[RPG] Exotic language on new character?


I've already read this post but just wanted to get clarification;

I am new to D&D and have created a Half-Orc War Cleric who was once a soldier…
His back story involves demons and I decided to add Abyssal to his languages, but with disadvantage if needed.

Can I get away with this – without swapping out Keth Grey-Tusk's proficiencies?

I am pretty sure this will be a duplicate, or at the very least, up to my DM. But I wanted to clarify before the start of the campaign.

Best Answer

Up to your GM

Assuming you have free picks of language left, the Player's Handbook tells you to choose any languages you can pick yourself from the Standard Languages --- Common, Dwarvish, Elvish, Giant, Gnomish, Goblin, Halfling or Orc --- or to pick one that's common in the campaign you're playing. However, it also says the following:

With your DM's permission, you can instead choose a language from the Exotic Languages table or a secret language, such as thieves' cant or the tongue of druids.

Therefore, all you need to do is convince your GM to accept the choice of language. The choice of languages is usually not very important in a game, so typically requests like this are easy to accommodate, but of course your GM's game might play up their importance, in which case they're the best person to determine whether the choice of language is bad for the game or not.

If you have no free picks of language left, prepare to argue harder, as you're essentially asking for a free (if slight) bonus to your character's abilities. It might help to point out that Abyssal is, in practice, of relatively little use as the bulk of its speakers are demons who prefer destruction over discussion.