Languages in Victorian Dreadful

Native Tongue vs Mother Tongue

Victorian Dreadful is a campaign set primarily in the British Isles, though there may well be travel to other parts of the Empire during the course of play. For anyone BORN and RAISED in Great Britain, English will be considered your Native Tongue. However, for many who are native to Great Britain, there are other, regional languages, that are considered your ‘Mother Tongue.’ This applies specifically (in Great Britain) to native Welsh, Scott and Irish characters. These characters will have English as their ‘native tongue’ (and if literate will be able to read and write English,) while ALSO having a second spoken language, at equivalent fluency at no point cost.

This also applies for a character from certain other parts of the Empire. English will be your Native Tongue while the dominant local language is your Mother Tongue.

However, due to active efforts by the Crown to reduce the influence of these other languages, the character is NOT automatically literate in the ‘Mother Tongue’ and must invest at least a half Skill Point to achieve that.

The ‘Mother Tongue’ will provide an ‘accent’ even when they are speaking English. Such that a listener will be highly likely to identify the speakers mother tongue and thus region or origin.

For a character from Scotland, their Native Language = English. Their Mother Tongue = Scott Gaelic.

For a character from Ireland, their Native Language = English. Their Mother Tongue = Irish Gaelic.

For a character from Wales, their Native Language = English. Their Mother Tongue = Welsh.

For a character from Canada, their Native Language = English. Their Mother Tongue = French (IF from Quebec)

For a character from India, their Native Language = English. Their Mother Tongue = Hindi OR Bengali (player’s choice.)

For a character from Egypt, their Native Language = English. Their Mother Tongue = Masri (Arabic)

For a character from East Africa (Kenya, Sudan, etc) their Native Language = English. Their Mother Tongue = Swahili OR Arabic OR Bantu (Player’s choice)

For a character from South Africa, Transval, Cape Colonies, etc their Native Language = English. Their Mother Tongue = Boer OR Xhosa OR Zulu (Player’s choice.)

Other Nationalities

Characters of any other nationality will have a Native Tongue representing their Homeland: French, German, Spanish, Russian, Arab, Greek, Italian, etc. This is the language they will be literate in (if they are literate) and be their primary day to day language. It will also serve to accent their English, which they must take as a learned skill and invest points into learning it.


Natives of America speak English (mostly) as their native tongue. Any native of the British Isles will instantly recognize ‘American English’ even if they are unable to place the regional dialect or accent.

A character from America will have English (not exactly the Queen’s English) as their native tongue and may opt to have one of several Mother Tongues (representing the origin of immigrant families or relations to Native American groups or other ethnic groups in the United States. Mother Tongue options include: Yiddish, German, Dutch, Swedish, Welsh, Irish or Scott Gaelic, Italian, Cherokee, Sioux, Navajo, Apache, Comanche, French Creole and Mexican Spanish.

(The GM recognizes that there are many sub groups and dialects within the various primary languages listed. For example Basque or Castilian or Valencian (amongst others) for Spain. But for simplicity sake the game will lump these as Spanish. However, if a player wishes to be more specific in the dialect of their Native Language, or take a dialect as a Mother Tongue, they are welcome to. You do the research!)


Latin is a special case. It is a ‘Dead Language’ that is still widely ‘spoken’ though more commonly read, due to Religious and Classical Education. Virtually anyone with any degree of secondary education, (Middle Class and Upper Middle Class) or a Catholic upbringing, will be able to read at least SOME Latin. This will be equal to a half point in the skill. Any further fluency must be purchased with skill points.