The spell Silence as described in the PHB:

For the Duration, no sound can be created within or pass through a 20-foot-radius Sphere centered on a point you choose within range. Any creature or object entirely inside the Sphere is immune to thunder damage, and creatures are Deafened while entirely inside it. Casting a Spell that includes a verbal component is impossible there.

The spell is obviously a useful tool against magic wielders, but I'm trying to get clarification on its limitations.

Would it be common for magic users to recognize the Silence spell and know easy ways to counter its effects? For example, a wizard familiar with the spell might know to just run a short distance in any direction to leave its area of effect, and then continue casting spells. I understand that different types of characters will have different knowledge of spells, but Silence isn't a high level spell and would seemingly be well known to many mid- and even low-level magic users.

The related question below might shed light on how a character would react to the Silence spell, because they might instead interpret the effect as being deafened.

Related questions:

Deafness vs Silence - How to distinguish Darkness from being blinded and Silence from being deafened?

  • \$\begingroup\$ This is a really open ended question because different spellcasters will respond to different situations in different ways. One might be able to say what a Mage (the specific creature) would typically do if targeted by the silence spell, but a Mage has a different spell loadout and stats from a Priest or a Cultist or a Driver, etc. So they wouldn't respond in the same way. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rykara
    Jun 6, 2020 at 18:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, it seems like there are a couple different questions being asked here and a third that is being implied (How does a Way of Shadow monk counter a creature that can cast fireball). I think this could be broken down into smaller, component questions that are more answerable. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rykara
    Jun 6, 2020 at 18:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ok, edited. Hopefully the narrowed down scope of the question better fits the scope of the page. Can't think of how to improve the title though, and am open to suggestions. \$\endgroup\$
    – Besty
    Jun 6, 2020 at 18:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ Dang, closed. Can anyone offer a rewording of this question that is appropriate for the site? I think there's a good question in here that deals with the rules and how to interpret them, and I'm looking for help from experts about how to interpret them, not opinions. TIA \$\endgroup\$
    – Besty
    Jun 6, 2020 at 18:58
  • 1

1 Answer 1


Consider using an arcana check.

An optional rule in Xanathar's allows a character to make an Arcana check to understand the effects of a spell being cast. (see https://rpg.stackexchange.com/a/111123/21179) Anyone who passes this check should be assumed to understand the radius of the effect.

Think about worldbuilding.

I once played in a game world where magic users were rare and secretive, so nobody knew anything about anyone else's spells. (And to add to this, whenever we encountered an enemy spellcaster, the spellcaster would be using spells the DM had invented, so we would be as surprised by their spells as they would be by ours.) In a world like that, we should expect most spellcasters would not be familiar with even a low-level spell like silence.

In most of the D&D worlds, NPCs with adventurer character classes are uncommon. So, just because the cleric in the adventuring party can prepare silence, that doesn't mean that every religious person in the world is a cleric who can do that.

If the DM is feeling creative, the DM might actually have invented different powers for NPCs. So maybe there's one NPC spell that curses an individual person with a silence-like effect, a second NPC spell that generates a 20-foot sphere of silence, a third NPC spell that generates a mile-wide radius of silence, a fourth NPC spell that generates silence within that NPC's field of vision, and a fifth NPC spell that doesn't actually generate a silence effect but just deafens you so you think you're silenced. In a world like that, a spellcaster discovering they're silenced might be genuinely unsure which countermeasures are appropriate.

Many spellcasters are not well-educated. A sorceror has magic in their blood which lets them call forth fire and lightning, but they may not have studied magic formally and they may not know about any spells they can't personally cast. A cultist might have gained power through dark sacrifices to long-forgotten gods, but again that doesn't come with knowledge about wizard and cleric spells.

At the other end of the spectrum, in a setting like that of Adventurers League, it's assumed that adventurers with spellcasting classes are pretty common, and we should expect anyone who has seriously trained for combat (of any class, not just a spellcasting class) should have a good understanding of the capabilities of the standard character classes.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is good, but I feel as though the last paragraph should come first—for one thing, it’s the one bit that’s not setting-specific, and for another, it provides a way for DM’s to implement their changes to a setting’s assumptions, by tweaking the DC on that check to account for how widespread and well-known magic is in the setting. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Jun 7, 2020 at 4:09

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