(Editorial note: This being a legacy campaign world, the number of extant languages is more comparable to a 2e world than a 4e one. I am kicking about potential house rules for allowing players to pick more languages, so they aren’t particularly screwed by the 4e “fewer languages known, fewer to know” setup.)
• Common (Northern) — A trading language spoken across most of this continent. [Dialects: Chelindran, High Common]
• Common (Southern) — The common tongue of Ibrydos, the continent to the south; it’s fairly similar to Northern Common, as the two languages share similar roots if different evolutions.
• Drakhan — The native language of the reptilian drakha; it apparently had its origins with the race, as it bears no real resemblance to any other known language. As befits their reptilian jaws, Drakhan is a language with plenty of sibilants, growling sounds such as “r” or “n”, and sharp sounds such as “kh.” However, drakha have remarkable flexibility of speech, and can pronounce most vowel or consonant sounds with little trouble.
• Earthtongue [dialects: Dwarvish, Old Haeurn] — A terrestrial offshoot of the elemental tongue Tarnen, the Earthtongue has been the language of the dwarves for as long as they can reckon the years. Its sub-dialects (Old Haeurn being the most prominent) are the most dramatic changes that the Earthtongue has seen; it has suffered so little lingual drift that millennia-old carvings in Dwarvish can be read almost effortlessly by modern dwarves.
• Elvish (Iletra) — The native tongue of the elves is a fluid language with few harsh consonants and several tonal elements that convey additional mood or metaphors. It is a difficult language to learn, and non-elves rarely achieve total fluency, although the basics can be taught fairly readily.
• Giantish [dialects: Votunn, Ogrish] — The various giant races, as well as their strange by-blows, speak a mix of dialects that all stem from the same root language, Votunn. Most dialects break down into two similar languages: Votunn, still spoken by the “true giants,” and Ogrish (Ugrun), spoken by the “mongrel giants” and the race of ogres. Both dialects feature heavy consonants, and a rumbling, rolling cadence, although Ugrun is distinctly harsher.
• Gnollspeak (Iokana) — The gnolls’ language is a snarling, growling language that possesses a surprising range of sounds. Non-gnolls have a difficult time mastering the tongue unless they are expert vocal mimics, although basic communication is easier.
• Goblinspeak — Goblins, hobgoblins and bugbears all speak a common tongue, an ugly language that has been compared to “jabbering with a mouthful of live beetles.” It has many sub-dialects based on region, although it is surprisingly consistent from one enclave of goblinkin to the next.
• High Khavayish — The traditional tongue of Khavayin, the desert land across the sea to Rasenna’s south. Although the common tongue has been gladly adopted in Khavayin for trading purposes, Khavayish is still the preferred language of poetry, literature, law, debate, theological works, and most other forms of “educated” speech. Many nomad tribes have their own dialects of this that they preserve, having spoken Khavayish for millennia.
• High Kheran — Like High Khavayish, only it’s the language of choice of the Kheran Empire. Quite rare on this continent, slightly more common on Ibrydos, but many magical treatises have been written in this tongue by the master sorcerers of Khera.
• The Scaled Tongue [dialects: Sithic, Ophidic] — This language seems to have its roots in an ancient mode of speech common to all scaled sentients of the time. Its two major dialects are Sithic (the language of lizard men) and Ophidic (the language of snake-creatures such as yuan-ti). It uses its own alphabet, derived from curving, serpentine pictograms.
• Trollspeak (Trulmuz) — The trollish races speak a slurring argot that has its roots in Earthtongue and Giantish, with the odd corrupted influence from Vedan. It is an ugly language by most standards.
• Orcish (Tuguk) — The traditional language of the violent orc cultures. Many orcs speak some dialect or another of Common out of convenience, although they retain their own language as a matter of pride.
• Vedan (the Sorcerer’s Tongue) — An ancient language from before the Godswar; elements of this tongue show up in magical incantations, both forms of Common, and many other obscure places.
These are a few of the ones that are rarely known in Rasenna; there are others that are all but unknown in this portion of the world.
• Dragontongue (Darkharok) — Allegedly the oldest language in existence. Many low magic wizards and sorcerers study Dragontongue as one of the foundational languages; allegedly the terrestrial first spells to bind the elements were spoken in this tongue.
• Esajian — The musical language of geniekind, preserved mainly among sorcerers and wizards who deal with the mighty race. It has very little practical use for anyone else; genies speak most human languages without hesitation. Mainly used in incantations to bind genies or when addressing genies in respectful fashion. Also called “The Perfect Language,” “The Beautiful Tongue” and the like, mainly by genies.
• Minotaur (Kunoma) — A debased form of Minoic, a dead language from the times before the spread of Common. Spoken by minotaurs and their capricaur offshoots.
• Moriul — The peculiar tongue of the Morafir, the curst elves. Although similar in base structure to Iletra, the two languages have diverged sufficiently that fluency in one confers no real understanding in the other. The alphabet shares similarities to the elven and Kumuric alphabets.
• The Pria Eliriel — A sacred tongue of Heaven, preserved in some religious texts. Allegedly the native language of celestials.
• The Pria Kumureth — By compare, this is the tongue of Hell, used by diabolists and other scholars of the dark, and said to be the native tongue of demons, devils, fiends and their ilk. Slightly more widespread than the Pria Eliriel, thanks to its popularity among the now-fallen empire of the Baal-Angru.
The Elemental Tongues
Elementals arguably have no real use for language all their own; highly sentient elementals empathically understand a speaker’s intent, and some master the particulars of several languages. However, the four elemental languages have some power all their own: not binding, per se, but being able to address a fire elemental in Ignan goes some way in impressing on the thing that one is more than a simple combustible. There are some dialect overlaps between the four, as each language shares some common turns of phrase and constructions with its two “neighboring” elements, though two languages in elemental opposition are mutually incomprehensible. Many dialects of the elemental tongues exist, from mortal variations (such as Earthtongue) to hybrid dialects spoken by elementals of mixed nature (such as the blend of Tarnen and Ignan spoken by volcanic elementals).
Aesen — The language of elemental Air. Merges with Ignan and Meran.
Ignan — The language of elemental Fire. Merges with Tarnen and Aesen.
Meran — The language of elemental Water. Merges with Tarnen and Aesen.
Tarnen — The language of elemental Earth. Merges with Ignan and Meran.