I have heard you. Last week I wrote a post about the way language would work in Exploration Age. To summarize, a huge part of Exploration Age is that inhabitants of two continents just became aware of one another and rather than deal with the tedium of having many different languages, I came up with a story solution of why humans on one continent would speak the same language as another. A lot of folks liked the idea, but others said, “James, you’re a wise and extremely good-looking DM, but in a campaign setting which revolves around exploration there needs to be a bunch of different languages. You have missed the mark, oh brilliant man. Please accept our humble and constructive criticism.” (That’s how I remember it anyway.)
I think the concerns raised are good ones. I raised them myself in the post when I wrote it. A lot of people even offered me their different ideas about how languages might work in the setting and for that I am grateful. Your feedback is always appreciated and in the spirit of the fifth edition playtest I am using it to help guide the creation of the setting. Since some people liked the last method and others didn’t, I decided to embrace the philosophy of fifth edition and playing the game you want to play. I’d like to show you all a rules module with variant add-ons I created for language in Exploration Age. This would allow anyone playing the game to add varying layers of complexity to the languages of Canus easily if they don’t like the default system I wrote about last week.
Module: Worlds Away
The Worlds Away language module for Exploration Age divides languages by hemisphere and introduces some new ones to the setting. West Canus languages are those spoken mainly in Parian and Findalay, while East Canus languages are spoken mainly in Verda. When creating a creature or PC from Verda, pay attention to the replacements listed below.
Note: For languages not listed here such as Gnoll or Bullywug, assume those creatures speak their native tongue since they are most-likely only found on one continent. If in your game they live in both East and West Canus, have an East version of the language, such as East Gnoll or East Bullwug.
West Canus Languages
East Canus Languages
- East Druidic – Replaces Druidic
- East Goblin – Replaces Goblin
- East Giant – Replaces Giant
- Githzerai – Spoken by githzerai and replaces bonus language for kalashtar
- Thri-Kreen – Spoken by Thri-Kreen
- Tribal – Replaces Common, except for tieflings
- Vorcish – Replaces Orchish
Universal languages are ones developed on other planes of existence and therefore may be spoken anywhere in the world. Draconic is the exception to this rule, but is spoken by dragons, who have been aware of the existence of multiple continents since the beginning (or so they claim).
- Deep Speech
New Starting Languages
Certain PC races in Exploration Age have different starting languages when using the Worlds Away module. Use the information below to determine a PC’s starting languages. These replace options already presented in other source books.
Githzerai – Githzerai and Tribal.
Half-Orc (from Verda) – Tribal and Vorcish.
Human (from Verda) – Tribal and one extra language of your choice.
Kalashtar – Githzerai and Tribal.
Thri-Kreen – Thri-Kreen and Tribal.
Tiefling – Infernal and Tribal.
Variant: No Common Languages
This variant to the Worlds Away module removes the Common and Tribal tongues all together from the game. Languages are divided by hemisphere, as in the Worlds Away Module, but the Common and Tribal languages do not exist. It also adds two languages to West Canus’ list. Aeranorish and Parish. These languages are spoken by the people who live in Aeranore and Parian.
For monsters who might speak Common or Tribal, instead give then an extra bonus language of the DM’s choice.
Here are the start languages for PC races using the No Common Languages variant.
- Aasimar – Celestial and one extra language of your choice.
- Deva – Celestial and one extra language of your choice.
- Dwarf – Dwarish and one extra language of your choice.
- Elves – Elven and one extra language of your choice.
- Githzerai – Githzerai and one extra language of your choice.
- Gnomes – Aeranorish and Gnomish.
- Half-Elf – Elvish, either Aeranorish (if from Findalay) or Parish (if from Parian), and one extra language of your choice.
- Half-Orc (from Verda) – Vorcish and one extra language of your choice.
- Halflings – Elven and Halfling.
- Human (from Findalay) – Aeranorish and one extra language of your choice.
- Human (from Parian) – Parish and one extra language of your choice.
- Human (from Verda) – Two languages of your choice (most common choices would be those spoken of other racial tribes in the area.)
- Kalashtar – Githzerai and one extra language of your choice.
- Mul – Dwarven and either Aeranorish (if from Findalay) or Parish (if from Parian).
- Shardmind – Draconic and one extra language of your choice.
- Shifter – Elven and one extra language of your choice.
- Thri-Kreen – Thri-Kreen and one extra language of your choice.
- Tiefling – Infernal and one extra language of your choice.
- Warforged – Dwarven and one extra language of your choice.
Variant: Strictly Worlds Away
This is a variant rule can be added to the Worlds Away module. When players select backgrounds during character creation, they must declare if their character is from East Canus or West Canus. If players choose races which gain extra languages of their choice, they may only select languages from the origin hemisphere they chose earlier.
It should be noted that in the unexplored gray areas of the map above, DMs could add any of their own languages. It’s a mystery in those areas so who knows what lurks there waiting to be uncovered?
In case you haven’t been following this blog from the beginning, it should be noted here that the story of all of the races of Exploration Age is different from the iconic or original story they may have in D&D. For instance many of you may be scratching your heads and saying, “Why would kalashtar speak Githzerai?” Well because in Exploration Age kalashtar are actually the children of a githzerai parent and a human parent. Similarly shardminds speak Draconic, because they were built by chromatic dragons and the ones who are still alive today are part of that original batch of humanoids the dragons cooked up.
So how did I do? Is this more pleasing or less so? Sound off and let me know what you think in the comments below. I’m definitely interested to read what you have to write. Thank you so much for all your helpful words!
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