I'm running an Eberron campaign using the Pathfinder system.

Suppose a character has several bonus languages from character creation. She is able to read and speak this language, per the Core Rulebook (pg. 17), and it seems fair to extend this to writing and audible listening as well.

Suppose this character wants to make a careful copy/forgery of a document in one of those languages. To do so, one would ordinarily make a Linguistics skill check. The Pathfinder rules state that the Linguistics skill can only be used when trained in it.

Does this mean a character can't read, write, copy, or forge a document in a language they know? This seems like a contradiction in the rules.

Along the same lines....If a character can read/write in a language they know ("untrained" in Linguistics), shouldn't they be able to at least attempt all of those actions, though perhaps without bonuses conferred by being trained? A copied document may be a horrible as a forgery which they may not be capable of, but excellent as a written text, which they are capable of.


2 Answers 2


The very simple answer is that you are only trained in a skill if you have at least one skill point in it.

You can read and write (and speak and listen) in any language that you know, the linguistics skill would be used if the character was trying to create a forgery (which is much more difficult that simply writing it yourself, as it needs to be presented in a certain style, have the right handwriting and seals, etc). If they just want to copy a document and not pass it off as an official copy, then they should be able to do so without the use of the linguistic skill.

Bonus languages from high intelligence at creation are just that, bonuses. The fact that you also get extra languages from putting points in the skill does not mean that they are the same thing.


Reading a document isn't the same as writing one, copying one, and certainly not the same as carefully forging a copy of it. If Linguistics is given as the skill one would use to forge a document, and they aren't trained in it, then it doesn't matter if the language is one which is native to the forger or not.

NB: Linguistics is the skill given for forgery. Rule as written (Pathfinder SRD online):

Your skill in writing allows you to create and detect forgeries


  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Writing is covered by knowing the language in most circumstances (certain archetypes taking away the ability to read and write being exceptions), it is only creating/detecting forgeries that is covered by linguistics. \$\endgroup\$
    – Gnomejon
    Jul 6, 2016 at 23:30

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