I was reading this question about kenku communicating using sign language, and was wondering about the other ways a kenku could communicate.

For example, the thaumaturgy cantrip states:

You create a sound that originates from a point of your choice within range.

It does not say that this sound can't be a person talking.

And kenku have the following racial traits (VGtM, p. 111):

Mimicry: You can mimic sounds you have heard, including voices. [...]

Languages: You can read and write Common and Auran, but you can speak only by using your Mimicry trait.

Does making talking sounds with thaumaturgy fall under the "you can speak only by using your Mimicry trait" restriction, or is it technically not considered speaking?


1 Answer 1



This has to do with the limitations of the thaumaturgy spell. As discussed in a tweet by Mike Mearls:

"@mikemearls "Ominous whispers" : Can you form actual words using the Thaumaturgy cantrip?"

"I'd say no - context indicates to me it's more for sound effects than communication. #WOTCstaff"


Jeremy Crawford did confirm that Minor Illusion can be used to simulate speech.

"@JeremyECrawford @mikemearls @ChrisPerkinsDnD Is it RAI for Minor Illusion to duplicate complex sounds such as speech? #DnD"

"@MarkKGervais @mikemearls @ChrisPerkinsDnD Yes."

In such cases, Kenku would still be reproducing sounds based on mimicry. The curse of the kenku prevents them from imagining new sounds and would have to rely on their library of previously heard speech.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This answer would be improved by explaining why a ruling about Minor Illusion is relevant to the use of Thaumaturgy. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 15, 2019 at 13:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ Mike Mearls is not an authority on the rules, while Crawford is an official rules arbiter. You should not use Mearls' tweets as primary evidence. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 15, 2019 at 13:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ Minor illusion could be a good point of comparison, because unlike thaumaturgy, it explicitly says: "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." In contrast, thaumaturgy makes "an instantaneous sound [...] such as a rumble of thunder, the cry of a raven, or ominous whispers." \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Jan 15, 2019 at 18:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DavidCoffron The Mike Mearls quote was the primary evidence on the Sage Advice topic "Can thaumaturgy be used to speak at a distance" that was in turn the primary evidence of the discussion rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/90290/… I'll keep it in mind. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 16, 2019 at 0:36

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