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    Default The Personifications of languages

    Hey for my first post, I'm making a ridiculously huge request.

    I was inspired by a post by DMofDarkness
    Paraphrased

    "Words are never quite forgotten. They may change over time, or fall out of use, but they are always there. Over time, entire languages have risen and fell, but they are still there. They still have been there. And they keep speaking, even if we no longer can hear it. Languages are beings themselves; they have personalities, they can change over time, and they interact and grow."

    Basically I want to make the stats, personalities, goals, and plots of all the common languages and turn that into my campaign.

    Abyssal, Aquan, Auran, Celestial, Common, Draconic, Druidic, Dwarven, Elven, Giant, Gnome, Goblin, Gnoll, Halfling, Ignan, Infernal, Orc, Sylvan, Terran, Undercommon

    So one by one, with the help of this forum i kind of want to flesh out the personifications. What would they want? How would they interact with one another? How would they manifest themselves? Personally I will go through them like Rich did in his play theory under the gaming section, till i have fairly interesting and unique characters lol. And I would love to hear your ideas on this, since I'm by all accounts a newbie, on this forum and in D&D, just thought it was a cool idea.

    Thanks!

    Edit: My first couple of ideas would be that like deities languages would be basically immortal, as long as one person knows the language they exist, and they are as powerful as how many people speak that language at a given time. So their power fluctuates as people stop talking etc. For example Common would be powerful when everyone is awake and weak when people are asleep. Draconian would not be as powerful as common, simply because less beings speak it. Additionally their existence would fluctuate as they are forgotten and rediscovered in ancient tomes. One more thought is that they are all inherently self interested, they want as many people as possible to speak them to ensure their power and survival and their goals are motivated such. I actually see Abyssal ironically neutral in nature as it thinks that so widely spoken across 666+ planes of existence that it has nothing to worry about..
    Last edited by mystic1110; 2010-12-22 at 01:47 AM.

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    Default Re: The Personifications of languages

    Dwarvish = Fistbeard Beardfist. Does it even need to be said?

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    Default Re: The Personifications of languages

    I generally use real-world languages to fill in the game languages.

    Common = English
    Draconic = Latin
    Elven = French
    Dwarven = German
    Giant = Russian
    Gnome = Spanish
    Halfling = Romani
    Sylvan = Navajo
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    Default Re: The Personifications of languages

    The first one I started to flesh out is Abyssal.

    Abyssal – NE, unlike the denizens that speak it, Abyssal is content to do nothing, it cares not for furthering its syllables through other tongues. The reason being is that with so many devils and demons and daemons and a plethora of other creatures speaking it, it is among the most powerful of all the languages. While it used to be chaotic evil, it has since grown weary and tired of trying to increase its spread, after all its machinations have only led to one failed invasion of various planes after another. And what’s the gain? Only a few million tongues more, to what purpose? Instead it’s only long time goal is the extinction of celestial that blessedly beautiful language that Abyssal had always hoped to sound like. (Back Story: when language was created Abyssal fell in love with Celestial, yet as their speakers began to war, the languages began taking forms, shapes, alignments. And Celestial became more distant, even disgusted with Abyssal’s cruel nature. The more Abyssal was spurned that more he wanted her, and yes they took on genders as well. The spurned love became twisted hate, a conviction that if he cannot be the sole listener of her melodies then no one can. For that is the equivalent of a marriage of languages a melding, and the more the realization dawned that devils and angels would never coexist the more Abyssal simply wanted to destroy Celestial) Yet even even and lust have burnt themselves out, Abyssal mostly content to simply let nature takes it course, although if the chance ever occurs to snuff out the last cries of angels, it would gladly make itself known; yet as far as intervention goes it is one of the least involved languages (although a caveat: if ever, however unlikely a slim chance presents itself for devils and angles to unite, perhaps against a greater threat, Abyssal would sacrifice everyone of his speakers for the chance, even knowing that this cruel act would not only destroy him, but earn the hatred of Celestial as well). Abyssal takes on the appearance, if the players ever get the language to represent itself, of an aging king, one who was a haughty and cruel warrior during life, but in his old age is filled with nothing but regret and apathy. His form is withered and his once fine garments and tools of bloody war rusted and aged.

    I'm going to do Celestial next simply because Abyssal's story made envisioning her so much easier. Hopefully the rest of the languages will evolve like that
    Last edited by mystic1110; 2010-12-22 at 02:46 AM.

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    Default Re: The Personifications of languages

    This idea sounds really cool. Keep it up!
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    Default Re: The Personifications of languages

    That sounds more like Fiendish than Abyssal, though...
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    Default Re: The Personifications of languages

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    That sounds more like Fiendish than Abyssal, though...
    That statement made me think about how Infernal would be so i came up with this

    Infernal- LE, unlike its cousin language Abyssal, Infernal indisputably represents its speakers. Infernal is as devilish as any Lord of the Nine. Infernal desires lay in total domination, yet the way it spreads is not through conquest , although that certainly helps (the blood war being a constant nuisance to Infernal, since it can never gain ground over its seemingly apathetic cousin) but through bargains; either with mortals, immortals or other personifications. These bargains are vague since unlike actual gods and devils Infernal never actually makes a deal, but whenever someone starts to learn Infernal, the subtle idea that this language and only this language wields power begins to form; perhaps coincidences pile up till the speaker becomes convinced that only with the dealing of devils they can gain power (which in turn probably means the death of other speakers of lesser languages) Yet Infernal is curious as well, since it’s seeks power above all else; it began to move the minds of its speakers to discover forbidden ancient extinct languages, languages the equivalent of Cuthulu. Infernal sponsors those who would give new life to these old and strange languages, and in return it uses these languages to not only destroy speakers of other languages but to infect other languages, changing the linguistic DNA of languages such as Orc, hiding words that were not meant to be spoken within. It hopes that eventually through centuries of manipulation it can change every language, so that every sentence is just praise to Infernal. When Infernal appears to the PC it takes on the form of a sophisticated and experienced jurist, trustworthy and charismatic.


    Also right now I have an idea that the outer plane languages have planes on a much grander scale, than the material world languages. With whole planes of speakers they are not as worried about extinction as their material counterparts. On the material plane, languages scheme and manipulate for more speakers. War between races is a war between languages. The outer plane languages instead see themselves as upper deities, in fact they have been around usually longer than the over deities themselves. The material languages are more like demi-gods in comparison. The languages on the material plane hold various forms of envy towards their more powerful brothers, and the outer plane languages hold some measure of bemused contempt for what they consider schemes beneath their notice. The one problem that I’m forced to address is that I want these personifications to much much different than gods, yet they are turning out to be very similar, any way to change them up and spice them up?

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    Default Re: The Personifications of languages

    This looks interesting, keep it up.
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    Default Re: The Personifications of languages

    Celestial – CE, over the eons it was spoken by angels Celestial herself took on the appearance of an angel, the perfect angel. If she appears onlookers see not an angel of mercy, or an angel of wrath, nor one of love, or virtue, or law. Instead they see the very embodiment of Good, whatever they envision good to be, angel see her and weep at what they could have been, while evil creatures weep at what they turned away. Yet the millennia have twisted her as well. Celestial knows that it is good, and that those who speak her are good; they are good, and thus by definition no one else is. To her spreading her syllables is not about ensuring her own survival or dominion but to convert those poor unfortunate souls who know nothing better. Not speaking celestial marks you as evil in her eyes, and she bends her speakers to her way of thinking. Accordingly her converting usually takes on the form of a choice, between the purging of any other language but her or extermination due to your obvious evil. This holds true for all. Yet to those who speak her she is exceptionally benevolent. Think of her as a missionary mixed with a Knight Templar (I was thinking Miko + Kore with some sort of redeeming side). She knows Abyssal loves her yet she cares not, she does not love, she knows she is good and that is enough, for everyone. (Why CE, well she wants to kill everything that doesn’t speak her simply because she thinks she’s better…regardless of her paladin like mind set)

    Draconic – LG, A tongue as ancient as any, as befitting its race. Draconic is relatively weak in power, just as the population of dragons is relatively small. Yet unlike almost every other language, Draconic understands that it is afterwards simply words, thoughts, ideas. The way it propagates is by demanding to be put into print; within print it is safe. No matter how many times dragons are killed, Draconic is slowly building a fortress of scrolls, books, and spells. Draconic otherwise has no ill will towards any other speaker, since it doesn’t see itself involved in battles of the tongue as its content to live through libraries and the arcane. Draconic appears as a dragon made of parchment blowing in the wind. Never fully formed yet more menacing and wizened than any ancient dragon.


    Also been thinking about how they would work... basically the languages would have their own ego score, and at anytime (but only if the speaker is at that time speaking them) may try to subtlety change the mind of their speaker to their own desires. They may do this to anyone, even gods. Yet the speakers they have are many and in order to concentrate on one speaker they must be sure that one must be a sufficient investment. Thus they only bother to control the most powerful and influential people, beings who may carry on their wishes. Of course they get away with this since even the most powerful gods don't even know they exist as personifications.

    So every language can at the moment of their speech make an attempt to control their speaker (subtly, how this is carried out is by the DM, but they can't make someone go "holy poop i have to kill you now") their is a will save to resist. The DC for the will save is the Languages personal power score (basically the equivalent of a Deity Rank which i will give each language latter) plus the amount of HD the target has (so it actually get harder and harder to resist the language since they take more and more notice of you) minus how many other languages the target speaks and -2 per each difference in alignments (at most -8 for example when Celestia tries to control an actual paladin)

    So far I have the ego points as

    Infernal 17
    Celestia 17
    Abyssal 15
    Draconic 5

    so if Draconic wants to take control of a LN level 5 fighter who knows two languages

    The will save would be a measly 6.

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    Default Re: The Personifications of languages

    Any thoughts on combining this with some of the Truenaming Fixes?

    Quote Originally Posted by Admiral Squish
    I generally use real-world languages to fill in the game languages.

    Common = English
    Draconic = Latin
    Elven = French
    Dwarven = German
    Giant = Russian
    Gnome = Spanish
    Halfling = Romani
    Sylvan = Navajo
    I tend to think of dwarves as Scottish, but that could just be me... and French elves... you have now given me less reason to like them, sir.

    Sylvan as Navajo is really cool, though.
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    Default Re: The Personifications of languages

    Quote Originally Posted by Admiral Squish View Post
    Gnome = Spanish
    I think it funny you put this there, as I like to envision gnomes to have a Japanese-Mexican culture.
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    Default Re: The Personifications of languages

    In my setting, I have elves speaking Finnish, Dwarves speaking Croatian, Gnomes speaking Sanskrit (but they're more somber occultists than your standard jolly tinkerers), Kobolds speaking Amharic (scroll down and listen to Article 1 of the Amharic UDHR) and Orcs speaking Greek(but they're philosopher-diplomats, not tribal warmongers). I like to think it works surprisingly well.
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    Default Re: The Personifications of languages

    Quote Originally Posted by Te'Shen View Post
    Any thoughts on combining this with some of the Truenaming Fixes?


    I tend to think of dwarves as Scottish, but that could just be me... and French elves... you have now given me less reason to like them, sir.

    Sylvan as Navajo is really cool, though.
    Do I need to remind you that Scottish isn't a language? They mostly speak English, and some other languages that begin with scot but can't remember the name of.
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    Default Re: The Personifications of languages

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob_Roy View Post
    Do I need to remind you that Scottish isn't a language? They mostly speak English, and some other languages that begin with scot but can't remember the name of.
    There is actually a Scottish language, or dialect of a language. Scottish Gaelic. Very similar to the original Irish and Welsh Gaelics, where were descended from Celtic, which was spoken on the isles long before even Angles and Saxons made it there, and WAY before the Vikings, French, and Goths that truly created the current English language.
    Last edited by ForzaFiori; 2010-12-25 at 11:54 PM.
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    Default Re: The Personifications of languages

    Quote Originally Posted by ForzaFiori View Post
    There is actually a Scottish language, or dialect of a language. Scottish Gaelic. Very similar to the original Irish and Welsh Gaelics, where were descended from Celtic, which was spoken on the isles long before even Angles and Saxons made it there, and WAY before the Vikings, French, and Goths that truly created the current English language.
    Which was the language that I meant when I said that they have English and the Scot something language that no one speaks. It's in the last part of my post. Also, to my knowledge, several of the languages you mentioned didn't have much of an impact on English, as English is what happened when Latin and German were really drunk one night.
    Last edited by Rob Roy; 2010-12-26 at 12:24 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob_Roy View Post
    English is what happened when Latin and German were really drunk one night.
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    Default Re: The Personifications of languages

    "We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary." James Nicoll

    There's also the line that English is the result of Norman knights trying to make dates with Saxon barmaids.

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    Default Re: The Personifications of languages

    I don't know if you are familar with Mage the Ascension from the old World of Darkness. But Infinite Tapestry is a sourcebook for that gameline that details several spiritual realms. It has a wealth of material on abstract representations of language given physical form. One such realm involves a realm where all languages are waterways.

    The more speakers they have the wider the waterway. As you go upstream from modern languages you reach the languages they sprung from. As you upstream languages merge together into the root language they came from until you get to the first language spoke, though no one has traversed that far.

    The shores of the rivers are inhabited by spirits ressembling many of the people who speak/spoke these languages. Codes are underground streams. Artificially created languages like esperanto are found in aqueducts. Canals link language streams to represent word diffusion. Dead languages that are still studied like Latin are weak streams, dead languages that are forgotten entirely are dry river beds though in theory if you follow them back far enough you can reach some waters flowing. Drinking the water from any place will give the drinker the temporary ability to speak and understand the associated language perfectly. Those who eat ice from a section gain the ability to temporary read and write the language perfectly. There are spirits that traverse the area called word pirates. If struck by them, you take the last surface thought your character had in words and randomly choose one of those words. That word is stricken from their vocabulary completely until they spend a small amount of exp to relearn it or they find the pirate and bribe or force it to return the word. Imagine the roleplaying fun in not being able to use the word "the."

    If you can find that book it might give you material for inspiration.
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