Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Speaking Common Wherever in D&D 5e

This is a short one on communicating in Common wherever. To follow: the Universal Encyclopedia.

I used to have more complex rules for this, but 5e solves this nicely.


Assume that everyone on the material plane speaks Common, a totally democratic language that's mostly just a mash of other languages in the region. I speak my language, you speak your language, we live nearby, we can make it work. Sort of like everyone making do in cultural hubs of the Roman empire, but with enough travel and trade to keep at least some sort of morphological/internal consistency in all of Common. Under fascists and in some churches, the use of Common is verboten or, at the very least, signs of a weak character.

In game terms, it's a pan-language that doesn't properly exist, a set of dialects that are really just their own languages coupled with the human drive to communicate.

It's likely that were a person to teleport from one end of a continent to another, the Common they encountered would be vastly different and require greater effort to pick up. Even as you move further and further away from home, Common becomes increasingly less coherent, eventually putting you at a disadvantage when trying to interact using your Common v someone else's Common (which can be rectified if you spend enough time on it (about a month of game time with regular interaction, half that if you're putting a bunch of time in with native speakers).

Poems and novels in Common are, by definition political and often experimental, tend to revel in action, pornography, profanity, scandal and scatalogical humor and are usually about regular people or trickster deities. The best cookbooks and the best sex manuals were all written in Common.

Famous and notoriously difficult dialects include Salt (spoken in Armada), pig latin (spoken in school yards), Cant (actually a conlang with a tiny body of real phrases - mostly variations on "where can we meet and talk like normal people?"), and Jabber (the language of math, machines and modrons, possibly the most true Common).

attribution: Iou Kuroda/Appleseed Alpha

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