The rogue was crouched in the bushes, dagger in hand, as he listened to the elvish lord’s plot to overthrow the queen of Kyonin. He knew that he had to act fast if he was going to save the queen and her people.
He slipped out of the bushes and into the open night, carrying his secrets to wanton ears.
A language is a powerful tool in the world of Golarion. It can help you communicate with others, learn new secrets, and even overthrow lords. In this article, we’ll explore the many languages available in Pathfinder RPG.
The Languages of Golarion
Pathfinder has a wide variety of languages, from the common tongue to the exotic and obscure languages of the many creatures that populate the world.
Most adventures in the Inner Sea region of Golarion will encounter languages from all over the multiverse. It can help to have a translator in your group, especially if you plan to travel to distant lands.
Players can learn new languages by taking feats, abilities, or backgrounds that grant them additional language skills. Learning new languages is an excellent way to develop your character and gain versatility. Knowing multiple languages can also come in handy when it comes to diplomacy and trading.
Common Languages and Ancestries
|Common||Dwarves, elves, halflings, humans, most other ancestries|
|Draconic||Dragons, reptilian humanoids|
|Goblin||Goblins, hobgoblins, bugbears|
|Jotun||Giants, ogres, trolls, cyclopes|
|Sylvan||Fey, centaurs, plants|
|Undercommon||Drow, duergars, xulgaths|
The Common language is the most widely spoken through Golarion. Almost everyone knows enough Common to get by, but it is most prevalent in human society.
Common is relative to the region. In the Inner Sea region, Taldane is the Common language, reflecting the legacy and lasting influence of the Taldor empire. Unless your GM says otherwise, it’s assumed your character can speak Common as well, even if they aren’t human.
Common isn’t the only human language in Pathfinder. Players will find that there are human civilizations all over the globe, and most have their own language and culture. In far away Nex, for example, Common may refer to the Osiriani language.
The human population on Golarion features a variety of ethnic groups spread all over the globe. If your character is from another region of Golarion, it’s assumed you automatically know the regional Common language.
|Common Language||Region of Golarion|
|Hallit||Irrisen, Mendev, Numeria, Sarkoris|
|Mwangi||Mwangi Expanse, Vidrian|
|Osiriani||Geb, Katapesh, Nex, Thuvia|
|Tien||Realm of the Mammoth Lords, Tian Xia|
|Varisian||Brevoy, Nidal, Varisia|
The language of dragons, draconians, and other reptilian humanoids, Draconic is thought to be the oldest language in the entire multiverse. A major language on the planet Triaxus, Draconic is also spoken by many humanoids on Golarion.
Draconic is a throaty language perfect for giving commands and issuing threats. A primordial tongue, many languages were derived from Draconic. Adventurers will find the Draconic script in many of the ancient tombs that dot Golarion.
The language of the elves is musical and often lilting. It also employs a great deal of flowery metaphor. A complicated language, the Elven alphabet has thirty-three letters. Considered one of the oldest languages of Golarion, most scholars believe it was inspired by the Celestial and Draconic languages.
Elven is spoken primarily in Kyonin and other regions with large elven populations. Many half-elves also speak Elven, as do drow elves. Other areas where Elven is common include Kaoling, Tian Zia, and Amanandar.
The Gnomish language is fast-paced and often high-pitched, with a great deal of staccato. It is full of complex idioms and challenging to learn for non-gnomes. The language is constantly changing, and there are dozens of dialects, a process that shows no signs of stopping.
You’ll find gnomes in nearly every region of Golarion, but they are primarily concentrated in Cheliax, the Mwangi Expanse, Varisia, and the River Kingdoms. Gnomish vocabulary is more extensive than any other language on Golarion.
The language of the dwarves, Dwarven, is guttural and contains sounds that are often difficult for outsiders to pronounce. Dwarves have their own alphabet, which is similar to the Terran runic alphabet.
Dwarves primarily live in the Five Kings Mountains, but players are also likely to encounter them anywhere on Avistan or Garund. If you speak Dwarven, be sure to say, “Hello!”
The language of halflings is similar to Taldane (common). Halfling is a major language across Avistan and Garund, but most halflings in Golarion can speak several languages, including gnomish, dwarven, or elven.
Despite the fact that halflings have oftentimes tried to distance themselves from other societies, their language has spread all over the world. Because regional dialects are so different, halflings from different parts of Golarion may have trouble communicating.
Goblin is the primary language of goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears. The Goblin language incorporates verbal command with hand gestures. Because the dialects vary greatly, Goblin is a complex language to learn.
Players are likely to encounter Goblin speakers when traveling the west coast of Varisia or in the forests of central Avistan. These regions are home to large populations of goblins and bugbears.
Cultures and Linguistics
Pathfinder has a wide variety of languages, from the common tongues to the exotic and obscure languages of the many races that populate the world. A character with skill in linguistics can understand and speak many languages, as well as read and write many alphabets or scripts.
Some ancestries have their own unique languages, while others have their own dialects of common languages. In addition to these, there are also secret languages, planar languages, and the language of magic itself, arcane.
There are dozens of unusual languages in Pathfinder, so we’ve compiled a list of the most common ones to help you get started.
There are many languages not native to Golarion that can be found in the world. These include the languages of cosmic or interdimensional travelers, such as angels, devils, and elementals.
Players can learn languages that have been brought to Golarion by beings from other worlds or planes of existence. Talk to your GM if you’re interested in taking your knowledge of linguistics to the cosmic level.
Uncommon Languages and Ancestries
|Aklo||Deros, evil fey, otherworldly monsters|
|Aquan||Aquatic creatures, water elemental creatures|
|Auran||Air elemental creatures, flying creatures|
|Ignan||Fire elemental creatures|
|Necril||Ghouls, intelligent undead|
|Shadowtongue||Nidalese, Shadow Plane creatures|
|Terran||Earth elemental creatures|
The language of demons, Abyssal is a harsh and guttural language. It is difficult for most creatures to learn. Demons can be found all over Golarion, but they are most commonly found in the Abyss.
Celestial is the language of angels, divine creatures, and other good outsiders. Spoken by benevolent creatures throughout the multiverse, Celestial has a dreamy cadence, combining a large number of vowels and a few consonants.
An elemental language, Terran is slow and challenging to learn. Commonly referred to as the “tongue of the earth,” Terran is the language of earth elements and creatures from the darklands.
Spoken by the spirits who inhabited the primordial earth and perhaps earlier, Terran is an ancient language. Despite its sluggish nature, the language has changed dramatically over the eons. Some ancient creatures speak a version of Terran that is incomprehensible to modern listeners.
Learning New Languages
A character with skill in linguistics can understand and speak many languages and read and write their alphabet or script.
The number of languages you know in Pathfinder is based on your intelligence modifier. The higher your intelligence, the more languages you know. If your intelligence modifier changes, so do the number of languages you know.
Some languages are forbidden to outsiders. For example, only a druid is permitted to learn Druidic. Ask your GM which languages are available for your character if you’re unsure.
Language Feats and Abilities
One way to learn new languages is to increase your ability scores. By increasing your intelligence modifier, you can automatically learn new languages.
You can also learn new feats to increase your linguistic potential. The multilingual feat, for example, gives your character a chance to learn new languages, including exotic tongues from across the multiverse.
Lastly, your background will have an influence on what languages you know. Some character backgrounds will enhance your linguistic skills more than others. Check in the Core Rulebook for a complete list of backgrounds and feats.
The multilingual feat is perfect for any upstart ambassador or wannabe linguistic professor. Available as a society skill feat, multilingual allows your character to learn additional languages. Take this feat again to learn even more languages!
You easily pick up new languages. You learn two new languages, chosen from common languages, uncommon languages, and any others you have access to. You learn an additional language if you are or become a master in Society and again if you are or become legendary.
Special You can select this feat multiple times. Each time, you learn additional languages.
Source: Core Rulebook pg. 264
If you want your character to have the best chances of communicating with anyone in Golarion, consider choosing the emissary background. When it comes to people skills, no one rivals the abilities of an emissary.
As an emissary, you could serve as a spy, gathering intel for powerful lords or secret organizations. Or you could use your skills to build peace between rival nations, ending needlessly destructive wars.
Comprehend Language Spell
Some spells will enhance your communication skills. The spell comprehend language allows you to understand and read almost any language. An experienced mage can use this spell to understand, speak or write virtually any language.
Comprehend language is a level 2 spell that lasts for an hour. At first, you’ll only be able to target one creature. At higher levels, you can target up to ten creatures and give them the ability to speak another language too!
Languages are an essential part of the Pathfinder RPG. They help to add flavor and depth to the game and can be a valuable asset to any character.
With so many languages to choose from, players have plenty of options when it comes to customizing their characters.
Whether you’re a new player or an experienced tabletop gamer, understanding languages will be a rewarding and valuable experience.