D&D General Languages in D&D Are Weird, Let's Get Rid of Them.

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
(For the record, 2e had at least one or two copy spells, as per the Complete Wizards Handbook.)
It did?

I own those books but have never read through them cover to cover - that's a lot of spells! Now I'm curious...

The only copy-like spell I can think of quickly is Sacred Link, if used on two pieces of paper; but that only makes one copy and it's at the mercy of what happens to the other copy.
You're talking about vocabulary here, but that's different from a full language.
That's kind of like saying bricks are different from a brick house. You can't have the finished product wihtout the building blocks. :)
That's true, but also fairly unimportant in a fantasy setting.
I've found it relevant on various occasions in play. An example might be encountering a creature of a species not known for literacy, yet somehow it can read and write; and astute players/PCs realizing this as a clue that things might not be as they seem.
 

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Most D&D settings don't have the printing press, and spells of photocopying are homebrew only (the only spell I've ever had any of my PCs research and design was in fact for just this).

Actually, the 3.5e Spell Compendium has a spell (Amanuensis; page 9, column 2-3) that copies books, although it admittedly copies only text and not pictures or magical writing
 

Actually, would all of these races have that many languages? Many of them live a long time and would be able to remember their languages for centuries or even millennia. There wouldn't necessarily be as much drift with elves, dwarfs, and gnomes as there would be with humans and orcs.

Plus they all have creator gods who created their language and culture and are still active in the world. And presumably the species, the language, the culture, and the creator are all congruous with each other, and therefore the language and culture would have little room to adapt, being already suited to their users' character.


Plus literacy and writing seems to be much more universal in most D&D settings, thus providing another link that would keep language the same. And that's not even considering teleportation and long-distance magical communication which would help to keep far-distant communities in touch.

My personal experience has been that as telecommunications technology has advanced, change in language - or at least change in widely used slang - has become faster
 

Aldarc

Legend
Building somewhat on @Charlaquin's earlier point on alignment languages: an interesting thing that could be done with languages though I know D&D would NEVER do is to lock spells behind languages. That is, spells would require knowing Draconic, Abyssal, Celestial, Infernal, Elemental, etc. to even cast them as the spells derive from these sources. Or if one desired, one could even group spells in terms of Languages/Planes rather than the usual (if not boring) traditional 8 Schools/Traditions: e.g., Conjuration, Evocation, Necromancy, etc.

Real-world history and even most fantasy fiction would suggest that the magical class would primarily focus on benefiting their peers and themselves.
This IMHO is one of the master-strokes of Eberron. It tries taking D&D's magic and asks how people might build a better (or worse) world for themselves with it, even if only using the lower levels of magic.
 
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Alzrius

The EN World kitten
Building somewhat on @Charlaquin's earlier point on alignment languages: an interesting thing that could be done with languages though I know D&D would NEVER do is to lock spells behind languages. That is, spells would require knowing Draconic, Abyssal, Celestial, Infernal, Elemental, etc. to even cast them as the spells derive from these sources. Or if one desired, one could even group spells in terms of Languages/Planes rather than the usual (if not boring) traditional 8 Schools/Traditions: e.g., Conjuration, Evocation, Necromancy, etc.
I agree that would be fun, but given how D&D doesn't even pay much attention to the idea of certain spells being racially exclusive (e.g. you need to be a dragon or a phaerimm to cast certain spells, which are some of the few examples we've seen in earlier editions), I agree that we'd never see that.
This IMHO is one of the master-strokes of Eberron. It tries taking D&D's magic and asks how people might build a better (or worse) world for themselves with it, even if only using the lower levels of magic.
To be fair, I think a lot of how Eberron treats magic (particularly with regard to the mass production and commercialization of magic item crafting) largely comes from it being a campaign setting designed under the 3.X rules, where making magic items was largely a matter of time and money, rather than being an update of a campaign world designed under an earlier edition, where magic item crafting required exotic ingredients which couldn't be heavily harvested (and which tended to drain the life force of the wizards creating them).
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
My personal experience has been that as telecommunications technology has advanced, change in language - or at least change in widely used slang - has become faster
But at the same time, it also codifies language a bit, as most (all?) of the major social media outlets are primary English, so you have more people using English. Even if the slang changes (and most of that slang doesn't stick around for very long), the language itself isn't drifting. At least not as far as we can tell--we'd have to compare writing a hundred or a thousand years from now with today's writing to see.
 





Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Now there’s an interesting point. If elves live centuries and can remember past lives, why would they develop writing?
My guess would be they'd develop writing mostly to use in communication with other species, and for trade purposes. They might not put their own language to writing but they'd still write in other languages.
 

Edgar Ironpelt

Explorer
I would rather (and I have) homebrew regional languages instead of useing the D&D ones... but when I don't feel like putting that in it's just as easy to say "elven"

in the game I am playing tonight (and waiting for the DM right now as I type this) he took the names of his empires and said "Oh this land all speaks this" and that land all speak this other... then even made draconic an ancient empires language...
I've done both. It depends on the game-world. In games using D&D I stick to the D&D languages or a lightly modified version. (Dwarvish and Gnome are a single language with two different accents. "Dialect" is a new language, spoken by humans, that abstracts all the variant human dialects and languages out there. And anyone can speak broken or pidgin Common if they know Dwarven/Gnome, Elven, Giant, Goblin, Gnoll, Halfling, or Orcish. They don't have to have "Common" listed as one of their officially-known languages.)

On the other hand, I have a non-D&D game with regional/cultural languages, due to the races being highly cosmopolitan. Even among the barbarian nomads, the (e.g.) Turtle Clan will have bands of humans, elves, orcs, goblins, and lizardmen, all of whom consider each other to be kinsmen - while Turtle Clan people will see people from the Million Kingdoms as outsiders speaking a different language, even when the people on both sides are elves.
 

ad_hoc

(he/they)
I agree with the premise of the thread that there is a problem.

The problem to me is that languages can shut down social interaction. It sounds like it might be fun to find different ways to communicate with other creatures but in practice it gets tedious and disincentives talking.

I propose giving disadvantage to any social check that arises if there are no shared languages but otherwise let them converse*.

* Exceptions can be made for truly alien creatures
 

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