Abyssal vs Infernal. The difference between devils and demons can seem semantic, but in the world of Dungeons & Dragons these two hellish forces are actually constantly at war and hate one another. These are two distinctive groups of enemies and this even comes to each of these residents of hell speaking different languages. Infernal is the language of devils who are located in the Nine Hells, while Devils speak the Abyssal language and are located in the Abyss plane of existence.
So what’s the big difference between abyssal and infernal? Can one language help you understand the other? Or is the gulf between demon and devil too far apart? Let’s dive in to teach you everything you need to know about abyssal vs infernal in D&D!
The Infernal Language
Infernal is an exotic language that is spoken by Devils. Devils are Lawful Evil creatures who create the orderly setup of the Nine Hells and are huge enemies of Demons. The infernal language has its own alphabet, and in fact its alphabet is used for the written form of Abyssal, as well.
While the main Player’s Handbook doesn’t mention different dialects, this could be used by a clever DM in DnD 5E, pointing out that there are Nine Hells, and that although it’s all English, Aussie English, Scottish English, Deep South U.S. English, and Northeast U.S. English have very different sounds and slang.
If a campaign is likely to take you down to the Nine Hells, you’ll want this language. It’s also a great pickup for Clerics or wizards.
Pro Tip: If your DM runs close to alignment, infernal is often a much better language choice than abyssal since devils you run into will be far more likely to make a deal and abide by it than demons from the abyss are. In other words, you’re likely to get a lot more when you speak infernal.
The Abyssal Language
Abyssal is the language of demons and although it uses the infernal alphabet, that doesn’t mean that that someone who understands infernal will be able to read abyssal. Spanish, English, German, Italian, and Latin all use the same (mostly) alphabet but knowing one language doesn’t make you proficient in the others.
While devils speak the infernal, but demons speak the abyssal. This is a much more chaotic language that can be very hard for mortals to understand. This is a language that sounds crazy to many who aren’t used to it. This might sound like a swarm of angry hornets, barking/growling/yipping of a pack of wild dogs, or a wailing cacophony of clashing sounds.
This primordial language is going to be very uncommon to run into, especially since demons don’t really make deals, meaning there isn’t a lot to be gained from knowing this language of the chaotic evil from the Abyss.
Abyssal vs Infernal: Comparing These DnD Languages
While there are some similarities when comparing these two languages, the differences generally are in line with the differences between demons and devils in DnD. In most campaigns, at least if the DM follows conventional alignment, in the question of abyssal vs infernal most players are going to find infernal to be much more potentially useful.
|Demons and Chaotic Evil outsider entities
|Spoken by Devils and Lawful Evil outsiders
|No, but infernal is used to write out abyssal
|Yes – Infernal has its own written script.
|Sounds Like (to Non-Speakers)
|Cacophonous and discordant noises
|Structured from simple to complex
|Type of Language
|Most Commonly Found
|The Abyss Plane of Existence
|The Nine Hells
|Level of Usefulness
|Generally not useful for party members to know.
|Situationally useful, though can open you up to trouble if you sign a bad deal.
|A chaotic, cacophonous language that is unnerving, seemingly random, and fights against form and order. Non-speakers may not realize this is a language at all and mistake the sounds for fighting animals, plagues of insects, or other misfortunes.
|A structured language that is guttural, deep in its tones and sounds but has a clear order to it. Built on complex implications at higher levels, where strong devils may say one or two words and “imply” paragraphs of information, a level of Infernal language mastery most mortals could never hope to achieve.
Abyssal Vs Infernal FAQ
Are Infernal and Abyssal the Same Thing?
No. These are very different languages. Demons speak abyssal, devils speak infernal. One comes from The Abyss, while the other comes from the Hells. These are both evil planes, but they are separate planes of existence from one another.
Are Tieflings Abyssal or Infernal?
The overwhelming number of Tieflings are Infernal, and it’s assumed they’re from an infernal bloodline unless otherwise stated. In some very rare circumstances some Tieflings will show Abyssal traits. These are extremely uncommon but not completely unheard of, but they will generally be yellow or green in color and have a distinctly different tail that gives their bloodline away.
What Is the Difference Between a Demon and an Infernal?
In 5E D&D a demon comes from the Abyssal Plane of existence and will have a chaotic evil alignment while an infernal is devil based on comes from one of the levels of Hell.
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Proud to embrace the locally created moniker of “Corrupt Overlord” from one of the all time great Lords of Waterdeep runs, Shane is one member of the Assorted Meeples crew and will be hard at work creating awesome content for the website. He is a long-time player of board games, one time semi-professional poker player, and tends to run to the quirky or RPG side of things when it comes to playing video games. He loves tabletop roleplaying systems like Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, Werewolf, Fate, and others, and not only has been a player but has run games as DM for years. You can find his other work in publications like Level Skip or Hobby Lark.