Languages – the great impediment to understanding between disparate peoples. A vast world with millennia of civilizations that build up before being knocked down in disastrous or war-driven calamities resulting in droves of shell-shocked refugees fleeing to new places to start the process all over again has seeded the land with languages and learning often far flung but hardly intact or identical to each other. There are many languages spoken across the Forgotten Realms and no one unifying language. Only one race managed to keep a unique tongue throughout their existence and that has been more because of a lack of any compulsion to assert themselves upon the world than anything else.

Yet, what does this mean for the game? Speak language as a skill is a misnomer at best since there are no skill checks and “you can purchase Speak Language just like any other skill, but instead of buying a rank in it, you choose a new language that you can speak.” Ergo Speak Language is a skill that is not. Instead, I propose every rank in Speak Language is just that, a skill rank. Your character wants to have a meaningful communication with someone who does not share a common language? Then pantomime, use of root/base words, and gestures of implied meaning are all part of Speak Language.

In other words, Speak Language is Common with skill checks to impart and understand meaning between those without a common language. Though there is little more than a pidgin of motley words to express numbers, colors, genders, and only greater/less than generalities of amounts, lengths, widths, heights, and whether it is day or night – to call such a language is a gross exaggeration. Talking to someone using this common is like having a conversation with a sign language using gorilla – a banal novelty once and a simplistic exercise in boredom all the rest of the time where nothing meaningful is exchanged.

DC 5Grossly general information of color, numbers, direction “Want red” or “North?” while pointing
DC10Simple conversation about present tangible things “This fish OK?”
DC15Simple conversation about intangible things “what time does the stage coach come?”
DC20Complex conversation about intangible things “come get me when the second stage coach arrives after noon”
DC25Simple conversation about concepts “better to die free than live like slave”
DC30Complex conversation about abstract concepts “Help me now and karma will be balanced in your favor for the future”
Alignment+1 DC per step removed
Race+1 if generally aligned race, +2 other
Creature type+2 DC not the same (humanoid, magical beast, etc…)
Languages+2 DC if not in same language group (see below) from the PC’s same home region
Alphabet+1 DC if known languages do not share same alphabet

Decipher Script can be used in much the same way as Speak Language to cross linguistic barriers but for written languages only. The base DCs are the same but the modifiers are different.

Alignment1 DC per step removed
Creature type3 DC not the same (humanoid, magical beast, etc…)
Languages2 DC if not in same language group (see below) from the PC’s same home region
Alphabet1 DC if alphabet is not the PC’s native language’s
Alphabet+10 DC if alphabet is not one in the PC’s known languages

Also, ranks put into this skill grants new known languages that your character speaks but not on a one for one basis. A character’s Intelligence modifier helps to establish how easily languages are learned. A PC may easily learn a number of languages equal to his modifier +1. Every language beyond that number bears a +1 cost which is cumulative for each new language. A language which uses an alphabet dissimilar to your first language is not listed among the bonus languages from the PC’s home region requires an additional +1 to learn. Any language may be used as soon as the first ranks are paid for it but must be completely bought before starting to learn a new language. The benefit of this is that there are no skill checks for communication in the chosen language.

Example – a halfling from Waterdeep Int 11 puts 2 ranks into Speak Language choosing Illuskan as his home language and Chondathan as a learned language (both share a common alphabet region but only the home language is easily learned and Chondathan requires two ranks to complete). Another halfling from Neverwinter Int 16 puts 4 ranks into Speak Language and chooses Illuskan, Shanatan, and Hin (outside region); however, though the languages were all considered easily learned the next language won’t be and the next will be harder still.

Speak Language has more of a racial component at play. Every race has a varying number of Bonus ranks to the Speak Language skill. Also, humans get a bonus of 1 to their intelligence modifier to determine how many languages a character can “easily learn” on a 1 rank per language basis before a cumulative 1 rank penalty is assessed for each additional language. Humans and Gnomes do not pay a penalty for learning a language using an alphabet outside of their native tongue’s outside of their starting region’s bonus languages list, Half-Elves treat two chosen alphabets as if their based languages regions as if they were native, and Haflings have Speak Language as a Class Skill regardless of their class skill list. Dwarves and Elves use the rank cap of a class skill for Speak Language even if the skill is cross class (and requires two skill points per rank of advancement).

RaceBonus RanksEasy Language ModifierNotes
Dwarf30No bonus.
Elf30No bonus.
Gnome2‘0No alphabet region penalty
Hafling20Speak Language is treated as a class skill
Half-Elf202 Base Alphabets regions
Human2’+1No alphabet region penalty

Elven LanguageSpoken by Majority of…Alphabet
EladrinMoon Elves, Wood Elves, Wild Elves (Low Elven)Espruar
EspruarOld Low ElvenEspruar
SindarinSun Elves, Evermeet (High Elven) Espruar
SeldruinSun Elven Nobility (Old High Elven)Hamerfae
Deep DrowLow Drow Espruar
High DrowHigh DrowDrowic
Dwarf LanguageSpoken by Majority of…Alphabet
Authalan Wild DwarvesDethek
Duernan Gray DwarvesDethek
Galenan East Shield DwarfDethek
Kurit Arctic DwarvesDethek
Riftspeak Gold DwarvesDethek
Shanatan West Shield DwarvesDethek
Urdunan Orecutter DwarvesDethek
Gnome LanguageSpoken by Majority in…Alphabet
GnimAll gnomesDethek
Halfling LanguageSpoken by Majority in…Alphabet
HinEverywhere elseThorass
Elemental LanguageSpoken by Majority of…Alphabet
AquanCreatures in Sea of SwordsBarazhad
AuranAir CreaturesBarazhad
SerusanCreatures in Inner SeaBarazhad
IgnanFire CreaturesBarazhad
TerranEarth CreaturesBarazhad
Planar LanguageSpoken by Majority of…Alphabet
CelestialLow DeificCelestial
AbyssalLow ProfaneInfernal
SupernalHigh DeificPrimordial
Dark SpeechHigh ProfaneHieroglyphic
PrimordialOld ProfanePrimordial
Dragon LanguageSpoken by Majority of…Alphabet
Auld WyrmishDragons (Draconic)Draconic
High WyrmishArcane SpellcasterDraconic
Low WyrmishLizardfolkOphidian
High SylvanCormyrean, Misty, High, & Ardeep Forestsnone
Low SylvanShaar, Chondalwood, Vilholn Reach, Anaurochnone
Gnollall Gnollsnone
Subhuman LanguageSpoken by Majority of…Alphabet
DaraktanGray OrcGargish
OrkynHigh OrcGargish
UlgorkLow OrcGargish
Human LanguageSpoken by Majority in…Alphabet
AglarondanAglarond, Altumbel, Chessenta, Dragon Coast, Impiltur, Mulhorand, Rashemen, Thesk, and the VastEspruar
AkurianChult (Southern)Thorass
AllesianAshane, Thay, and TheskThorass
AlzhedoCalimshan (Thorass), Amn, Chult, the Lake of Steam, Lapaliiya, Lantan, the Nelanther Isles, the Shaar, Tashalar, Tethyr, Waterdeep (among dwarves, elves, & gnomes), the Western Heartlands (among halflings & planetouched), the Wealdath, Tharsult, & Old ShanatarCalim
Auld CormanthanGreat DaleThorass
BothiiUthgardt & HartsvaleThorass
CalantAmn, Tethyr, East Western HeartlandsThorass
ChardicDamara, VaasaThorass
ChessicChessenta, Ixinos, & ThreskalSemphari
ChondathanAmn, Chondath, Cormyr, the Dalelands, Dragon Coast, the North (civilized), Sembia, Silver Marches, Tethyr, Waterdeep, Western Heartlands, Vilhon ReachThorass
ChultanChult & Samarach, and Calimshan, Lapaliiya, Nimbral, Tashalar, Tharsult, & ThindolDraconic
CormanthanOld Low Thorass, and Cormyr, Dalelands, & SembiaThorass
DamaranDamara, and Aglarond, Altumbel, Anauroch, Cormyr, Dalelands, Dragon Coast, Great Dale, Great Glacier, Hordelands, Impiltur, Moonsea, Narfell, Rashemen, the Ride, Sembia, the Shadovar, Thay, Thesk, Vaasa, the Vast, & Vilhon ReachDethek
DambrathanDambrath and Channath Vale, Halruaa, Luiren, Nimbral, & the ShaarEspruar
DurpariDurpar, Estagund, Var, Veldorn, and Golden Water, Luiren, Mulhorand, Nimbral, the Shaar, & among ShouThorass
EastingImpilitur, The VastThorass
ErakicThe Ride (Uncivilized)Thorass
GurriWestern Heartlands (Uncivilized)Thorass
HalruaanHalruaa, Nimbral, and Channath Vale, Dambrath, the Golden Water, Lapaliiya, Luiren, & the Shaar.Draconic
IlluskanMintarn, Moonshaes, Ruathym, the Savage North (uncivilized areas), the Sword Coast, the Uthgardti, and WaterdeepThorass
MidaniZakhara, the BedineElemental
MulhorandiMulhorand, and Murghom (Semphari), Semphar (Semphari), and Thay (Infernal)Celestial
MuhjuriMurghom and SempharSemphari
NorthernThe North (dying out)Thorass
RaurindiRaurin (uncivilized)Thorass
ReghedjicSpine of the WorldThorass
SespechianSespech, Shining PlainsThorass
ShaaranLake of Steam, Lapaliiya, Sespech, the ShaarDethek
ShaartanThe Shaar, Lake of Steam, Lapaliiya, TharsultThorass
TashalanBlack Jungle, Mhair Jungle, Samarach, Tashalar, ThindolDethek
TelpiDragon Coast, Pirate Isles, and Amn, Calimshan, Lake of Steam, Sword Coast, Tethyr, and Western HeartlandsThorass
TharianNorth & West MoonseaThorass
AragrakhAncient High WyrmishDraconic
Auld ThorassOld High ThorassThorass
DevicDead language Solon and Ulgarth-
Elder Tongue Dead language Old DwarvishDethek
Ha’aklihaOld HobgoblinDraconic
HulgorkynOld OrkGargish
JotunalderOld GiantThorass
KadariDead language ZakharaElemental
LorossDead language High NetherilDraconic
NethereseDead language Low NetherilDraconic
NogaDead language ZakharaElemental
RoushoumDead language ImaskarImaskari
ThorassDead language JhammdathThorass
UnthericDead Language UntherSemphari


Thalasquall AndrickVolsh