A curious aspect of the Dungeons & Dragons game is the idea of a “common” tongue spoken by everyone. The thought of such a universal language developing in a Medieval setting is absurd, considering the slow modes of travel and communication, rampant illiteracy and limited access to information.
Of course, simply by engaging in the act of playing D&D, players choose to suspend disbelief long enough to pretend magic is real, the dead can walk, dragons prowl the land and the fabric of reality can be rent with a few magic words. If we’ve already agreed to pretend at that level, a continental, common language isn’t too much more to add, and as a game feature, a common language lets players interact with the setting instead of trying to interact with the setting, which quickly becomes frustrating.
There are ways, however, for a dungeon master (DM) to give players the impression that they are in different cultural areas when their heroes wander far from home. When heroes are in especially remote or distant areas, creating pigdin speech for role-playing may be appropriate. But to give a “sense of place” without actually altering the common language, the DM can make use of campaign slang to create dialects. Continue reading