Would someone under the effects of comprehend languages understand Thieves' Cant? Specifically, would they understand the meaning of what the person was saying and not just the words?


1 Answer 1



Comprehend languages only lets you understand the literal meaning of the words.

For the duration, you understand the literal meaning of any spoken language that you hear.

Thieves cant states that the message is coded so only thieves would understand.

During your rogue training you learned thieves' cant, a secret mix of dialect, jargon and code that allows you to hide messages in seemingly normal conversation.

So while you may understand the literal message, "The rooster flies when the blood moon rises," you will not understand that this means that, "The man with the red scar on his neck is your target for assassination by midnight tonight."

This is akin to telling somebody to read the 3rd letter of the first paragraph in a book, in which it spells out a secret message to them. Comprehend languages would let you understand the paragraph, but would give you no insight whatsoever to the hidden code inside it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Looks like Jeremy Crawford supports this as well (not that your answer is unclear at all) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 16, 2018 at 14:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ I wish they would just make this a skill again. In a world that is not so cosmopolitan thieves of different countries/cultures/races would not understand each other. Prime example is the episode of TNG, "Darmok". \$\endgroup\$
    – Slagmoth
    Commented Feb 16, 2018 at 16:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ You can learn thieves cant during downtime depending on your DM. Same as weapon proficiencies or other languages. There's nothing stopping somebody from teaching you thieves cant. After all, the rogue learned it from somebody, so clearly it's a teachable skill. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 16, 2018 at 16:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ A steganography skill? Cool! \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 16, 2018 at 21:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ You might want to add that Thieves' Cant is not a language, but "a mix of dialect, jargon, and code", and does not appear in the Languages table, just as further explanation. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mark
    Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 14:27

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