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Languages

 

Below we have listed every Language in the Elkan5e ruleset. Different people and creatures speak different languages in 5e, and if your character does not know a language, they may be unable to talk to or understand someone. When a player character knows a language, they can also read and write that language.

There are many rare languages specific to rare monsters, such as Gnoll or Troglodyte, as well as languages specific to cultural groups that exist in some 5e settings and not others. We do not list those languages here. Consult your game master to see if your setting has any additional languages to consider as a player character. Elkan has no languages that are commonly used besides those listed.

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Trade Languages:

Common, Dwarvish, Elvish, Goblin, Halfling, Undercommon

Rare Languages:

Draconic, Giant, Gnomish, Orc, Thieves' Cant

Magical Languages:

Abyssal, Celestial, Deep Speech, Druidic, Infernal, Primordial, Sylvan

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Trade Languages

These languages are the spoken and written languages of the major world cultures. They have spread to the wide world and now are used to communicate across regional and cultural barriers. In urban settings, nearly everyone will know Common and sometimes another trade language, as will most places that trade directly with urban centers.

 

Common: Originally spoken primarily by humans, Common is now the most common language spoken in most settings. Common is assumed to be very similar to English in many settings, but can easily be adapted to what makes sense as the most common language in your setting.

Dwarvish: Dwarvish is the language of dwarves, and uses a runic-looking alphabet.

Elvish: Spoken by elves, Elvish uses a smooth, rounded script with a cursive look.

Goblin: Goblin is spoken by most goblinoids, including goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears. It is written with Dwarvish script.

Halfling: Halfling, spoken by halflings, is the closest language to Common and uses the same script.

Sign Language: Most characters who know sign language use a shared system based on Common. Still, there are countless local dialects or signs created by specific individuals or groups. Sign language always counts as a written language for the purpose of spells or abilities that interact with written or spoken languages.

Undercommon: Undercommon is a trade language used by underground communities. It uses Elvish script.

In the world of Elkan, Common was one of many human languages until it was formally endorsed by the Solar Hegemony and overtook all other human languages over many hundreds of years. Elvish is the most common language other than Common. Undercommon is used by very few communities, and Orc and Goblin both are widespread languages in the continent's interior. Halfling is commonly employed by sailors, and Dwarvish would be better classified as a rare language.

Trade Languages

Rare Languages

Rare languages are used within certain cultures but rarely outside. Individuals who grow up speaking a rare language learn a trade language before embarking on adventure.

Draconic: Spoken by dragons and their servants. Dragonborn and kobolds usually grow up speaking Draconic. Draconic has its own script which is usually hard to read for new readers, as letters can look similar or blend into each other.

Giant: Giant is spoken by ogres, trolls, and true giants such as stone or fire giants. Giant and Dwarvish scripts are both derived from Primordial, and those who read Dwarvish can typically read Giant words.

Gnomish: Gnomish is a language that rarely makes its way outside of Gnomish communities. It uses Dwarvish script, but some dialects takes a fair amount from Elvish as well.

Orc: In many settings Orcs are isolated from other intelligent humanoids. Their language uses the Dwarvish script.

Thieves' Cant: Thieves' Cant varies moderately by region, but there are numerous phrases and signs that mean the same thing among criminals across the world. Thieves' Cant is not a formal language, but a series of signs, expressions, and hand signs that convey secret meaning.

 

In the world of Elkan, Gnomish is a language that has mingled with Elvish script and there are forms written with Dwarvish or Elvish script, depending on age and region (with newer sources using Elvish script). Orc is spoken widely enough that in some places it could be considered a trade language.

Rare Languages
Magical Languages

Magical Languages

These languages are spoken primarily by magical or immortal beings. Most adventurers who speak these languages had supernatural involvement in their upbringing, or learned the languages later in the pursuit of magic. Depending on your game's story, a magical language might never come up, or it could be the secret to solving a mystery.

Abyssal: In most settings, Abyssal is spoken by demons and has its own script. *

Celestial: Celestial is the language of angels and other similar immortal creatures, and has its own script.

Deep Speech: Deep Speech is a language that cannot be produced by mortal vocal chords, requiring deep vibrations sometimes below even the sound register human ears can hear. It is spoken by aboleths and other strange creatures, including undersea leviathans. It has no known script.

Druidic: Druidic is a secret language usually only known by druids. Some descendants of druids keep the language alive in remote communities, but it is almost never spoken, only written and read in secret messages left in nature where only the trained can find them. Its script can easily look like natural notches in bark or stone.

Infernal: In most settings, Infernal is the language of devils, and has its own script. *

Primordial: Primordial is the language of elemental creatures, like air or fire elementals. Each element has its own spoken dialect, consisting of natural sounds associated with their element:

  • Ignan (fire elementals, sounds like fire)

  • Auran (air elementals, sounds like wind)

  • Aquan (water elementals, sounds like a river)

  • Terran (earth elementals, sounds like moving rocks and soil)

Most mortals cannot speak any dialect of Primordial without intensive training or using magic or objects to create some of the sounds. Those who understand one dialect can understand all of them. They all share a script, which is the root of both the Giant and Dwarvish languages.

Sylvan: The root language of Elvish, Sylvan is spoken by many fey creatures, ancient plant creatures like Treants, and those who live in close harmony with the fey.

*In the world of Elkan, there is no distinction between demons and devils. Both groups speak Infernal, and Abyssal is a language spoken by creatures of cosmic horror that arrive from other dimensions. Infernal is a common language for those who speak with demons, and Abyssal is spoken almost exclusively by madmen tormented by horrible creatures in their dreams. In Elkan, the Abyssal script is ever-changing, even as you try to read it. Reading it is nearly impossible without magic.

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