Overview of Language Mechanics
Magical Languages: Spoken in the first Ages of Creation. These languages require a strong spirit, their misuse can have dire consequences. They are not considered to be within the same family at all and knowledge of one provides no ability to speak or understand another.
- El’aum1: A language of elementals and growing things, El’aum is spoken primarily by the Loremasters and E’lin of the Fae Folk. It communicates beyond words and into the hearts and minds of those that hear them, being more telepathic in some ways than spoken for the ear. Learning the language requires direct communion with the spirits of the elements and the Aethyrs, and they are much more likely to parley with a speaker of El’aum than any other language. Rare is the mortal who learns its secrets, though the greatest of druids and the mightiest of mages have been known to do so. There is no written form of El’aum, though there are some commonly held and understood symbols that hold mystical and psychic significance. (Special)
- Enochian2: The language of the angels, both the Host and the Fallen, it primarily a telepathic medium the auditory component of which sounds like a great Song or Chorus. It has no written form, though all who speak Enochian can also speak and read Aleph at a +5DC – a fumble means accidently speaking Enochian, which may cause some obvious problems. Enochian is a language of command, of warcraft and it is both inspiring and fear-inducing for mortals to experience. (None)
- High Kens1: A language like no other, High Kens is considered the language of the Great Gods Themselves. It is the language that the Unborn murmur in their endless dreaming death. Enochian is a pale shadow of High Kens, and it holds all within its bounds that El’aum and Sh’aur contain, and more. It is impossible to lie in High Kens, and where the True Speech is of making, High Kens is made of understanding. (None)
- Sh’aur2: A language of dark and fell syllables, it is spoken by those with an interest in dead things and topics lost in blood and shadow. It is spoken by the Diabolists and Witches of the Shadowlands, and mages who have fallen into to the study of Necromancy and Goetia. Rife with mystic and psychic potence, its words can summon the spirits of the dead, and can cause Fear or worse among those that hear them – ears bleed and hearts stop. It, Enochian, and High Kens are the only languages used in the Realms of the Dead. (Special)
- True Runes2: The written expression of the True Speech, the True Runes are a graceful written language of runes and glyphs with a supremely complex and elegant syntax that seem to quiver to the eye, ready to explode into being. Mastery of True Runes in no way allows an individual speak the True Speech.
- True Speech2: The language of magic, mages and dragons, the True Speech is the language of Making and its Words make up the fundamental building blocks of the universe. It is impossible to lie in the True Speech. Its words pierce illusion, break space, and it exceedingly difficult to pronounce correctly or understand without the proper training. The written form, True Runes, is a totally separate language.
1 Similar to True Speech and High Kens, these languages require a greater than average magical and psychic power to actually speak and use effectively. Individuals with no Arcane, Divine, or Psychic levels have a +15DC penalty to use them, those with 1-3 Levels have a +5DC, and those with 4+ levels have no penalty.
2 True Speech and High Kens require a deep wellspring of magical and psychic awareness to speak properly. Individuals with no Arcane, Divine, or Psychic levels have a +25DC penalty to use the language in any way. For those with 1-3 levels, it is a +10DC, 4-5 levels it is a +5DC, and those with 6+ levels have no penalties.
Overview of Language Mechanics
Religious Languages: These languages are not considered to be within the same family at all and knowledge of one provides no ability to speak or understand another unless noted in the description. Smaller cults may either use one of these if they have strong ties to one of the larger religions, but they often use Nonhuman, Scholarly, or Magical Languages in their liturgy instead.
- Aleph: Thought to be among the eldest of mortal languages, first spoke in the Vale of Myrten. It is religious language of the Society of Light – the mortal equivalent of Enochian and it is both beautiful and haunting to listen to. Its purity is considered of great import to the Society, and no matter what nationality, no matter what tongue a member of the society considers native, all will learn at least the rudiments of Aleph so that they may follow the chants and songs of the Lightbringers. The written form is not considered any more a secret of the faith than the spoken language. (C)
- The Black Speech: The formal ritual language of a variety of evil cults, the exact provenance is unknown. It has clear links to Sh’aur as well as Enochian, though it is dissimilar to Aleph. It has been adopted (with minor variations) by goblins, trolls, and giants for use as a liturgical language as well, though usually in a more primitive form that includes elements of the Dark Tongue. (S)
- Ishkhavara: The liturgical language of the En Khoda Theos Kirk, as well as a common language among the Dragonborn, Ishkhavra is one of the oldest languages known, with examples of Old Ishkhavara dating back to the era of the Second City and Ancient Ishkhavara predating that. It is an exceedingly difficult language to write, given the thousands of logograms involved (+5DC). (S)
- Khoisa: The fount from which the Khoisa languages sprang from, Khoisa is now a language used only in the rituals and prayers of the priests and priestesses of the Khementi Religion. It is considered a great secret of the religion that only the clergy may learn and it’s written hieroglyphics are both beautiful and complex. (C)
- Ogham: A poetic language of metaphors and twisting runes written in wood and stone, Ogham is the religious language of the Old Faith, considered a great secret of the druids and known only to those who have been initiated into the Mysteries of the Old Faith. Rangers and Bards both will learn this language after a certain point in their own studies. Certain creatures of Faerie also speak it due to their long association and friendship with the Old Faith, notably the Sheppards of the Forest and their kin. (Glyphic)
Overview of Language Mechanics
Scholarly & Extinct Languages: These languages are not considered to be within the same family at all and knowledge of one provides no ability to speak or understand another unless noted in the description.
- Aklo: Aklo is the language of the Old Race, once related to Senzar but now far removed from it (though the similarities often spark investigation with dire results for the researcher), examples are rarely found in the Modern Era. Aklo deals with such alien concepts it is less a language and more a virus of the mind and spirit, the study of which invariably insanity or worse. It uses what appears to be a variant of the Senzar script, much to the detriment of many a transcriber. (C)
- Alchemical Code: Not a true language, the Alchemical Code is a primarily written series of symbols and metaphors used to the arts and sciences of alchemy, astrology, and other forms of healing, herbalism and poison lore. The metaphors can certainly be used in speech, though it would sound outlandish and clearly be seen as an attempt to speak in a form of open code. (Glyphic)
- Bardic Hanes: Like Alchemical Code (q.v.) the Bardic Hanes is not a true language but is instead a set of notations and symbols for recording music and sounds. Used almost exclusively by minstrels, skalds, and bards it has a surprisingly solid and underpinning and structure to it. The need for precise time, often in multiple levels, also gives the Hanes a strong mathematical component as well. All of this combined makes the Hanes particularly suited to creating coded and secret communications in combination with other languages. (Glyphic)
- Hill Speech: An ancient language, Hill Speech is the language of the native Avalonians and includes nature calls and a patois of corrupted loan-words from Faerie – it is now only used by the Rangers, Druids, and others who travel through the wild places of the Heartlands. Hill Speech has no written format though there are simple trail signs and markers which are commonly used and preserved in the lore of its speakers. (Glyphic)
- Senzar: A very rare language even among scholars, Senzar was the language of the Second City and the so-called First Men. It is often considered the root language of the Westron, Casta, Khoisa, and Thulian language families. It is, however, distant enough from all of them to be near indecipherable to speakers of those languages and it uses it’s own unique set of writing glyphs. The speakers and writers of Tsath-Yo and Sar can both understand Senzar (and vice-versa) with Disadvantage, as these languages are closely related. (S)
- Tsath-Yo: Closely related to Senzar, Tsath-Yo is the long-lost language of the Sorcerer-Kings of Engis-Erkrath – now only spoken by the shamans of their descendants, the Beastmen. It is a beautiful and poetic language, though strange to the ears of modern humans. It uses a variant of the Senzar writing system. (E)
Overview of Language Mechanics
Non-Human Languages: These are the most common of the languages spoken by non-human races. The Old versions of these tongues often date back to the time of the White Empire, while the Ancient versions date back to the time of the Sundering – prior to this most races used either Demonspeech (see below) or just simply spoke in whatever magical language most suited their nature, their mood, or the circumstance. Unless otherwise noted, and with Demonspeech being the obvious exception, knowledge of one of these languages provides no knowledge of any of the others.
- The Dark Tongue: Spoken by the Goblin, Troll, and Giant races this language is a corrupted mixture of Faerie, Dwarrune, and Kens (Skilled speakers of those languages have a DC10 check to understand or speak the Dark Tongue). It is a constantly changing language, if a speaker was attempting to communicate with someone from another era, it would be Very Difficult (DC25) at first, but would eventually become clear for everyone involved. The written form is simple and incapable of conveying complex concepts and uses a mixture of different pictograms and glyphs both drawn and inspired by its root languages. (Glyphic)
- Demonspeech: An unfortunate colloquial term for a style of speech most commonly found among a variety of supernatural creatures and spirits (including angels, devils, demons, dragons, many elementals, etc). This speech is actually a form of highly limited psychic and spiritual awareness that allows the speaker to understand intent and meaning from any type of formal communication and also communicate in return – often being considered a native speaker. It is possible for mortals to learn, though it requires being skilled in True Speech, High Kens, Enochian, El’aum, and Sh’aur, as well as having one or more Arcane, Divine, or Psychic levels. Levels of 6+, as well as being skill in the True Runes, allows understanding of written language as well though they are not able to write in the language being written. There is no written form of Demonspeech nor are there any “Old” or “Ancient” versions of it.
- Dwarrune: This is the ancestral language of the Dwarves, the Dwimmervolk, and the Dwarrow. It is considered a deep secret of their people and few outside of those three races speak or read the language. Steeped in tradition and ceremony, Old Dwarrune dates back to before the Sundering, while Ancient Dwarrune dates back to Ages of Creation. Its written form is predictable set of runic futharks, though many dwarves also learn True Runes. (E)
- Faerie: The language of the creatures and the peoples of Fae, it is used by the Elves and their various cousins who inhabit both Faerie and the Mortal Realms. Old Faerie dates back to before the Sundering, while Ancient Faerie stretches back to the Ages of Creation. The written form is a beautiful and complex series of logograms and glyphs that are more art-form than writing, that results in +5 DC to read, +10DC for non-native speakers. (C)
- High Elven: The formal language of the elves, few aside from them speak it to any significant degree – it is mainly used in formal situations and confined to the learned among them. The Sha’Achtar of the Shadowlands speak Old High Elven, with a subtly different syntax (+5DC), which predates the Sundering, while Ancient High Elven is as old as Ancient Faerie. It is difficult for non-natives to speak or read (+5DC) and uses the same script as Faerie. (C)
- Kens: The language of the Shadowlands, held and used in common by all those who live there under the reign of the High Lord. This includes the Anakim, the Daemons, the Dwarrow, the Erynine, the Sh’Achtar, and the Sh’dai. Old Kens dates back to the time of the White Empire, while Ancient Kens dates back to before the Sundering. It has its own relatively simple and direct writing system. (S)
- ‘Khar: A guttural languages of growls, hisses, coughs and snarls used by the Rakshasa, the mythical race of cannibalistic beast-folk from the Wars of Binding. ‘Khar is Moderately Difficult (DC15) for non-Rakshasa (or Goblin- and Troll-Kin) to speak due to its harsh treatment of the throat and vocal chords. The written version uses the Istarian alphabet. (S)
- The Old Tongue: The other close relative to Senzar, the Old Tongue is a somewhat corrupted and idiosyncratic version of Senzar that is spoken by the ancient race of Beastmen (who while human are often considered non-human by their cousins). They can understand, at Disadvantage, Senzar and Tsath-Yo, but the opportunities for doing so are uncommon at best. There is no written form, just simple pictoglyphs and signs used as trail-markers and other forms of graphic, static warning. Speakers outside of the Beastmen are rare, though not unheard of – mostly being travelers who have reason to travel through the Wall of the World, the Ice Wastes, and other old wild places. (Glyphic)
- Serth: The language of the Serpent Kings and their degenerate descendants, the Lizard Men, Serth is a sibilant language that has changed little over the ages. Old Serth dates back to the time of the Second City, while Ancient Serth dates back to the time of the Serpathian Empire. It is Difficult (DC15) for non-Serpent Folk to speak, though speakers of Serth have Advantage when trying to understand Ti-Ann. Serth has a complex written language of thousands of complicated glyphs such that it is a +5DC to be able to read and write it. (C)
Overview of Language Mechanics
Cants & Argots: These are not languages for the most part, but are instead patois consisting various bits of slang from a variety of languages, unrelated in any way. Used either to provide easier communication in some circumstances (Mercenary’s Argot), as well as coded speech in others (Thieves Cant). With the sole exception of Fingerspeech, which has its own unique nature, these various languages are of only limited usefulness when discussing matters that fall outside the purview of the profession that uses it.
- Fingerspeech: A rather rare language, it is unclear when or where Fingerspeech was first developed. Totally silent, the language’s medium is primarily movements of the fingers combined with other body language. Its elements are phonetic in nature, allowing to be used with any languages grammar and words. Due to this it requires double skills checks in needed, one for the Fingerspeech and the other for the language being “spoken” (similarly to how Calligraphy would be used with a language). Primarily tonal languages like Shian, Faerie, and Kens are a +10DC to be understood in Fingerspeech, +5DC if skilled in Slight of Hand, and only suffer no penalty if they have Expertise in Slight of Hand. (None)
- Mercenaries Argot: Used on battlefields and in mercenary companies across the Realms, Mercenaries Argot provides a medium for parlay and other negotiation. It is very simple, always changing language that has no written form. If a speaker was attempting to communicate with someone from another era, it would be Very Difficult (DC25) at first, but would eventually become clear for everyone involved. (None)
- Sailorspeech: Used on board sea- and airships across the Realms, Sailorspeech is patois that provides a medium for communication for seamen, skylars, and those that deal with them on a specific set of topics and tasks. It is very simple, always changing language that has no written form. If a speaker was attempting to communicate with someone from another era, it would be Very Difficult (DC25) at first, but would eventually become clear for everyone involved. (None)
- Thieves Cant: In use by the various organizations that operate in some way in the “night trade.” It would be wrong to say that there is a single universal “Thieves Cant” it is instead that there are a number of common elements and for those that speak the language it is a simple enough process to pick up on each new city or region’s nuances (DC10 check until done so). Thieves Cant does have a written form, as well as its own version of Fingerspeech, but both are limited to very simple content – mostly for identification and signaling and little else. Filled with slang and nuance, if a speaker was attempting to communicate with someone from another era, it would be Very Difficult (DC25) at first, but would eventually become clear for everyone involved. (Glyphic)
- Tinkertalk: Spoken fluently by the wandering Tinkerfolk it is a patios of every other language found in the realms, human and non-human. Many other travelers, innkeeps, and merchants learn a few phrases to aid in the dealings with the Tinkers and occasionally each other as well. Sometimes mistaken the language for that of the Traderfolk, that is far more jealously guarded by an equally itinerant but for more reclusive and private people. There is no written form, and it would Very Difficult (DC25) to Nearly Impossible (DC30) to understand anyone more than a handful of generations apart in time. (Glyphic)
Overview Westron Family Casta Family Thulian Family Khoisa Family
Independent Languages Cants & Argots Nonhuman Languages
Scholarly & Extinct Languages Religious Languages Magical Languages
Independent Languages: These languages have little or no relation to any others, having obscure and ancient origins and existing in sometimes splendid isolation for great spans of time. Each has their own written form of script or glyphs.
- Hordic: Spoken by the nomads of the great Tawill Plains, Hordic has been strongly influenced by Kistathian, Ti-Ann, and Shian over time. Despite that it has retained its own unique character steadfastly, perhaps obstinately, refused to develop any form of written language. A rich oral tradition has kept the language somewhat pure over time. Similar to Na’Dene, it actually consists of multiple dialects that require an Easy (DC10) check to translate between speakers of Hordic. It is a complicated language for non-Natives to speak and understand, resulting in an additional penalty of +5 DC to speak or understand it. (None)
- Na’Dene: The language of the natives of the Colonies, it actually consists of multiple dialects that require Easy (DC10) check to converse between. Na’Dene has a complex “written” language that consists of braided and beaded cords. Native speakers must also be skilled in Weaving in order to read or “write” more than a simple tally or identifier, while non-native speakers have a +10 DC to read any “writings” that they discover. (Special)
- Sar: The language of the Feyhd of the Great Waste. Held in careful reverence by the loremasters of the Feyhd, its written form is a unique set of diamond shaped pictoglyphs that seem most closely related to Senzar or possibly even Serth by the widest stretch of a scholars imagination – though translation is impossible and they are not the same language at all. Sar has changed little over the ages, bound by custom and ritual, and Old Sar dates back to the time of the Wars of Binding while the few examples of Ancient Sar have been dated to time of the Serpent Kings. (E)
- Shian: The native tongue of the Khitian Empire, Shian is a beautiful language that non-native speakers (save for speakers of Faerie and Kens who have similar tonal languages) have difficulty with (+5 DC) due to its tonal nature. It is also has its own exceedingly complex written language of thousands of glyphs – it is +5 DC to be able to read and write it. (C)
- Ti-Ann: The language of the Ithian Empire it is at once both stagnant and vibrant – held hostage by the Eternal Court of Jade. Virtually unchanged since the time of the Diaspora, Old Ti-Ann dates back to the time of the Second City, while Ancient Ti-Ann dates back to the Serpathian Empire when the Ithians were slaves to Serpent Kings. Ti-Ann itself is related to Serth, mostly via adaptations of that language to human physiology and anatomy – and speakers and writers can understand one another with some difficulty as the languages have drifted apart (Disadvantage to Understand Serth). Ti-Ann is also an exceedingly complex written language of thousands of glyphs that were adopted from Ancient Serth – a speaker has a +5 DC to be able to read and write it. (C)
- Trader: Rarely heard outside their ships and camps, and isolated by both time and circumstance, Trader is spoken only by the Traderfolk and has no written form outside of codes and identifies found in the braiding of rope and hair. It is the custom of the Traderfolk only to teach the language to members of the clans, to their families as a trust in the past for the future. (Special)
Overview of Language Mechanics
The Khoisa Family: An ancient language of poets, warriors, and mages, the languages of the Khoisa family are uniformly beautiful to listen to and lend themselves to marvelous songs and music. Found largely across the ocean in the environs of the Kistathian Empire, the Khoisan languages are written in a beautiful Khistathian calligraphy that has a +5 DC for individuals who are not natives to understand – in a similar quirk, there are no penalties for skilled readers of one of the Khoisa family languages to understand to understand the writings of another of the Khoisa languages. Due to the long history of the language and the rich magical culture of Kistath many mage learn Kistathian in order to benefit from the lore than has been accumulated and preserved in that language.
- Islander: Spoken by the peoples of the islands between the Heartlands and Kistath, as well as along the coasts of Ith, Islander has become a patois of Na’Dene, Kistathian, and Ti-Ann. During the time of the Black Empire the people of Khoisa were among the most honored of sailors and explorers, finding many of the settlements that had already been founded by the Ithians in their own age-long travels. They travelled far and wide and were responsible for the vast majority of settlements on the islands in the great oceans. As such, individuals speaking Islander and Kistathian or Ti-Ann can speak to each other with a DC15 check, and Islander uses Khoisan calligraphy for written communication with the result of there being only a +5 DC penalty for written communication between readers skilled in one. Speakers of Kistathian gain no bonus trying to speak or read it – the Ancient form is far more influenced by Shian and uses Shianese glyphs instead of Khistathian calligraphy (which can be read by scholars of Ancient Shian with a DC25 check, though understanding will be poor). (C)
- Kistathian: The language of the Kistathian people and empire, Kistathian is a poetic and fluid language that has been spoken since the days of the White Empire. The values of Kistathian culture have helped preserve the written and spoken language in a somewhat stable form – far more stable than is found is languages like Westron which have change dramatically over far less time. (C)
- Medjai: In the deserts plains of Kistath the Medjai nomads roam far and free, speaking their own language and keeping their own customs. Scholars suggest that Medjai is the purest of the Khoisa languages given the often reclusive nature of the Medjai nomads and their reputation for fiercely repelling enemies and outsiders. This theory is supported by the strong differences between Medjai and Sautani – there is a +5 DC penalty to translating between the two. Medjai is also a primarily spoken language, attempting to write, read, or transcribe it garners an additional +5 DC penalty. (C)
- Sautani: The primary language of Old Tierna and Tiernaese colonies, Sautani is a complex and subtle language that is strongly gendered and has a deeply hierarchical structure of imperatives and supplications. Since the Mad God’s War and the destruction of large portions of Tierna it has become a fiercely defended piece of the Tiernaese people’s past. (C)
Overview of Language Mechanics
The Thulian Family: A rough and guttural language, its detractors suggest that it has more in common with the Dark Tongue of the Goblins and Trolls. While scholars uniformly agree that this is nonsense, there is some agreement that the two languages have influenced one another over time. It is spoken in Thule and the areas that have been colonized by either merchants or warriors of Thule. This family of languages is properly written using the Thulian runic futhark, though Northron is often transliterated into the Istarian alphabet.
- Thulian: Spoken on the northern continent of Thule, this is a language rooted in ice and cold. It does incorporate a fair amount of certain types of communication with both Dwarrune and the Dark Tongue – allowing insults and trade with goblins and dwarves at a mere DC10 check – but any communication beyond very basic battle, economic, or emotional content are impossible. (E)
- Northron: In the time of the Black Empire the warriors and traders of Thule travelled over the sea and settled in the Northern Marches that border the Heartlands. After generations their language and culture has changed enough to be considered more than a simple dialectical change. While technically correct to write in Northron in Thulian runic futhark, Northron is often transliterated into the Westron alphabet. (E)
- Icelandren: The Ice Waste is home two distinct cultures, the remnants of the Old Race who are known as Wanderers of the Ice, and the Icelanders – outposts of Thulian warriors and traders who have lived there since the Interregum. Icelandren properly uses its own futhark, the Icelandren futhark, for there is a +5 DC to translate back and forth from the Thulian futhark. (E)
Overview of Language Mechanics
The Casta Family: The languages of the Casta family are found in the Petty Kingdoms as well as the Heartlands east of the Old Realm of Albion. While etymologically different from the languages of the Westron family, they are also a distant descendant of the Istarian language (DC25 to understand) and use the Istarian alphabet. As a whole the language is more lyrical than Westron and shows some clear influences from Khoisa in the distant past, or perhaps Hill Speech.
- Southron: Spoken almost entirely in the Petty Kingdoms, and has a number of dialects depending upon which country the individual is from. There are increased influences from Kistathian and Hordic in some areas, and Ti-Ann in others. Much like Westron it is a difficult language to learn new. (S)
- Casta: Now a language almost only used entirely by scholars, but also found cultivated by a few old families and isolated settlements. Casta is derived from Istarian (DC15 to understand) and gave birth to both Southron and Castalan (DC10 to understand). It was strongly influenced by Old Kistathian and Old Sautani (DC25 to understand). It has not been used, for the most part, since the time of the early Interregum. (S)
- Castalan: Spoken in some portions of the Petty Kingdoms but mostly in the environs of country of Cathalia and its vassal states east of Albion, Castalan is a formal language with much in common with Southron but more influenced by Westron and Sautani. It is often spoken by some the nobility of the Petty Kingdoms in addition to Southron and is generally seen as more refined. (S)
Overview of Language Mechanics
The Westron Family: The most common language in the Heartlands, it closely developed from the Istarian of the White Empire several ages ago. As such, anyone who speaks a language from this family of languages can attempt to read or speak Istarian at a DC25 (Very Hard). All the languages of the Westron family use the Istarian alphabet.
- Brittian: Though a member of the Westron family, there are some profound differences between Brittian and the other members of the language family that result in a DC10 check to understand one another. Spoken only in the kingdom of Del Brittit and the immediate cultural area, the language is a very proud artifact of their ancient culture – it has changed little over the years. (S)
- Istarian: The language of the Black and White Empires, the language of Istarian is now only spoken in a few places by anyone other than scholars. The antecedent of both the Casta and Westron families of languages (DC25 to understand), the large size and great influence of both Empires insured that it has influenced many other languages as well over the course of time. Istarian proper was the language of the Black Empire while Old Istarian was the language of the White Empire. Ancient Istarian comes from the period of the Great Diaspora of the 5th Age after the Great Flood. Its alphabet requires no special skill to inscribe, being almost identical to that used in Casta and Westron. Istarian has been the primary language of scholars in the Heartlands and the remnants of the White and Black Empires since the Interregnum. (S)
- Westron: The most common language of the Heartlands, Westron is spoken in Albion and many of the countries of the in the Heartlands proper. Somewhat cosmopolitan in nature, it is a complex language to learn in the same manner that English is. (S)
- Zymoran: Zymoran is spoken throughout much of the northeastern portions of the Heartlands, in Zymora, the T’zarr Border States, and a selection of other kingdoms north of the Martyr Mountains and is quite close to common Westron in most ways – influence from Faerie and a Northron providing enough linguistic drift to create a separate dialect. (S)