Languages and Alphabets

Common Tongues

The lingua franca of the branchlands is Solarian, a pidgin of celestial and the long-lost dialect of the tribal precursor to the empire. It is widely spoken throughout the branches, but is somewhat unknown in the hinterlands or the areas beyond the original Solarian boundary. Solarian has no native alphabet, but can be expressed in Elvish, Dwarvish or Draconic scripts (though most speakers of Solarian are illiterate).

The common language within the Mysidian Empire is a Solarian dialect (intelligibility DC 5). However, it is quite common to encounter tribal languages (see below) or tribal pidgins (intelligibility DC 15).

Druidic is the secret language of Druids that they only speak amongst themselves, or in short, hushed phrases amongst outsiders. It is the language that they whisper to the winds to be heard by Mother Tree. It has a written component but it would be recognized as such only by other speakers of Druidic.

Each human tribe has its own dialect, generally derived from a common root language but made fairly dissimilar over thousands of years of drift. The difference is similar to the various varieties of Indo-European languages. Cross-communication among knowledgeable speakers is possible because of this; see below for further information on this. Only a few of the human dialects have written components, notably Ainugo.

The elves have a unified language, Elvish, which descends from Sylvan. Even the black elves speak Elvish, though it is a heavily dialected version of it (intelligibility DC 10). Elvish has a written component; because of this and its relative simplicity when compared to other demihuman languages, it sees common use amongst administrators, jurists and government officials. Elvish is considered part of an aristocratic education, though there are many aristocrats who “learn” to write Elvish as a direct translation of Solarian. The ability to actually speak Elvish is immaterial. (It is possible to learn to read/write Elvish without being able to speak it first.)

The Dwarves also have a unified language; each dwarf is born knowing how to speak it, thus the language has not drifted at all over the course of thousands of years. It is a unique language whose origins are unknown; it has its own unique alphabet, well-suited for being carved into stone. Because of the Mechanists’ stranglehold on commerce, any serious businessman has to know how to speak and read it. Thus, Dwarven is the language most commonly used for business records and contracts.

The Gnomes speak Draconic, which has its own complex written language. Draconic’s great strength is the precision with which it can describe things, both physical and abstract; as such, it is of great use as a scholarly and scientific (and magical) language. Draconic has no cognate languages, but those who speak Draconic will be able to use Spellcraft to recognize spell runes.

The halflings have no language of their own; because of their symbiosis with the humans, they generally speak one or more of the tribal languages. More urbane halflings will speak Solarian.

The monstrous races all have their own languages and dialects; assume members of the same race but different tribes have similar dialects (intelligibility DC 10) and members of the same metarace have more different dialects (DC 15 – 20).

The cosmic languages are not widely known and have very little applicability to the modern world. Celestial is still taught to Solarian priests; Abyssal and Infernal are nearly unknown. The elemental languages (Terran, Ignan, Aquan and Aeran) are studied by some advanced Elementalists, but do not see common usage.

The Raptoran language is known to modern scholars and Bards, but only the written component. The ability to speak it died with the Raptorans. It is therefore impossible to learn to speak Raptoran without DM intervention.

Sylvan is spoken amongst the fae creatures of the Wildlands and the creatures of the deep forest. It has its own script but writings in the language are quite uncommon. Sylvan is spoken as a native language by the few Killoren still alive, but they tend to keep it private amongst themselves.


Alphabets

Sylvan: A simple, beautiful, flowing script easily expressed with a quill. The Sylvan alphabet is used by Sylvan and Elvish.

Runic: A letter-based alphabet consisting of glyphs made up of straight lines. It is easily etched into stone or pressed into clay. Runic is used exclusively by the Dwarven language.

Druidic: Druidic to the casual observer seems to be a series of random lines and scratches, the sort that an animal clawing at a post or a bird pecking at a tree might leave. It is easily overlooked by any non-speaker of the language (Knowledge (linguistics) DC 20 to recognize; +2 Decipher Script synergy bonus).

Draconic: A series of complicated glyphs and symbols for every concept and shade of meaning; extremely difficult to write with due to its complexity but very useful for compressing lots of information into a small space. Used by the Draconic language.

Deep Script: An ugly language of harsh, angular runes. Shared by Abyssal and Infernal.

Celestial: A beautiful script of flowing curves and flourishes. Used for Celestial.

Raptoran: A cuneiform script used for expressing crude concepts and record-keeping. Presumed written by Raptoran claws directly on wooden cylinders or other surfaces.

Morosian: A heiroglyphic script adopted by the cultures surrounding the kingdom of Moros prior to the Withering. A variant is now used by the Ainujin for their language.


Rules

Knowledge (linguistics)
This language skill is used to read, write and speak languages. For each point of this skill, the character may speak, read and write a given language (subject to the limits outlined above). Note that, for his starting languages, a character must choose to either speak or read and write the language. In addition, the character’s general knowledge of linguistics allows him to attempt to make intelligibility checks when encountering speakers of a similar language. Making this check is a minor action; it allows one simple sentence to be communicated. Retries are possible; attempting Diplomacy, Bluff, Sense Motive or Intimidation in this way suffers a penalty based on successes and failures. It is possible to take 10 on this action but not 20.
DCDegree of closeness
5Neighboring tribes; members of the same monstrous race
10More distant tribes
15Very different tribes sharing a root language; different race
20Very different monstrous race

Languages and Alphabets

Rodorsceaft: Pillar of Heaven TheEndlessBard