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For my current campaign I'm exploring lore options regarding planar travel for NPCs and PCs. Where in the books can I find more information about which languages are common in which planes?*

I'm aware that the Monster Manual states which languages a creature knows and/or understands. But the details don't offer me demographics on how common certain languages are. Or am I missing something in the book?


*My campaign takes place in a personal adaptation on the planes of the Forgotten Realms.

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    \$\begingroup\$ 5E removed a lot of this stuff, at least for now, are you open to lore from other editions? \$\endgroup\$ – Slagmoth Mar 27 '18 at 15:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yes, I am open for that. \$\endgroup\$ – Vadruk Mar 27 '18 at 15:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Slagmoth You may want to use the lore and forgotten-realms tag instead of the 5e tag then. \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Mar 27 '18 at 17:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Slagmoth Forgotten Realms is the base world for 5e. Any other world would have its own demographics and languages and can't be understood from the 5e books at all. \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Mar 27 '18 at 17:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Vadruk Okay, as long as you're actually basing it on Forgotten Realms material (such as the published adventures, or old-edition material), not just the mistaken assertion above that D&D 5e's setting default is the Forgotten Realms. If you're just basing it on D&D 5e's core three books, FR's planar cosmology isn't relevant. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Mar 27 '18 at 22:01
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PHB 123 and DMG 43

The information on PHB 123, is similar to that on MM. Together with the information on DMG you can have your answer.

PHB shows which languages are spoken by which type of creatures. DMG talks about creating, or putting together, planes. The common language would depend on whose plane it is.

For example if the plane in question is the origin of Demons the common language there would be Abyssal. Or Celestial for the dieties, Sylvan for fey creatures etc.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ That helps, thanks. To complete your example from PHB 123: Abyssal (demons), Celestial (celestials), Draconic (dragons, dragonborn, kobolds), Deep Speech (mind flayers, beholders), Infernal (devils), Primordial (elementals), Sylvan (fey creatures), Undercommon (Underdark traders). So this is one part of the puzzle solved. \$\endgroup\$ – Vadruk Mar 27 '18 at 19:51
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PHB 123:

Abyssal (demons), Celestial (celestials), Draconic (dragons, dragonborn, kobolds), Deep Speech (mind flayers, beholders), Infernal (devils), Primordial (elementals), Sylvan (fey creatures), Undercommon (Underdark traders).

Going through DMG Chapter 2 as @FenrirG recommended, I came to some conclusions. For my campaign I'm mostly interested in the Death Plane, Shadowfell and the Nine Hells. But here's an overview added with other planes.

This is a work in progress, please add suggestions.

Common languages per plane

The Material Plane and its Echoes

  • Material Plane: Common
  • Feywild: Sylvan
  • Shadowfell: same languages as Material Plane

The Transitive Planes

  • Astral Plane: Gith?

The Inner Planes

  • Elemental Planes: Primordial

The Outer Planes

  • Arcadia: Celestial and Dwarvish
  • Mount Celestia: Celestial
  • The Abyss: Abyssal
  • The Nine Hells: Infernal
  • Ysgard: Giant and Draconic

The Positive and Negative Planes

  • Negative Plane (a.k.a. Death Plane): still unclear, a mixture of anything?
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    \$\begingroup\$ The Shadowfell is a semi-mirror image of the material plane but shadowy it does not have its own languages but most of the permanent residents originated on the material plane so the languages should be similar. \$\endgroup\$ – Baergren Mar 28 '18 at 15:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think characterising "Common" as the native language of the entire material plane is a bit much. In the Realms, for instance, it isn't really a language at all - its a pidgin used for very basic things, like finding an inn or finding somebody who shares an actual language (like Chondathan, Damaran, Illuskan, etc) with you. You can't carry on a complete conversation about anything remotely complex in Common. \$\endgroup\$ – T.J.L. Mar 29 '18 at 19:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't characterise Common as a native language, but as the most commonly spoken language on that plane. Do you have a better alternative for Common? What you share afterwards is very useful information, I wasn't yet aware that common is just a basic language. Do you have a source for that so I can read up more? \$\endgroup\$ – Vadruk Mar 29 '18 at 20:43

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