The cantrip's description states you can make a sound that can be "your voice or someone else voice."

could a spellcasting Kenku use it to speak regularly without mimickry?


marked as duplicate by Zso, Rubiksmoose, Miniman dnd-5e Mar 6 '18 at 21:17

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    \$\begingroup\$ I disagree on the duplicate call. This seems more focused on the Kenku than on the spell. The Minor Illusion to Simulate Speech is definitely related, but I wouldn't say it's a dupe. \$\endgroup\$ – guildsbounty Mar 6 '18 at 18:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ @guildsbounty And the answers are diverse and not highly voted on. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Mar 6 '18 at 18:06

Yes, but...

According to Jeremy Crawford, the Minor Illusion spell can be used to mimic complex sounds like speech,

Twitter Link

but you must consider the limitations of this tactic:

  • It takes an Action to cast this spell, so you might not be able to reply to someone until several seconds after another person spoke to you. So it could be difficult to interrupt, or to enter a fast paced argument.
  • The spell lasts a minute, and you cannot alter what it does while it is running (other than to end it). So you would have to select what you wanted to say ahead of time, or cast the spell again part way through. And if your previous statement wasn't finished, you would need to take an additional action to cancel the previous spell before casting another one (or else the two statements would overlap), possibly creating as much as a 12 second gap between a prompt and your reply.
  • Remember that "If a creature discerns the illusion for what it is, the illusion becomes faint to the creature. (PHB, p260)". So it's possible that if someone you are talking to realizes you are using an illusion to speak, they might subsequently have difficulty understanding what you are saying (DM's discression).

The cantrip is a viable way to get around the Kenku's limitations, but it is not without limitations of its own.

EDIT: Although Minor Illusion does not have any verbal components, it's worth noting that Kenku can cast spells with verbal components as well, which could permit communication through more complex spells as well: Source

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    \$\begingroup\$ If the racial curse of a demon lord or Elemental Prince or is so easily circumvented....the point was to bind them so they couldn't give up their old master's secrets. If the simplest of magics can bypass this curse...the one who bestowed the curse sucks at cursing. \$\endgroup\$ – guildsbounty Mar 6 '18 at 18:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ I want to stress that this isn't as "easy" as it looks. Given the time necessary between messages, it has very similar restrictions to writing a reply down. \$\endgroup\$ – Gandalfmeansme Mar 6 '18 at 18:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes. But the point was to prevent them from stringing together original thoughts, so that they couldn't reveal his secrets. By that fluff, their ability to write should also be similarly limited. And only being able to say one thing every 6 seconds is....really not that bad. \$\endgroup\$ – guildsbounty Mar 6 '18 at 18:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ @guildsbounty, but the restriction isn't on writing. It's just on speech. They write however they'd like. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Mar 6 '18 at 18:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ Inconsistent, or just that their creators really didn't think their plan through? :D \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Mar 6 '18 at 18:34

Minor Illusion is magical mimicry.

There isn't much of a difference in the Kenku's restriction on creating new sounds:

However, kenku cannot create new sounds and can communicate only by using sounds they have heard. Most kenku use a combination of overheard phrases and sound effects to convey their ideas and thoughts.

Minor Illusion states:

If you create a sound, its volume can range from a whisper to a scream. It can be your voice, someone else’s voice, a lion’s roar, a beating of drums, or any other sound you choose. The sound continues unabated throughout the duration, or you can make discrete sounds at different times before the spell ends.

This spell is basically mimicking a sound you've heard before (otherwise, you'd have a hard time creating something you've never heard nor seen), so it's effectively replicating the Kenku restriction. In addition, you can't adjust what you're saying mid-cast. It's a preprogrammed sound bite that you'd need to recast each time if you want it to say something different. That would make conversations awfully long.

  • \$\begingroup\$ That's a neat point! Although when you stop and think about it, isn't almost all uses of language a repetition of something (words) that the speaker has heard before? But then again, "words" aren't "phrases". Are you suggesting that the Kenku could only generate phrases they had heard before with this spell? \$\endgroup\$ – Gandalfmeansme Mar 6 '18 at 18:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Gandalfmeansme It's getting me thinking. I don't know if any caster could generate a sound/image that they hadn't seen or heard before. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Mar 6 '18 at 18:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Gandalfmeansme posted a question about it \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Mar 6 '18 at 18:53

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