puzzle or problem, attaining fame or glory for work
Lose Merit:
When an invention backfires, copycatting or plagiarizing someone else
Speech Acts:
Starting Gear:

Adjectives (תאר)

Adjectives are figurative scouts, rangers, rogues, ninjas or explorers who yearn for freedom. They excel in deception, trickery, embellishment and style over substance. They make good spies and scouts. They are into discovery. In the Holy Tongue Society, the Adjective is defined by the character Etgar Toar, the team’s scout and spy.

Stat alterations: GRA +1, CRE +1, PEA +1, BLE +1, VIG -1, DOM -1, WIS -1 
Skills (Pick 3): Stealth, Wilderness, Marksmanship, Security, Trickery, Surveillance, Martial Arts, Navigation
Dice Special:
May roll +2 extra dice on your first roll. Choose two dice to remove before your reroll.

Blessings: Independent, Ambitious, Authentic, Nonconformist, Rugged
Curses: Wanderlust, Contrarian, Distracted, Alienated, Restless, Ennui
Gain Merit: Uncover something hidden, Survive in a new land, free oneself from civilization’s tyranny or responsibilities, liberate a territory from tyranny
Lose Merit: When Constricted or Imprisoned, when following the crowd and giving in to peer pressure, living a soulless existence, being bored
Speech Acts:
Starting Gear:

Determiners/articles (תוי)

Determiners and articles are the ones who want to be in charge, the tacticians, managers, leaders and architects. They are leaders who crave power and control. They are equivalent to other games’ paladins, politicians or warlords. In the Holy Tongue Society, the Article is defined by the character Tiqwah Tawit. Tiqwah drafts plans that keeps the group on target with its mission.

Stat alterations: DOM+1, WIS+1, BLE +1, VIG -1, GRA-1, CRE-1, PEA -1,
Skills (Pick 3): Administration, Security, Business, Martial Arts, Marksmanship

Dice Special: Use 1 Merit Point: ה may also count as Wild
Blessings: Organized, Mature, Noble, Privileged, Wealthy, Famous, Authoritative, Competent, Confident, Level-headed, Influential, Responsible, Goal-oriented, Inspirational
Curses: Tyrannical, Manipulative, Scheming, Self-aggrandizing, Power Hungry, Haughty, Materialistic, Corrupt, Entitled, Paranoid, Micromanager
Gain Merit:
When promoted to leadership roles, when making important management decisions, when seeing a strategy pay off; completely outmaneuvering and dominating a worthy opponent, take responsibility for a mistake, inspiring followers to act, protecting or prospering his community
Lose Merit:
Demoted or overthrown, a major plan falls through, when havoc and anarchy reign, when a weakness is publicly exposed, when his enterprise or community suffers ruin
Speech Acts:
Starting gear:

Verbs (פעל)

Verbs are doers first. They’re the fighters, competitors, rescuers, activists, overachievers, motivators, workers and conquerors. They believe in the power of elbow grease, hard work and putting their bodies on the line to get it done. They are tanks, whose bold action often brings conflict and provokes enemies. They are all about seeking excitement, victory and competition. They are like the warriors and fighters in other RPGs.

Ḥeleq’s Verb representative is Pele Po’al. He is a working-class hero and activist who moonlights as a daredevil stuntman.

Stat alterations:  DOM +1, VIG +1, CRE +1, GRA -1, WIS -1, PEA -1, BLE -1,
Skills (Pick 3): Athletics, Martial Arts, Marksmanship, Driving

Dice Special: Once per check, may unfreeze any frozen dice 
Blessings: Determined/Motivated, True Knight, Hard Worker, Dutiful, Brave, Meritorious, Tough, Underdog
Curses: Notable Enemy, Overworked, Reckless, Blood Knight, Obsessed
Gain Merit: Defeat a more powerful villain, rescues someone in distress, wins a tough competition, mentors and trains a subordinate to do any of the above.
Lose Merit: Turning a friend or neutral character into an enemy, rushing into action and failing/botching, performing a skill or attack that damages yourself, getting aggro’ed. Weakened or Fatigued. Cowering or running away from a necessary fight.
Speech Acts:
Starting gear:

Adverbs (צרף)

Adverbs are rebels who get excited at revolution and destruction. They typically are outcasts who feel alienated by the Bavel Macrostructure or the vassal governments under their authority. Their agitation leads them to lash out and defy power, even if it means becoming an outlaw or criminal. Sometimes, with the right planning, they overthrow tyrants. In other RPGs, they may be the rogue, the dark knight or the barbarian.

The Holy Tongue Society’s adverb representative is Ẓafar Ẓuruf. He is a mercenary from the former nation of ‘Aravit who furtively sought out a way to benefit ‘Aravah ‘Ivrit’s resistance cause.

Stat alterations: DOM +1, VIG +1, GRA +1, CRE -1, WIS -1, SHA -1, BLE -1  
Skills (Pick 3): Streetwise, Martial Arts, Marksmanship, Security, Driving, Athletics, Trickery
Dice Special:
Use 1 Merit Point: Once per roll, may turn over all dice of a particular color to the opposite side without it costing a roll.

Blessings: Lie detector, Black Marketeer, Underdog, Self-assured, Ḥutzpah
Curses: Nihilist, Blood Knight, Ressentiment, Fanatic, Sociopath, Oppressed, Wrathful, Paranoid
Gain Merit: Take over or conquer a territory, incite a rebellion or mutiny, defeat an important oppressor, cutting off ties with corrupt people or institutions, violating the law in a flashy way
Lose Merit:
When the cause/resistance is discredited, losing an important fight, engaging in a purity spiral, when you lose a Law Point
Speech Acts:
Starting gear:

Conjunctions (קשר)

Conjunctions are possessed by the urge to merge. They are romantics who appreciate the beauty and poetry of existence. They believe in conquering with love than with force. They chase, lead and follow with their hearts and seek oneness with their beloved. They also love being in fantasy.

The conjunction team member in Heleq is Śoreq Qisshur. In battle, he is a committed partner and consensus-builder who has lots of pull with contacts as he pulls his weight. Outside, he’s a bit more fanciful and flashy, and tends to attract fans and harems wherever he goes, much to the envy and irritation of his colleagues.

Stat alterations: GRA +1, CRE +1, BLE +1, DOM -1 VIG -1, WIS -1, PEA -1
Skills (Pick 3): Manipulation, Business, Medicine, Trickery
Dice Special:
Use 1 Merit Point: May chain multiple shorashim in a single roll

Blessings: Romantic, passionate, charming, committed/loyal, consensus builder, connected, femme fatale, aesthete, bon vivant, syzygy, charismatic, generous, charismatic, attractive
Curses: Emotionally needy, yandere, lustful, drama queen, hedonist, lovesick, cliquish, conflict avoidant, creepy, promiscuous, chauvinist, addicted, covetous, fanatic, infatuated
Gain Merit: Winning their beloved’s affections. Being charmed. When you achieve your true passion and follow your heart. Proving a solid commitment.
Lose Merit: Engaging in an affair or other risky sexual activity, breaking up or parting with the beloved. Being alone for a considerable period of time. Stirring up drama.
Speech Acts:
Starting gear:

 

Particles (מלל)

Particles may seem harmless, but they’re the ones you have to watch out for. are ingenues, mystics, saints, romantics, dreamers, idealists, utopians, traditionalists, cheerleaders, persisters and optimists. Often they seem like soft goody-two-shoes, but as C.S. Lewis warns, no one can oppress like the person convinced that they’re doing it for your own good. Particles love a good story.

They want to experience the return to air-conditioned, civilized nature Promised Land and the Garden of Eden with all the frills, a relaxing, comfy, easy life in a paradise where they can be secure, happy and free to be themselves.
Critics tend to view Particles as simple and kind of dumb, a holy fool, or at least having a head in the clouds. But at their best, Particles ignore the predictions of doom and gloom and follow their faith, ideals and instincts, proceeding ahead toward an optimistic future.

The Holy Tongue Society’s Particle is Millah Millit. Millit is is a trainee who is naive about the ways of the world but is eager to help as a medic.

Stat alterations: GRA +1, CRE +1, PEA +1, BLE +1, DOM -1, VIG -1, WIS -1,
Skills (Pick 3): Medicine, Domestic, Lore, Manipulation, Religion, Wilderness

Dice Special: May get one extra re-roll if no successes show up on first roll
Blessings: Optimist, Loyal, Faithful, Saintly, Romantic, Dreamy, Persistent
Curses: Lazy, Sweet Tooth, Consumerist, Naive, Gullible, Dependent, Oblivious, Boring, Delusional, Childish, Idealist, Ascetic
Gain Merit: Gaining new allies or friends; finding a blissful, secure paradise, becoming authentic; being loyal to friends, keeping integrity and making the moral choice; experiencing divine intervention, interaction or revelation. 
Lose Merit:
Becoming traumatized, being abandoned by heaven or allies, being punished by authorities, needing to be rescued, falling short of ideals, denying the painful truth, needing to be rescued.
Speech Acts:
Starting gear: 

 

Pronouns (כני)

Pronouns are undercover mystics and shapeshifters who are about deception, visions, transformation and strategy.  They often live with secret identities and aliases. The mage or ninja.

The Holy Tongue Society’s Pronoun is Kena’an Kinnui.

Stat alterations: GRA +1 CRE +1 WIS +1, SHA+1, BLE +1, DOM -1, LIF1
Skills (Pick 3):
Stealth, Trickery, Administration, Manipulation, Security, Marksmanship, Speech Acts, Medicine
Dice Special: Use 1 Merit Point: Wild dice during your turn count toward the shoresh threshold. 
Blessings: Adaptive, Diplomatic, Visionary, Charismatic, Spiritual, Danger Sense, Serendipitous
Curses: Abominable, Loony, Delusional, Manipulative
Gain Merit: Reaching a new level of self-improvement, pulling off an impressive Speech Act, discovering an unknown or rare shoresh root
Lose Merit:
Botching a Speech Act
Speech Acts:
Starting gear:

 

Prepositions (יחס)

Prepositions are caretakers, judges and guardians who are interested in learning all about people and their community. They are healers and mentors.

Maḥseyah Yaḥas is Heleq’s preposition in residence.

Stat alterations: VIG +1, WIS +1, SHA +1, BLE +1, DOM -1,  GRA -1, CRE -1
Skills (Pick 3): Medicine, Martial Arts, Manipulation, Security, Surveillance, Domestic, Administration, Navigation, Athletics

Dice Special: Use 1 MP: Stray מ’s, ב’s and ל’s count as successes once your shoresh threshold is already met.
Blessings: Philanthropist, Empathy, Charismatic, True Knight, Dutiful, Humanitarian, Generous
Curses: Idiot Compassion, Martyr, Manipulative
Gain Merit: Protect what is dear, rescuing the weak and helpless, Teach or help a subordinate with something important, Mediate a dispute, gain a stranger or acquaintance’s trust, practicing good hospitality, practicing good teamwork
Lose Merit:
Lose what is entrusted, lose the community’s trust or become exiled, being selfish or stingy
Speech Acts:
Starting gear: 

Interjections (קרא)

Interjections or ideophones are entertainers who like to be the center of attention. They often have strong charisma, make friends easily and draw a crowd. They love fantasy and excitement. They often behave as other RPGs’ prophets, preachers, summoners, bards or fools.

“Em” Qeren-Or Qeriah follows the interjection path for Heleq.


Stat alterations: VIG +1, GRA +1 CRE +1, DOM -1, WIS -1, PEA -1, BLE +1
Skills (Pick 3): Performing, Speech Acts, Manipulation, Lore, Diplomacy

Dice Special: Use 1 MP: Wild dice are exploding. Count them each as successes and reroll them in a following roll.
Blessings: Enthusiastic, charismatic, joyful
Curses: Annoying, Loud, provocative, Foolish, frivolous, sadistic, self-indulgent
Gain Merit: Amuse or entertain an audience, pulling off a great disguise, being the life of the party, making fun or pulling a prank on an enemy authority, telling a joke in character that the other players find funny.
Lose Merit:
Falling into depression or despair, being bored, taking oneself too seriously
Speech Acts:
Starting gear:
Miqrä Scroll

Complementizers (שלמ)

Complementizers are the victims, the average Joe, the everyman, the citizen, the proletariat. They seek completion in something bigger and want to be useful by their peers or society.

Stat alterations: LIF +1, WIS +1, PEA +1, DOM -1,  GRA -1, CRE -1, BLE -1
Skills (Pick 3): Crafting, Domestic, Stealth, Building, Streetwise, Business, Athletics

Dice Special: Use 1 Merit Point: Switch dice types between rolls midcheck
Blessings: Team Player, Empath, School of Hard Knocks, Pragmatist, Hard Worker, Salt of the Earth, Egalitarian, Dutiful, Humanitarian, Underdog
Curses: Self-deprecating, Victim, Apathetic, Distrusting, Cynical, Ressentiment, Masochist, Sadist, Fanatic, Dependent
Gain Merit: Joining or meaningfully contributing to a greater cause; humbling the arrogant or exalting the humble; negotiating fairness in a dispute; winning as the underdog; gaining an important ally, enduring suffering for a greater case
Lose Merit:
Become a victim of oppression, be rejected or taken advantage of by a trusted figure
Speech Acts:
Starting gear: 

Numerals (ספר)

Numerals or classifiers/quantifiers are the scholars, the sages, the judges and the tacticians. They seek a challenge as well as deeper understanding of the world around them.

Reshef Sappir is Heleq’s numeral.

Stat alterations: CRE +1, WIS +1, PEA +1, DOM -1, VIG -1, GRA -1, BLE -1
Skills (Pick 3): Lore, Engineering, Administration, Science, Marksmanship, Medicine

Dice Special: Use 1 Merit Point: May use dice numbers to reach gematria equivalent of target shoresh via addition or subtraction.
Blessings: Wise, Genius, Objective
Curses: Nerdy, Doubtful, Skeptic, Dogmatic, Delusional, Prosaic
Gain Merit: Compile scattered info into an understandable format, collect a new shoresh for your dictionary/lexicon. Identifying an unknown object or character, solving a tough puzzle or problem, learning a new skill, demonstrably learn from a mistake. 
Lose Merit: When confused. Falling for a lie or consciously engaging in one.
Speech Acts:
Starting gear: Sapphire Shears

Changing Parts

The Narrator should not let a player change a subject’s Part flippantly. It should only come about as part of a deliberate story arc.

 

Character sheet

A character sheet is a piece of paper that a player uses in Milhamah RPG to design a character’s background; document stats, skills and speech acts; and keep track of equipment and health.

You may download a preliminary beta version of the character sheet here.