Do You Use Different Languages In Your Campaign?


First Post
Merkuri said:
I think that means you have to touch the recipient of the spell. You know, the person who comprehends languages. It's not that the spell recipient has to touch the person speaking to comprehend them. :p
Nope - read it again... "...You can understand the spoken words of creatures or read otherwise incomprehensible written messages. In either case, you must touch the creature or the writing..." it a Personal spell...

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Li Shenron

I generally have MM races speak their own languages rather than common, so if the PCs want to spy on them, eavesdrop on a conversation, intercept a letter or understand a written book, knowing other languages is useful at least at low levels.

But I always give common to player characters (it could be fun for a while to have PCs speaking different tongues, but will become quickly boring and frustrating) even if they play monstrous characters.

I've never expanded on the theme on languages, such as replacing common with regional languages, or by having a more detailed system than the basic can/cannot speak & read & write, but I can see it could be interesting to try one day.


First Post
Kae'Yoss said:
Many languages in the real world might share the same fate: English, for example, is being raped and butchered daily. How long until everyone

writez like dis eh d00d? totally 1337 sp3a|< ftw rofl!!!!11!1one



Took me a while to find the quote

“English does not so much borrow words from other languages, it follows them down dark alleys and rifles their pockets for spare vocablury.”

not sure who, but the imagery's fantastic.

(As a linguistic aside, the project team I work on can speak over ten languages between them, so we often discuss the vaguaries of english. The main advantages of english, that I assume a common would mimic

Large number of words
Loose grammatical rules
Ability to absorb foreign nouns and turn into verbs + vice versa
Ability to change / evolve over time & region without losing communicability

not saying other languages don't have this. but english definitely does)


I've always hated the idea of a "common" tongue and so I've done away with it in my homebrew. I've also adjusted the Speak Language skill as well, big thanks to a fellow player that came up with this. Admittedly I haven't playtested this yet, that's coming in the next campaign, but it seems to be sound mechanics.

1) At 1st level all characters begin with 5 ranks in one Knowledge ("language") skill, their native tongue. These free ranks are not restricted by skill cap, though additional ranks are still restricted by skill caps.

2) Each additional language is treated as a Knowledge skill, and thus you can spend as few or many skill points on each language. At 1st level you will get 1 + Int bonus in skill points to be spent solely on the Knowledge ("language") skill, skill cap rules still apply. The Knowledge ("language") is considered a class skill only for those classes that had Speak Language as a class skill. After the initial free skill points at 1st level, PCs must spend skill points on Knowledge ("language") just like any other skill. Just because you can speak/read a language, doesn't mean you have perfect mastery of it.

3) Fluency is 5 ranks in Knowledge ("language").

4) If you attempt to use any interaction skills (bluff not used to feint, intimidate not used for combat applications, etc.) you recieve a -2 language penalty.

5) Fluency in a language (5 ranks) gives a +2 synergy bonus to interaction skills undertaken in that language, offsetting the above penalty. Note that native speakers (who begin with 5 free ranks) effectively offset this penalty immediately.

6) 10 ranks in a language gives a second +2 synergy bonus to interaction skills. A character's mastery of this language is so sublime that they are able to get more out of people than they even realize.

Languages of Vetus
Pelyrene - The native language of humans and gnomes.
Illari - This ancient language, said to be the tongue of the mythic Illarium Empire, is the language used by the clergy of Claris Sol . It is also the language used in many scholarly texts of the Pelyrene Empire .
Grusch - The native language of hobgoblins, goblins, ogres, bugbears and orcs.

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
I use other languages all the time. The Imperial tongue (the Common of my campaign) is only really used by humans in Imperial lands most of the time. Once you get to the borders, either physically, or socially (being among members of other groups), other languages are used as a preference. Once you get fully out of the empire, the number of people who speak it drops off sharply.

The group all seems to love knowing different languages, using them to communicate in semi-secrecy and the like.


First Post
Being a linguist, I have never liked the idea of a "universal language" that every sentient creature speaks. Although Common makes the game simpler, it removes a lot of the flavor and role-playing opportunities of a setting. So for my homebrew that I am developing, I'm removing a common language all together. Pidgin trade languages do exist, but they are not universal. Of course, being into con-languages, I have also had the weird thought of creating actual languages for my setting. ;)

Baron Opal

First Post
I have three "common tongues" dependant on the dominant culture of the region. Most of the cultures are fairly old so the various races all speak the cultural language. Then there is a second layer of racial and historical languages that many people have taken the time to learn (English vs. Gaelic in Ireland). Finally are the exotic languages that fraily few learn and are mostly useful only for magicians or plane-travellers.


LEW Judge
I wish, instead of "Common", they had called the language "Human". It's the native language of humans, after all. It's also the lingua franca, because humans are the principal traders and travellers. Not everyone speaks Human, but pretty much anyone who travels outside their own racial/cultural homeland will, because it's the only language you can count on getting by with almost anywhere.

I've sketched out a number of campaign worlds, most of which I've never developed to the point of playability, and one thing that varies a lot from world to world is how wide an area this lingua franca will cover. In some of my worlds, it's the language of a particular culture, but the one where the PCs start -- there's enough diversity among the human cultures that not even they all speak the same language. If the PCs travel far enough they may come to a region with a different lingua franca.

I've also toyed with the idea of a trade language that's distinct from the human racial language, but that's departing from RAW.

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
The more I think about it, the more I like raising the level of comprehend languages and other spells that duplicate or invalidate skills. This would be a good idea for a thread, listing all of those out, so they could be nerfed en masse.


First Post
orsal said:
I wish, instead of "Common", they had called the language "Human". It's the native language of humans, after all.

You could see it that way, or you could say that humans don't have their own language. They just use the "trade pidgin".

In some game worlds, humans have their own languages - well, more or less: regional languages. the Realms use this. There's Chondathan, Illuskan, and so on.

It's not like humans have many other things that set them aside from others, besides their lack of such things: No "human broadsword", no "human champion", no human only deities, no human language.

Rystil Arden

First Post
In my Neospelljamming setting, there is no 'Common' tongue, but I explain to everyone before the game starts that the Dolathi like to consider their language of Eldish to be a common tongue and suggest that everyone learn it (much like Americans with English). Still, oftentimes they won't, as some characters make more sense picking up languages from their own world first. In that case, if I'm in a Play by Post, I have people post language things in [SBLOCK=SBLOCKs]Like this![/SBLOCK].

Of course, when the basic available languages for PC races (not counting secret languages) are Eldish, Rowaini (this has several dialects and a few other completely separate languages in the family tree), Byblan, Altanian (and several related languages spoken by the groundlings), Larakese (also has several dialects and separate languages in the family tree), High Praetorian, Vulgar Praetorian (and various other languages spoken by conquered peoples of the Empire), Valsian, Mojiin, Seelie, Valeysh, Conacian, Tralg, Narlse (several dialects), Nibelan, Rhapsodian, Sacra, Vildri (illegal on its homeworld by penalty of death), and others, plus the monster races, it can be a bit overwhelming for the PCs :D


First Post
I've banned common from my dragonlance games. I hate the idea that everyone of every race from all parts of the continent, after a global apocalypse, can speak the same language. You know your regional languages and maybe a few neighboring ones. The rest is up to translations, misheard conversations, and lots of bad pantomime and hand waving.


I can't really get behind increasing the cost of speak language under the current skill system. Skill points are just too few to be able to use a good chunk of them on a single language.

At the heart of it, I kind of like your system, DiamondB, but under that, Pope John Paul II would of had to have 40 ranks in speak/knowledge (language), at that is just for the languages he was fluent in.


First Post
Yeah, it's more realistic to have multiple ranks denoting language fluency – it's at least as hard as any other skill in the game – but if characters are going to be travelling a lot and you don't have a common language and Speak Language is, as in the SRD, a cross-class skill for most, then the requirements become pretty onerous.

...I do not have a Common language. There are a number of human languages in the setting. Ten or twelve or so (of areas that have been developed, or at least conceived of, plus a dead language or two). But, I've kicked a lot of the non-human classes offplane, so there aren't as many racial languages going around, and many monster-types don't have their own languages, so they just use the dominant language of their area. Another thing I do is have related languages: if a character knows one such language, he can (badly) understand and communicate in the other. Also a denotation of scripts used: most of the prominent languages in the setting use the same script, but a few are different.

I don't have characters start out with languages known according to their Int bonus.

My goblin language is a sign language. It's not really fair, though – humans can learn to read it, but can't ever really speak it, barring shapechanging – goblins have six fingers.

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
American Sign Language doesn't have a lot of signs that would be unrecognizable if one or two fingers were off, for what it's worth. Obviously, humans made that one, though, and not alien beings.

I do, yeah. The idea of a single Common tongue that's used all throughout the multiverse stretches credulity for me. Because I like linguistics.

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
I'd like to see a system more granular than the current all or nothing one, but not one that adds a whole new complex system. Ideally, I'd like something that works identically to the rest of D20, which a lot of proposed language systems don't seem to do, for some reason.

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
Hobo said:
I do, yeah. The idea of a single Common tongue that's used all throughout the multiverse stretches credulity for me. Because I like linguistics.
The planar society posited in the Planescape line suggests there should be several common languages, though. (More than Infernal, Abyssal and Celestial, though.) If ever there was a place where the alignment languages make sense, it'd be the planes.

But there should also be a planar trade language or something, and multiplanar societies should have their own languages, I should think. Is there a Gith language?

Lonely Tylenol

First Post
Emirikol said:
My wife's relatives are sort of, well, rural..and they tell me they speak "American." Are there rednecks in other parts of the world that butcher not only the words, but the actual TERM???

Well, once you've butchered the language enough, it hardly counts as English anymore, so they can call it "Chocolate Cake" if they like.

Lonely Tylenol

First Post
Whizbang Dustyboots said:
The more I think about it, the more I like raising the level of comprehend languages and other spells that duplicate or invalidate skills. This would be a good idea for a thread, listing all of those out, so they could be nerfed en masse.
Looking forward to it.

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