I want to use the Message cantrip to coordinate with an ally in secret. However, I want to do this during a loud battle (powerful spells being flung back and forth in a highly destructible environment). The text of the spell says:

You ... whisper a message. The target ... hears the message and can reply in a whisper that only you can hear.

Since the message is whispered, does that mean the target may not be able to make out what I'm saying over the din of battle? Or does "the target hears the message" imply that the spell's magic ensures that the message is audible?


2 Answers 2


Yes, the target hears the message, even if there are other ambient noises.

The message spell is a magical effect, and doesn't actually create a sound as per normal speech. Instead, only the target hears it.

You point your finger toward a creature within range and whisper a message. The target (and only the target) hears the message and can reply in a whisper that only you can hear.

As you can imagine, this isn't how sound works according to conventional physics. But it's magic, and magic generally doesn't care about the laws of nature.

However, the message spell requires a verbal component to cast. If something prevents the spellcaster from performing the verbal component, then the spell would fail.

If you can’t provide one or more of a spell’s components, you are unable to cast the spell. [...] Thus, a character who is gagged or in an area of silence, such as one created by the silence spell, can’t cast a spell with a verbal component.

If something prevents the caster from whispering the message, then it's likely that they can't perform the verbal components for the message cantrip either.


There is nothing in the rules to state that the message from the message cantrip cannot be heard by the receiver, regardless of ambient noise. In addition, the message can ignore boundaries if you know the target (emphasis mine):

You can cast this spell through solid objects if you are familiar with the target and know it is beyond the barrier. Magical silence, 1 foot of stone, 1 inch of common metal, a thin sheet of lead, or 3 feet of wood blocks the spell. The spell doesn't have to follow a straight line and can travel freely around corners or through openings.

The only things that can clearly block it are stated as well, indicating that this "message" is transferred by magical means, insinuating that the message can still be heard amidst other ambient noise.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I was thinking that maybe the spell simply created the sound of my whispered voice directly in the target's ear, allowing them to hear it at long distances and through obstructions. If this were the case, it would seem possible that despite technically hearing the whisper, they can't actually make out what I'm saying thanks to ambient noise. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 17, 2018 at 6:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Think of it this way - the "whisper" is referring to the transference of the spell. Only the recipient can hear it - no one else. Much like a normal whisper. The recipient can always hear it, but no one else :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben
    Commented Apr 17, 2018 at 6:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ @RyanThompson to add, if you're struggling to get a "feel" for how it would be perceived. Imagine the last time you were in a noisy environment (such as listening to music), regardless of the noise - you can still hear your internal thinking voice clearly. Think of the whisper being perceived by the target in a similar way.. \$\endgroup\$
    – Bilkokuya
    Commented Apr 17, 2018 at 11:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Bilkokuya good example; now think of someone you know very well, whose voice you can identify immediately upon hearing -- you can "hear" their voice in your head now can't you, even though they're not speaking? Even if you have headphones on with loud music playing? I imagine this is what the Message spell would sound like to them. \$\endgroup\$
    – Doktor J
    Commented Apr 17, 2018 at 15:57

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