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I was wondering if the panther companion of everyone's favorite drow ranger can communicate or be communicated with.

Does she have above average intelligence?

Does she "speak" in the books?

Can Drizzt communicate with her?


There is no edition tag. This is an entirely fluff question. Answers based on source materials preferred (rulebooks or novels), but not mandatory.

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Guenhwyvar cannot speak, but can understand Drizzt. She is clearly intelligent. She understands and follows commands, and is aware of exchanges between others around her. Her indications of understanding are subtle; she doesn't show off her intelligence, and has a laconic demeanour in her physical responses, suitable to a proud and intelligent great cat.

Through long acquaintance, the pair do read each other's body language fluently. There are several exchanges early on in the (very long) series where Guenhwyvar communicates subtle opinions to Drizzt in this manner.

Apart from body language though, no, they cannot communicate; not in the sense of two-way language use.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you! Do you think I should just delete my answer (which is based on rules rather than the book)? \$\endgroup\$ – Jeff Nov 8 '17 at 21:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Jeff What makes you think multiple well sourced answers is not desirable? \$\endgroup\$ – Joel Harmon Nov 9 '17 at 0:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would say that my answer is more based on conjecture and what I could find precedent for. This one is based off the lore of the book itself. \$\endgroup\$ – Jeff Nov 9 '17 at 3:19
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I realize this is a lore question, but I'll try to answer with some rules (since I could not find anything based on lore):

According to the Forgotten Realms wikia:

Guenhwyvar was summoned through a detailed onyx figurine of a panther.[7] When summoned, the figurine emitted a gray mist which quickly solidified into the panther shape.[6] Guenhwyvar herself was described as a "huge black panther."[8]

Indeed, it looks like she is a figurine from the same wiki:

Guenhwyvar is a unique figurine in that the statuette summons its creature rather than transforms into it. This could be due to the strange circumstances of its creation and the uniqueness of the beast, a particularly intelligent and powerful panther. She can be summoned by calling her name to the black onyx figurine, for up to twelve hours of every 48-hour period.

So she is a unique figurine of wondrous power.

In 5e, a "Figurine of Wondrous Power" states:

The creature is friendly to you and your companions. It understands your languages and obeys your spoken commands. If you issue no commands, the creature defends itself but takes no other actions.

This item in 3.5e:

The creature obeys and serves its owner. Unless stated otherwise, the creature understands Common but does not speak.

But as was pointed out in the comments, these books are older. The first was published shortly before the release of 2e.
A gnat figurine from 2e:

The gnat is telepathic ...

The Panther looks to have been modeled after the onyx dog, based on the 1988 publication date of the first novel (The Crystal Shard)

Onyx Dog: When commanded, this statuette changes into a creature which has the same properties as a war dog, except that it is endowed with intelligence of 8-10, can communicate in the common tongue, and has exceptional olfactory and visual abilities. (AD&D 1e, DMG p. 144)

Based on rules, it could have been possible, but as you can see from the other answer, the answer is no.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Crystal Shard's 1988 publishing date tells me that the 1e book is probably the best bet ... Appears to be a variation of the onyx dog page 144 DMG 1e. (2e's DMG is basically the same as 1e's for this item's description) \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Nov 8 '17 at 18:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ I like your answer, just trying to help. I'll drop in the passage from 1e after the gnat. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Nov 8 '17 at 19:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks I JUST found the pdf online... us "youngins" often forget that there were other systems prior to 5e ;) \$\endgroup\$ – Jeff Nov 8 '17 at 19:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Arrggh, Jeff, my old memory/brain could not recall if the panther was with Drz in the first three books, or the drz only trilogy after. Good catch on that. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Nov 8 '17 at 20:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ Guen first appeared in The Crystal Shard published 1988 \$\endgroup\$ – Adeptus Nov 9 '17 at 4:30
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Guenhwyvar has been described a figurine of wondrous power over many editions of D&D. However just looking at the various DMG descriptions of these magical items does not necessarily provide a good answer, because: (i) each kind of figurine generally has different stated powers and abilities; (ii) many descriptions about how Guenhwyvar is called to Faerun and its origin story (detailed in a short story published in the 1995 Realms of Magic anthology, and later reprinted in the 2011 The Legend of Drizzt Anthology) conflicts with the generic descriptions of the figurines in the DMG.

Luckily, there are published official data on various sourcebooks. The two pieces that are relevant to your question are below:

  • 2e Heroes' Lorebook: "While Guen cannot speak, it is clear that the panther dearly loves her drow master and his comrades."
  • 3e FR Campaign Setting: "understands Common and Undercommon", Int 6, Wis 12

Here is a fun piece of extra lore: thanks to a tongue-in-cheek comment by Salvatore, we hear Drizzt in a 2012 Reddit thread speaking to Guenhwyvar and appreciating that she does not talk:

Drizzt looked at Guenhwyvar nad (sic) shook his head. "Ever am I tasked with satisfying conditions of someone else's bet. And never do they share the winnings. That's why I love you, Guen. You don't talk."

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