To Fly on Metal Wings
This covers those languages which will likely be encountered in the Great Basin Region
It is not an exhaustive list.
Note: Demothian – They say that once there was an empire that reached from the heart of the Aetheria to its utmost boundaries on every side; when the emperors rejoiced the Aetheria rejoiced, and when they grew restless her people died by the thousands. Long ages brought even that empire low, and the many races have forgotten where her grand cities lay, but the language once spoken by all civilized people has left its marks in a thousand little ways.
- ‘OLD’ DEMOTHIAN – The ‘original’ language of the Demothian Empire. In truth it is an amalgam of the Demothian language based on texts from the empire’s literary and cultural golden age. The Demothian language as understood in the empire’s earlier and later periods was radically different from this. Because scholars like splitting smooth continua into triads, those languages
are known as PROTO-DEMOTHIAN and LATE-DEMOTHIAN.
- LATE-DEMOTHIAN was used long after the fall of their empire for scholarly texts. This practice
continued in the most conservative and traditional academies until the Grey Men ravages and the
intellectual dark age following the Shaan uprising when it was universally abandoned. The huge
volume of scholarly tomes in various permutations of Demothian makes fluency valuable for historians and some scientists.
- MARDUKIAN – Sometime after the collapse of the Demothian empire, the Great Basin Region came under the sway of a line of kings claiming divine origin and displaying strange and fantastic powers. Modern scholars have not been able to determine the relevant dates with any precision, but there seems to be some correlation between the deaths of the Old Gods and the appearance of these ‘Divine’ Kings. Whether truly divine or not, their language was completely different from the Demothian spoken in the islands prior to their reign. The Kings themselves, along with their priests and courtiers spoke only this language (now called by scholars ‘Mardukian’ after Marduk, the first Divine King), but on most islands under their sway it was adopted to greater or lesser degrees and merged with the indigenous breed of Demothian. Mardukian never caught on among scholars the way Demothian had, but under the Divine Kings it was the official language for court documents and clerical records. In its original form it is valuable to historians. Most of the Demothian-Mardukian hybrid languages in use today are still closely related to each other and to the mother-tongue, so understanding Mardukian offers some insight into some unknown languages.
- CRESTISH – Before joining with Martus Ankara to form the 1st Republic, Cresters spoke Crestish,
an amalgam of Demothian, the now-long-forgotten indigenous language of Crestingwick, and Mardukian. Today they speak it again, and it has become the unofficial language of the 4th
Republic. Noteworthy is a dialect of Crestish spoken in the city of Greysward, once a bastion
of anti-Republican nationalism and today among Crestingwick’s greatest cities, which is almost
incomprehensible to other Cresters because of its emphasis on indigenous terms and grammatical
constructions no longer in use elsewhere.
- REPUBLICAN STANDARD – The 1st Republic once dreamed of an Aetheria united by common language and culture (and modern principles of artillery). In order to make that dream a reality they created a new model language built from the start to be easy to learn, precise, and nuanced. It was a beautiful language but unpopular language destined for an early death. It does survive in a slightly modified version endorsed by the Guild of Luftmeisters in their Unified Communications Field Manual. A few of the Gnomic clans living in the Martian Gravefields still speak Republican standard. Many scientific treatises and other texts were printed in Republican Standard during the publishing boom created by the first working printing press designs. For instance, most of the Fantasickal Adventures of Diggel novels were originally published in Republican Standard.
- N. RUHNTINE – Ruhn was the last major island to be annexed into the Republic, and some scholars contend that Republican Standard was based on the Ruhntine language a concession to
the Ruhnishmen. In the northen part of the island this language has evolved largely in isolation
and remains relatively close to Republican Standard and to its Demothian roots.
- S. RUHNTINE – The southern section of Ruhn has been intimately involved in Great Basin trade and politics since the collapse of the Empire; they were briefly ruled by the Leonine Empire, and even today the King of Hollen Moor claims territory on the island’s south-western extremity. They have also seen more contact with continentals and anthromorphs in recent years. All together those influences led to a hybrid language closer to Cathay or Arachos than to N.
- CATHAY – Greater Nemoi was long a melting pot of Aetherial culture, enjoying friendly trade winds that brought merchants from every island in the Great Basin region to exchange goods and
gossip. From this interchange came Cathay, a pidgin language used by merchants from radically
different cultures to discuss business.
- SHAAN – The traditional language of Sha Amatsur, spoken by mystics and devout believers in the
local religion of Sha Amatsur even before the uprising, and now spoken throughout much of the
known Aetheria. Shaan monasteries dot the landscape in most parts of the Great Basin Region,
and the influence of the religion, even among nonbelievers, is extensive. Theorists suggest
that after the deaths of the Old Gods a new religion spread to Sha Amatsur from beyond the
known Aetheria, and with it came the Shaan language. Others contend that the religion is home-
grown, and is based on the teachings of certain prophets who may or may not have truly lived.
Spoken by: The people of Sha Amatsur, Shaan priests throughout the known Aetheria, most
small towns built near (and existing symbiotically with) Shaan monasteries, many religious
- MALANLOR DIALECTS – The ‘commoner’ language in the Gruffyd empire, Malanlor was
influenced very little by either the Demothian empire or the Divine Kings, developing on its
own far from their seats of power. Malanlor may very well claim to be the oldest language in the
known Aetheria. The splintering the old Gruffyd empire has tended generally to follow the lines
of Malanlori dialect; you know you’ve entered a rival prince’s realm when you can’t understand
the peasants anymore. [DM Note: Fluency in Malanlori gives you fluency in three of its dialects,
not in all.]
- KEL-AN-LOR (HIGH GRUFFIC) – The ‘noble’ language in the Gruffyd empire. High Gruffic is a
more refined form of Malanlor that was developed during the early years of the Gruffyd Empire.
The words are largely the same but are pronounced entirely differently. It is a harsh language,
very difficult on the throat of the speaker and the ears of the listener. Some mutter that it was
invented by Willant Gruffyd when he was trying to talk to his tamed gryphons in their own
- Clockwise – Somewhat pejorative term for the clicking grinding language used by automatons
communicating with each other.
- Windspeak – Now defunct term for the collection of languages spoken by different elf clans.
- Arachos – Mardukian-based language spoken in the Nemois, Hollen Moor, and northern Chukos.
- Chukosian – Shaan-based language spoken in the desert regions of Chukos.
- Deadtalk – Incomprehensible language spoken by certain undead creatures.
- Stansi/Stansi Handtalk: The Stansi use handtalk as a way to communicating during storms
or whenever it is impossible communicate vocally. Their spoken language is strange and
sibilant, sounding a little like wind hissing through the cracks in a wooden ship’s hull.
- ‘Pennant Continental’ – A grouping of similar languages spoken by the clans in region of the
continent once explored by Emilio Pennant.
- ‘Castinne Continental’ – A grouping of similar languages spoken by the clans in a region of the
continent once explored by Laurence Castinne.
- Oribeste – Internal language used by the Church of the Great Wheel and the Knighthood.