6 thoughts on “Are there any rules on characters knowing languages?”

  1. Not among the basic rule, no. If you want to make languages and learning them a major point in your campaign, there are some rules around that might help you, otherwise, just ask the player if their PC speaks one language or the other. You may well ask them how come, if it sounds “unlikely” to you: it could be a nice hook or something like that…

  2. I usually ask “What languages does your character speak? How many can they read and write in?” before I start a mutli session game or campaign, not so much for one shots. I also assume the Dwarves speak Dwaren, Elves, Elvish, etc… If magical text comes up I default to the magic-user for how they want to handle that.

  3. If you really really really want to play up the cosmopolitan nature of the game, with lots of cultural interplay and you think exploring the ups and downs of (mis)communication, there is a language move in the very back of Dark Heart of the Dreamer.

  4. When you are confronted with a foreign language

    -If you have never been in contact with the language , take -1.

    -If you had contact with expats speaking the language, take +0

    -If you spent a short period in the native land, take +1.

    -If you lived there for some time, take +2

    -If the language is linguistically related to one you speak fluently, take an additional +1.


    -On 10+ you communicate, no problem.

    -On 7-9 there is some misunderstanding, for example you may unknowingly insult respondent’s mother.

  5. To add to Norbert G. Matausch , you can avoid bookkeeping by letting the player choose the languages (within reason) on the fly.  “Of COURSE I speak Bugbear.”

  6. Having players do what Brian Haag suggests also gives you, as DM, and excellent opportunity to ask them “Why?” and then use the reply later. (for good or for ill as you see fit)

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