Many languages are spoken in Eckor. Unlike the simple language system offered in Player’s Handbook, however, Eckor uses a slightly different system, which can be found here, though with a little work it is a simple matter to use languages as they are presented in the core rules. It’s not uncommon for a person to speak half a dozen languages, even though he’s completely illiterate. It’s also not uncommon for a person to speak only the language of his own nation. While a few “Common Tongue” languages exist in various places, the language barrier is a bit tougher to get around than in many other worlds.
Any time a character would gain a language for free (such as druids, who learn their own language at 1st level), he gains one rank in that language, allowing him to speak it conversationally, but not to read or write it. Likewise, any time a feat, prestige class or other source has a language as a prerequisite, it requires 1 full skill rank in that Speak Language skill, unless it specifically requires the ability to read and write the language, in which case it requires 3 full ranks.
A “Common Tongue” language is a language recognized and spoken by many who live or do business in a specific area. Traders, travelers and those who make their living on the road use these languages to communicate with people in a general area. Common Tongue languages are almost never taught as a first language. A Common Tongue language may not be selected as the language a character gets 1 free skill rank in during character creation.
Commonly called “Trader’s Tongue,” En Shian is a language commonly spoken in the nations of the Great Desert. It’s an old common tongue language that supposedly originated among the tribes of Altali as a means for communicating with those from other nations. A large alphabet of 45 characters makes it a little difficult to learn at first, but it also allows for precise detail in the drawing of contracts. Outside of those who do business in desert nations, it might be a little difficult to find a translator of En Shian, but in the nations of the Great Desert, it’s difficult to find a trader or businessman who doesn’t speak the language. The desert nations are quite wealthy, and traders, merchants, caravan drivers and those who do any kind of business for themselves often learn En Shian quickly to maximize their clientele.
En Shian is spoken and written using the syntax of Alatalise, but it uses components from Altalise, Dii and Sheif ibn Shi’al. Anyone that has a skill rank in two of these languages can speak and understand En Shian as though he had half a skill rank in it. En Shian is most often used among the desert nations, but it’s not limited strictly to them. The language is popular among merchants from the nations of Inama and Zymia and has in recent years gotten a foothold among merchants and traders from Bralda as well.
Imperial is one of the world’s newest major languages, being only a few years younger than the Empire. It is commonly spoken in the various nations that make up the Empire, but has also become Eckor’s main language of trade and commerce. Unlike some languages, it can be reasonably expected that a speaker of Imperial will be able to find a translator in a city of almost any size with relative ease anywhere in the civilized world. Imperial has an alphabet comprised of 29 characters.
Imperial is somewhat of a bastard language. Its lexicon is made up of words from all of the Imperial nations, and it constantly acquires words from other languages as well. It was originally created to be easy for those from the Imperial nations to learn and understand. Anyone that has a rank in three languages native to Imperial nations can speak and understand Imperial as though he had half a rank in it.
Sailors, whalers and pirates travel to all manner of exotic places in their work. The language commonly spoken in one port may be completely different from that spoken in the last. However, while a person might find it difficult to find a translator that speaks the language of his homeland, in port cities people who speak Pygalig are a dime a dozen. Pygalig is generally used to communicate with harbormasters and dock workers, but in a port city that sees any sort of international traffic, tavern owners, prostitutes and constables will all speak the language.
Pygalig, often called “Sailor’s Speech,” is a very basic common tongue language. To those who don’t speak it, it often sounds rough and uncultured, which fits the speaker more often than not. Pygalig does not have an alphabet, since most sailors are illiterate anyway. Additionally, it is a very unrefined language, and is not given to subtlety or tact. With no higher vocabulary to master and no written component, a single Speak Language skill rank is all that’s required to speak and understand Pygalig in its entirety.
Languages of the Civilized World
There are many languages commonly spoken throughout what is widely considered to be the civilized world. Most of these languages are spoken primarily in the areas indicated, but settlers and travelers have taken many languages to many unexpected places.
Alatalise is perhaps the most basic language in common use today. It is used primarily among the tribes of the nation of Altali, but each tribe has its own dialect. Alatalise has no alphabet, and the elves of the nation see no reason to include one. There is no use for a written language in the day-to-day life of a tribe, and inter-tribal agreements require no written document, since they last only as long as is convenient. As a result, only two ranks in the appropriate Speak Language skill are required to master Alatalise.
Alatalise is language enough for use among a tribe, where everyone speaks the same dialect, but communication often breaks down during inter-tribal discussions. While the dialects are similar from tribe to tribe, some words often have radically differing meanings. Each tribe stubbornly believes that its dialect is the original language, and refuses to lower itself to speaking the “crude” dialect of another tribe. This has lead to many bloody conflicts in the past, and the best speakers of Alatalise are often those who take the time to learn the intricacies of the language, the better to communicate with everyone on their own terms.
Dii is the language spoken more than any other in the nation of Taj-Alid. It has an alphabet of 24 characters, but the real genius is its numbering system. Instead of being based on factors of 10 like most other systems, it is based on factors of five. Everything is counted in terms of five, including how many factors of five have already been reached. This allows for a very user-friendly numerical shorthand that makes a visit to Taj-Alid’s famous markets less tedious.
Dii is a very poetic language, meant to shower the listener with adoration and praise or berate them with insults while getting the point across. It is thought of by many in the desert nations as a language of love, since many lengthy epics poems have been composed with the Dii language. Even foreigners generally agree that the language is one built for praise and commerce, though the same foreigners will often add that it’s built so just to put the listener off his guard so the speaker can get the best deal possible.
Midoneese is the language most commonly spoken in the areas of Midon and northern Vastings. It shares a root language (a dead language called Plutinic) with Reesa and Visa Trola. It uses the Plutinic alphabet, which is comprised of 28 characters. The syntax is completely different from other Plutinic-based languages, though. It makes heavy use of apostrophes, which often replace adverbs and adjectives or dictate that a word might be pronounced differently than it is spelled.
Midoneese can sound like a complicated language to foreigners. When spoken, it is often filled with sudden changes in speech pattern, such as being spoken from the mouth to suddenly being spoken from the throat. This most often signals a change in tense or, very occasionally, a change in temperament or emotion. Midoneese uses “double words,” a characteristic that is unique to the language. If a written word is apostrophized in a certain way, that word is spoken aloud twice. This serves as an emphasis that goes beyond other descriptors to single the word out as particularly important.
Mon Gaarian, the language of the city-states of Mon Gaar, is a language that developed over decades from several differing dialects. Like the Mon Gaarian people themselves, it grew and evolved with trade in mind. Roughly 150 years ago, it was codified into a dictionary that allows no room for expansion. It has an alphabet of 31 characters, which contains no punctuation. Contractions are not used, nor are words ever shortened in the written language.
Mon Gaarian is among the strictest of the languages in the civilized world. When speaking casually, it may sound much like any other language, but when addressing someone formally or when conducting a business arrangement, even among friends, it is a very ritualized language. The speaker’s tone is expected to remain steady and not change. Each sentence is suffixed with a single-syllable word ( such as ko, do or lo) to specify if the sentence was a statement, a question or otherwise. To show emotion during formal speaking is considered uncivilized, and opposing Mon Gaarians will often publicly bait each other specifically to try and make the other show emotion, and thus lose face.
Oolahn is the native language of the island nation of Land, ancestral home to the halfling and gnome races. Though the two races speak the language with slight variations, they are mostly small cultural differences, and are otherwise identical. The Oolahn language has an alphabet of 25 characters. The written language makes heavy use of joining punctuation, as two words that punctuate into a single word often have a different meaning than the same two words separated by a space.
Those who don’t speak Oolahn as a native language often describe it as a series of croaking sounds. It’s spoken mostly from the top of the throat and makes extensive use of long “oo” sounds. Oolahn is somewhat simple when compared to some other spoken languages; questions often sound the same as simple statements. To distinguish a question, the speaker makes a smacking sound with his lips directly after speaking. Despite Land’s status as a nation of the Empire, Oolahn is rarely commonly spoken outside of the island nation and various large port cities. Few who aren’t halflings or gnomes have the need or desire to learn it.
Reesa is a language common to the nations of Tiel and Visha. It shares a root language (a dead language called Plutinic) with Midoneese and Visa Trola. It uses the Plutinic alphabet, which is comprised of 28 characters. However, Reesa’s syntax and grammar structure aren’t compatible with that of Midoneese or Visa Trola, so being able to read one language does not mean one can read the other Plutinic-based languages.
Reesa is an expressive language. More often than not, words end in vowel sounds, most commonly “ah” or “ee.” When a phrase ends in a vowel sound, it is commonly extended for a second or two, though this is more a result of culture, and less a rule of the language, and it may be cut from a conversation entirely as a courtesy. As a language, Ressa is often described as being expressive by non-native speakers because the number of multi-syllable words outnumbers monosyllabic words in the lexicon more than five to one. This is due to a heavy use of prefixes and suffixes that act in place of adjectives and adverbs that would stand as individual words in many other languages.
Ribonise is the common language of people from North Ribonia and South Ribonia. Globally, it’s a significant language because most of the founding documents of the Empire are written in it. Among the Empire, Ribonise is the language most non-native speakers learn, specifically because of the importance of the founding documents. The Ribonise alphabet contains 27 characters. The written language follows several strict grammatical rules, which makes it very useful for written contracts and treaties, since there is little room for interpretation.
Ribonise is sometimes used as a primer language for teaching foreigners to speak the Imperial language. This is because it is a very neutral language, without many harsh-sounding syllables or hard stops. While it sounds somewhat more pleasing to many foreigners than the languages of some other Imperial areas, the spoken language follows just as many strict rules of grammar, just like the written language. Because of this, many learn to speak Ribonise and a few learn to read it well, but very few non-natives bother to master the language.
Rien is the primary language of the nation of Inama. Many of the multi-lingual denizens of the Uncivilized Lands speak it as well, thanks to hundreds of years of being beaten back by the hardy people of Inama. The alphabet is fairly simple, with only 18 characters, but it’s capable of producing some exemplary work, as evidenced by the fact that The Frozen Odyssey of Grímur (arguably the world’s greatest epic) was penned entirely in Rien.
Rien is spoken from the diaphragm and contains a number of bass sounds. It has a lot of long oo sounds, and the majority of its syllables are spoken with an exhalation, rather than on an inhalation. A Zymian emperor once said “Rien is a language of throaty, ape-like grunts, but it matches the toughness of its speakers.”
Sheif ibn Shi’al
Sheif ibn Shi’al, literally ‘The Speech of Shi’al,’ is the language of Al-Amim. Few people outside of Al-Amim read or speak it, but it’s the dominant language of the nation. All public announcements, whether written or cried, must be in Sheif ibn Shi’al. The written language is complex, and contains 43 individual characters. Additionally, each character is mirrored if it’s the final character in a sentence to show that the sentence is finished.
The rules of the spoken language aren’t as complex as those of the written language. Sheif ibn Shi’al is spoken from both the mouth and the throat, and doesn’t sound quite like any other language, even those of other desert cultures. The most obvious feature of the spoken language, at least among the worshippers of Shi’al, is that everything, whether written or spoken is attributed to Shi’al. For example, if a man declares his love for a woman, he might say “This gift of my love, which was given me by Shi’al, I now give to you.” Those who speak the language for practical use but don’t worship Shi’al, such as foreign merchants and traders, often find this tedious.
Susuvski is a language most native to the nation of Thur. Having once been part of Thur, Bralda’s native language is also Susuvski, but a few of the smaller southernmost provinces of Mon-Gaar also speak Susuvski. The Susuvski alphabet is comprised of 27 characters, and unlike many other alphabets, there is no distinction between upper and lowercase letters. When read by many from Imperial nations, Susuvski seems at once familiar and alien. This is due in large part to the fact that many letters in the Susuvski alphabet strongly resemble letters from the Plutinic alphabet, only reversed.
Susuvski’s spoken form relies heavily on vowel sounds. This makes it sound as alien as it reads, because it is typically spoken directly from the diaphragm. The “L” sound is always rolled, and “th” sounds are generally replaced with a “D” sound. When non-native speakers want to mock the Susuvski language, they typically do so by blending like-sounding words with the sounds of vomiting. It is a joke that few speakers of Susuvski appreciate.
Tah an Tak
Tah an Tak, literally ‘Word of the Land,’ is the language of the nations of Pichu Tah and Tupu. It is the most prevalent civilized language spoken by those few tough enough to spend an extended time in the Savage lands, so despite some initial resistance, it has gained a small foothold in Kobukia as well. For many years, Tah and Tak had no written component (though it has had a detailed numbering system since before the founding of many nations), but within the past two centuries a written language system has emerged. This language has a pictorial alphabet with a virtually unlimited number of characters. A specific character is a picture of exactly what the writer wants the reader to imagine, and it’s left to the reader to piece together the meaning of multiple pictures.
Tah an Tak’s spoken component is made up primarily of monosyllabic sounds. Since Pichu Tah’s government relies on decisive command, it is usually spoken forcefully and sometimes in a clipped manner. This sometimes gives the impression that the speaker is talking down to the listener, which probably stems originally from Pichu Tah’s extended feudal system of government.
Visa Trola, literally “Under Mountain,” is a language most commonly spoken among dwarves. It originally hails from the nation of Tholldan, but is commonly spoken in Hlor as well. It shares a root language (a dead language called Plutinic) with Midoneese and Reesa. It uses a slightly modified Plutinic alphabet, which is comprised of 29 characters, though many that saw the written language of Visa Trola next to another Plutinic language might mistake it for a completely different set of characters. Over the centuries, dwarven hands have tended towards stretching the characters, making them taller and thinner and more able to fit into a monospace (each character is as wide as all other characters). This tends to make the characters easier to carve into hard surfaces, like metal or stone.
When spoken, Visa Trola sounds very “to the point,” and speakers are often incorrectly assumed to be in a foul mood. This is mostly due to the word structure of the language. Except for words that end in a “rolling r” sound, words are most often spoken crisply and with the ends clipped suddenly. Visa Trola does not have a “w” sound, and when speaking in another language, a Visa Trolian accent is most obvious because “w” sounds are replaced with a “vha” sound. As a general rule, Visa Trola does not use contractions and has very few instances of prefixes or suffixes. As a result, the language has a huge vocabulary.
Zymian is a widespread language that was once among the most commonly spoken anywhere in the civilized world. Today it’s commonly spoken in the lands of Zymia, Tyrus and southern Vastings. The Zymian Empire spread over a huge area and had several remote colonies. A few still speak the Zymian language, most notably Kobukia. The Zymian alphabet is truly huge, having more than 250 individual characters. It is written from the top of the page down to the bottom. Each character represents a single syllable instead of a specific sound. So far as written languages go, Zymian is among the most complex (some would instead say “convoluted”).
The Zymian language sounds very foreign to those unfamiliar with the language. Words are comprised of simple single-syllable parts and the language is spoken very quickly with no pause for verbal punctuation. Thus, to many it sounds as though the speaker is simply making noise or spouting off a litany of simple sounds. In reality, the spoken Zymian language is just as complex as the written language. It can be very specifically expressive, but also contains many pitfalls, since if the wrong word is used at the wrong time, it’s an excuse for the listener to find insult, which was a common source of duals to the death in ancient Zymia.
Sign languages are used by various people in Eckor. Many groups of thieves, warriors and assassins have their own special sign language that is common only to members of their group. Some people with deaf friends or family develop sign languages, but no single standard sign language exists for communication with the deaf. Sign languages have no spoken components and therefore only require a single rank in Speak Language to master, but sign languages are not counted as class skills for any class, even if Speak Language is a class skill, unless that class’s description specifically states otherwise.
The orcs of Bralda lived in slavery under the people of Thur for centuries before winning their freedom. During that time, they devised a special sign language that could be used to communicate without their slave masters noticing. It was this language that allowed the orcs to coordinate the uprising that eventually won their freedom. As knowledge of the language spread, many began to refer to it simply as ‘Orcish,’ and it has been used many times as the battle cant of elite warriors.
Orcish is primarily a hand language, and would be difficult for anyone without two hands to use. It relies heavily on subtle positioning of the hands and fingers. Basic commands can usually be given with a single hand, but a full conversation will almost always require two free hands.
The Trader’s Cant is a sort of unofficial language that is used more by smugglers than by most honest traders. Instead of an actual language, the Trader’s Cant is more of a series of natural-looking body poses. It’s incapable of acting as a communication medium on its own, but if it’s used in conjunction with a spoken language, it acts as an innuendo that can’t be understood by those not schooled in the language.
Secret and Ancient Languages
There are many ancient and dead languages in Eckor. As well, there are many languages that are secret, whether by design or by the fact that most civilized beings are unaware of the languages’ existence. Many more secret and ancient languages exist than those detailed below. By their very nature, ancient and secret languages are extremely difficult to learn. To learn such a language, a person must either have a teacher with at least two ranks in the appropriate Speak Language skill or must have an Intelligence score of 13 or higher. A secret or ancient language may not be selected as the language a character gets 1 free skill rank in during character creation (except for Druidic, which all druids gain a free rank in at 1st level).
The language known only as Druidic is one of the most closely guarded secrets in the world. It is a language created by and taught only to druids. No druid, whether good, neutral or evil, would ever consider teaching the Druidic language to someone that was not a druid. Though the spoken language is loosely patterned after the Sylvan language, it does have a rudimentary alphabet containing 15 characters. These characters are runes, and each represents an important aspect of a druid’s life, such as one of the elements. The alphabet is structured so that only one of the 15 characters is symmetrical. In this way, a character that is written as a mirror image of itself is the opposite of what that character represents. For example, if the rune for water is written backwards, it usually means fire, but in certain contexts, it could mean something else, such as dryness or drought. The only character that is symmetrical in the Druidic alphabet is a circle rune that means both life and death.
When spoken, Druidic is a highly ritualized language. It sounds very much like a simplified version of Sylvan spoken with hard emphasis instead of flowery tones, but though the same syllables are used, they mean very different things. Thus, someone hearing a druid speak could easily confuse Druidic for Sylvan. When druids speak to each other, they are generally quick and to the point. Words in the Druidic language usually don’t have more than two syllables, and generally don’t have multiple meanings. When possible, druids converse with each other empty-handed, as the position of the hands indicates which of the speakers is the more important or higher-ranking druid. Many other factors can dictate the course and tone of a conversation in Druidic. For example, if the speaker kneels and picks up some dirt and allows it to flow through his fingers, it symbolizes that the conversation will have bearing on the fate of the natural world (whether locally or globally), or if one druid approaches the conversation with stones in his hands, it means he considers himself the superior druid and will not speak unless this is recognized. These little nuances are far too many and varied to list.
Hieroglyph is an ancient pictorial language that is often found stamped into clay tablets or painted onto the walls of ancient tombs in the Great Desert. Hieroglyph is ancient beyond reckoning, and has been found in the oldest pyramids and tombs. It is widely believed that Hieroglyph was the language of an ancient people that had power to rival that of the gods, but somehow disappeared into the sands of the desert. Common Hieroglyphic tomb writings speak about committing the deceased person’s body to “the dark abyss,” while sending his mind and spirit free from the concerns of mortal beings.
As a language, Hieroglyph is effectively dead. Except for the occasional eclectic ruler or rich merchant who pays to decorate the inside of his tomb with Hieroglyph writing, no one uses the language anymore. Hieroglyph has no spoken components and therefore requires a single rank in Speak Language to read and two ranks to master, but it is not counted as a class skill for any class, even if Speak Language is a class skill, unless that class’s description specifically states otherwise.
High Draconic is an ancient language spoken primarily by dragons. It shares some characteristics with Low Draconic, but High Draconic is a much more cultured and advanced language. High Draconic’s alphabet is comprised of 73 characters. The written language does not use punctuation. Instead, each sentence is written on its own from the top of the page down. Many of the characters in the High Draconic alphabet represent both a letter and a number. As well, many characters double as prefixes or suffixes to a word, which is used to symbolize a particular emotion. Because of its complexity and its ability to dictate emotion, High Draconic was chosen long ago as the universal written language of arcane magic.
When spoken, High Draconic is generally spoken from the throat as much as from the mouth, with many hissing and croaking sounds. The tongue is often rolled lightly, with the intensity of the roll being used to show the intensity of an emotion. The position of the speaker’s head is used as much as the facial features to display emotion. With dragons, the position of the wings and sometimes the tail as well are also used in this manner. A character that can speak High Draconic at a conversational level (1 skill rank) knows the words, but generally does not know enough about the body language of High Draconic to make use of it. A character that masters High Draconic (4 skill ranks) knows as much as possible about both the spoken language and body language and is able to converse with no trouble. Additionally, while he may not be able to mimic the movements himself (unless he has wings and a tail), he knows how to read the body language a of a dragon as well.
Despite their differences (which dragons will often go on and on about), there are some similarities between High Draconic and Low Draconic. Anyone that has a rank in one of the two languages can speak and understand the other as though he had half a rank in it. Thus, a conversational speaker of High Draconic may have a very rudimentary understanding of Low Draconic when he hears it spoken.
Plutinic is a trade language that was in common use in the civilized world for several centuries. Around 2000 years ago, as national borders became more solidified, Plutinic saw a decline in usage. Other less-complex languages began to see more use, and the Plutinic language itself was gutted in several places to make it less complicated, resulting in the formation of the languages of Midoneese, Reesa and Visa Trola.
Plutinic is an overly-complicated language that follows rules that more modern languages abandoned centuries ago, or never had in the first place. As a result, even though it has the same alphabet as Midoneese, Reesa and Visa Trola, native speakers of those languages cannot understand written Plutinic. Very few people still speak Plutinic aloud, and it is generally only taught among sages interested in reading non-translated historical accounts. Though some Plutinic phrases survive in famous historical accounts or law books, it is effectively a dead language.
Sylvan is the language of the fey. It is spoken by fairies and nymphs, satyrs and centaurs and all the other fey creatures residing both in the Prime Material Plane and the Feywild. The Sylvan language does not have an alphabet or a written component, and therefore only requires two skill ranks to master. Different races of fey speak Sylvan differently. For instance, most sprites speak the language so quickly that it often sounds like little more than a series of flutters and clicks, whereas centaurs and satyrs often speak gruffly and from the diaphragm. Regardless of the speaker, however, the Sylvan language always has a special quality to it, like the listener is remembering the sound of leaves rustling in the wind or the flapping of a bird’s wings. Despite its “flowery” sound, Sylvan is a language capable of expressing a full range of emotions, anger and hatred included.
Tah an Pak Tak
Tah an Pak Tak is an ancient pictorial language that was used in the regions of Pichu Tah, Tupu and the Savage Lands thousands of years ago. No one is certain exactly who invented the language, but it’s carved on the walls, both inner and outer, of many ancient temples and ziggurats. Some of the oldest carvings speak of the Calendar of Times, and seem to date back to the first Times. Many other carvings detail powerful creatures and heroic figures and speak of ancient nameless gods that fought for dominance of the lands.
Tah an Pak Tak is a dead language. No one uses it anymore, though archeologists, tomb robbers and some scholars of history study the language. Tah an Pak Tak has no spoken components and therefore requires a single rank in Speak Language to read and two ranks to master, but it is not counted as a class skill for any class, even if Speak Language is a class skill, unless that class’s description specifically states otherwise.
This language does not have a word or name for itself in its lexicon. The dwarves that tunnel deep into the mountains call it verfluchte zunge (“cursed tongue”), but it’s generally referred to as “Undercommon” by the few civilized people who speak the language. Undercommon has an alphabet with a virtually infinite number of characters. The written language is almost pictorial, with different elements added to or subtracted from a character to change its meaning. It can be a difficult language to read, even for someone schooled in it. The written language itself is somewhat frightening, as each character is made up of several pointed lines, giving it the look of a wickedly-crafted blade.
Undercommon is a harsh language to most ears. It has a sound that is alien to most other spoken languages, and has many sounds that can’t be classified as either consonant or vowel. It is spoken from the throat and contains a lot of phlegm-drenched rolling of the throat. This fact alone has convinced many that the language originated with the illithid, though it is spoken by other deep-dwelling races as well.
Languages of the Uncivilized World
The areas of the world widely called uncivilized are home to many different races and perhaps hundreds of different languages. Those who journey into these areas or regularly fight off incursion from them often understand a little bit of an uncivilized language or two, all the better to given them an edge over their opponents. Many more uncivilized languages exist than those detailed below, possibly numbering in the hundreds.
Goblin is a very harsh language that is spoken by goblinoid creatures, such as bugbears and hobgoblins. These creatures can be found in small pockets all over the world, and are often exterminated as soon as they are discovered, but the largest mass of them is in the Uncivilized Lands. As a result, Goblin is a language spoken by many in The Borderlands. It has a surprisingly well-defined alphabet of 23 characters, and a number system that is based on 8, rather than 10, like most other systems.
As a general rule, goblinoids have extremely guttural voices, and their language reflects this. It is spoken mostly from the back of the throat, and has a number of rumbling sounds incorporated into words. These rumbling sounds help set the tone of the conversation, and they often mark which of the speakers is in the dominant position.
Low Draconic is a very bastardized dialect of High Draconic. While High Draconic is spoken almost exclusively by dragons, Low Draconic is spoken by many of the reptilian creatures of the world, such as kobolds, lizardfolk and troglodytes. It uses the same alphabet as High Draconic, but it’s rare that a creature that speaks Low Draconic will have need of writing, and even more rare that such a creature would choose to pepper its writing with symbols of emotion.
Upon first hearing it spoken, a listener might guess that Low Draconic is an entirely different language than High Draconic. In truth, they are different dialects of the same language. Compared to High Draconic, Low Draconic sounds stretched and tortured. The spoken element comes more from the mouth and less from the throat, and is often accompanied by hissing sounds. Low Draconic has an expanded vocabulary of words dealing with some of the darker aspects of existence, such as war, pain, death and the like, but is not capable of expressing the same range of emotions as High Draconic.
Despite their differences, there are some similarities between High Draconic and Low Draconic. Anyone that has a rank in one of the two languages can speak and understand the other as though he had half a rank in it. Thus, a conversational speaker of High Draconic may have a very rudimentary understanding of Low Draconic when he hears it spoken.
Ogre is the default name of the language spoken by ogres and trolls. Neither race has ever gone on record with a proper name for their language, though most from the civilized nations wouldn’t care if they did. Ogre has no alphabet, as most ogres and trolls are tuninterested in writing anything down.
Ogre is a very strong, harsh language that makes great use of the deep voices typical of ogres and trolls. It is full of bass sounds and features hissing sounds occasionally as well. Some have reported that Ogre is a language of single-syllable words, but this is not true. Ogres and trolls just tend to speak at a pace slow enough that their words can sound broken up. When faced with creatures less physically powerful than themselves, trolls rarely speak at all. Ogres, on the other hand, can sometimes have a surprising vocabulary for creatures with as little intellect as they have. This is due partly to the fact that Ogre has very few individual sounds, so once two or three sounds are learned, they can be combined into hundreds of words.
Most people in Eckor are not aware of the existence of other planes of reality. Therefore, learning of the existence of other planes or meeting a creature native to another plane is generally required to learn an outside language. To begin learning an outside language, a person must have at least one rank in the Knowledge (the planes) skill. An outside language may not be selected as the language a character gets 1 free skill rank in during character creation.
The language of Aquan most likely began on the Elemental Plane of Water. It is spoken by a few water-based creatures in Eckor, however, such as merfolk. While no written language exists among the elementals, some of the more intelligent mortal speakers of Aquan use a basic pictorial language. While there are many hundreds of possible characters in this language, it can be difficult to read, as different races use different characters, or even some of the same characters that mean completely different things. A reader of Aquan that comes across an unfamiliar written dialect must make a Decipher Script check (DC 20, if the character has 2 ranks in the proper Speak Language skill, DC 15 if he has 3 ranks) to be able to properly read the dialect.
At a basic level, Aquan is not an overly difficult language for mortals to speak. It’s comprised mainly of sounds that resonate in the throat, like humming. This is enough to carry on the most basic of communications, however,some of the more advanced language relies heavily on the intake and expulsion of water through the throat. Someone who has mastered the Aquan language (4 ranks) can certainly understand advanced Aquan speech, but is himself limited to basic communication unless he has the ability to breathe water.
Auran is a language that probably began on the Elemental Plane of Air. There are very few creatures native to Eckor that speak the language, but exceptions do exist, such as giant eagles. Generally whimsical by nature and bound to no solid object, creatures of air have never created an alphabet. As a result, only two ranks in the appropriate Speak Language skill are required to master it.
Auran is spoken by sucking or blowing air. The sound is generated completely in the mouth, as the air passes through the lips. By positioning the lips differently, many different sounds can be achieved. Thunderclaps and whistles often accompany these sounds. Most mortals aren’t capable of creating a true thunderclap with their lungs, but they can generally get their point across. The few wizards that understand Auran sometimes use it amongst themselves like a secret language, since it’s very easy to disguise their speech as little more than breathing.
Celestial is a language of the higher planes of good. It is used primarily by good outsiders, such as angels and celestials. The Celestial alphabet is made up of 49 individual characters. Each character represents both a sound and a specific word. Thus, one character might be both a hard ah sound, as well as meaning ‘love,’ if used on its own. The language is written vertically, from the top of the page down, and its characters are fairly simple, being mostly circles connected by various types of lines (straight, squiggly, etc). Because of its divine source and its ability to function as a limited shorthand, Celestial was chosen long ago as the written language of divine magic by many of the churches dedicated to deities of good.
Celestial is a very beautiful language. Some claim that to hear it spoken from the lips of an angel is like hearing the soft tinkling of dozens of bells ringing. Otherwise, it sounds much like many mortal languages. ‘W’ sounds are often drawn out, and most sentences tend to end on an upnote. Among the uneducated, Celestial is often thought of as the language of the gods, which has allowed more than one educated charlatan to take advantage of them.
Fiendish is the primary language spoken on the lower planes of evil. It is mainly used by evil outsiders, such as demons, devils and yugoloths. The Fiendish alphabet is comprised of 42 characters. Like the Celestial alphabet, the Fiendish alphabet’s characters each represent both a sound and an specific word. Thus, one character might be both a sharp “ch” sound as well as meaning ‘rage,’ if used on its own. Fiendish is written from right to left, and as though to spite Celestial’s simplicity, its characters are brutally complex. When looking at a character from the Fiendish alphabet, one gets the impression that there’s a geometric pattern lying just beneath the surface, and that if one could wrap his mind around it, a greater understanding of the universe could be reached.
Fiendish is a utilitarian language. Despite any effort made by the speaker, Fiendish can never sound beautiful. Some have described it as the sound of metal buckling and being wrenched against itself, screeching in protest the whole way. Others have marked it as the tortured screams of the damned as hooks and razors dig into their flesh. The one thing that everyone agrees on is that when it’s spoken with conviction, Fiendish is a language that demands to be heard.
Ignan is a language of fire creatures. Like the other elemental languages, it most likely began on another plane, in this case the Elemental Plane of Fire. True creatures of fire are somewhat more common in Eckor than those of the other elements, resulting in Ignan being a more commonly-used language. Like air creatures, creatures of fire are generally bound to no solid object –at least, not one that will not be destroyed by their passing– so no alphabet has ever been developed for the Ignan language. As a result, only two ranks in the appropriate Speak Language skill are required to master it.
When spoken, Ignan bears a passing resemblance to Auran to the untrained ear. It is comprised primarily of the windy sounds of flames being stoked. Popping and crackling noises are also sparingly used, but the bulk of the spoken language is made by passing air out of the lungs while keeping a gravelly throat. This results in something approximating the true sound of fire, at least close enough that it can be understood by speakers of Ignan.
Terran is a language of earth, and was most likely created on the Elemental Plane of Earth. Of the elemental languages, it is the least-likely to be used in Eckor. Terran has no alphabet, as earth-based creatures are not likely to require written communication. As a result, only two ranks in the appropriate Speak Language skill are required to master it.
Terran is a very odd language to mortal ears. To hear it spoken is like listening to gravel roll and stones grate against one another. It is often punctuated with loud snapping sounds that resemble the cracking of boulders. All but the most basic of sounds are impossible for most mortal throats to imitate. Most mortals that wish to communicate in Terran instead of just understanding it when it’s heard, use a pair of stones, which are rubbed together, struck against one another and occasionally slammed hard enough to sound as though they’ve been split.