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It is unknown when, in the distant mists of time, the first language was developed. All scholars know today is that a vast number of different languages sprang up all over the world, and that these language have such a dizzying variety of forms that it is hard to believe that they ever originally sprang from one source. The various nonhuman races often seem to have been able to hang on to "racial languages" - perhaps because of longer life spans and increased cultural homogeneity. But even among them, the languages seem to gradually drift apart - a dwarf from Gol Algor will have a hard time understanding the speech of a dwarf from Gol Grungor unless he spends some time getting familiar with the dialect of the latter.

With scattered humanity, the situation was even worse. While the Atalan Empire lasted for long enough and spread far enough to allow Atalan become the language of trade, commerce and government in much of the Known Lands, when the Empire shattered it only survived as a language of scholars, wizards, and the Thenaran Church. The Tsan Empire in the Far East seems to have more success in maintaining linguistic stability, but people who have traveled there say that the Tsan too have a bewildering variety of mutually incomprehensible dialects, despite a unified system of writing.

This seemed to be the fate of humanity - to speak in a bewildering variety of languages. But 150 years ago, shortly after the Treaty of Praxus was signed and dreams of Flannish Unification were common, the noted linguist M. M. Wutenheim created a new, artificial language derived from Atalan and several local dialects. He called it the new "Common Language of All Mankind", or "Common'' for short. The language was indeed quite easy to learn and for some time became quite popular among the learned and the new elites of the Flannish cities, but as time went on, support for the language dwindled until it was only spoken among a few eccentrics and those who still dreamed of the unification of the Flannish cities.

But about 70 years ago, the rulers of Praxus changed, and inspired by the writings of Wutenheim and others to bring harmony to the world, the archmages of Praxus wove a great and subtle enchantment just as Common was made the official language of the city. From now on, the language spread like wildfire. More and more people wanted to learn it, and the spell both encouraged them and made it easier to grasp its principles. Older languages gradually fell out of use, only remembered by those with an active interest in them for historic or cultural reasons. Already more than one generation in the Flannish Cities has been born and raised without learning any other language.

Still, the language is not spoken everywhere. The language mostly spreads by word of mouth, and the more isolated or the further away a community is from Praxus, the more likely is it that the old languages are still spoken there. Cultural differences seem to count for something - the more similar the old language is to Common, the easier will the switch be. The enchantment also seems to be less efficient on nonhumans, for while many nonhumans have learned Common by now, no known community among them has given up its old language in exchange.

Most people who are aware of the rapid spread of Common just consider the language to be "an idea whose time has come" and leave it at that. Still, this curious state of affairs has fueled more than its share of conspiracy theories, and some groups make a deliberate effort to speak only in the old, nearly dead languages.

And perhaps those people have a good reason to be afraid. The ritual continues its work in secret, and a significant part of the magical energies generated by the nexus towers of Praxus are set aside to maintain it. But what will happen once the whole world will speak with one tongue? Will they stop the spell, content with a job well done?

Or will they alter the spell in a way that controls the mind of everyone who carries the knowledge of Common in his mind?

See Also

Adventure Ideas

Designer's Notes & Resources

For the record, Common probably sounds somewhat similar to Esperanto.


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Urbis - A World of Cities © Jürgen Hubert. All material on this site excepting forum posts is owned by him.