Though often considered to be an inseparable part of one’s language skills by modem folk, that simply will not be true in the period of the game. Even more so, the skills of reading and writing is considered separate. The ability to write, especially with a fine, neat scrivener’s or secretary’s hand, to be able to prepare and care for the tools of that art, cleaning and cutting the quills and preparing and storing the ink properly, is considered a highly skilled craft, generally reserved to the clergy and professional scriveners and textwriters.
The Literatus skill will only enable the character to recognize and read any conventionally scribed text currently in common use. It is required for any character who wishes to be able to spell well enough to compose letters, missives, or other written works with the Scrivener skill, as opposed to being limited to copying the compositions of others. Literatus will provide the character with a chance to puzzle-out the meaning of notes scribbled in handwritten script or letters penned without benefit of one of the dominant conventional professional textwriter’s styles.
The Literatus skill must be taken separately for each family of languages the character speaks, as discussed under the Linguist skill, that he also wishes to be able to read, bundling these skills (AWA ÷ 4) to an (AWA) skill-slot. This is especially true of those that use eccentric alphabets (such as the Cyrillic, Hebrew, Hindi, Egyptian hieroglyphs, or the various oriental ideographic writing styles), those that use an eccentric set of characters and special critical marks (accents, umlauts, vowel notations over the consonants such as are seen in Hebrew, etc).
This skill is considered to be so closely linked to its brother, the spoken Linguist’s skill, that the character need merely be equipped with it. It is assumed that the character’s spoken skill SL indicates the size of his vocabulary, and merely having the Literatus skill for that family of skills makes him familiar enough with the alphabet, punctuation, and rules of spelling (although there are few standards to spellings in the period of the game, about 3-5 more commonly used spellings for most words) to be able to identify any word he already knows. Thus, the character’s Literatus SL will always effectively be the same as his spoken Language SL. It isn’t tracked on its own by means of SP’s and SL’s, no need to write its SL’s in on the character sheet. As on the sample character sheets in the back of the book, the player can simply make a “Literatus” entry after the language skill to which it applies and put a dash through the “SL” block next to it.
The att. mod. for reading is based on the character’s AWA score.
Checks on the dice versus the character’s skill will usually only be required when attempting to read passages or documents rendered with a LoA of Linguist skill greater than the character’s own, especially those containing specific jargon and esoteric subject matter beyond the character’s experience and general grasp of the language (GM’s discretion).
The DV for reading casual script, which is the form of all common handwriting, should be 1 per point by which the writer’s CRD is below 12 (as applicable).
The only factors that might raise the DV would arise from the use of improvised materials or tools, physical impairment of the hands at the time such as might accrue from being wounded in Hand/Arm area with which the writing was done, splattering, running, or bleeding of the text due to being spattered or wet in some fashion. The light level will, of course, also have a large effect on the DV for reading, too. Gloom and even Glare modifiers will always be a factor.
The GM must understand that in the period of the game there were any number of acceptable ways to spell any given word when written out, generally phonetic or an attempt at spelling phonetically, and this fact makes the Literatus skill that much more important.