Languages (3.5e Other)

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Language Roots and Translations in D&D 3.5[edit]

This is an early work-in-progress to give some Linguistic structure to the roots of languages in d&d 3.5. I realize that there are many more languages in 4.0, but I rather pretend that 4.0 never existed so I do not reference any of it here. I am hoping others on the Wiki here can help me refine this into as good of a system as possible. emails and

Basically, languages do not exist independently from one another, and clearly an attempt to learn Halfling when you are a native speaker of Common should not be the same as learning Draconic. Also, I love to use a myriad of languages in my campaigns so I have included among my house rules ways to decipher scripts of similar languages. This requires knowing what languages are similar to each other and if they share recognizable writing. This is what I have so far...

Language	                                    Speakers	                                                      Script
Supernal (Eldrich)                                 Shadingers, White Witches                                         Pre-Celestial
  Celestial (Prehistoric)                          Celestials, Angels, Devas	                                      Celestial
  Infernal(Prehistoric)                            Devils, Creatures of the Hells	                              Infernal
Arcane (Eldrich)                                   Dragons, Spellcasters	                                      Arcane
  Abyssal(Prehistoric)                             Chaotic Evil Outsiders	                                      Infernal
  Draconic(Prehistoric)                            Kobalds, Dragons, Lizardfolk                                      Draconic
  Primordial(Prehistoric)                          Elementals	                                                      Draconic Record?
        Aquan (Historic)                           Water Creatures	                                              Elven Record
        Auran (Historic)                           Air Creatures	                                              Draconic Record
               Tuilvilanuue, Avian (Modern)        Raptorians                                                        Elven Record
        Ignan (Historic)                           Fire Creatures	                                              Draconic Record
        Terran (Historic)                          Earth-based creatures	                                      Dwarven Record
  Sylvan(Prehistoric)                              Fey creatures (dryads, brownies, leprechauns)	              Elven Record
        Druidic (Historic)                         Druids Only	                                                      Druidic
  Tolkien(Prehistoric)                             Dead Language	                                              Druidic
        Proto-Common (Historic)                    Dead Language	                                              Druidic?
               Common (Modern)                     Humans and Associated People                                      Common
               Halfling (Modern)                   Halflings	                                                      Common
        Dwarven (Historic)                         Dwarves, Subterranean	                                      Dwarven
               Giant (Modern)                      Giants, Ogres	                                              Dwarven
               Gnomish (Modern)                    Gnomes	                                                      Dwarven
        Elven (Historic)                           Elves	                                                      Elven
               UnderCommon (Modern)                Drow, Underdark Creatures	                                      Elven/Illithid!
        Goblinoid (Historic)                       Goblinoids	                                                      Dwarven
               Gnoll (Modern)                      Gnolls	                                                      Dwarven
               Orc (Modern)                        Orcs, Goblinoids	                                              Dwarven
   Proto-Rokugani(Prehistoric)                     Dead Language	                                              Rokugani
               Rokugani (Modern)                   Oriental Adventures PC's	                                      Rokugani
        Asian Monster Languages? (Historic)        Oriental Adventures Others	                                      Rokugani
R'lyehian (Eldrich)                                The Alien Old Ones (Cthulhu/Yog-Sothoth)	                      Illithid Record
   Deep Speech, Illithid (Prehistoric)             Mind flayers, beholders	                                      Illithid

? = Items that I am very uncertain about and diffidently need to be reviewed, although I expect all of this material will be moved around as the project progresses. ! = The part Illithid scripting applies specifically to my personal Red Hook Campaign, where some Pantheon assumptions are taken which are not necessarily true in Vanilla d&d 3.5. Aka, this may be ignored to stay closer with the spirit of the original D&D Pantheon. Once I am done using this as reference and ready to unleash it onto the public domain as a completed project I will remove these discrepancies.

Breakdown of the Chart: Eldrich/Prehistoric/Historic/Modern is referring to the relative age of the language, which is also referenced by it's indentation from the parent language listed above it.

The Language column is the name of the language. I have taken some small liberties in the names of many of the languages, including changing the '-ish' of the popular Tolkien languages to a more phonetically pleasing '-en'. Some of them (Like Avian) are names we have locally given them under house rules so it might not match quite properly.

The Speakers column lists common examples of the primary speakers of the language. Languages that have drifted into new languages have hence become dead naturally via semantic/phonetic drift. Typically dead languages have become the languages listed below it.

The Script column is the family of symbols used to write the language. Often it is based on proximity, with different but neighboring languages existing amongst one another using similar styles of writing. This is basically a way to show respect for languages that influenced each other without them having to be from the same roots. If listed with “Record”, then the language was previously not written until scholarly transcriptions recorded them, usually Elven scholars. I got some of this material from this post.


Justification of some more irregular choices: (Heavily subject to review and change)

Supernal: Keeping Supernal languages apart from the Arcane fit nicely with a Christian Heaven/Hell style Pantheon of choice because it gives warrant to the infinite nature of the Afterlife.

Arcane: Arcane being the root of all languages of the Material and closely related Planes functions well within the spirit of Arcane being both ancient (pre-dating Dragons) and primordial in our nature, able to be accessed emotionally/mentally by spellcasters.

Draconic: I have made it Prehistoric under Arcane. The great lifespans of Dragons, along with the magical nature of their language, would infer that it lasted relatively unchanged for an unnatural amount of time. More importantly, making it a direct extension of arcane seems to flush well with the deeply magical nature of the beasts.

Elven: Elven is used liberally as the Record language for creatures that might not have written down their own way of speaking. I felt it fit their scholarly nature, and this way there is at least some connection players can make to some of the more obscure languages. However, this assumption also means that anything written in this language would likely be written by the elves, not the creature that speaks it.

Rokugani: Due to the obvious deviation in the real-life languages Common and Rokugani are based on, it must be assumed that the languages would be deviated greatly, at least to a degree sufficient to house an entire new branch of Asian languages based on location of the branch rather than simply race. Aka, Rokugani and Common are both closer to Arcane than to each other, and that is intentional. Other creatures of Oriental Adventures will more appropriately spread out over the Asian Monster Languages (Name for category please) in a similar manner to the Tolkian languages did for Vanilla d&d.

Aquan and Deep Speech: The Primordial Aquan language is not relative to Deep Speech, as the former derives from the Elemental Planes and the latter from Space. Natural aquatic creatures should speak Aquan.


Using in Game: I agree full hartedly with This page on roll playing language usage in the campaign, and have personaly found it quite successful with my players. This chart can make this process intuitive and feel greatly bounded into a more realistic view of language.

   Decifering: If attempting to read a language you do not know, then you may attempt to figure it out
   using a Decipher check as long as it shares either the same script, or exists withing the same
   Historical (green) family. However, the DM has complete liberties over how much should be interpretable
   based on the character's known scripts and languages.				
       DC 15 = The ability to interpret some key words.			
                   Ex: Blight, Goat, with a Haste or Urgency.
       DC 20 = Mood, Tense, Case and Voicing is indistinguishable, but word meanings are relatively clear.
                   Ex: 'Gift of Goat ends frantic blight', or 'Gift of Blight ends frantic goat'
       DC 25 = Case is more clear and word associations are distinguishable.
                   Ex: 'Give a goat frantically and the blight is ended.'
       DC 30 = Full text as written is decipherable with complete technical accuracy, including tense and voicing.
                   Ex: 'The goat should have been given frantically in order to end the blight.'
       DC 35 = Along with the full text, the sentence's connotation to any hidden meaning or cultural references become clear.
                   Ex: 'A goat sacrifice should have been given to the appropriate gods with haste to end the blight.'


PS: Help! I am no good at the formatting and need help, and was not logged in when I made the page so I did not get credit for posting it. How do I do that and also how do I change the name of the post? I am also reachable by email at koalakonnor at hotmail if you want to throw me a bone. Thanks

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