Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Languages of Averoigne

As I have admitted in the past, one of things that I have really come to appreciate from the 3.5 SRD is the way that it handles languages. It lists both a standard group of languages (Common, Ork, Elvish, etc.) and the alphabet that it uses. This way not only is there a common group upon which to understand how language is used across different campaigns, but how different languages are related (and thus reveal cultural realities about the world). This format, of course, is easily adaptable and customizable for different campaigns.

I mention this, because one of the fallow projects that I am most interested in finishing is my work with my own version of Averoigne. I have found that using the SRD understanding of language to be very useful both in terms of harking back to a Holmesian understanding of humanoids and for the purposes of building a rich cultural background. Here is a table with the SRD languages/alphabets in brackets followed by the languages they represent within my version of Averoigne:
[Celestial] Greek
[Common] Latin — Salic, Church Latin
[Draconic] Norn
[Dwarven] German — Dwarven, Gnomish, Goblin, Kobold
[Elvish] Celtic — Occitan, Elvish, Orc, Hobgoblin, Gnoll
[Infernal] Gothic
I made Celestial the equivalent of Greek, because that is the language of both the Gospel and the Christian Empire, which now only exists in its original form in the East. Rome has fallen and the Christian peoples of the West are now trying to pick up the pieces.

Common, therefore, is the various forms of Latin. Salic is a fantasy version of proto-French spoken by the Salians (which is the original tribal name for what would be become the Franks). They represent those outsiders in Averoigne whose answer to the fall of Rome is to create a new Holy Roman Empire based in Salia (which lies somewhere northwest of Averoigne). Church Latin is a more archaic version of the Common tongue.

Draconic is represented by Norn, another real world language found in Scotland; however, I am playing with double meaning of the word because it evokes the Norns of Norse Mythology. It thus has a pagan feel and represents a guiding force behind the pagan Rome of old (I am also thinking here of the woman riding a dragon in Revelation 17).

Dwarven is represented by German because (as fey touched demi-humans who have rejected the image and likeness within themselves) it is one of the main language groups spoken by pagans outside the Roman Empire. Gnomish, Goblin and Kobold are different dialects.

Elvish is represented by Celtic because it is the other major culture/language of pagans outside the Roman Empire. Occitan is another (dying) real world language, which can be found in Southern France in the very region Averoigne is a fantasy analog of. In the real world, it is a Romance Language (derived from Latin); however, I wanted it to represent more of a cultural clash between the Averni (the native people of Averoigne) and the Salians. They yearn for the old Romes (both Christian and pagan). It also nicely sets up a conflict within the Averni themselves over which pieces of Rome they are trying to pick up. Thus, Occitan, Orc, Hobgoblin and Gnoll are all dialects of Elvish.

Infernal is represented by Gothic, because Christian Rome was sacked by Visigoths and a fantasy version of the Visigoths can easily be seen as a stand-in for the infernal forces found in the Chaotic (Demonic) Wilderness.

1 comment:

Anthony said...

I love languages and like to use them in my campaign. I'm glad to see you do something similar in yours. That 3.5 rule seems a much better way of handling languages (and learning them) than older rules.