13
\$\begingroup\$

The Actor feat gives a point of Charisma and these two benefits:

You have advantage on Charisma (Deception) and Charisma (Performance) checks when trying to pass yourself off as a different person.

You can mimic the speech of another person or the sounds made by other creatures. [...] A successful Wisdom (Insight) check contested by your Charisma (Deception) check allows a listener to determine that the effect is faked. (PHB p165)

Does the check to mimic a sound always enjoy Advantage from the other benefit of the feat due to its nature? Maybe only if it is another creature's voice? Only if it is speech? Where is the line in a world with various "animal-people" between speech and vocalisation for these purposes?

\$\endgroup\$
13
\$\begingroup\$

No, not always.

When mimicking the speech or sounds made by another person, yes, you gain advantage on your Charisma (Deception) check. You could benefit when you mimic the speech of an Dwarf, or the war cry of an Orc.

When mimicking the sounds made by by "other creatures," no, you do not gain advantage on your Charisma (Deception) check. You could not benefit when you mimic a horse, bird, or the roar of a hydra.

Ultimately it's going to come down to what your table decides a "person" is in the context of the feat. It may be "any creature of type humanoid" (borrowing the implicit definition from hold person, though no rule says it should or should not apply) or it might be "any intelligent creature" such as an Ogre, Fiend, Celestial, Dragon, or other creature with human-like intelligence.

My interpretation would be that it applies only when mimicking humanoids or the speech-like sounds of intelligent creatures. So, you could benefit if you mimic the serpentine lisp of a blue dragon while speaking, but not the earth shattering roar of that same dragon no matter how hard you tried. (Not that you couldn't attempt it, merely that you would get no advantage due to the feat.)

Still another interpretation is that you'd be required to be trying to pass yourself as a specific individual to benefit from advantage. So mimicking the noise an Orc makes when he bellows wouldn't benefit, but mimicking the Orc guard from three weeks ago who bellowed when you stuck him with your sword would gain a benefit. That's an awful narrow reading, however.

There's many potential interpretations here, and none of them are necessarily more or less "right" than anything else.

Ultimately it doesn't really matter as long as you're consistent.

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ On the dragon roar: if you boost your volume with Thaumaturgy, I would say it could be quite believable and would be "passing yourself off" as the dragon similar to the orcish war cry. The only difference is volume, which could impose Disadvantage. Same result in the end, but technically you get the Advantage from the feat. \$\endgroup\$ – Szega Jun 22 '17 at 9:42
5
\$\begingroup\$

Only for person-to-person deception

The advantage given is for "passing yourself off as a different person." If you are trying to pass yourself as a different creature, then this would not apply.

In order to get advantage, you need to be passing yourself as a person.

\$\endgroup\$
3
\$\begingroup\$

No, not always

You always have advantage when you are using the mimicry to pretend to be someone you are not. That applies to speech, the sound of chainmail clinking as a guard walks, the mooing of cattle, whatever.

You don't have advantage by dint of that clause of the feat when rolling to fake noises without trying to pass yourself off as another person, however. This includes things like mimicking the sound of a champagne bottle opening in order to convince party guests you opened the bottle while your back was turned when in fact you returned the bottle to the shelf, swapping it for an already opened bottle into which you had placed poison; mimicking the world's tiniest, and saddest, violin solo for comedic effect (but you do get advantage when playing it straight for tragic effect-- that's passing yourself off as a tragic violinist, rather than passing yourself off as passing yourself off as a tragic violinist, which is apparently more difficult); and mimicking the sound of you swinging your sword in combat, just before you actually do so, to confuse and mislead a creature with hearing-based blindsight.

Some people might argue that cows aren't people. 5e makes no such distinction, relying on the common definitions of person. This GM argues that, unless otherwise specified in an ability, 'person' refers to anything that can make choices and has a soul. This includes all creatures and possibly some non-creature objects. In any case, you can trivially get around some restrictions by imitating a wizard polymorphed into a non-person, an awakened non-person, or other such subtle distinctions lost upon the untrained listener's ear, and so such table-variant considerations are herein considered immaterial.

\$\endgroup\$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.