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Chapter 2: Ancestries & Backgrounds


Source Core Rulebook pg. 65 2.0
The people of the Inner Sea region speak dozens of different languages, along with hundreds of dialects and regional variations. While a character can generally get by with Taldane, also known as Common, knowing another language is vital in some regions. Being able to speak these tongues can help you with negotiation, spying on enemies, or just conducting simple commerce. Languages also afford you the chance to contextualize your character in the world and give meaning to your other character choices.

Your ancestry entry states which languages you know at 1st level. Typically, this means you can both speak and read these languages. Having a positive Intelligence modifier grants a number of additional languages equal to your Intelligence modifier. You can choose these languages from the list presented in your character’s ancestry entry and from those available from your region or ethnicity. Ask your GM if there’s a language you want to select that isn’t on these lists. If your Intelligence changes later on, you adjust your number of languages accordingly.

The languages presented here are grouped according to how common they are throughout the Inner Sea region. Languages that are common are regularly encountered in most places, even among those who aren’t native speakers. Languages that are uncommon (see Table 2–2 and Regional Languages) are most frequently spoken by native speakers, but they are also spoken by certain scholars and others interested in the associated cultures.

Druidic is a secret language, and is available only to characters who are druids. In fact, druids are prohibited from teaching the language to non-druids (described further in Anathema on page 130).

It is possible for your character to learn languages later in their adventuring career. Selecting the Multilingual feat, for example, grants a character two new languages chosen from those listed in Table 2–1: Common Languages and Table 2–2: Uncommon Languages. Other abilities and effects might grant access to common or uncommon languages, as detailed in their descriptions.

Table 2-1: Common Languages

CommonHumans, dwarves, elves, halflings, and other common ancestries
DraconicDragons, reptilian humanoids
ElvenElves, half-elves
GoblinGoblins, hobgoblins, bugbears
JotunGiants, ogres, trolls, ettins, cyclopes
OrcishOrcs, half-orcs
SylvanFey, centaurs, plant creatures
UndercommonDrow, duergars, xulgaths

Table 2-2: Uncommon Languages

AkloDeros, evil fey, otherworldly monsters
AquanAquatic creatures, water elemental creatures
AuranAir elemental creatures, flying creatures
IgnanFire elemental creatures
NecrilGhouls, intelligent undead
ShadowtongueNidalese, Shadow Plane creatures
TerranEarth elemental creatures

Table 2-3: Secret Languages


Regional Languages

Source Core Rulebook pg. 65 2.0
Regional languages depend on the game world you’re playing in. Chapter 8: The Age of Lost Omens lists the regional languages of the Pathfinder world and where they’re spoken (page 432). These languages are uncommon.

Most characters learn the Common language. This is the most widely used language in the region where the campaign takes place. In the Inner Sea region of Golarion, the Common tongue is Taldane, for example. Characters with Common might face a language barrier if they travel somewhere with a different Common language.

Regional Languages

Source Core Rulebook pg. 432 2.0
These languages are uncommon outside the region of their genesis. A character hailing from one of the regions listed below automatically has access to that language. In the Inner Sea region, the language referred to as Common elsewhere in the rules is the same as Taldane—a result of Taldor's legacy of control and influence over the whole region. Nearly every language listed here is spoken on the melting-pot streets of Absalom.

Table 8-1: Regional Languages

HallitIrrisen, Mendev, Numeria, Realm of the Mammoth Lords, Sarkoris, Ustalav
KelishKatapesh, Kelesh, Osirion, Qadira
MwangiMwangi Expanse, the Shackles, Thuvia, Vidrian
OsirianiGeb, Katapesh, Mana Wastes, Nex, Osirion, Rahadoum, Thuvia
ShoantiHold of Belkzen, Varisia
SkaldIrrisen, Lands of the Linnorm Kings
TienLands of the Linnorm Kings, Realm of the Mammoth Lords, Tian Xia
VarisianBrevoy, the Gravelands, Nidal, Nirmathas, Ustalav, Varisia
VudraniJalmeray, Katapesh, Nex, Vudra

Sign Language and Reading Lips

Source Core Rulebook pg. 65 2.0
The language entry for most characters lists languages they use to communicate in spoken words. However, you might know the signed languages associated with the languages you know, or how to read lips. You can learn these by taking the Sign Language or Read Lips skill feats, or both. If you are creating a character who is deaf, hard of hearing, or unable to speak, discuss with your GM whether it makes sense for your character to know sign languages or lip reading. If so, your GM might allow you to select one of these feats for free (even if you don't meet the prerequisites) to represent your character concept.