Whenever I DM I normally just gloss over languages m'self. Foreign languages, fantasy languages, forgotten languages of magic or demonic lore...it's much easier to just say "The cultist babbles incoherently" and then point out to whoever speaks it in-game what they said.
Although ask anyone who's played D&D with me, "wutiki!" means you're about to get mooned in Goblin.
But, for a certainty, back then we loved so many, yet hated so much; we hurt others and were hurt ourselves...
Yet even then, we ran like the wind, whilst our laughter echoed under cerulean skies...
About the only thing I do in my fantasy game where I change the language is for the names of certain things. For instance, I've named the realm of the gods, my campaign world has a couple of different planes in it, but not quite as many as the official DnD planes. But the realm of the gods is call Secundum Vita, which I got by using a English to Latin web-based translater.
Sometimes I'll use Babelfish, but I generally try and keep most names Latin sounding. I worked up with a Wikipedia for my campaign world, which I add to from time to time.
Beyond that, if I need a document that is in a foreign tongue, I usually find a free ruinic font on the web and just type out the words I want to use in that font. If the players are interested enough to find said font on the web and translate the document, I let them. Otherwise, they can usually find someone in the game world that will translate the document for them.
I did work up a language document for my game, as far as where each language came from and what languages are related to each other, but I normally don't worry about using it in game other than when the players can't speak a language in question. I based mine on various DnD languages I've seen through the years.
Last edited by Skunkape; 07-29-2009 at 07:59 AM.
I check who in the group might speak the language and take that player outside and converse with him. He translates to the group and any omissions and problems with the translations are his. Same goes for written foreign languages.
I usually make characters with high int mods and I love the skill Speak Language whenever I can get it. The DMs that have had me in their games before usually just point to me and say "they said X" without even bothering to ask if I speak the language. (Usually if I don't speak it I speak up, but sometimes....)
One of the main reasons Tolkien was so succesful with his stories was that he did invent other languages and employed them in his stories which he orally told to his family - years before they were written down on paper.
I don't have the time to invest heavily in creating entire fantasy languages for my settings. What I find to be an effective work around is to pick a relatively obscure area of the world, look at the map, and start looking for neat sounding place names to put on my map. If people don't recognize it, it sounds plenty authentic.
I do the same thing for the names of that area, draw heavily on real world analogs.
Heck, even if it's obvious, it helps people get the idea that said place and people are foreign. Which is about all I need at the onset.
One thing I used to do is create Language Trees. This created a little variation, local dialects and such, that gave minor (or major) penalties based on the linguistic distance between two speakers of the same language. Generally -5% (or -1 on a d20 roll) per degree of difference.
Oh, I have them, I just don't make a big deal of it trying to actually speak any.
Code:Language Typical Speakers Alphabet Human Ameridian Amerid people none Frankessa Anorian Latinate Arabic Hundred Kingdoms Arabic Arailanese Arailaners Tegwar Catilanese The Domains Latinate Celtic North-west Humans Latinate Common Everyone, Trade argot Several Egyptian Egyptians Hieratic, Hieroglyphic Germanic North Inner Sea Runic Greek Greeks and others in the Inner sea Greek Hindusaii Hindi Sanskrit Markian Markia Kanji Norse Nordic People Runic Nubian Central Humans Nubian Persian Morland Hieratic Piuctish Picts none "Racial" Avian Avains Tegwar Centauran Centaurs Tegwar, Greek Draconic Kobolds, dragons none Dwarven Dwarves Runic Giant Ogres, giants Runic (if any) Gnoll Gnolls none Gnome Gnomes Runic Goblin Goblins, hobgoblins, bugbears Runic (if any) Leoman Leomans Tegwar Orcish Orcs none Quenya Elves , fey Tegwar Sindarin Grey Elves, Scholars Tegwar Planer Tongues Abyssal Demons Infernal Aquian Water Planer creatures Aquian Auran Air Planer creatures Auran Celestial Angels Celestial Coveriss Devas Covern Ignan Fire Planer creatures Ignan Lucarian Devils Lucarian Terran Earth Planer creatures Terran Magical Aij'h Sects of Eecreeana Tegwar Arcane Magicians Arcane Celin Craft Arcane Druidic Tutha Da Dannan Clerics (Druids) Ogma Finnish Melikki Ogma Hebin Angleic Sects Hebin Kellin Fellowship of Plenty Latinate Latun Church of Mephistopheles Latinate Quintana Elven Priests, scholars Tegwar Russian Church of Creation Crylic Sindril Centaur Sects Tegwar