It's always interesting when there are several possible interpretations of words or sentences. In my Trachorian novels, magic is mainly manipulation of the blueprint language of the gods, so the magicians in the books are modelled on language philosophers like Wittgenstein, Husserl and Nietzsche. There are lots of interesting and very fundamental things to say about language and how it works.
I really like the sound of that. Makes me wish that my Swedish was better so I could feel more confident in picking up a copy of your books. The idea of magic as a manipulation of a godly language reminds me of Snow Crash
by Neal Stephenson and how language is used in that book.
In the Forbidden Lands game I introduce the pictogram language of ”Maha”, which the players will have to decode and then use. And when I say decode, it's more to it than just interpreting signs one by one, you will actually have to figure out the structure of the language. I will test this before release to make it sufficiently but not too hard – ”lagom”, as we say in Swedish.
Oooo, interesting. I'm excited to see how that pans out! What little I know of written Chinese is that what appears as a single character is often made up of multiple base characters. When combined, the usage of the base character is altered and the meaning changes in context. What if magic in FL had a contextual component? By that I mean that the Maha characters have to be used correctly to succeed.
Consider a player that wants to combine the level one word "fire" and level two word "spear" for their spell. They would need to roll a minimum of 2 six for a successes for that combination. If they do, great! The spell would then cast as intended, maybe as conjuring a spear of fire that is shot at the target. However, if the roll is pushed and 1's show up, the alternate meaning of the would be activated. So, maybe "fire" could also mean "fatigue" and "spear" also means "wound". Any 1's would activate in word order based on word level, in this case "fatigue" first followed by "wound". Fatigue might rob you of an action on your next turn and wound would just be a straight up damage or something. Maybe the player would even be able to choose the word meaning at cast, so they could use "fire" or "fatigue" with each meaning having a positive or negative effect based on usage and rolls.