I'm preparing an adventure that happens to have a lot of gargoyles in it, and I couldn't help but notice that Moldvay Basic lists 'Gargoyle' as one of the languages player characters can learn along with Elvish and Gnoll.
What's that about? Maybe all the scrolls and NPC spellbooks in my adventure should be written in Gargoylish.
Post by Vile Traveller on Jun 2, 2020 8:21:03 GMT -6
Moldvay languages are interesting. It's weird that they are all racial rather than geographical - Elves from anywhere can understand Elves from anywhere else, but not necessarily the Halflings next door. Speaking of Halflings, in fact - there is a Halfling language, but the racial description doesn't say PCs speak it.
Goblins, Hobgoblins, and Bugbears have distinct languages - not even dialects, actual different languages. Medusas and Minotaurs have their own language, whereas I always thought of them as pretty uncommon and thus very low in overall population - not the sort of species you'd expect to have their own language.
Humans, on the other hand, just have dialects. Are they dialects of common? Or of "Human", and Common is another language?
I suspect that list was “padded” to reach 20 for convenient die-rolling of random languages known by NPCs, because you’re right— some of those don’t make “sense” as monsters who would have distinctive cultures to produce languages.
As for elves and dwarves, though, with lifespans exceeding 800 and 400 years, respectively, I can see that root languages would change very slowly in these cultures, if at all. Imagine if *your* great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandmother was still alive, and that this family state was common in your culture, you’d still be speaking whatever dialect and language she learned as a child, too. Thus, Elvish and Dwarvish would be largely static languages, changing only very slowly, if at all Whereas if you assume that the various goblinoid races have much shorter lifespans than humans, they would very quickly develop distinct dialects and languages, especially if distance was involved. If anything, the obviously small populations of these races (compared to humans) would mean that languages should diverge rapidly by tribal group— a goblin from the Dymrak Forest of middle to eastern Karameikos probably would have a hard time communicating with a goblin from the Radlebb Forest on the western half of the region. A counter-argument might be that as their cultures tend to be static in development— goblins, etc., not being known for diversity of thought or having new ideas or intellectual expansion— that in such circumstances words might remained a bit fixed. A rock is a rock, and nobody tries to define it or distinguish it further, so it’s still a rock no matter how far away the goblin you converse with has travelled from.
“New Rule: Don’t touch the Evil Necro-Stick!”— Teen player in a recent campaign. Cue evil DM laugh.
I'm guessing in Tom and Eljayess' original Known World, the goblinoids were distinct races-or so different/removed from each other over time that languages became very different.
Thinking about, I actually would prefer this. Tired of all the gobbos being lumped together. Perhaps Hobgoblin is just human terminology. Maybe they are not related to goblins at all. Same with Bugbears.
As for gargoyles, why wouldn't they have their own language?.
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