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I found a lot of questions discussing how a find steed-sourced mount works in combat due to its intelligence and ability to communicate with you, but what does that mean outside of combat?

Your mount can understand a language you speak, and communicate with you telepathically, but what does this communication actually look like? Does it just pass on vague images and emotions, and you just guess what it's trying to tell you, or can it actually talk, albeit a bit simple in dialogue?

For example, let's say my summoned horse watches a man steal from a shop. I want the horse to describe the man. Will I get mental images of the man, or will the horse telepathically say the man was wearing a red shirt and had a ponytail and ran up Grove Street, or will I get "Man... red... street."

I'm looking for an official ruling on the matter, or at the very least very good reasoning as to why it should work one way over another.

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Yes, communication is both ways (as of November 2018)

This has been established via the November 2018 Player's Handbook Errata:

Find Steed (p. 240). In the next-to-last paragraph, “communicate with it” is now “communicate with each other.”

The old wording used to read:

While your steed is within 1 mile of you, you can communicate with it telepathically.

Which has now been changed to "with each other" by RAW.

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As Written Maybe One Way

Some other cases that use "communicate telepathically" like Warlock's Awaken Mind and Ghostwise Halfling Silent Speech are one way. It can be assumed that this is likely the intent here as well.

Awaken mind reads:

You can communicate telepathically with any creature you can see within 30 feet of you.

Which is clarified in July 2015 Sage Advice column with:

The feature is intended to provide one-way communication.

So, RAW, it appears:

While your steed is within 1 mile of you, you can communicate with it telepathically.

Designers Intent

However, Jeremy Crawford specifically said that the communication here is intended by the designers to mean two-way communication:

Find steed is meant to allow two-way communication between the mount and the spellcaster. https://twitter.com/JeremyECrawford/status/743319007940358145

What Would Jeremy Crawford Do?

Find Familar and Find Steed have the same wording in telepathy:

While your familiar is within 100 feet of you, you can communicate with it telepathically.

The closest thing to an official ruling is from Jeremy Crawford is about Familiars. Typically Jeremy Crawford posts are offical rulings. This one, however, sounds like "this is what I do...":

I allow a familiar to telepathically communicate simple concepts to its master. https://twitter.com/JeremyECrawford/status/524721540902817792

The books and designers don't give any hint the level or method of telepathic "communication". Which puts it squarely into the realm of DM ruling.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I just love how identical text is interpreted differently by the Crawford. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Mar 12 '18 at 23:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch: It is only identical if you don't have your mystic I-wrote-the-rules specs (aka designer glasses) on XD \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Mar 13 '18 at 13:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ This might need to be updated as of the 2018 PHB errata, which enables two-way communication with the steed from find steed. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Feb 16 '19 at 1:05
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You can communicate as effectively as with a low intelligence PC or NPC.

Additionally, if your steed has an Intelligence of 5 or less, its Intelligence becomes 6, and it gains the ability to understand one language of your choice that you speak.

PC's have an intelligence range from 3-18. An intelligence of 6 provides a -2 modifier, so you'd not expect a super bright individual, but it is well above animal intelligence. Your "steed" is a spirit in animal form: fey, celestial, or fiend.

though it is a celestial, fey, or fiend (your choice) instead of its normal type

It's like having a short range two way radio, to a certain extent

While your steed is within 1 mile of you, you can communicate with each other telepathically1.

It can carry on an uncomplicated conversation, but I'd leave philosophical discussions for down time with the party cleric or druid. :)

Jeremy Crawford has clarified and agrees:

Find steed is meant to allow two-way communication between the mount and the spellcaster.


1 Errata slightly changed the Find Steed spell

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This might need to be updated as of the 2018 PHB errata, which enables two-way communication with the steed from find steed. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Feb 16 '19 at 1:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast thanks \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Feb 17 '19 at 0:17
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We can get some insight from this section on page 9 of the Monster Manual:

Languages

[...]

Sometimes a creature can understand a language but not speak it, and this is noted in its entry.

This at least shows the precedent for language. We can look at the Intelligence of various monsters for some insight into what creatures can speak (and thereby speak via telepathy).

The lowest Intelligence monster I could find with the ability to speak a language was at Intelligence 6. One example is the Hook Horror which speak Hook Horror. This means that a creature of Intelligence 6 (such as one from Find Steed) should be capable of understanding to the level of formulating cohesive sentences (albeit not particularly scholarly ones) in the language it understands.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah I jumped the gun on that comment. Misunderstood what you said. I deleted it before I saw you had commented. Sorry about that. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Mar 12 '18 at 20:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose I commented before I saw you deleted it, lol \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Mar 12 '18 at 20:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ We've got a good ol' Three Stooges Skit going on here in the comments I guess lol \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Mar 12 '18 at 20:21

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