Friday, 2 November 2012
At some point many years ago, when creating my own campaign world, I thought that there was too little emphasis on languages. If it's a world, a big world, shouldn't there be lots of them. The problem, of course, is that it can get in the way of in-game action.
Most creatures speak at least two languages, their own and the most common language of the area, so a party with a human, dwarf and elf can be almost anywhere in the world and find someone in a town or tribe that they can speak with.
For script, if in a human town use Nyssarian. If in the forest, use faerie. Everywhere else, assume they use the Dwarven script, exceptions noted.
General Languages Guide
The common tongue is also known as Nysarian; approximately 90% of all humans know this as their home-speech, as do those humanoids who reside near human communities such as gnomes & halflings. Many integrated races do not have a racial language.
Elves speak Faerie, the language of the fey. Bardic music is written in faerie script.
The language that mortals call Draconic is actually Lizardith. Dragon is a language that only dragons can speak and few scholars understand. It is believed Dragon has no script. Most adult dragons know at least three languages, but if you are pleading for mercy, do so in Celestial.
Lizardith is the standard tongue and script of all lizard-men and all other intelligent reptiles. Lizardith has a script that is 99% the same as Dwarven, but they claim it as their own. Lizard-men rarely use magical runes, they prefer talismans.
Dwarven is widely used and recognized. Most mountainous regions & creatures in the spirelands speak Dwarven. It has a script that is virtually identical to Lizardith and both claim it as their own. It is by far the most common written language, as almost 90% of all magical runes are in this script.
Hembrian is the language of the old magical empire that once spanned the domain. Only wizards may learn this out of campaign; in game, characters may learn under the right circumstances, it takes two slots to learn both the verbal and written forms. (4 skill slots in total) This is the equivalent of read magic as a skill not spell.
Celestial is the language of the holy heavens, used in parts of the Spirelands and the Phastian desert; the faithful of Japeth and Quanna also learn this for use in their rituals
Oromian is known as the trade tongue or simply Trade; Oromians prefer speaking Nysarian. On the Isle of Oromos, Oromians speak this to the native elves.
Dral: sound-less hand code, named after the honoured elves of the same name. Only elves may learn this out of campaign; in game, characters may learn under the right circumstances. The gestures are so subtle, non-fluent watchers must make a Sense Motive Check (DC 12) to even realize some sort of message was sent.
Shaerl: oriental language of the far east. Unlike Nyssarian magic, Shaerl magic is also written in their native tongue, thus anyone can activate these runes by speaking the command words.
Phastian: language and script for the southern desert lands, some speak Lizardith or celestial as well.
Minotaur: Often called Horn; standard language for the Knossil, Jahlen, Orynix and Ferrasil. When needed they use Fae script, but none of these races use written communication regularly.
Druidic: An evolved version of Faerie, uses a different script as well. There is total comprehension between the two. Awakened animals can apparently understand druid but cannot fathom Faerie.
Sylvan: non-existent; replaced by Faerie
Phaetox: same as Auran
Giant: Evolved Giants use the Dwarven language and script. Unevolved giants speak their own gutteral language without script
Terran: Equivalent to Dwarven
Infernal: Commonly used in Keranic ceremonies; it is rumoured Oromian merchants write contracts between themselves in Infernal
Abyssal: some areas of spirelands use this; there is no known script but runes are common for simple messages or warnings.
Shellar: language of psionic humans; do not use a written script but a telepathic one. For the Shellar, a picture can say far more than a million words. Non-natives simply get the mood of the picture or hear instrumental music.
Most used languages (in order of usage): Nysarian, Dwarven, Lizardith, Faerie, Minotaur
Most used Alphabets: Dwarven, Nysarian, Faerie