An anecdote about how languages can shape a setting

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James K
Patreon SupporterLairs And Encounters BackerBarbarian Conquerors of Kanahu BackerACKS Heroic Fantasy Handbook Backer
Joined: 2014-06-06 17:22
An anecdote about how languages can shape a setting

I recall Alex in the past saying that working out a setting's languages can help you flesh out a setting. I thought you might enjoy hear an example of this that happened for the settign I'm building for my next campaign.

I was setting up cultural analogues for all the major races in my sewtting, basically doing it based on what my players and I thought would be interesting:

  • Major Human Empire: German
  • Dwarves: Russian
  • Elves: Persian
  • Draconains (a homebrew draconic race): Italian
  • Zharans: Egyptian, with their human subject population being Greek.

When I had a look through these cultures it occured to me that every culture uses a unique alphabet, expect for the humans and the draconains who both use the Latin alphabet. These two groups have no major culutral connections, so it doesn't make sense that the draconians (the more recently establihed culutre) would adopt a human alphabet. They used to be Zaharan slaves, and if they didn't want to use the language of their former lords, perhaps they were inspired by their draconic heritage. And if Draconiac is Italian, and derived from Draconic that can only mean Draconic is Latin.

So now my dragons will act like haughty Roman patricians, with multiple names that they add to as they get older.

As for the humans, I figure that they were uplifted by a dragon in the distant past. This in turn inspired the name of that empire - The Drakensreich.

golan2072
Patreon SupporterBarbarian Conquerors of Kanahu AuthorPlayer's Companion BackerDwimmermount BackerSinister Stone of Sakkara BackerLairs And Encounters BackerBarbarian Conquerors of Kanahu BackerACKS Heroic Fantasy Handbook Backer
Joined: 2012-01-14 14:14

I Like that - I ended up planning languages in my old Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu setting, though in my case this was top-down rather than bottom-up.

I haven't thought about script/alphabet in my own Dark Camalynn setting, though a common Elysian Empire ruling over this area until recently implies Elysian script in my case (analogous of Latin).

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

That's awesome. I love how you reverse-engineered from some facts you had decided on for extrinsic reasons. I find that to be a really valuable tool for campaigns.

"I have a cool map that shows a weird tower on the coast. Why might it be there?" etc.