Silence Ruling *SPOILERS*


Rules Questions

Silver Crusade

Fangwood Keep Spoilers:

Near the end of the dungeon there is a dog-ish creature with 2 special abilities
Bark of something or other
Howl of something else
I believe they were both supernatural abilities.

My inquisitor cast silence on himself (from a scroll) then stood right next to the foe so it couldn’t use those abilities on us again.
The GM was unsure how to rule this.
They are Su abilities that he thought shouldn’t be interfered with, but a bark and a howl can’t happen in silence.

He wasn’t sure so just didn’t use them for the 3 round duration of the spell.

In case something like that comes up again, is there a clear quote that makes the decision?
If not, how would you have ruled it?

Sczarni

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I don't own that module.

Do you have the exact text of its abilities?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

If it was something like a Yeth Hound, then it is a Sonic Mind-Affecting attack and Silence says that "creatures in an area of a silence spell are immune to sonic or language-based attacks, spells, and effects."

So, he ruled it right if it was a Sonic attack.

Silver Crusade

I do not have the exact text.

It was not a Yeth Hound. It was a specific one-off creature created just for that module.

I believe it was the Bark of X that teleported anyone in a cone affect area to a random location. This one had the word sonic in the description.

The Howl of Y was a will save or be panicked and flee. This did not have the word sonic in the description.


There are two things to consider in this case. One is the effect of silence on the using of an ability; for example, casting a spell with a verbal component. The other is the means by which the ability effects the targets; for example, sonic or language-based abilities such as bard song (at least the vocal versions).

The saving throw related to Silence effects someone's ability to ignore it, thus allowing the casting of verbal-component-having spells, but you cannot make someone else ignore it, thus it provides protection against sonic attacks.

Now, supernatural abilities often require some adjudication by the GM since they do not always specify if the ability is sonic (spells usually do, so spell like abilities would as well). Howls and barks would reasonably be considered to have a sonic component.

Sovereign Court

Sounds right (no pun intended). If the name or text of a power clearly indicates that sound is a crucial ingredient, then for the sake of sanity, Silence should block it.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Well, we really need the name of the monster to determine it.

However, a quick look at monsters with a Howl-like attack shows that they all either say "Sonic" in the description or "anyone who hears" and both of those would be negated by Silence (see Yeth Hound, Voonith, Wendgigo, Howler, etc).


MurphysParadox wrote:
The saving throw related to Silence effects someone's ability to ignore it, thus allowing the casting of verbal-component-having spells, but you cannot make someone else ignore it, thus it provides protection against sonic attacks.

This looks to be slightly incorrect (I apologize if I didn't understood what you meant), but silence prevents all sounds, spell casting, etc in the area of effect. The saving throws applies only when cast upon a creature...

From CRB (p. 343):
Upon the casting of this spell, complete silence prevails in the affected area. All sound is stopped: Conversation is impossible, spells with verbal components cannot be cast, and no noise whatsoever issues from, enters, or passes through the area. The spell can be cast on a point in space, but the effect is stationary unless cast on a mobile object. The spell can be centered on a creature, and the effect then radiates from the creature and moves as it moves. An unwilling creature can attempt a Will save to negate the spell and can use spell resistance, if any. Items in a creature’s possession or magic items that emit sound receive the benefits of saves and spell resistance, but unattended objects and points in space do not. Creatures in an area of a silence spell are immune to sonic or language-based attacks, spells, and effects.

emphasis mine.

the first bold applies as soon as the spell is cast...no save,etc.

However, (see second bold) if cast on a creature, then that creature can have a saving throw.

So basically, if you cast a silence on a copper, or on a wall, etc. the area is silenced and everyone is affected and cannot saved. If cast on a creature, then It can resist.

That's how we have interpreted...


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Cuttler wrote:

So basically, if you cast a silence on a copper, or on a wall, etc. the area is silenced and everyone is affected and cannot saved. If cast on a creature, then It can resist.

That's how we have interpreted...

That is correct. The save is only given if cast upon a creature, not if cast upon an item or point in space and then a creature enters it, etc.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The monster in question is a Barrow Hound, a one-off monster introduced specifically for that module. Here's the relevant text of its special abilities:

Quote:

Dimensional Bark (Su) Up to three times per day, a barrow hound can emit a bark of dimensional energy that sends foes spiraling through time and space. All creatures in a 30-foot cone must succeed at a DC 17 Will save or immediately be teleported 2d6 × 5 feet in a random direction (roll 1d8 to determine the direction, with 1 indicating north and other numbers indicating compass directions going clockwise). The direction is randomly determined for each affected creature. A teleported creature arrives in the closest open space to the determined destination, but must appear on a solid surface capable of supporting its weight. If there is no appropriate destination in that direction, the creature does not teleport at all. The save DC is Charisma-based.

Howl (Su) A barrow hound can let out an ear-splitting howl that terrifies creatures in the vicinity. All creatures of 4 or fewer Hit Dice within 120 feet must succeed at a DC 17 Will save or become panicked for 2d4 rounds. Whether or not the save is successful, an affected creature is immune to the same barrow hound’s howl for 24 hours. This is a sonic, mind-affecting effect. The save DC is Charisma-based.

The howl is explicitly described as a sonic effect, so a silence spell would certainly shut that down.

The dimensional bark is less clear. It is not described as sonic or language-dependent, and nothing in the text suggests that the targets have to be able to hear it to be affected. A strict reading suggests that the dimensional bark is not a sound at all -- the dog is literally "barking" out a cone of pure dimensional energy. Almost more like a breath weapon, really. I would probably rule that silence does not affect it.


I support that Michael...that would be my interpretation as well based on what I see is written

Silver Crusade

Thanks for the exact text Michael Gentry.

That is pretty close to the GM's reasoning also. But he wasn't sure.

We had already been subjected to the howl (2 failed the save and fled) and the way we were maneuvering around, the bark wouldn't have been all that effective anyway. So he just decided not to use it for the 3 round duration.

While I can see your reasoning, I think is should work to block something called a 'bark'. If I were writing up a monster and I didn't want an ability to be treated like a sound I would not call it a bark. I would call it a breath weapon or something like that.

I would like to think my reasoning would have been the same if I had been GM instead of a player. But it looks like I am outnumbered on this.

So if I run this module in the future I will remember to rule it that way should it come up again.

Silence stops the Howl but not the Dimensional Bark.

Thanks folks.


Yeah, the bark wouldn't require sound but the howl would be blocked.

As for silence... hmm, it is an interesting question. Because, realistically, it means a level 2 spell can shut down a level 20 caster. I and my group have, for various reasons over years of use and abuse of the spell, determined the two sentences "The spell can be centered on a creature, and the effect then radiates from the creature and moves as it moves. An unwilling creature can attempt a Will save to negate the spell and can use spell resistance, if any. " are not actually related. Which is to say, they are separate clauses and the second one's "an unwilling creature" is not the same as the "creature" from the first part.

I accept that others don't always see it this way and that's fine. But considering what I've done as a player with silence, and what bad guys have done with it, the overall power far outstripped the level and we decided on the more restrictive interpretation.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

One way to defeat the zone of a Silence spell is to cast spells without verbal components, which usually requires using the Silent Spell feat. Moving out of the area is another option. Supernatural abilities that are not sonic or language-dependent are another option -- and any 20th level caster should have a few of those.


Insofar as ignoring the silence spell when cast on a creature. Can you save against your own spell if you cast it on yourself and have the benefits of the silence spell for others but have it's protections apply?

Is the saving throw to prevent the spell wholesale, or is it to simply ignore the spell effect for that one individual against whom it was targeted?

The description of the saving throw: Will Negates seems to imply that the silence spell would still exist, but instead be targeted on a point in space (thus be stationary), and those individuals inside the area of effect have a save to ignore the effect but anything outside the area of effect such as the Howl effect from the posts above be prevented?

Or will this work with spell resistance?


Well the spell indicates that : unwilling creature can attempt a Will save to negate the spell and can use spell resistance, if any.

So the fact that it indicates that it negates the spell, I would say that if you resist or save the spell, then it doesn't take effect...it has been negated, cancelled...

Silver Crusade

I cast it on myself and voluntarily failed the will save. =)

I have always understood that the effect now radiates from me. Others do not get a save or resistance if they are in the area of effect.

Is that incorrect?


That is one interpretation, Morrolan.

Of course, when you are a 14th level druid wild shaped into a dire grizzly bear (3.5 D&D was a much better time to be a wild shape focused druid) and are running room to room with a greater invisible rogue/fighter, a trip-focused fighter, a wizard/cleric, and a large dire wolf surrounded by a zone of silence and capable of silently smashing open doors and silently charging across a room destroying furniture along the way to get to the bad guys and engage them in silent mauling before moving to the next room, effectively wiping out an entire castle of bad guys in a fraction of the time and effort that the GM originally designed, you may decide it is a bit... powerful.

It was a pretty cool scene though, still talk about it today. Of course, when I do, the guy who was the GM gets a little twitchy and starts muttering under his breath about alarms and reinforcement plans ruined by the level 2 spell.

We like to imagine that every 20 seconds or so, the 'camera' would switch up to the big bad guy's final guards in the upstairs antechamber playing cards, light chamber music in the back ground. Then back to us slaughtering the enemy, body parts and furniture pieces flying around in total silence... then back to the poor guys upstairs. Until we kick down the door, rush in, and murder them in dead quiet.

We run it that everyone gets to save against the effect if they choose. Should they succeed, they can hear and speak normally, though they still cannot hear any sounds caused by those who are under the spell's effects, nor can those people hear the sounds made by people who succeed the check.


MurphysParadox wrote:

Yeah, the bark wouldn't require sound but the howl would be blocked.

As for silence... hmm, it is an interesting question. Because, realistically, it means a level 2 spell can shut down a level 20 caster. I and my group have, for various reasons over years of use and abuse of the spell, determined the two sentences "The spell can be centered on a creature, and the effect then radiates from the creature and moves as it moves. An unwilling creature can attempt a Will save to negate the spell and can use spell resistance, if any. " are not actually related. Which is to say, they are separate clauses and the second one's "an unwilling creature" is not the same as the "creature" from the first part.

I accept that others don't always see it this way and that's fine. But considering what I've done as a player with silence, and what bad guys have done with it, the overall power far outstripped the level and we decided on the more restrictive interpretation.

To be fair, there are a jillion ways a level 20 caster can overcome silence, and you just don't reach level 20 as a caster without figuring those out. But I totally understand your view (even if I think the camera-cut scenario you described is just freaking awesome).


Ya...I also understand murphysParadox, but unfortunately, that is a house rule, although a sensible one. But you must not confuse what you believe is powerful with what the rules say...

So Morollan, what you explained is how it works...now , if any of you think it is too powerful like Murphy depicted, than feel free to adjust accordingly of course...it's your game!

However, One thing I've always wondered is silence is an emanation that requires (as all spells) a line of effect. so two questions:

1) In Murphy's example: your silence affect one side of the door, but since it doesn't have effect on the other side, when you smash the door, would the sound of braking be absorbed by the spell, or on the instant that it crashes it release a sound that will be heard by the bad guys (note that I understand that this is stretched, but one might wonder, and I only propose to see if it would be a way to go around Murphy's tactic and prevent the DM from having fun)

2) On a more practical aspect: if you cast silence on a copper and put it in a bag (solid object preventing line of effect) would most of you consider that it blocks the spell as long as it is within the bag???


As a friend pointed out, the shell of silence still prevents all sound from entering, exiting, or passing through regardless of the state of individuals inside of it. So, at most, passing the save (in my interpretation) means you can still cast spells. You can't call out for help and no one can hear your spells.

It would extend through the bag or the door and stop any sounds. You could argue it doesn't penetrate lead sheets or lots of rock, much like many other spells, but this is an Illusion, so it likely doesn't work that way either. And if you're in a stone room, you can cast it to stop up the doorway and make it impossible for your voices to go down the hallway.


Be careful, it's a "will negates" spell.

If you make the save, the effect is shut down.
The "see text" is only to tell us the save is only if casted on someone.


ya. as per RAW , you save only if you are the target and then it negates...see earlier post of other people

now, once the silence is in place, you don't get to save agains it's effect, it silences everything..

finally...it doesn't go through door. it is an emanation spell and as defined by CRB (p.215):
A burst, cone, cylinder, or emanation spell affects only an area, creature, or object to which it has line of effect from its origin (a spherical burst’s center point, a coneshaped burst’s starting point, a cylinder’s circle, or an emanation’s point of origin).

since it doesn't have line of effect through the door, it doesn't affect the other side until door is smashed


Quote:


As a friend pointed out, the shell of silence still prevents all sound from entering, exiting, or passing through regardless of the state of individuals inside of it. So, at most, passing the save (in my interpretation) means you can still cast spells. You can't call out for help and no one can hear your spells.

Exactly. However, I'm not so sure that this is correct. With a saving throw, the spell is negated, which means that the targeting (of the creature) fails. However, with spell resistance, the effect can be negated for you and you only (see the shell aspect).

So, technically, if you make your spell resistance against your own spell (which seems possible -- if not required), you can carry around your silence rock and be protected against sonic effects pretty easily.


Nope:

Quote:
A creature's spell resistance never interferes with its own spells, items, or abilities.


Quintain wrote:
So, technically, if you make your spell resistance against your own spell (which seems possible -- if not required), you can carry around your silence rock and be protected against sonic effects pretty easily.

Not so sure....

as in CRB (p. 217 ):
The Spell Resistance entry and the descriptive text of a spell description tell you whether spell resistance protects creatures from the spell. In many cases, spell resistance applies only when a resistant creature is targeted by the spell, not when a resistant creature encounters a spell that is already in place.

emphasis mine

So, if you cast it on yourself, you will resist it unless you voluntary lower your resistance. But if you resist it, than the spell is cancelled (it didn't took hold on the target (which was you)

if you cast it on an area then it doesn't work once you enter the area


Ah, actually, it's a different line that proves you correct:

A creature's spell resistance never interferes with its own spells, items, or abilities.

So, you cannot use your own spell resistance to resist your own spells...whether it is beneficial to you or not.

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