Languages of Ansalon
Languages of Ansalon
Language is an important element in a culture, since words shape the beliefs of all who speak and hear them. Ansalon has many languages and dialects, though Common has achieved such prominence that almost everyone except the most isolated groups learn the tongue.
Draconic has existed since the Age of Starbirth, when dragons first emerged as the children of Krynn. High Ogre and ancient Elven existed from the earliest days in the Age of Dreams, while Ergothian only gained prevalence in later years as the only significant human tongue of that era.
The “Common “Tongue” has been the most spoken language in Ansalon since the Age of Might. It became widespread due to the military empires of ancient Ergoth and Solamnia and the control of Istar over much of Ansalon. More a trade language during this period, it existed mostly as a spoken language without serious use by scholars during the Age of Might.
The Cataclysm served to unify Common to a greater extent durig the Age of Despair, when migrating refugees brought some of the isolated words and syntax into popular use. It’s written use became accepted as the new standard.
Several sets of symbols find use in writing by the races of Ansalon. Some alphabets have fallen into disuse or been completely replaced as history moved forward. Languages evolve, though alphabets are stable as long as they remain supported by a spoken tongue.
Ergot is the most widely used alphabet of Ansalon during the Age of Despair and Age or Mortals; variations on Ergot letters are found in most regions that once belonged to the Empire of Ergot or the Solamnic Knights. Gnomes use Ergot in their own writing, but their script is so small and run-together that many mistakenly believe it to be an entirely separate language.
Elven is an elegant, flowing script that progressed largely unchanged from the Age of Drams through the Age of Mortals. It influenced the initial development of human alphabets including Ergot and Istarian.
Dwarven runes are an angular set of symbols carved into stone or etched into metal. The characters are functional and easy to both recognize and reproduce.
Magius is an ancient, spidery language in which magical research notes are often written; its spoken form no longer exists except in the casting of spells. Characters who can read Magius receive a +2 competence bonus on Spellcraft and Linguistics to read arcane scrolls.
Ancient Ogre is a written language composed entirely of pictographs. It was used extensively during the Age of Dreams and later fell into disuse, where it became of academic interest to scholars and historians who explore ancient ruins.
Istarian was widely used during the Age of Might, but is nearly forgotten I later ears.
Kothian is a dense alphabet with symbols that progress from simplest to most complex. This script was brought into use by minotaurs and nearly died out during the Age of Might, but was brought into full use by the minotaur nations in later eras.
Ogre is a pictographic alphabet theoretically related to Ancient Ogre that began use in the later Age of Dreams. It is crude and can only convey the simplest of concepts.
Even with the great changes during the long history of Krynn, the Common spoken tongue remains relatively consistent, with simply a few variations in words or usage. Even when characters travel through time, there is rarely much difficulty in adjusting or understanding Common.
Characters may choose their language dependent up on race as details in the Core Rulebook. If a character wishes to know a language other than his automatic and bonus languages determined by race, he must spend a feat on Linguistics – (Gain 3 languages) to learn it.
Most living languages are shown on the Living Languages Table. Other tongues include monster languages (including Giant, Gnoll, Goblin, Slig, and Thanoi), regional languages (such as Estwilde, used by humans; Lemish, used by humans and goblins in Lemish; and Que-Nal and Wemitowuk, used by the nomads of the isle of Schallsea), and nonverbal languages (including Hammertalk, with which dwarves communicate over long distances by tapping messages on stone; and Hand Talk, a sign language used by humans and Qualinesti elves in Abanasinia and surrounding regions).
Ancient tongues are always of interest to the scholar, but some are learned by adventurers who wish to better pick their way through the ruins that dot the surface of Ansalon. Even related languages do not mean much to contemporary speakers who only know a modern counterpart to the tongue. These languages were all used during the earliest centuries of the Age of Dreams, but are considered “dead” by the beginning of the Age of Might.
Some of these languages can be recognized in written form by anyone who knows how to read the alphabet the language is written in, but the words are gibberish unless the character used the Linguistics skill to buy the ability to comprehend the dead language or succeeds on a DC 20 INT check. (The difficulty of such a check can be modified at the Game Master’s discretion based on the relationship between the living and dead tongues.)