29
\$\begingroup\$

Picture this: an arrogant spell caster is tired of having his monologue interrupted by a mouthy, flippant PC.

What spell does the spell caster use to mute the PC?

Deafness (that is Blindness/Deafness ) won’t work; the PC won’t be able to hear the monologue.

Silence won’t work; the spell caster won’t be heard by anyone in the radius and the spell description says:

Conversation is impossible

Level of spell is not important.

In response to great points brought up in comments and answers:

  1. This question is more about "how does the spell caster get a PC to stop verbally interrupting?" and not about how to compel a PC to listen.
  2. This question is about magic spells and player characters. This question is not "how does a GM compel his players to be quiet?" Assume Players and Game Master have gamed together +20 years and all get along well. Shutting down a player is (as pointed out) not fun for the player, and a GM who has to do that probably has other problems at the table. One answer raised a good point about the potential for deeper problems. That is not an issue with the specific situation I have in mind: the GM does not play every spell caster with a strong need to monologue, and this specific player character is a cheeky monkey whose player would agree and understand if, just this once, he was magically Muted. The muted PC would, indeed, probably start throwing things at the spell caster which would bring laughs all around at my table.

Question edited to clarify this is more about “what spell would work here” not “players keep interrupting the long-winded speeches of the GM's favourite NPC.”


\$\endgroup\$
5
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ The PC or the player themself? If it's in a large enough area, disintegrate works wonders, but I wouldn't try it in my living room. \$\endgroup\$
    – NomadMaker
    Commented Aug 31, 2020 at 8:12
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ It's worth noting that simply stopping the PC talking rarely works as it doesn't stop them punching the BBEG. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 31, 2020 at 12:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Studoku I can think of a bunch of arrogant spell casters that could be meant here that aren't the BBEG by any means but just people to get information from that happen to be very much in love with their own voice. If the players attack those for trying to make them listen by using spells... well... that's their problem ;) Also... I could easily imagine some of them (and any BBEG) simply attacking the players for the interruption, without it having to be the other way around. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mark
    Commented Aug 31, 2020 at 15:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mark Oh absolutely, but now they're doing it from within melee range... \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 31, 2020 at 23:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ quick addendum to this, silence will absolutely work, if you're using telepathy to deliver the speech! \$\endgroup\$
    – Erin B
    Commented Sep 1, 2020 at 15:35

7 Answers 7

38
\$\begingroup\$

There are many spells that will do this. The most obvious is suggestion or its relatives charm person, dominate person.

Geas/quest is a good way to do this since it allows no saving throw, but the ten-minute casting time is prohibitive unless the caster pays 1500gp to use lesser wish to cast it in one action.

The enthrall spell is a great fit for this purpose, though note that it's only available to bards and clerics.

The traditional approach would be to use baleful polymorph to turn the target into a frog, but that spell has a chance to also turn the target into a frog mentally, which would make it incapable of understanding a monologue -- probably not what you want.

The hold person spell isn't really suitable because its duration is very short -- the target gets a new save every six seconds. People in the comments have claimed that "talking takes no time", but this is false -- the rules say that speaking more than a few sentences is beyond the limit of a free action.

If you're willing to use third-party spells, there's a spell called mute.


But there are two deeper problems here.

One problem is that these spells can silence a player character, but they can't silence a player; if your problem is that a player keeps interrupting the DM, that's something you need to address out-of-game.

The other problem is that doing something like this to a player character is going to be not-fun for the player. If your players keep roleplaying their characters interrupting your NPCs, it might be a sign that (at least one of) your players doesn't like it when your NPCs monologue. You might consider whether you can play your NPCs differently in a way that won't make your players want to interrupt them.


\$\endgroup\$
9
  • 20
    \$\begingroup\$ Good point about the potential for deeper problems. That is not an issue with the specific situation I have in mind: the GM does not play every spell caster with a strong need to monologue, and the player character is a cheeky monkey whose player would agree and understand if, just this once, he was magically Muted. I will edit the question to clarify this is more about “what spells would work here” not “players keep interrupting my long-winded speeches.” \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 29, 2020 at 21:50
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ The duration on hold person isn't a problem; talking takes no time. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 29, 2020 at 23:08
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @StandardEyre yeah, it’s great if it’s just once, to really show the personality of the bad guy (if in a slightly cheesy way), but obviously ‘players keep on talking over me’ isn’t the aim :D \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 30, 2020 at 5:35
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @DanB Alright, so let's say that you can say 5 words as a free action, for example. There's no limit on how many free actions one can take in a round beyond 'the GM decides you are being unreasonable and cuts you off'. So you say your 5 words, then you take another separate free action to say a few more words, then another, then another, ad infinitum. The temporalization of the action economy is absurd-- we're talking about a game where carefully laying down a 3-ft diameter circle of powdered silver isn't just a free action but a non-action action that takes no time. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 30, 2020 at 17:26
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ @Pleasestopbeingevil You logically can't talk for more than six seconds in one round unless you are using time-altering magic of some kind. We might occasionally stretch that for communication in battle, since the players might not use the same wording as the PCs, but it makes no sense for a long monologue to fit within one round. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rubberduck
    Commented Aug 30, 2020 at 18:28
15
\$\begingroup\$

If the caster has already been able to speak for a round without being interrupted, they can then cast

Enthrall

If you have the attention of a group of creatures, you can use this spell to hold them enthralled. To cast the spell, you must speak or sing without interruption for 1 full round. Thereafter, those affected give you their undivided attention...The effect lasts as long as you speak or sing, to a maximum of 1 hour. Those enthralled by your words take no action while you speak or sing...

\$\endgroup\$
1
  • \$\begingroup\$ Bonus points that the way to break the spell is by heckling the caster. \$\endgroup\$
    – Brian
    Commented Aug 31, 2020 at 18:28
10
\$\begingroup\$

Hold Person.

Or any other spell that fully paralyses the target, basically. It renders them unable to move or talk, so they can't do anything except stand and listen. They can't even put their fingers in their ears.

\$\endgroup\$
6
\$\begingroup\$

A couple of other suggestions:

Feeblemind will shut a character up, but they will not be able to understand what the NPC says while under the effect.

Steal Breath deals 2d6 points of damage and makes speech impossible for one round. Command will do the same thing, but without the damage.

Fumbletongue prevents the target from speaking intelligibly (gibberish comes out) for 1d4 rounds. That doesn't necessarily silence a character, but they'll be likely to stop babbling gibberish.

Forced Quiet won't make a character stop talking but will prevent them from speaking loudly and shouting. Such a character could be talked over with a loud voice.

\$\endgroup\$
3
\$\begingroup\$

Not quite a frame challenge, but an alternate method of accomplishing the same thing, is to have the BBEG deliver a message asynchronously via Magic Mouth or similar. You can even allow play to continue during this time (as if the monologue is quietly coming from a broadcast system in the background) if the message is particularly long.

Benefits include:

  • Players will immediately know that is likely to be:
    • time bounded (you can't record forever)
    • you think it is important
    • it is futile to interrupt
    • some effort went into keeping it concise
  • You will have to make the above true, saving them time
  • A nice experience for everyone

Inspired by the "Audio Diaries" in BioShock 2 (can find videos online), or similarly in Portal. These allow backstory without forcing inaction, but often lead to the player actually paying more attention than if they had a <skip-ahead> button to spam while locked in place.

\$\endgroup\$
2
\$\begingroup\$

Monologues are often boring

Frame challenge : maybe don't mute the guy.

Think about why the player is interrupting the NPC. Maybe it's just because they like some witty banter interaction ? In that case go ahead and mute the guy, in some groups that will fly pretty well. But maybe, the player is tired of having to sit through another monologue and they want to get the action going. In that case it's an out-of-game problem and you can't solve it in-game.

Say we're in that situation and your NPC mutes the guy. Well maybe the player will find another way to make noise. Or maybe they'll just toss some stuff at the NPC to keep interrupting them. And if you keep restricting them then you're abusing your GM powers just for your ego-moment, which you can't do too often before the players decide they've had enough and walk out. So maybe consider not muting the guy and taking it as a sign that maybe the players are bored and they want some action ?

Source : having had to sit through too many badly-written never-ending monologues. Don't be that guy. And if you go "Well now your character can't do anything but listen to me speak" then don't be surprised if your players get pissed.

\$\endgroup\$
1
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Agreed. The GM gets to have their fun (and should) but not at the expense of player agency or fun. Don't force your players to listen to some speech; they'll listen if it's interesting enough. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jason_c_o
    Commented Sep 5, 2020 at 15:50
2
\$\begingroup\$

Lipstitch (2nd-level) literally sews their lips together. It may be flavorful enough to get the point across.

If the player or another PC removes the stiches with a DC 20 Strength check, they take damage and begin to bleed, and may lose the ability to cast verbal component spells until the bleeding stops. A productive 6 seconds for your BBEG!

On the other hand, removing the stitches carefully takes a full minute, which is more than enough time to get in your say.

Silent Table also works without a save, but the target is a point in space with a radius of only 5', so if the player wises up to the spell that was cast he can just move.

(It might be bad form to necropost; apologies if so, but I didn't see this spell in other answers.)

\$\endgroup\$

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .