Westron Chronicles - Realms of Tuetonia
Languages of Tuetonia
ALPHABETS IN BRIEF
The continent of Westron is home to many cultures and nations, and the inhabitants speak a multitude of languages and dialects. Many races speak their own languages, with regional differences in dialects, though some (such as hobgoblins and goblins) share a language, suggesting a mutual ancestry, a common history, or some other close relationship.
With the introduction of the humans on Tuetonia from Hykoria and their expansionist philosophy brought the closest thing to a common trade language to the area in the form of the Tuetonian language using the Wuzuelian alphabet. Prior to the Tuetonians there was no single popular language, although the Amagans and other nomadic people did develop a simple sign language for trade and negotiation.
Wuzuelian – Writing of Man
Modern sages theorize that this alphabet was created prior to the Breaking of the Word in the ancient empire of the Alek-Paan. This alphabet is phonetic based and was much easier to use than other alphabets that were pictogram based. When the nation of Alek-Paan conquered a kingdom, they replaced the writing of the people with this alphabet. Despite a common system of writing, words written in one language differ in another language, making each mutually unintelligible from each other, that is Tuetonians and Inicians may both use the Wuzuelian alphabet but a sentence written in Tuetonian means nothing to someone who only understands Inician. All human ethnic groups as well as halflings have adopted Wuzuelian as their alphabet. There is no uppercase or lowercase letters in Wuzuelian. Letters that are to be capitalized are underlined instead and punctuation is as in real world English.
Sidhelien – Writing of Elves
This system of writing is named after what Elves call themselves Sidhe. It is a phonetic based alphabet, although some letters represent sounds unique to the only to Sidhelien language. While each elven subrace has a dialect certain characteristics unique to the dialect such as Sindar dialect with words borrowed from Draconic and Avari dialect with a grammatical structure from Druidic. This alphabet is also used in the Aklo language even though the language is not spoken the same way. Other fey races such as gnomes, dryads and similar races also use this system of writing and speak a variant of this language.
Sidhelien punctuation looks like a mess to a non-Elf, filled with curlicues and scrolling marks. Most non-elves assume it that they are looking at some kind of art due to the beautiful, weaving script. It is often found flowing over jewelry, monuments, and magic items. Often elven spies and diplomats have used fine brocade and embroidery to hide secret messages within fabric of clothes during the Elfwars.
Another unique thing about the Sidhe language is that it has a subtle nuance to it in regards to how sentences are structured. A native speaker can hold a conversation inside a conversation; effectively speak about two subjects at once. Anyone who knows Sidhe as an automatic language gains a +2 circumstance bonus to Bluff skill check rolls to delivering a secret message when the speaker or writer and the listener (or reader) both speak (or read) the message. This usually means elves only gain this situational bonus, however other non-elves who have studied the languages intensely have been known to gain this ability as well.
Vos and Khazadain – Runes of the Dwarves
Khazadain is the dwarven rune alphabet while Vos is what dwarves call their spoken language. The dialect of different clans and subraces of dwarf vary but they can for the most part understand each other. Vos is rarely written on anything that can perish easily such as paper and in general dwarves prefer materials that last such as metal or stone. Aside for spacing in words, there is no punctuation or capitalization whatsoever. If a word needs to have an emphasis then it is painted, etched or otherwise made to contrast from what it is written on. Sages theorized that the Khazadain alphabet was influenced by the fact that the Dwarves had learned to work stone and metal early in their history.
The writing for Vos is thought to be sacred to the dwarves and items with runes are rarely given to non-dwarves. Among dwarves personal names are never written Khazadain and are rarely spoken in Vos in front of non-dwarves; instead another name is told to non-dwarves or a rough translation of their name. This behavior even extends to even death and funerary functions. A Dwarven tomb will have a false name displayed and the Khazadain name hidden or not scripted at all. This is due to the dwarven belief that true names give power over them such as bringing back the dead when the dead should rest in peace.
Anyone who knows Vos as an automatic language gains a +2 to Spellcraft skill check rolls to create a magic item that targets a specific person, place or thing or made to be used for specific person, place or thing. This usually means dwarves only gain this situational bonus, however other non-dwarves who have studied the languages intensely have been known to gain this ability as well.
Draconic – Claw Scribbles
Draconic is a very ancient language, which influenced the language of kobolds, lizardfolk, and troglodytes. Some sages believed the script was influenced by the Dwarven runes, but Dragons themselves are unwilling to admit this connection.
Draconic is a language of hard consonants and sibilants that usually sounds like hissing when spoken. It includes sounds that sound very snake-like to humans, including: sj, ss, and sv. It also includes a sound similar to a creature clearing its throat, like the German “ach”. The actual alphabet is referred to as Lathian, after the mythical first dragon Lathios.
Wizards and other practitioners of the arcane arts as well as many people who study alchemy, engineering and other disciplines favor this language since it lends well to being used for arcane mathematics and the notations common to arcane magic as well as to higher used of learning. Wizards in Tuetonia usually are fluent in Draconic and are versed in this style of writing. Within the greater scope of Westron, Draconic is the universal language of among arcane spellcasters. When used for this purpose Draconic becomes a complex notation that describes the magical forces involved in the spell. However, each person uses the system in their own way. Another person’s magical writing remains incomprehensible to even the most powerful wizard until he takes time to study and decipher it. Most wizards would rather mages puzzle out a new scroll without resorting to using Read Magic. Often wizards’ distain using any form of magic to interpret a captured spellbook and scrolls for fear using magic will trigger cursed scrolls and runes that often only go off when Read Magic is used.
Empyrean, Infernal and Kimian – High, Dark & Primordial Speech
These languages are not native to the Prime World. As such scholars, learned people and those who study the Planes usually are the only ones who know anything of these languages.
Empyrean is used by celestial beings such as angels, azata and archons as well as other beings that dwell in the higher planes. When a Celestial speaks Empyrean, listeners who don’t speak Empyrean understand the words as if the speaker used their own languages. The Celestials can choose to disguise their speech, but in general Empyrean is a universal language. Many sages and scholars of the Church of Light believe that all mortal languages came from Empyrean and all mortal languages are each mortal races interpretation of Empyrean.
The primordial races such as elementals, titans and ancients have their own language of Kimian. Lastly there is Infernal. This language shares many aspects of Kimian, but is warped and twisted by the evil at the heart of the Abyss. Infernal has similar to Empyrean and Kimian but is utilized by demon, devils and daemons of the lower planes.
These languages are both actual languages used to communicate, but they also include words of power that mortals cannot normally use. These enchanted phrases, syllables and phonetic sounds contain the raw magic of creation or primordial evil. Player characters can’t know these languages initially. They might eventually learn the basics of communicating in these tongues, but without mastering these mighty sounds. Mortals who learn Empyrean don’t gain the ability to have their words universally understood. Texts containing these words in either language could unleash powerful effects and these tomes or scrolls might be artifacts in their own right.
Druidic – The Secret Tongue
Druidic is a secretive language that is not related to any other language in alphabet, sentence structure or in grammar. Prior to the Breaking of the World, Druidic was the common language among all religious figures and some leaders of Tuetonia. Druidic is also a supernatural language somewhat like Empyrean or Infernal. Druidic is not a normal language. You don’t learn Druidic in the same way that you’d study Sylvan, Sidhelien or Gigan. Even if you know the language characters can’t seem to teach it to someone uninitiated into the Druid faith any more than you they can teach them to cast a druidical spell. In some ways Druidic is like learning divine magic, speaking with animals and the other druidic mystery abilities. Many druids believe that it is the true first language and is the language of the Eidolon herself. Some claim to have found Druidic inscriptions carved in the sides of mountains or written in the drifting clouds.
Since only druids can learn Druidic, speaking this language is a way to be identified by other druids. There are tales of an Amagan druid that are about to be boiled alive by a tribe of kobold only to be rescued when he says a prayer to the Primal powers by the tribes druid spoken. However, there are tales that not all druids are allies such as a peaceful hermit may despise the violent actions of a militant anti-urban druidical avenger.
HANDSPEAK – The Non-Language
This language is not truly a language but a collection of universally used gestures that was developed first by Amagans to communicate for trade with other races. Later it was adopted by many people as a “second” language. This language has no alphabet or system of writing. It is often disdained by the nobility of Tuetonia as a “boorish and used by savages” since Amagans are the most well known users of this language. When traveling into the wilderness it is advisable to have at least one person who can communicate by Handspeak.
MODERN DIALECTS The language table above presents the languages in Tuetonia. Each region has it’s own dialect differences. A Sindar Elf speak a different Sidhe dialect then an Avari Elf and Edge Coast Tuetonians speaks Tuetonian differently then the people of Bremen Valley. These are mutually intelligible and a DC 5 Sense Motive check is sufficient to identify the speaker’s region or subraces after listening to them speak for 1 minute or more. Characters attempting to conceal their regional accent or adopt another accent use a Disguise check opposed by the listener’s Sense Motive check
SPEAK LANGUAGE SKILL AND LITERACY During the early years of Tuetonia, literacy and education of the common folk were not on highest priorities for the Church or the nobility. For the longest time both institutions felt the best way to ensure survival in their new home was to concentrate on work and the physical. The Church also felt it was easier to control the masses by keeping them illiterate. The Curvaki have always showed more literacy then Tuetonians, partially because they were mostly moneylenders, merchants and of highly skilled professions. The Vassa and by association the Guilds felt the best way to have a good society was to not have illiterate people. Literacy became important with the Elfwars and the later Great War when much printed material was made to rally the people for war, instruct commanders of plans and intel from other commanders. Illiteracy in Tuetonia today is not as common as it once was, although the vast majority of the Tuetonian population while literate are not strongly literate and still prefers oral tradition for stories and entertainment rather than written word. In the areas of math, science, arcana, history, philosophy and religion literacy is still important. Most common people are literate enough in their native language to function and usually can speak another, however often do not actually know how to read a second language other than a few key word and symbols that relates to things in their life. Illiteracy among other races came about for different reasons, such as shifters having no written language, dwarves due to isolationism and wild elves as a refusal to conform to high elven ideals of society. In game terms, all starting languages that a character has, they are able to speak, read and write in. When a character learns a language due to spending skill points in Linguistics a new living language is chosen. The character is assumed to be able to speak this language. If the skill is not a class skill it will cost 1 skill points to speak the language and an additional point to be literate in the language, for a total of 2 skill points. This gets dropped if the character already knows the script of the language in question such as a character knowing Tuetonian is learning Vassic When noting on a character sheet if a character is able to speak the language but is not literate in the language that language should be marked with a “(S)” for speak. If the character is literate then the language should be marked instead as “(S/R)” for speak and read. Writing the language is assumed if the character can read.
EXAMPLE: Drax of Blackshire is a Tuetonian adventurer and due to a high INT score he starts off with two languages. Both are considered “native”. He gains Tuetonian and one other language which he picks Gigan. Tuetonian uses the Wuzuelian alphabet and Gigan uses the Khazadain alphabet. He is fully literate in both languages and notes them down as Tuetonian (S/R-A) and Gigan (S/R-A) If the character has Speak Language as a class skill then the cost to learn to speak the language is one less for a total of one points but literacy remains the same. Literacy can be made cheaper by one point only if the language in question shares and alphabet that is known already such as being literate in Gigan and learning Vos or having literacy in Tuetonian and learning Vassic.
EXAMPLE: Drax knows Tuetonian and Gigan starting off. It is assumed both are (S/R-A) languages. Later the character spends a skill point to learn Sidhe. He is able to speak the language only. Should he spend another skill point he can also read and write Sidhe in addition to speaking the language. If the Drax learned Vos instead the total cost would be only one skill point since Gigan and Vos share the same script.
DEAD LANGUAGES Scholars, sages and researches of the obscure can name a great number of dead languages but only a few can be called the ancestors of one or more modern languages. These languages are so different that is usually incomprehensible to even people that are fluent in the modern version of the language. None of these languages has been a spoken as a “living language in thousands of years and some in tens of thousands of years. It is very doubtful that it will be in common use again any time soon. These languages can be recognized by anyone that succeeds at a Knowledge (History) DC 20 that also knows one of the modern variants of the language can understand that they are looking at something but it is still gibberish unless the character spends skill points in Linguistics skill to learn the language. If the character can speak and is literate in one of the languages that is a forerunner to the one they know they may try to read a small portion, however the translation even on a success will be sketchy at best. The character must succeed at a Linguistics DC 35 (45 for Seld’rinar or Rom’nyair since the alphabets are no longer used) in order to decipher something. With all “dead languages”, DM’s should exercise caution allowing PC’s learning the language. In modern Westron as well as Tuetonia, only scholars have any use for such languages. It is recommended that a starting character should only be allowed to learn one dead language initially if allowed any of them at all. To be able to read or write any of these languages costs twice as much as normal and there is no cost deduction for knowing any other language. However knowing an ancient language and then later learning a modern variant of it does give a skill point deduction as per the rules outlined above.
Aragaan: An archaic draconic language used by dragons only when speaking with other dragons. Dragons detest speaking it around other non-dragons.
Paan: This language was used by the extinct and sunken island nation of Alekpaan. The Alekians were pioneers in science and technology as well as dimensional theory. Their language is what gave rise to the languages that use Wuzuelian. Now only a few scholars learn it, even fewer know if the translations are correct
Rom’nyair: The precursor of the spoken part of the Inician language. The alphabet has fallen into disuse due to inefficiency and complexity. The modern Inician language uses Rom’nyair words and some grammatical syntax but as a written language it has been altered so that words can be expressed when written in the Wuzuelian alphabet. Inician governmental institutions still keep important written records in Rom’nyair and the Inician Senate speaks Rom’nyair while they are in session.
Seld’rinar: A unique and very rare language of “high speech” used a very long time ago before the Breaking of the World. Sages, scholars and mystics do not know who the people who used this language were and only a few planar beings are able to speak and are literate in this language. The language seems to have an arcane resonance to it similar to Empyrean, Kimian and Infernal but the resonance is usually not usable by mortals. Various stone monuments and leftover remnants from pre-Breaking times of Eidolon have this writing inscribed on them. For all practical purposes it is a truly dead language. 10 scholars speak it and less even less literate in it. It is unknown if any translations are even correct.
FOREIGN LANGUAGES Some inhabitants of Westron do not speak languages that are native to Tuetonia. These languages are not found in other lands in Westron such as Abagot, Hykoris, Inician, Kelturkish and Nalmaric. Other languages are from different continents such as Bakemono, Korobukuru, Midian, Nezumi, Oni, Thana, Shinomen and Varna.
The languages and alphabets from these lands are foreign to the ears and eyes of people from the lands of Westron. Most people of Westron will go their entire life without being exposed to any of these languages yet alone the people who speak it with the exception of two languages. Te first is Isternessi due to the “Trail of Riches” and second is Midian due to the merchant ships that brave the Southern Oceans for the sake of trade. Both trade with the people of mainland Westron bringing with them exotic goods such as silk, cotton, spices and jade. Both lands are difficult for foreigners to visit, Isterness due to their views of non-Isternessians and the long land voyage, Midiana due to the ocean and plagued by corsairs and pirates and later a long desert trip. Below are the more common languages that have transplanted to Westron but by no means a complete list.