The book of Kemalok Kings and comprehend Languages

Er’Stali was able to translate most of the book of Kemalok Kings in as little as two athasian weeks using the spell comprehend languages. While Lyannius studied the book for nearly a century but was barely able to make a dent in the work.

Another forum goer pointed out the spells description is open to interpretation. I play using pathfinder rules and the spell seems very clear to me. The spell as written on the pathfinder are allows Er’Stali to read 1 page every minute and has a duration of 10 minutes per level. We know he’s an old sorcerer slave so for the sake of calculations let’s say he’s 5th level ( starting level 3 and gained 2 levels over the course of his entire life since he’s a house slave who’s not allowed to grow very strong) that means he can read 50 pages per application of the spell. The spell is 1st level so he can memorize it 3 times without intelligence bonus. So 150 pages a day for 15- 30 days depending on how fast Maryam got the book to him. I lean closer to 15 based on the novel. So by my calculations he was able to translate a maximum of 2250 pages in the time he was given.

The spell assumes about 250 words per page. So I suppose there could be some interpretation. If the book is physically very large and holds let’s say 500 words per page than just cut my numbers in half for example.

Am I missing something else? We didn’t want to bloat the original thread hence I created this topic.

Comprehend Languages is a 1st level Clairsentience power, Master Psionics List, power #148. No need for spells or magic whatsoever.

The power can enable one to understand any spoken words and read any written messages. Rate of translation is 250 words per minute. It will reveal (but not translate) magical writing (such as spell books or scrolls) It can be fooled by Secret Page (3rd level Psychometabolism power, MPL power #719) and Secret Script (3rd level Psychometabolism, MPL power #720) type effects. It cannot decipher codes or encryption or other forms of cipher text.


For anyone else interested in the rule description here is a link. I am guessing it is the same as 3.5 rules.

Here are some of my thoughts.

Assuming a 5th level Sorc he wouldnt he have a minimum of 6 1st level spells and 4 2nd level spells? for a potential total of 10 times he could memorize at 50 minutes per time each day? That’s a full day’s work.

The spell says he can read at that pace not necessarily transcribe.

Does he take time to rewrite it in the script of his native language as he reads?
Does he go back to review what he wrote for inaccuracies?
Does he have a scribe?
Does he have other duties he needs to attend to in stead of just translating?
Is he doing an honest translation, or does he deliberately insert errors, misleading info?
Does he do the work alone?
Are there secrets he discovers while reading that he deliberately hides from translation?
Does he slow down his pace to think about or discuss what he just read?
Was any of the book coded and needed decoding first?
Was illusory script used and needed to be dispelled first?

All these would slow the process down from merely just reading.

I find it hard to believe that Lyannus spent so much time on it with no progress and couldn’t ever get someone to use a 1st level spell/power to assist in translating it unless there was something other than just a language barrier.


You realize that PFSRD is not the actual official source, and thus may not have the latest updates synced? Here’s the link to the official PRD:

Official PRD, Comprehend Language spell

I think your points about writing is well put.
If they were a practiced scribe (who in those days would be used to transcription work) and had to hand the tools needed and sufficient quantity and time to write, then they might pull it off in the timeframe listed, but there are lots of possible reasons that could cause it to take longer.

In order to answer to both problems (why couldn’t they translate it before) I imagine that it would have to be because of a cipher that resulted in comprehensible letters and/or words, but doesn’t make sense as a message, and the scribe happened to know some secrets and was familiar with the cipher.

After all, the Comprehend Languages effect cannot decipher even pig latin, to give a modern example of a cipher that people can memorize and use with enough effort.


Sorry this was a reference to the D20PFSRD for pathfinder 1e. I know it is not the official site from Paizo, but it is updated to the latest PF1E rules. And it includes Dreamscarred Press’ stuff for Psionics along with a lot of other stuff. So I use that site for PF1E references since all of it is Pathfinder 1e compatible.

The AoN site and link you provided looks to be PF2E which I am not totally familiar with for rules.

The PF1E stuff should be the most compatible with 3.5 and the stuff from The link I referenced also includes the rule with a Duration 10 min./level. That I thought you were referring to, where as AoN lists the spell duration of 1 hour.

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I believe the AoN site (which is apparently now the official host for the PRD) has both the 1e and 2e versions of the PRD as well as starfinder. Let me check, ah, there it is: here’s the PRD 1e version: with the 10min/level duration you cited.

@Rovewin And thank you for pointing that miss out to me!

It is sad that Dreamscarred is not official, they have some good ideas. Also sad that Pathfinder has no official psionics material.

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Let’s not forget Neko the intent of the authors. This was meant to be a written history of the Kemalok Kings written at a time when writings of this nature wouldn’t have been illegal and literacy itself would have been commonplace. The authors would have no reason to insert complex ciphers or deceptions in a simple book detailing the events and lineages of the kingdom of Kemalok. The only reason the book has the value it does to Lyannius is because it is the only such book to survive to the common age.

Your love of the psionic alternative is always impressive and admirable Neko. When the Crimson Legion was written though the only psionic source would have been the complete psionics handbook which at the time didn’t have any clairsentience sciences or devotions to decipher writtings. I assume that’s the reason why Er’Stali was included as a preserver (I believe)

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Er’Stali was not a sorcerer in the sense of the sorcerer class from pathfinder. He would have either been a preserver or a defiler. Since we don’t hear about him killing plants I’m going to guess he’s a preserver wizard. All your other points seem valid to me. Given that he was a rather meek and obedient lifelong slave I don’t think he would risk his life by deliberately misleading House Lubar. Heck his owner Maetan was a master Psionicist who was well versed in telepathy so if he suspected Er’Stali of lying to him it would have been easy for him to find out. I would imagine such defiance would have been beaten out of him decades ago.

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Being as I am completely ignorant of the author’s intent and the historical background, I appreciate your pointing out the context. =D

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I am not sure how much the whole not reading thing is enforced in Kled. Since it seems to be culturally and governmentally somewhat independent of Tyr and Kalak.


I don’t think they adhere to it at all Rovewin. However I also don’t think Lyannius himself was literate when he stumbled across Kemalok and founded Kled. This I think is the largest reason why he said Er’stali was a treasure beyond all measure because he had translated so much of the book compared to Lyannius only gleaning a couple of pages here and there.

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I treat all their stuff as official because it is just an extension of 3.5 psionics rules in the same way the PF is just an extension of 3.5 core rules.

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found the quote. Crimson Legion Page 340. The old dwarf nodded, taking the belt and scabbard from Rikus’ arms. " The book’s loss is a great one, but I cannot blame you for the decision you made," Lyannius said detaching the Scourge of Rkard from the Belt of Rank. “At least you brought us Er’Stali, and what he remembers of the book is more than I learned in all the years I studied it.”

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I understand that many do treat it as such, regardless of it being completely unofficial. And as I mentioned, there are a lot of good ideas in there. I know one of the authors for Dreamscarred, we argue a lot, lol.

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Right. I’d allow sorcerers (the class) in a Dark Sun campaign taking place after the end of the Green Age. Basically, children exposed in the womb or at a young age to magical energy might have the potential to be sorcerers, instead of dragon or extraplanar ancestry.

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From second edition the only two naturally magic wielding things I can think of is the nightmare beast and reggelids. As such for my campaigns sorcerers are verboten.


Right. That’s why a different cause is required. I’m more inclined to say yes than no to an inclusion of a class. Should Warlocks and Binders be available to Dark Sun characters? Most say no, but I think we should at least come up with a way that they can be integrated without undermining the setting.

For reference, the 2e version of Comprehend Languages:

I don’t see a lot of room for interpretation. Er’Stali might not have been able to appreciate the nuance of the original Dwarven, or understand the full hiatorical meaning of the stories, but he’d be capable of writing it out in common (or whatever) just fine IMO.

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Er’Stali may not have understood some of the historical or cultural context of what was in the book, but the dwarves around him may have.

Right, maybe. Or not, because of the genocide (which can include cultural destruction).

I live my life as a DM on maybe’s. That’s where things get fun.