Would casting Silence stop an enemy using Tremorsense from locating the party?

up vote 23 down vote accepted

No, Silence doesn't stop Tremorsense, or in fact interact with it on any level.

Silence prevents sound, but Tremorsense isn't based on sound.

Tremorsense is based on detecting the other person's presence through “vibrations in the ground”. It's not based on hearing anything—if anything it's probably based on touch. Silence doesn't stop physical sensation or physical interaction, so it doesn't stop those “vibrations in the ground” and it doesn't stop anything from causing them or the creature sensing them.

  • 10
    Rules being rules, this is the rulesy answer. Is the physicist in us all that screams, "But vibrations in the ground are sound!" And we just have to remember to relax and just let the rules be rules. – Draco18s Nov 12 at 15:00
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    After many years of playing I can't count the times I have been tempted to mix physics and magic, but I have learned that it is usually bad idea. It's not supposed to mix. – Ling Nov 12 at 16:18
  • @Draco18s Alternately, relax and remember that it's your game and you can do whatever seems right to you. Establishing the exact terms of RAW is useful and interesting, but StackExchange tends to forget that rule 0 exists. – Phasma Felis Nov 13 at 5:52
  • @PhasmaFelis I don't think its so much that we forget that Rule 0 exists, but that rule 0 is intentionally set aside in order to answer rules questions answered based on what the rules say, but yes, Rule 0 exists. – Draco18s Nov 13 at 14:19

This isn't really covered explicitly by the rules so you have a few options that is basically down to your group to pick from.

The most RAW interpretation: No

Silence doesn't say that it stops vibrations, Tremorsense doesn't mention requiring sound, only that the target is in contact with the ground. This could be interpreted as Silence 'stilling' the air and not affecting the ground.

The most intuitive answer: Yes

For obvious reasons sound is only vibrations and the area would include the ground.

Conclusion:

Personally, as a DM I would be inclined to give this to my party for an inventive use of the spell. It also causes a lot of issues for the party in casting other spells and communication.

I wouldn't use the same tactic against the party, however, as it would feel cheap on their side, eliminating entirely one of their abilities.

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    There are arguments against your second option. Emanations cannot pass through solid objects (ie: the ground), so the effect of silence would stop exactly where those vibrations would be happening. – ShadowKras Nov 12 at 11:25
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    @ShadowKras this would imply you could still listen by pressing your ear to the ground, which definitely seems against the intention of a Silence spell – Cyberspark Nov 12 at 11:27
  • That's a form of detecting that is simply not covered by the spell, which only blocks sound. – ShadowKras Nov 12 at 11:28
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    Sound is a longitudinal compression wave, which is totally different from the transversal waves that is a tremor. – Trish Nov 12 at 11:34
  • Personally I'd go half way. A silence would act like light obscurement, but also allow stealth checks. It would dampen the tremorsense without blinding it. – Yakk Nov 12 at 19:57

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