Creatures who reach our modern world through Shadow gain an innate knowledge of English, Spanish, Russian, or whatever the predominant language happens to be in the area in which they arrive. To them, the language resembles Common, a language that was used in trade or other negotiations between different species in the world of their birth. Whether this is mere coincidence or part of some great design remains a mystery.
"Languages of Shadow" are languages brought to our world by creatures of Shadow. Like Earth languages, these languages can be grouped together in families. Languages that belong to a single family share the same root alphabet. However, knowing one language in a family doesn't enable characters with the Smart hero
's linguist talent to automatically speak, write, and understand the other languages in that family.
Natives of our world-human and Shadowkind
alike-can learn new Shadow languages only after they are exposed to them; they can't master them spontaneously. To learn Draconic
, for example, a character must spend time with creatures that speak Draconic
or find someone with access to the written language (Draconic
"books on tape" or ancient texts written using the Draconic
alphabet, for example). Certain Shadowkind
know languages commonly spoken among members of their species, and all characters may study and learn new Shadow languages, investing in the appropriate Read/Write Language and Speak Language skills
as they advance in level.
Table: Shadow Languages by Family lists various languages of Shadow and their root alphabets. Shadow language families include the following:
Elegant in its simplicity and purity, celestial
writing tends to be direct in its language. Spoken, it has a gentle, flowing tone.
A florid, powerful alphabet, Draconic
is often used for magical messages and inscriptions. It is said to descend from the dragons themselves and is often referred to as the Original Language and the Words of Power.
Using an alphabet similar to the Norse runes, the dwarven
alphabet was made to be carved in stone, and its letters look as if they were chiseled in place. Languages in this family are generally rough and heavily accented.
alphabet is a thin, flowing freehand script with letters overlapping and curling in on themselves, suitable for inscription on metal, ivory, or very hard woods. It is used by elves (including drow
) and has a melodic tone when spoken.
alphabet is a jagged, powerful script. The two languages that form this group-Abyssal and Infernal-are dominated by harsh gutturals and accents. Favored by evil outsiders, its presence usually indicates something malefic.
alphabet makes heavy use of pictograms and lettering passingly similar in appearance to musical notes. The spoken language is a patois incorporating elements of Elven
combined with distinctive halfling
Represented by harsh lines and stark hieroglyphs, this debased version of Elven
is spoken by countless subterranean species, usually for the purpose of doing business with one another.
TABLE: LANGUAGES OF SHADOW BY FAMILY
Footnote on Sign Languages
Knowing one type of sign language does not grant knowledge of other sign languages. In the mundane world, ASL (American Sign Language) is a dominant form of nonverbal communication in the United States and may be used and understood by any character who takes the Speak American Sign Language skill
. However, the communication is in the native language of the speaker. Two characters using ASL to communicate with each other must share another common language.
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