The Ultima series of computer games employed several different artificial scripts.

The people of Britannia, the fantasy world where the games are set, speak English, and most of the day-to-day things are written in Latin alphabet. However, there still are other scripts, which are used by tradition.

Britannian runes[]


A sign from ltima VII in Britannian runes, saying "The Wayfarer's Inn".

Britannian runes are the most commonly seen script. In many of the games of the series, most of the signs are written in runes, with no actual transcription for them given. Some could see this as part of Origin's clever anti-piracy ploy, where people who do not have the manual would be far more confused while playing the game. Many players of the games learned to read runes without aid.

Britannian runes

The Britannian runes and Latin equivalents.

The runes are based on Germanic runes, but are slightly different. In actual games, the runes have been in use since the early games. They gained steadier use in the games proper since Ultima V, which was the first game in series to feature a runic font and use it for most of the display of various signs. Earlier games featured runes only in other graphics; For example, in Ultima IV, visions got from meditating use runic letters.

By the time of Ultima VII, the runes had started to fall in somewhat of a disuse: Old establishments still used runes in the signs, while new ones, such as the Fellowship, used Latin characters. Curiously, they're also used in the cloth map of Ultima VIII, even though it is set in a world with no ties to Britannia.

Gargish alphabet[]

Gargish is the language of the gargoyles of Britannia and the language used in spellcasting within the game. The language is complex and flexible, but the vocabulary is prohibitively small, limiting its use. The Gargish language has its own alphabet, although it can also be written in the Latin alphabet. The difference between nouns, verbs, and adjectives is expressed through intonations and gestures. Because of this, written Gargish uses suffixes to denote part of speech, grammatical tense, and grammatical aspect. In some cases, these suffixes are also used as independent words. Gargoyles avoid using pronouns or verb tense unless it is crucial to comprehension; therefore the language is often spoken in the infinitive.

The Gargish alphabet is featured in Ultima VI, though it is seen in the games very rarely. Ultima VII and onward does not feature anything written in the alphabet, with the sole exception of some books to be found in the gargoyle colony in the underwater city of Ambrosia in Ultima IX.

The Gargish language and alphabet were designed by Herman Miller.

Ophidian alphabet[]

The ophidian alphabet, featured in Ultima VII Part Two: Serpent Isle, was used by the ophidian civilization that inhabited the Serpent Isle. It is based on various snake forms.

Ophidian lettering was quite difficult to read, so the game included a Translation spell that made the letters look like Latin letters.

External links[]