Language

The spoken language is important for Totem. One one hand we did not want parodical “caveman” language as it would both be annoying to play and make language very hard to use. On the other hand we wanted primitive language, which reduced the ability to communicate complex issues.

The culture is spontaneous and direct – and so is the language
The culture and playstyle is based on the present moment and rarely on future scenarios and “what if’s”. The also implies that status battles aren’t the product of long term intriguing as you do not make hypothetical plans on how the social network and social system can be manipulated to your advantage. Of course it is possible to look forward to the future (for example that you will soon go hunting or that dinner will soon be ready), but you wont deliberately delay the dinner to weaken a rival, so he would be fatigued in the rituals to come.

Analogies are connected to the myths of the tribal society, and as a central part of the story we are telling is about the loss of culture (and particularly the inability to construct new myths and stories) it is important to avoid to much storytelling in daily speach. Language should be direct, not vague and with a lot of comparisons. As we want the players to express emotions through gesticulation and bodylanguage we also largely want to avoid talking about feelings and emotions.

– Avoid foreign language and slang.
– Avoid hypothesis.
– Avoid analogies.
– Avoid talking about feelings, but use sounds and body language instead.

Some examples of what we mean by direct language is:
– “I want to go now”.
– “I am tired”.
– “You carry the fruit”.
– “The chicken is sick”.

It is a balancing act as we on one side want to avoid to polite language “Can i please have some food” and on the other, the “caveman” version “Me, food, now”. Something in between should be used “I would like food now”, but this should be rehearsed thoroughly at the workshops.

Emphasis on certain things can be done through repetition. “I am happyhappy”, “Foodfood is looking good”, “I saw deerdeer in the forest”.