Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I'm not alone in thinking alignment languages are silly

(edited: fixed line breaks, Arrgh!)

So if I may, where did the idea for aligment tongues come from? Do you see them as fully fleshed out languages?

"As D&D was being quantified and qualified bu the publication of the supplemental rules booklets. I decided that Thieves' cant should not be the only secret language. thus alignment languages come into play, the rational being they were akin to Hebrew for Jewish and Latin for Roman Catholic persons.

I have since regretted the addition, as the non-cleric user would have only a limited vocabulary, and luttle cound be conveyed or understoon by the use of an alignment language between non-clerical users.


(from Dragonsfoot)


  1. I'm not sure too many people are actually using alignment languages in their campaigns; but I do like the idea of Thieves Cant and other group-specific communication methods.

    Even there, though, how much of that can you use in a game setting?

  2. Since day-one in the 70's, I have not used alignment languages. Even as a 12 year old (give or take) I found them to be a big stretch.

    Do love Thieves Cant though, and during a thieves campaign in my big city in the 90's I invented a ton of words for that cities Cant (for human guilds, and the half elf guild with some elf related versions).

  3. I never use alignment tongue as written. I sometimes include a Latin-like language for Lawful (or Lawful Good) churches that simultaneously serves as a language of the clergy and as the writing system for divine spell scrolls. I also sometimes include "evil/forbidden" tongues known by the forces of Evil and/or Chaos... but there's nothing magically preventing someone from the outside learning these languages, given the opportunity.

  4. Interesting that thieves cant still feels so alluring. I have no feelings at all on those, personally.

  5. Seconding Brunomac - never used them and never saw a reason to do so. I like Gary's statement that they are meant to be legacy technical religious languages, but if so, what an incredibly clumsy implementation and confusing nomenclature.

    And chalk me up for loving Thieves' Cant - a great way to personalize cultures in your campaign.

  6. Alignment tongue, thieves' cant, guild terminology, hobo and hunter signs are not complete languages, but are usefull for helping to identify others that belong to your group. Latin isn't an alignment tongue any more than French is a royalty tongue.

    A famous political pundit once said, and I am paraphrasing here, don't immanentize the Eschaton. I have no idea exactly what he meant since I am not a Catholic, but I am sure that many lay Catholics know what he meant, and that all Catholic clergy know what he meant as well.

  7. The Immanentize of Echaton!

    Sounds like a fabulous adventure...

    Yeah, I have some inkling of the meaning of those words, but not enough not to not massacre its meaning. ;)

  8. As a kid, I always INCLUDED alignment languages (they were in the rules). No one ever attempted to speak in them.

    Since I started gaming D&D again (circa 2000 or so) I have never bothered with alignment languages, nor bothered to explain them to new players. Language rules in general are a mixed bag, and definitely the weakest part (IMO) of B/X D&D play.

  9. Language rules in general are a mixed bag. I think.


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