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Many abilities require a target that can hear you. Does listening to a recording of your voice allow an ally to count as hearing you and/or your performance?

For example, if you are a bard and cast magic mouth, could an ally who triggers said spell, during the 10 minutes the recording of your voice plays, benefit from your use of Song of Rest?

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Probably not in general.

Somebody listening to a recording of your voice isn't actually hearing you. They're hearing another creature, object, or effect that happens to be a medium for your voice. They could gain information from it (which is the point of magic mouth) or benefit from anything that the sound of your voice alone would convey, but they couldn't benefit from it as if they were hearing you yourself.

But suppose it would work. This would lead to some slippery slopes.

  1. What if a kenku or raven mimicked your voice well enough to convince somebody they were hearing you? Should they still benefit from an effect which requires hearing you just because somebody else faked their voice convincingly?

  2. What if they were watching a visual recording or image of you, such as an image produced by an illusion spell? Would that mean they could see you? Would that mean you could be targeted by a spell which requires you to be seen?

I think this situation requires a good deal of DM adjudication, but these slippery slopes convince me that you shouldn't rely in general on a recording being good enough for an effect requiring you to be heard or seen to gain a benefit.

The context might matter, though. Song of Rest isn't actually magical, so it might be possible for the information content of the recording (inspirational soothing) to be good enough, but I doubt the bard's vicious mockery cantrip could work its magic through the recording.

So, if the effect really depends on hearing you yourself, the effect doesn't work with a recording. If the effect depends on information conveyed by your voice, maybe the effect works with a recording. The problem is that the rules aren't that pedantic with distinguishing those concepts. In either case, the rules will simply refer to hearing you, because the default assumption is that recordings are an edge case in a fantasy setting and would only follow the rules given by the features that create them. If such a feature doesn't give a good justification for treating the effect as if you yourself are being heard (like how the message cantrip is really you speaking with an amplification effect), you should follow the default assumption and assume a recording is an exception to the general rules probably requiring exception adjudication by the DM.

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    \$\begingroup\$ ProTip: Whenever you see a caster that you suspect might be up to no good, always sketch them. Then, if they are later invisible you can still target them (so long as they are in range) without any hindrance simply by seeing them in your sketch! \$\endgroup\$
    – Luke
    Commented Jul 9, 2018 at 7:18

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