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Suppose a bard is trying to remain invisible while still inspiring companions. If the bard starts singing, they make themselves a target. If the bard uses Ventriloquism, they can potentially make noise without drawing attention to their actual location. However, this means their allies will be listening to a figment, not the actual bard, so bardic music fails.

What happens if the party makes the save vs ventriloquism? Now, they know the spell voice is fake. Does that mean they hear the real voice? Would they be able to hear the bard singing for real? Or does the ventriloquism spell still block the bard's actual voice?

From the Ventriloquism spell in the SRD:

With respect to such voices and sounds, anyone who hears the sound and rolls a successful save recognizes it as illusory (but still hears it).

This does not state the original voice could not be heard. Nor does it state that it could. Typically, with spell descriptions, it does not grant anything it does not say it grants, but nowhere does it say the original voice is gone...

From the description of "Saving throws and Illusions (Disbelief)" in the SRD:

A successful saving throw against an illusion reveals it to be false, but a figment or phantasm remains as a translucent outline.

This only discusses visual illusions. It does not mention whether or not the original image is visible when an illusion is defeated.

So, back to my original question: would a party member who made the save against ventriloquism receive the benefit from the Inspire Courage?

Note: I recognize an easier method is using the Message spell, but my group is trying to determine the limits of Ventriloquism and how it interacts with other magic.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Is there any official ruling or errata that would say if you actually make these sounds when using Ventriloquism in the first place, or are you silent and it is the spell that creates the voice? \$\endgroup\$ – Mołot Jul 22 at 14:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mołot I have not seen any official rulings or errata on the subject. Ventriloquism was never a terribly popular spell. There are a few topics discussing it, but mostly for abuse with it. Not trying to determine if it could actually be useful within the rules as intended. \$\endgroup\$ – InterstellarProbe Jul 22 at 14:11
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You cannot combine Ventriloquism and Inspire Courage

„Figments are unreal“ and „cannot produce real effects“.

Just as a Medusa cannot cast Silent Image to make a copy of herself and then use that copy to conduct her gaze attack, a bard also cannot cast Ventriloquism to make use of their Inspire Courage ability.

Ventriloquism:

You can make your voice (or any sound that you can normally make vocally) seem to issue from someplace else. You can speak in any language you know. With respect to such voices and sounds, anyone who hears the sound and rolls a successful save recognizes it as illusory (but still hears it).

Although it says „your voice“ the more importent word here is „seem“ . What you create is only a figment, you are not actually speaking or singing.

Anyone who rolls a successful save is not hearing the real voice of the bard instead, because there is no real voice. It's only a spell, the bard simply isn't singing. But in order to use the Inspire Courage ability a bard must do so.

„An ally must be able to hear the bard sing“. And this means: really sing.


Sidenote: This answer is the complete opposite of my first (deleted) answer. — Sorry for the flip-flopping.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This was what I suspected, as well. In my group, we homebrewed Bard's Ventriloquism, which was also a first level spell, but Transmutation instead of Illusion (Figment). It had the exact same effect as the Ventriloquism spell, but since it was really the bard's voice, we decided that it worked with Inspire Courage. But, when talking with a friend, they claimed the original Ventriloquism spell worked if the party member made the save. And it would have been nice to use the original version, had my friend been correct. \$\endgroup\$ – InterstellarProbe Jul 22 at 20:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think such a homebrew-version is a good idea (- or maybe one should just stretch the rules a bit and simply allow a bard to use Ventriloquism together with Inspire Courage). It's nice from a roleplaying point of view. – I'm not so sure about the Message spell, by the way. For Inspire Courage you have to sing - but Message only let's you whisper ... \$\endgroup\$ – Peregrin Took Jul 22 at 20:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ That is a good point. I suspect you are probably right. What about Perform (oratory)? \$\endgroup\$ – InterstellarProbe Jul 22 at 20:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ This position can be staked out harder: That seem means the bard does actually vocalize but the magic of the ventriloquism spell causes the vocalization to appear to emanate from elsewhere—the magic takes what the bard herself says and in real time moves the source (and disbelieving may mean folks can try to locate normally the source—i.e. the bard). Because it's a figment still, though, the bard's magic vocalization can't actually do anything like inspire courage or cast verbal-only spells or anything. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jul 22 at 21:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ RE: The message spell. I think the spell works fine with singing. Folks sing in whispers. I'd be more concerned about needing a free hand to point continuously at all the party members. (Note that in my campaigns I've allowed a bard (with an empty hand) to inspire courage via the message spell without issue.) However, one must "use song or poetics to inspire courage," so to convince the DM that Perform (comedy) or (oratory) works, be ready with some poetic jokes or rhetoric. (And, no, you can't inspire courage with Perform (dance) because the game's just artless that way.) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jul 22 at 21:54

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