Language and Literacy


Novans speak a language they refer to as “Low Gothic,” or sometimes just “Gothic.” Though dialectical differences do exist (mostly along House territorial lines), Low Gothic is similar enough across Nova Primus as to be understood across the continent.

Low Gothic is contrasted with “High Gothic,” which is technically a related language but different enough to be all but incomprehensible to those who speak Low Gothic only. High Gothic is spoken only by highly educated few. It is the language of scholarship and religion, used for the most important documents such as court proclamations and Scriptures. Ecclesiarchy services are often conducted in High Gothic, but even most priests merely recite the words by rote.

Both High and Low Gothic have a written form, each with its own script. High Gothic can be written in the Low Gothic script; indeed, this is the form that it most frequently takes. The High Gothic script is even less well known than High Gothic itself, so much so that few Novans even recognize it as an alphabet. High Gothic script is most frequently used by the Mechanicus, who frequently use it (usually without understanding its meaning) to ritually decorate their Magic spells.


Very few Novans are literate. Even written communication is disseminated mostly by word of mouth, from the few who can read to an immediate audience, and from those first listeners to others. Many “professional” classes such as the white priests or craftsmen are semi-literate, able to read and write slowly, but even these make use of professional scribes whenever they can. The only group of people on Nova who are reliably literate other than scribes are the red priests.

A scribe is a type of craftsman who reads and writes for a living. Scribes may serve as public or private secretaries, reading correspondence or public proclamations, and writing letters, official documents, and even books of account. Despite (or perhaps because of) the low literacy rate on Nova, most Novans hold the written word as even more magical than many literal kinds of magic. Novans use written text to emphasize their legitimacy, solemnize contracts or judgments, to illustrate sermons, even to decorate or ward their houses against evil, all with a blithe disregard for whether they can read the words in question.

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