Ghostwise Halflings (SCAG, p. 110) have the Silent Speech trait:

Silent Speech. You can speak telepathically to any creature within 30 feet of you. The creature understands you only if the two of you share a language. You can speak telepathically in this way to one creature at a time.

A halfling wanted to do intimidate using Silent Speech to distract a wolf during combat.

I allowed this as a free action at the start of his turn; however, I'm not sure what should happen.

What I've done is roll CHA vs Wisdom Saving Throw, and as it failed the wolf became frightened of the halfling.

Can Silent Speech be used to intimidate using growl, battlecry, or other unintelligible cry against an enemy that doesn't understand even Common tongue?

Can animal affected by Intimidation without understanding even a language? I've allowed it since he said "growling telepathically", and animals do understand growls, but I wonder if Silent Speech allows you to mimic sounds in your telepathy. As a joke, I might create a Ghostwise Halfling and beatbox telepathically to annoy a PC as we walk :D


2 Answers 2


No, the wolf would not understand and would not be frightened.

The ability's description is clear in this regard.

The creature understands you only if the two of you share a language.

Since the halfling and the wolf don't share a language, any of the telepathy would be nonsensical to the wolf -- even if it is just growling in an attempt to frighten them.

Animals aren't intelligent, and the wolf likely wouldn't be able to identify that the halfling was the one doing the growling. All it would know is suddenly it can hear phantom growling in it's head, and might not even recognize this as something worth fearing, let alone specifically being afraid of the halfling.

DM fiat applies, of course. If you think it is fine and have no issue with it happening, then allow it. It's your game.

  • \$\begingroup\$ If it was an intelligent, but does not share a common language? For example, an elf that exclusively only speaks Elvish? \$\endgroup\$
    – Vylix
    Jan 24, 2018 at 10:00
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Same thing applies. They don't share a language, so the telepathy is not "understood". Again, it would be up to the group's DM to determine if that makes sense or not. \$\endgroup\$
    – Baron
    Jan 24, 2018 at 10:12

There are certain concepts that are practically universal to creatures of a common biology. A dwarf and an elf snarling at each other are both quite aware what the other is telling them. They are similar beings and in effect they share a common language, a snarl isn't part of the dwarfish or elvish language it belongs to a basic level of language which we all share, one that goes way back in our lineage since the first people expressed pain, pleasure, anger and fear to each other. I would rule if the creature is intelligent and similar enough then these simple concepts could be transmitted. A wolf however I would rule isn't similar enough, a growl is just another noise if not accompanied with the recognisable body language of narrowed eyes, hackles raised, the scent of adrenaline released.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. Have you ruled similarly on such a situation in your own games? How has it worked, in your experience? \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Jun 5, 2019 at 21:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ Nine times out of ten on these forums, the question hinges not on reality, but on the game rules structure modeling that reality (often very inaccurately). According to the definition of the ability and the relevant creature stat blocks, the answer is unambigously "No." Do I think a Cat should have darkvision? Yes. Does the beast's stat block agree with me? No. \$\endgroup\$
    – JamesB
    Jan 8, 2023 at 20:27

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