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I was just creating a Drow Rogue in 5e and I noticed that they know very few languages. With some backgrounds, I have been able to create characters that know as many as 6 languages at level one. However, a Drow Rogue with a charlatan background only knows Common and Elvish.

The race description for Drow does not specifically state that they know Undercommon, should I assume that they can?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ What setting is this in? Forgotten Realms, or something else? \$\endgroup\$ – Shalvenay Sep 22 '15 at 22:16
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No you should not assume he knows the language if you do not get it from your race or background. If there is no rule giving you the language you do not have it.

Keep in mind that your character need not come from the Underdark so he might in fact not know the language. (Surface Drow are a thing in some settings.) He might also come from the Underdark and never bothered to learn the language of the "lower races" living there. (In some settings Drow are quite racist.)

If you have a valid reason to know the language you might bargain with your DM to get it. You might give up one of your languages but this would be hard as you only have Common and Elvish. Giving up Common would be bad as you would probably need it to talk to the other group member and giving up Elvish would also be strange. This would basically mean creating your own custom background. This is legit but needs the OK of the DM and should not result in advantages for you.

So you should take a look what you could deal in to get Undercommon if you really want to have it.

If your DM has a nice day and you have a valid reason to know Undercommon he might give it to you for free of course. But having something of to bargain would help.

I would only hand out the language for free if I do not plan to go to the Underdark any time soon with my campaign. That would reduce the language to a style thing witch would be for free.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ "This is legit but needs the OK of the DM and should not result in advantages for you." - were standard Drow given an extra advantage to offset this disadvantage, or was it a choice made for style reasons with no regard for game balance? \$\endgroup\$ – Random832 Sep 22 '15 at 16:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Random832 Offset what disadvantage? \$\endgroup\$ – RonLugge Sep 22 '15 at 17:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ The disadvantage of only knowing two languages, compared to a similar build of a different race according to OP being able to know six languages. \$\endgroup\$ – Random832 Sep 22 '15 at 17:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Random832 As OP did not tell us what background he chose this is all guess work but: In 5e get to choose a background and all backgrounds give you bonuses. If you choose a studious background you will get languages. Other Backgrounds give you other stuff. All are of advantage. \$\endgroup\$ – Tobias Kremer Sep 22 '15 at 18:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ In some settings, Undercommon is actually derived from Elven because of the whole drow-were-exiled-underground thing, and uses the same alphabet. Definitely not in all settings, though. \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Sep 22 '15 at 23:59
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Undercommon isn't a racial language; it's the "common" of the Underdark, and better thought of as a trade language of that realm. It's perfectly appropriate that a drow character might remain ignorant of undercommon (perhaps they have no trade interests).

Drow speak Elven (albeit in some evil-sounding accent!)

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in D&D 5e drow get under common and elvish not common and elvish. i know this because i had to take a background that gave me a language so i could get the common language when i played a drow.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Did you read through the drow subclass for elves in the PHB? Unlike their monster manual counterparts they know common and not undercommon. \$\endgroup\$ – Purple Monkey Apr 25 '16 at 15:50

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