Skills‎ > ‎

Linguistics (Int, Trained only)

You are skilled at working with language, in both its spoken and written forms. You can speak multiple languages, and can decipher nearly any tongue given enough time. Your skill in writing allows you to create and detect forgeries as well.

You can decipher writing in an unfamiliar language or a message written in an incomplete or archaic form. The base DC is 20 for the simplest messages, 25 for standard texts, and 30 or higher for intricate, exotic, or very old writing. If the check succeeds, you understand the general content of a piece of writing about one page long (or the equivalent). If the check fails, make a DC 5 Wisdom check to see if you avoid drawing a false conclusion about the text. (Success means that you do not draw a false conclusion; failure means that you do.)

Both the Linguistics check and (if necessary) the Wisdom check are made secretly by the GM, so that you can't tell whether the conclusion you draw is true or false.

Common Uses

Learn a Language

Whenever you put a rank into this skill, you learn to speak and read a new language. Common languages (and their typical speakers) are listed below.


Spoken By: Aboleth and other deep sea (aquatic) aberrations.


Spoken By: Demons and other chaotic evil outsiders

The language of demons, Abyssal is often spoken by evil spirits.


Spoken By: Derro, inhuman or otherworldly monsters, evil fey.

This ancient tongue is spoken by strange eldritch entities, and certain ancient beings.

Aquan ("Tongue of the Sea")

Spoken By: Aquatic and water-based creatures

The so-called “tongue of the sea” is spoken primarily in the sunken nation of the locathahs— those who trade frequently with the ocean empires often speak this tongue as well.

Auran ("Tongue of the Heavens")

Spoken By: Flying creatures, air-based creatures

A soft-spoken, breathy language, also known as the “tongue of the heavens.”


Spoken By: Boggards.


Spoken By: Angels and other good outsiders.

The language of angels.


Spoken By: humans and the other core races


Spoken By: Cyclops and their kin.

Once the ancient language of the giants, this tongue was created before the rise of humanity by the cyclopes.

Dark Folk

Spoken By: Dark creepers, dark slayers, and dark stalkers (creatures of the Dark Folk subtype.)


Spoken By: dragons, reptilian humanoids

Drow Sign Language

Used By: Drow.

Like Druidic, drow sign language is a "secret" language.


Spoken By: Druids (only)

Druidic is a secret language known only to druids. It is a free language for a druid; that is, it doesn't take up a language slot. Druids are forbidden to teach this language to nondruids and has its own alphabet.


Spoken By: Dwarves.


Spoken By: D'ziriak.

The insectoid d'ziriak language consists of buzzes and chitters. It is an obscure one known by few outside their race.


Spoken By: Elves, half-elves


Spoken By: Cyclops, ettins, giants, ogres, trolls

This brutish tongue and its numerous minor variants are spoken in any region where the wrath of giants is known.


Spoken By: Gnolls


Spoken By: Gnomes


Spoken By: Bugbears, goblins, hobgoblins

The official language of hobgoblins, this dialect is similar to the goblin tongue.


Spoken By: Grippli.


Spoken By: Halflings

Ignan ("Tongue of Fire")

Spoken By: Fire-based creatures

Also called the “tongue of fire.”


Spoken By: Devils and other lawful evil outsiders

The language of devils is often spoken by evil spirits.


Spoken By: undead

An ancient language of the dead, this whispering tongue is shared among undead and is also often associated with necromancy.


Spoken By: Orcs, half-orcs


Spoken By: Proteans.

Like the proteans chaotic nature, the protean language itself is mutable, evolving so quickly that few outsiders can understand it without magical aid.


Spoken By: Sphinxes.


Spoken By: Centaurs, fey creatures, plant creatures, unicorns.

The language of the fey.


Spoken By: Tengu

The official language of the tengu race.

Terran ("Tongue of Earth")

Spoken By: Earth-based creatures.

Also called the “tongue of earth.”


Spoken By: Treants.


Spoken By: Drow, duergar, morlocks, svirfneblin.

This language is derived from an ancient combination of Elven and even older tongues.


Used By: Vegepygmies.

Vegepygmy is not a spoken language since vegepygmies cannot speak. They communicate via a crude language of rhythmic taps, beats, and clicks.

Create or Detect Forgeries

Creating a forgery can take anywhere from 1 minute to 1d4 minutes per page. Detecting a forgery using Linguistics takes 1 round of examination per page.

Table: Detecting Forgeries
Condition Linguistics Check Modifier
Type of document unknown to reader –2
Type of document somewhat known to reader +0
Type of document well known to reader +2
Handwriting not known to reader –2
Handwriting somewhat known to reader +0
Handwriting intimately known to reader +2
Reader only casually reviews the document –2
Document contradicts orders or knowledge +2

Forgery requires writing materials appropriate to the document being forged. To forge a document on which the handwriting is not specific to a person, you need only to have seen a similar document before, and you gain a +8 bonus on your check. To forge a signature, you need an autograph of that person to copy, and you gain a +4 bonus on the check. To forge a longer document written in the hand of some particular person, a large sample of that person's handwriting is needed.

The Linguistics check is made secretly, so that you're not sure how good your forgery is. As with Disguise, you don't make a check until someone examines the work. Your Linguistics check is opposed by the Linguistics check of the person who examines the document to verify its authenticity. The examiner gains modifiers if any of the conditions are listed on the table above.


Varies. Deciphering a page of ordinary text takes 1 minute (10 consecutive rounds). Creating a forgery can take anywhere from 1 minute to 1d4 minutes per page. Detecting a forgery using Linguistics takes 1 round of examination per page.

Retry? Yes.


  • Trained You must be trained to use this skill, but you can always attempt to read archaic and strange forms of your own racial bonus languages. In addition, you can also always attempt to detect a forgery.
Get Organized!

The following information is not official in terms of general campaign usage. It is copied from the Pathfinder Society Organized Play FAQ section because we thought it might be helpful information for a player or GM in adjudicating common problems or questions. Usage is up to the GM of your game.

What does a deaf PC (or other creature) need to do in order to read lips?

Any PC may learn to read lips with a rank in Linguistics as if they had learned a new language. When reading the lips of a speaking creature within 10 feet in normal lighting conditions, the reader need not make any skill checks. In situations of dim lighting, extreme distances, or to read the lips of someone trying to hide their words from the reader, the reader must make Perception checks (DC determined by the GM based on the situation). A lip reader may only understand spoken words in a language it knows.


FastPlay Rules
See this skill in FastPlay format.