Shards of an Empire
Languages spoken by the different races that can be found in this world vary widely. Written forms of the languages tend to be more consistent from place to place, but lack of contact has caused some linguistic drift from one are of the fallen empire to another. However, the fairly strong trade ties inside the realm have maintained a consistent grammar and pronunciation in areas that see regular contact with civilization. Foreign merchants occasionally found in Belach can possess some extraordinarily outlandish accents, but can be generally understood with some effort.
This is the tongue most widely spoken throughout the realm. Derived from the trade language in use at the time of the Hydran Empire, Common is used in daily transactions in the cities and across the realm. All characters are fluent in this language.
This was the formal language spoken in the fallen Hydran Empire. Now an essentially a dead language, some sages are still capable of speaking it, or more commonly only reading it. Ruins dating back to the Hydran Empire often feature inscriptions or carvings using the language. Ancient libraries and lost tomes often contain works in this language.
This is the language the current Common tongue is based upon. Used for trade and daily communications during the Hydran Empire, it bears a resemblance to Common, though more so in its written form than its spoken form. Not currently used as a primary tongue in the realm, some foreign merchants are encountered who speak the language when trading in Belach. Merchants who trade in foreign goods, as well as sages in Belach, tend to be fluent in the tongue. Aegin merchants also often use this language.
Elven, Dwarven, and Draconic are spoken by many representatives of those races, though they aren’t often used in mixed company; it is considered impolite to converse in a language known to be foreign to others present. Much more commonly used in isolated settlements and in individual homes.
This is the primary tongue spoken by the Goblinoid Horde. Despite the name, Orcs are far and away the most common members of the horde, and as a group, the most powerful. Many soldiers of the realm can speak a bit of the language, though often not more than enough to exchange insults or demand surrender (actually very similar in this language.) Most members of the horde can understand Orcish, though not all can speak the language. More intelligent members of the horde often speak Common as a second language.
Another language spoken by the horde, this is primarily used by Goblins and occasionally hobgoblins. The lowest members of the horde, Goblins are often abused or enslaved by their more powerful “allies” such as the Orcs. This tongue is less well understood outside the horde, and has almost no known written counterpart. Fortunately, most Goblins can speak both Goblin and Orcish, though the later has a strong accent.
A catch-all for the larger races of the horde, this is essentially Orcish with modified pronunciation and a slightly expanded vocabulary. Ogres, Giants, and Trolls often use this as their primary language, and understand Common or another tongue as well.
Abyssal, Supernal, Primordial, and Deep Speech are unknown by the vast majority of individuals. Occasionally a sage, priest, or wizard can be encountered who understand these tongues, but they don’t see much use. Other languages that may predate the fall of the empire are rarely encountered; none are significant enough to be worth mention here.
Literacy is common in the settled areas of the realm, though some individuals are much better at it than others. In general, if an individual knows how to speak a language, they can also write it.
- Common and Hydran Trade share a similar script
- Old Hydran uses a unique script unrelated to the other languages
- Elvish uses a distinct script
- Dwarven uses a distinct script
- Draconic uses a distinct script
- Orcish uses a distinct script. When written down (which is rare) Goblin and Giant use the same script. Though some of the symbols used bear a resemblance to symbols from other tongues – notably Common, Dwarven, and Draconic – this appears to be mostly coincidental.
DM Note All characters can speak Common. Races possessing a racial tongue also know that language. Individuals who have spent large amounts of time in Belach may understand Hydran Trade. Given the general lack of understanding of Old Hydran, player characters will not start out knowing the tongue, though they may learn it as the campaign progresses. Individuals with a background in less civilized areas may also start the campaign knowing some Orcish, though not the variants of Goblin and Giant. Once the campaign has begun, characters are of course able to seek out and learn more of these languages, as well as any others that may be encountered.
DM Note The feat Linguist (PHB1, pg 193) is used to learn additional languages. The mechanics of the feat have been adjusted slightly; acquiring the feat now allows a character to speak and write one additional language. In addition to this, a +2 bonus is allowed when making knowledge checks related to speakers of the language. Since each language tends to be reflective of the culture that uses it, learning the language entails learning a fair bit about those that currently speak the language and have spoken the language in the past.
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