Halloween

Halloween
5% of All Sales go to Support The Tavern

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Do You Use "Alignment Languages" in Your Campaigns?

One of the least understood aspects of AD&D in my days of youthful gaming (somewhere after Weapon Speed) was Alignment Languages or Alignment Tongues.

Were they actually different languages or more like regional variations of the common tongue?

Could characters discuss tactics in the middle of battle using their alignment tongue and keep the enemy from ever figuring it out?

We quietly handwaved it away and ignored it after a while - it just seemed like so much useless baggage.

Do you use Alignment Tongues in your campaigns? If so, how do you use it?

What is any houserules do you have for it?

If you used it in the past and no longer do, why is that?

18 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  2. We always have just hand-waved and ignored them as they simply didn't make sense (even within the context of a game where dragons vomit clouds of poisonous gas on magic-wielding elves). In retrospect I can see some use for them as intonations of language - good people tend to use certain terms while evil uses another set of colloquialisms. In the end, though, that seems to come through from role playing rather than having a mechanical need in the form of alignment language.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Ya know, I never really used them because they just didn't make sense. Then about a month ago at work there was this giant jargon bomb of a discussion going on and I was listening to the words people were using and thinking "Employee Y totally thinks that Employee X is being helpful and friendly right now, but Employee X is being a complete fucking shit bag and attempting to sluff off every scrap of accountability they have."

    Then Employee X had a conversation with Employee Z in front of Employee Y and I realized they were speaking Lawful Evil to each other and alignment languages suddenly made sense.

    I'm thinking about incorporating them next game because I now view them purely as jargon that obfuscates true intent from "those not like you".

    Edit: Messed up my naming conventions :D

    ReplyDelete
  4. I don't understand. No es en True Neutral.

    ReplyDelete
  5. When I do, it's only under the assumption that alignment is a _side_, not a personal ethos. In that point-of-view, it makes sense that the followers of the Church of the Law might have something like Latin that they can use to communicate across cultures, while the creatures of Chaos would have their own means of communication.

    I've justified it for up to Holmes' five-point alignment system (with Neutrality being "unaligned" and therefore not having a special language), but never for nine. You'd lave "Latin" (LG), a different dialect or language (German? Arabic? Aztec? - it depends on what you're modeling your Evil Empire (tm) after) (LE), "Faerie" (CG), and Demonic (CE).

    ReplyDelete
  6. I did used them back in the times, juste becasue it was a feature of the game. Currently, I don't, but it won't hurt me to raise them back. They would fit my pbp, which is Moldvay red box by the book.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Damn, Ebbon is alreadu giving me the cold shoulder...

      Delete
  7. Not using them currently. Using three-point-alignment (chaos/law/neutral), it's really, really on the back burner either way (most characters seem to be well meaning but still chaotic in my game. I wonder if I am furthering this the way I run my game; I had big trouble succeeding with a very lawful character in a similar campaign).

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thieves Cant snd each religion had a language (like latin).

    ReplyDelete
  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I "use" them in the sense that they get written on character sheets. But I don't recall players ever making much use of them. I don't really care about them one way or the other.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I've used alignment languages as the languages of telepathy. You can understand same alignment of course, one step removed you can get the basics, further removed and it's too alien to comprehend. Experienced telepaths get to learn more alignment languages.

    ReplyDelete
  12. While everyone I played with seems to handwave alignment languages, it's interesting that the outcome of the handwave usually reverts to their original system in the three-alignment model.

    The original assumption was that these were just ways to let evil races communicate with other evil races, and good races with other good races, but still allow for a language barrier between good and evil.

    That's the system everyone naturally adopts by default. There's never a language barrier between ogres and orcs, but there's always the possibility of a language barrier between humans and orcs when it suits plot purposes, unless the orcs "speak common" (usually rather badly).

    Why? Obviously there's some kind of alignment language, but with no explicit rules for how it works. People want the effects of alignment languages, but that term seems weird now that "alignment" means "mutable moral outlook" instead of just describing functional alliances.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Right. Most people forget that, according to Men & Magic, the "Common tongue" is known to only 20% of "monsters" (including dwarves, elves, etc.). In other terms, Common is the main language of "human" countries (and PCs), but divisionnal languages are the Common for non-human races/monsters (like Quenya or the Black Speech in LotR)

      Delete
  13. Nope, but I did use Thieves Cant and the mysterious Druid Language

    ReplyDelete
  14. Since I don't use alignments as such, I don't use alignment languages as such. What I do use is the "king and country" method of "alignment", where a character's alignment is based on his attitude toward the local governing body (law/chaos) and local religion (good/evil). The closest thing to alignment languages, then, are the local languages of a nation and the liturgical languages of various religions. However, that also means that everyone will know the local language, and everyone initiated in a religion will have at least a marginally functional fluency in the liturgical language of the religion, so there aren't any shibboleths to absolutely determine alignment from mere speech (by the way, I think that the idea of "shibboleth" is precisely the main influence on alignment language, where those who are not of the community have different pronunciations of the same words in the main language, so one interpretation of alignment language, for those who need one, might be as the accent of the character).

    ReplyDelete
  15. Never used them. Too absurd. Can you imagine character X (LN) from the western continent who meets character Y (also LN) from the eastern continent. They don't share any common language but they can talk to each other in LN????

    ReplyDelete
  16. It depends on the world building. If you have a setting where the deities are omnipresent in daily life, then alignment languages can be useful. Especially if you have gods who use a karma-like system to judge their followers, and where everyone has a patron deity.

    But in a regular fantasy setting? I would not use them.

    ReplyDelete