Languages in Pathfinder

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While starting a new game, we (my group and I) started to talk about languages. I’ve always thought that fantasy languages were pretty useless, at least the way they are used in Roleplaying Games. Sure, the Core Rulebook describes the most common languages under the linguistic skill and offer some options under each of the races, but these are far from the only languages in the system. I mean, what about languages such as Aboleth and Boggard, are these not possibilities for PCs? Also, aren’t some languages built on the same foundation? For me, it is never easy to pick a language, as I am not sure if I will ever get to use it.

What if there was ONE language that were the first language? The original language of the universe? Lets call this Ur-speak. Then we could say that some of the oldest languages were built from that one language, meaning that they probably had something in common (languages such as draconic, celestial, giant, sylvan and the demonic tongues). These languages would become sort of our base languages, together with the first language, the Ur-speak. All other languages spoken, would then be connected to each of the base languages, sharing basic traits, meaning that if you knew one, you could probably understand and even speak some of the others as well (although hardly with the same skill as your primary language).

In this system, we operate with primary languages (the one you speak and can read and write), the secondary languages (the language or languages that is directly tied to your primary languages), lastly we have the tertiary languages (the ones that are connected to your secondary languages). This means that for instance, if you choose Sylvan, you get the following languages as your secondary languages (centaur, drow, elven and halfling). Of course, one of these could still be taken as one of your primary languages, meaning that you have a greater understanding of that particular language.

Also, in this language subsystem, you can only read and write your primary languages. Your secondary languages can be understood and even spoken, but you can only understand your tertiary languages.

This may not make perfect sense right now, but I am currently writing a short pdf that will eventually be released as a free download. Everything will hopefully be much clearer by then!

Below is an example of how this system will probably end up looking.

SYLVAN

Scholars and linguists often refer to Sylvan as the ‘Language of Trees’, and it does indeed has its roots in the fey realms of the ancient forests. It is one of the oldest languages in the world and, together with Draconic, has the strongest ties to the primal language known as Ur-speak. Sylvan has changed little over the centuries and remain one of the most beautiful and poetic languages, often used by elven minstrels and poets to express feelings that their elven tongue can not capture.

Sylvan is the native language of the following races and creatures: dryads, gaiants, gnomes, mites, nymphs, pixies, satyrs, sprites, treantsĀ and unicorns.

Centaur: Centaurs are known as a a reclusive race that tend to keep to themselves and for this reason has developed a language that seems farther from Sylvan than any of the other sylvan tongues. The language of the centaurs is further divided into two dialects, those that roam the plains and those that hunt in the great forests.

Drow: Drows share a bloodline with elves, but has developed very differently in two different worlds, one above ground and one below. However, there is still a strong linguistic connection to the sylvan tongue of their ancestors.

Elven: Elven is derived from Sylvan and considered to be the oldest tongue of the mortal races. It is a far more complex language than Sylvan and elves from different communities tend to speak with their own dialect.

Halfling: The language of halflings shares its base structure with Sylvan, but since halflings are known to be a traveling folk, also borrows from other languages such as the human tongue. It is a very carefree and optimistic tongue which is said to have a thousand words to describe traveling and the road.

COMMON

This is the language most often used by the races that live above ground. It was developed by travelers and merchants who needed to understand the races that they met on the road and needed to trade with. For this very reason, Common is also referred to as either the Traveler’s Tongue or Tradespeak. Common is only directly connected to Undercommon, but carries within it many words and phrases of all other languages spoken above ground.

UNDERCOMMON

While Common is the language spoken on the roads above ground, Undercommon is the language commonly spoken below ground. Some, mostly outsiders, calls this language Underspeak. It is only directly connected to Common, but carries within it many words and phrases of all other language spoken below ground.

Of course, with such a language subsystem, we need to look at every language and make an entirely new structure. As you can see from the example above, gnomes now speak Sylvan and not gnome, also, drows have their own tongue which is connected to Sylvan and only has elven as a tertiary language (drows understand elven, but can’t speak it nor read and write).

It still makes sense to take ranks in the Linguistic skill, because if anything, there will be more languages available in this system. For instance, in this system, Celestial will have a Higher Celestial language (spoken by the gods), Celestial (spoken by the gods’ avatars) and Lower Celestial (usually spoken by the clergy of the gods). We will do the same with the Giant tongue and we are even planning on dividing Draconic into several classes, such that the metallic and chromatic dragons get their own sub-language.

Any ideas/thoughts will be appreciated! Even if you just have a question, don’t hesitate to ask it.

Old products… last chance!

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I’ve decided to pull some old Headless Hydra Games products from the market. These were the first products that I created and mark a different time. Since I began working on the Mor Aldenn setting, a lot has happened and a lot has changed. Both in Mor Aldenn, but also in the world of 3PPs.

This is a 14 days notice.

If you want to keep your files, you should download them now (and store them somewhere), because in 14 days, they will no longer be available for download from either Paizo.com nor from RPGNow.com.

When the items are pulled from the market, I will also make the new Mor Aldenn Setting Guide available at a 50% discount. This discount is for everyone and will mark a new beginning at Headless Hydra Games.

The following items will be pulled from the stores:

A GM’s Guide to Mor Aldenn

A Player’s Guide to Mor Aldenn

Gods of Mor Aldenn: Ehlora

The Ugly Harpy

Eldritch Secrets: Open Playtest

The Mor Aldenn Notebook

The Mor Aldenn Notebook Expanded

Furthermore, the two published chapters of the Wizard’s Path serial have been made available as free downloads from both RPGNow and Paizo. They will remain free downloads henceforth.

If you have any questions or just want to tell me that it is either a good or bad decision, you can contact me here; storyguide.axel@gmail.com

– Axel

Confession time… New vs Old?

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I’ve recently been thinking about the old Headless Hydra Games products vs the new Headless Hydra Games products. Clearly the newest products are of a much higher standard, writing and layout-wise.

When I started out more than 2 years ago, I just wanted to create a setting of my own, something that I could use for my own games, but also a setting that others might enjoy using. I created Mor Aldenn, the City of Mages. It started out small, just a GM’s and Player’s guide, basically the same information, but with different angles. From the very beginning, I knew that I wanted to eventually create a bigger more complete guide, fully compatible with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. Now, two years later… I have.

Confession time: The old material is poorly written and lacks editing. I’ll gladly take the blame for that, I may have been a little too eager to get my first product on the market. In my defense, I did ask 6-7 proofreaders to help out make the product better, but in hindsight, I probably should have taken all of their advice. However, the two guidebooks still has a lot of cool ideas and some really great artwork to inspire a GM or player. Also, it was the old material that inspired the new material and some of the original material haven’t been changed.

So here’s the problem: I would like to put the old material behind me and look forward. Call it sort of a 2nd edition of Mor Aldenn. However, there are quite a few people who have bought the old guides, so would it be fair to remove the products from the market altogether? If I do this, it won’t be possible for them to download the products anymore and they would have (sort of) wasted their money.

The (temporary) solution: I’ve just changed the prices of the oldest products (Player’s Guide, GM’s Guide, Gods of Mor Aldenn, Ugly Harpy, A Trail of Poison) so that they are practically free. I’ve also made two of the products free downloads (Wizard’s Path, chapter 1 and 2). So far, the changes have only been made to RPGNow, but will hopefully be made to the Paizo store… soon.

You can find the products here.

I think these are much more fair prices, for the quality, but what I would really like to do is…

1) Remove them completely. Or…

2) Make them free downloads

What are your thoughts on this?

[Mor Aldenn] Play-by-post, anyone?

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I’ve been wanting to start a play-by-post in Mor Aldenn, the City of Mages, for some time now. I only have some loose ideas of what the game is going to be about, but unless anyone is interested, ideas don’t mean much.

So if anyone is interested, please drop me a note either here or maybe an email: storyguide.axel@gmail.com

I hope someone is interested in a bit of adventuring in the City of Mages!

Review page added

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While updating the blog, I’ve added a page with links to all the Headless Hydra Games reviews that I’ve been able to find. If I’ve missed one or two, please let me know and I’ll add them right away!

Also… if you want to write a review of one of our products, please drop me a note (storyguide.axel@gmail.com).

First review of the setting guide

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Endzeitgeist (aka Thilo Graf) just posted a 4.5 star review of the Mor Aldenn Setting Guide. It really gives an in-depth review of the whole guide and if anyone is thinking of buying this campaign setting, I suggest that you read End’s review.

You can find it here.

The review is not just positive (although mostly so). It also lists a couple of flaws, and I do agree with most of those points. If you are interested in reading my thoughts on these, just follow this link and scroll down for a bit.

This will (hopefully) be the first of many (positive) reviews.

Paizo sale!

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The 25% sale at Paizo.com is now up and running! You can find the products here. I hope you find something that you like. Even if you don’t, make sure to write a review and let us know how we can improve.

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