Languages in the North

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Choosing Languages

Here is some advice for choosing your starting languages.

  • Everyone gets Common for free.
Human Racial Languages

Urban: If you grew up in an urban area, you speak Chondathan.

  • If you grew up as part of the Waterdhavian merchant class, you also speak Alzhedo.

Rural: If you grew up in a rural area, you speak Illuskan.

  • If you grew up as an Uthgardt barbarian or are from Hartvale, you also speak Bothii.
  • If you grew up in the rural areas around Ten Towns, Neverwinter, Waterdeep, Nesme, or Llorkh, you also speak Northern.
  • If you grew up in the rural areas around Silverymoon and the Moonwood, you also speak Espruar.
  • If you grew up in the Icewind Dale and other areas north of the Spine of the World, you also speak Reghedjic.

Outlander: If you grew up elsewhere, or in a family from elsewhere, you also speak the language(s) native to those areas.

Nonhuman Racial Languages

If your race grants you one of the following, this is the language you know:

  • Draconic, you gain Auld Wyrmish.
  • Dwarvish, you gain Dethek.
  • Elvish, you gain Espruar.
  • Gnomish, you gain Gnim.
  • Halfling, you instead choose an Additional Language. Halflings in the Realms don't really have a native tongue, per se.
  • Orc, you gain Daraktan.

In Waterdeep, the most common spoken languages are Common and Chondathan, followed by the Illuskan and Northern tongues, though they are considered rural and backwater-ish. Many merchants speak Alzhedo, as do a number of gnomes and halflings.

Common Languages

  • Common: Faerun. Written in Thorass.
  • Dethek: Faerun. Dethek serves as a sort of "dwarven common" among the people of Moradin, allowing them to understand one another despite differences in regional racial languages, to say nothing of giving outsiders a language to speak to them respectfully while keeping them ignorant of necessary clan-only communications. Written in Dethek.
  • Espruar: Faerun. Originally the tongue of the moon elves, Espruar has become something of a lingua franca among elvenkind, providing a common language for its speakers. Written in Espruar.
  • Undercommon: Underdark. Written in Espruar.

Regional Languages

  • Alzhedo: Amn, Chult, Calimshan, the Lake of Steam, Lapaliiya, Lantan, the Nelanther Isles, the North (mostly Waterdeep, among dwarves, elves and gnomes), the Shaar, Tashalar, Tethyr, Tharsult, the Western Heartlands (among halflings and planetouched), Underdark (Old Shanatar), the Wealdath. A regional tongue of southwest Faerun, and the main language of Calimshan. Alzhedo is derived from Untheric and is in the same family as Midani. Sages believe that it shares some traits with the language of the elemental plane of air, as well. Written with Thorass.
  • Bothii: the North (Northern). This is the language, related to Illuskan, spoken by the peoples of the Uthgardt and Hartsvale. Written with Thorass.
  • Chondathan: Amn, Chondath, Cormyr, the Dalelands, the Dragon Coast, the (civilized) North, Sembia, Sword Coast, Tethyr, Western Heartlands, Vilhon Reach. An immensely ubiquitous language throughout most of central and northern Faerun. Chondathan is derived from Thorass, and is related to Cormanthan and Northern. Written with Thorass.
  • Illuskan: Moonshae Isles, the North (barbarians, Luskan, Mintarn), Ruathym. A regional language that traces back to the Illusk Empire, and is largely spoken by barbarian folk and a few cities in the North, as well as the Moonshaes. Written with Thorass.
  • Northern: the North. A regional language spoken mostly around the Ten Towns, Neverwinter, Waterdeep, Nesme and Llorkh. A fairly simple tongue largely going out of style, replaced by Chondathan and Common. Written in Thorass.
  • Reghedjic: the North (Spine of the World). A language spoken by the Reghedmen of the Icewind Dale and other lands north of the Spine of the World. It is named for the Reghed Glacier, and is related to Illuskan. Written in Thorass.

Racial Languages

  • Aragrakh: Dragons. An ancient language, also known as "Old High Wyrmish", used as a formal ritual language by dragons. Woe to those who are not dragons that are overheard using it by wyrmkind. Written in Draconic.
  • Auld Wyrmish: Dragons. Something of a common tongue among the different breeds of dragon, who each have their own tongues. Also sometimes called "Draconic," it is also spoken by many kobolds and wyverns. Written in Draconic.
  • Daraktan: Orcs. A common language spoken by most orcs, although not many of them are literate. It evolved from the now-dead Hulgorkyn language. Written in Dethek.
  • Duergan: Duergar. Originally descended from Shanatan, this language has been deeply affected by the duergars' time in the Underdark. Written in Dethek.
  • Gnim: Gnomes. A staggeringly complex language, filled with all manner of words to discuss nuances of distinction. It is a language excellent for artistic, academic and engineering pursuits; indeed, many sages across the realms consider it to be a "scholar's language". Written in Dethek.
  • Jotun: Giants. A common tongue among giants, and possibly one of the oldest extant languages still in use. It shares roots with Thorass, and is written with Thorass. There are also individual languages based off of Jotun, in use by various giantish subraces (all of which are written in Thorass):
    • Jotunalder: Giants. A ritualized language that is highly formalized and stilted. Those who speak Jotun can understand it well enough.
    • Jogishk: Ogres. A vulgar patois of Jotun and Common.
    • Jotunhaug: Hill and Mountain Giants. A rough, gutteral language which seems to be a corruption of Jotunise.
    • Jotunild: Fire Giants.
    • Jotunise: Frost Giants. The predecessor language to Jotunhaug.
    • Jostunskye: Cloud and Fog Giants.
    • Jostunstein: Stone Giants.
    • Jotunuvar: Storm Giants.
  • Shanatan: Shield Dwarves. The language of the western shield dwarves. Sadly, with the near-shattering of dwarven society among the shield dwarves, not many even know the language any more, and only a rare few elders who truly value such things can actually converse in it. Urdunnir dwarves speak on older version of the language. Written in Dethek.
  • Sylvan: Fey. A subtle language spoken by fey and many other sylvan creatures with close ties to such. Written in Espruar.
  • Yipyak: Kobolds. A debased form of Auld Wyrmish that serves as a common tongue for kobolds. Written inDraconic.

Trade Languages

  • Drueidan: Druids. The language of druids concerns itself with natural and spiritual concepts, providing a terminology for discussing the nuances of such things missing in other tongues. Speakers of Sylvan can begin to understand such discussions to limited extent. It may be written in Thorass, Espruar or Dethek.
  • Ruathlek: Illusionists, Followers of Lliira, Nimbral. A language derived from Netherese innovated by the ancient followers of Lliira and the cabals of illusionists in service to her. The language remains in use as a sort of trade language that many illusionist arcanabula are written in, as well as the language of Nimbral.
  • Thieves' Cant: Thieves and other Underworld types. A language made up of slang, reference to previous events in the criminal world and innuendo, thieves' cant changes from place to place, season to season. Part of knowing thieves' cant isn't just knowing what to say, as this changes constantly - it is the skill to figure out how to "hook into" the local cant and use it to communicate, a process that takes about an evening's worth of carousing. It has no written form.