Languages of Kingdoms of Kalamar: Legacy

One of the best parts of KoK was the language system. Each language was one or two skills (pending how hardcore your game was)–so you bought ranks in it like you’d buy ranks in anything else with the more ranks equaling the more “fluent”. And without a “Common” to take as an option, characters would really have to think about their language selections.  Feats were available to make it easier to pick up more skill points for the purposes of language rank buying.  Parties often spread out their proficiencies to cover more ground and Comprehend Language and Tongues were damn useful for travelling adventurers.

So, in the spirit of 5e’s push for simplicity and effect, we’ve tested out the feel of a variant rule for Languages.

That starts with the new Language Fluency Levels.

Variant Rule – Language Fluency

Rank Level Speak Read
0 None No words, no concepts Meaningless symbols
1 Basic The level of a child, no complexity Read/write short phrases
2 Student Conversant with broken sentences Can read common/low texts
3 Competent Common discourse, heavily accented Average for a literate person
4 Good Speaks with only slight accent Talented with fine writing
5 Fluent Can pass as a native speaker, no challenges Strong in dialects, can parse meaning of related languages and archaic forms

Any language you get from character creation is treated as being Fluent.  Example: If you’re Elvish, you get Language  (Elvish) with the 5e Rules As Written.  Now, instead you get Language (Elvish-5).  5 covering both Speaking and Read/Writing fluency–keep it simple.

Any undefined Language Proficiency you get from character creation is treated as simply having 5 Language Points.  If you get a Language Proficiency from your race + another for your Class + another for your Background… you have 15 points to spend. You may spend them on Ranks of Proficiency for any Language your DM allows.

As you progress with Feats and Downtime activities, you may gain additional proficiencies with language. You get 5 points for every new language proficiency earned to be spent on improving fluencies on a 1 rank for 1 point basis; to break into a new language requires in game exposure and 2 points for one’s first rank (thereafter 1 point for 1 rank). You may not improve more than 1 rank every six months–unless approved by the DM due to any extraordinary circumstances.

New Languages

For Kalamar, and for DM’s to make this simpler–I have included a chart of the Languages in Kalamar. For existing “same as normal D&D” languages (like “Elvish” or “Terran” which are in the core game) there is no additional information. For the Kalamar special languages (the regional ones) I have notes about construction, origin, style, commonality, etc.

The entire list is broken into Common Languages first (ones players should feel free to take), then Uncommon Languages (ones DM’s should seem good background reasons for), then Restricted Languages (one’s definitely need to have some hard developed history for allowing–mostly due to how rare they are).

Many languages in Kalamar are very cloistered and regional. And without a “Common” to use, care should be taken to ensure starting parties share at least a few ranks in a common language amongst each other.

(R) indicates a mainly racial language, (G) indicates a geographical language with primarily human origin. “Full Saturation” means you can expect to find plentiful NPCs that speak the language in that/those place(s); “Half Saturation” means there’s a 50% chance at best. “Uncommon” means at less than 20% chance. “Rare” should be anywhere from 0 to 5% at the most.

Common Languages

  • Elven (R)
  • Dwarven (R)
  • Dejy (G)
    • Linguistic Origins – Elos Desert, Young Kingdoms, the Wild Lands–many dialects and variations.
    • Style – No written form, no pronouns or adverbs, names are fluid and descriptive for all things. CH, SH, and TH are common.
      • Full Saturation – Young Kingdoms
      • Half Saturation – Wild Lands, Renaaria
      • Uncommon – Everywhere else
      • Rare – Svimozhia
  • Renaarese (G)
    • Linguistic Origins – Far East–old Renaarese grew from an amalgam of city-states along the Bay, is rich with varied origin. culturally, most half-breeds (half-elves, half-orcs, etc.) come to learn at least some.
    • Style – Double and triple vowels, language spoke with dramatic flair and bluntness. Often laced with qualifiers (Dan the Butcher, “Bounty” the longship, tomorrow–the day it happens, etc.). No J, Q, or Y.
      • Full Saturation – Renaaria
      • Half Saturation – Any port city, Wild Lands
      • Uncommon – Everywhere else
      • Rare – Young Kingdoms
  • Svimozhish (G)
    • Linguistic Origins – Far South(west)–the oldest language in Tellene. Developed in the most isolation for millenia.
    • Style – Soft consonents, smooth vowels. Names are fluidic and people often have more than two unless strong in arcane arts–then only one. No B, K, Q, T, or X; consonents often accompanied by H or Z.
      • Full Saturation – Svimozhia
      • Half Saturation – Southern Brandobia
      • Uncommon – Everywhere else
      • Rare – Kalamar
  • Brandobian (G)
    • Linguistic Origins – Far West, old Brandobian Empire–very rare to find any dialects as the empire and subsequent kingdoms believe the language must stay pure.
    • Style – Ancient elvish influences; script is fluid and beautiful. Language is heirarchical (Family Name, then Name; Kingdom, then Town; Nouns, then Adjectives; etc.). No J, K, Q, or X.
      • Full Saturation – Brandobia
      • Half Saturation – Svimozhia, Renaaria
      • Uncommon – Everywhere Else
      • Rare – Wild Lands
  • Merchant’s Tongue (G)
    • Linguistic Origins – Originated in Svimozhia and long since popularized by the Kalamaran Empire for centuries–serves as an internal weights and measures system, isolated to trading and merchant classes primarily.
    • Style – Has many acceptable dialects and is easily learned, eschewed by nobility of most nations as low-speech and not known by the lowest classes.
      • Full Saturation – Ports, bazaars, commerce areas, ships
      • Half Saturation – Artisans, tradesmen, clergy, caravans
      • Uncommon – Everywhere else
      • Rare – Hinterlands, any settlement with fewer than 25% human
  • Kalamaran (G)
    • Linguistic Origins – The Ancient form is distinct, from the middle continent; centuries of influence from Dwarvish gave birth to a lower form and more pure higher form.
    • Style – An “active” language, no complex sounds–syllables quick and uniform. Verbs short and are the whole of a sentence’s meaning. K, P, D are common.
      • Full Saturation – Kalamar
      • Half Saturation – Young Kingdoms, Wild Lands
      • Uncommon – Everywhere else
      • Rare – Nowhere
  • Elven (G)
  • Dwarvish (G)

Uncommon Languages

  • Hobgoblin (R)
    • Linguistic Origins – Ancient, lost hobgoblin languages once existed before the Great Empire; and after it’s fall the unified Hobgoblin language splintered into new dialects across the world.
    • Style – Simple, no articles, most things are masculine form, a word for everything and very little compound constructions–a massive vocabulary. Z and K are popular; there is no C, Q, X, or Y.
      • Full Saturation – Hobgoblin settlements
      • Half Saturation – Young Kingdoms
      • Uncommon – Everywhere else
      • Rare – Brandobia, Kalamar
  • Fhokki (G)
    • Linguistic Origins – Far North, the Wild Lands–a hard language bearing similarities to Hobgoblin.
    • Style – Hard consonants, frequent repeated syllables. Never any surnames. No C, P, Q, X, or Z.
      • Full Saturation – Wild Lands
      • Half Saturation – Northern Kalamar, Renaaria
      • Uncommon – Everywhere else
      • Rare – Brandobia, Svimozhia
  • Giant (R)
  • Goblin (R)
  • Orcish (R)
  • Undercommon (G)
  • Draconic (R)
  • Gnomish (R)

Restricted Languages

  • Abyssal (R)
  • Aquan (R)
  • Auran (R)
  • Celestial (R)
  • Druidic (-)
  • Ignan (R)
  • Infernal (R)
  • Sylvan (R)
  • Terran (R)


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