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So in DnD 5e, my bard character happened upon some fragments of a musical composition. When my character tried playing it, it caused some sonic-charged magical effect.

My question is--specifically in the context of conditions like Invisibility where when casting a spell or making an attack drops the Invisibility--does playing this particular piece of music, that happens to have a magical effect, count as casting a spell or making an attack?

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    \$\begingroup\$ We're also going to need some more details. What you are describing seems to be a homebrewed feature, is there anything more you can tell us about it? \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Sep 12 '20 at 21:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ It is a homebrewed campaign, yes. And my DM hasn't given me much detail on the musical composition either, other than a sonic damage effect (assuming Thunder because that's the only sonic-based damage in the game?). \$\endgroup\$ – Erimal Sep 12 '20 at 21:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Sep 13 '20 at 7:48
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Only your DM can answer this question

It seems that this musical fragment is a homebrew creation of your DM. If your DM has given you an actual item description with precise mechanics, look over them carefully to see if it is mechanically casting a spell. Regardless, you must check with your DM for this, because they are the one who created the item and decided how it works. You can ask out of character ("Does this count as casting a spell?") or in character ("Does this feel similar to my normal bardic spellcasting, or is it different?"), but your DM is the only one who can answer this.

It might not actually matter as much as you think

Given that this musical fragment deals damage, it seems quite likely that your DM will declare that it breaks invisibility in the same way as an attack or spell would, even if it is technically neither. Furthermore, even if the DM allows you to remain invisible, keep in mind that once you play the fragment, you are no longer hidden -- that is, enemies now know your position from the sound you made, even if they can't see you. And unless you're a rogue who can hide as a bonus action, you're likely going to remain un-hidden while the enemies take their turns. They'll have disadvantage to attack you, but you can still be attacked, and hit with most spells.

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No, it's not a spell unless it's specifically listed as one

Spells work exactly how they say they do. As you stated, the description of the invisibility spell says:

The spell ends for a target that attacks or casts a spell.

It says nothing about making something magical happen. Drinking a potion of healing, for example, would be making something magical happen. That isn't casting a spell or making an attack, though, so it doesn't cause the invisibility spell to drop.

That being said, it sounds like you ran into something DM-designed, so they get the final say on what happens.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Unless it does - but we don't know that since OP hasn't given us enough to details to know much at all about their situation. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Sep 12 '20 at 21:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Erimal Causing damage is, oddly enough, not the same as making an attack. The spell description says both to cover all possibilities. You could pull an unmarked lever while invisible only to find it opens a trapdoor which someone falls into and takes damage. You haven't actually made an attack, even if you caused damage, so the effect doesn't end. \$\endgroup\$ – Allan Mills Sep 12 '20 at 21:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AllanMills Exactly. Or even using a torch to ignite a patch of oil on the floor that you know will cause damage to the creatures in it. See: What counts as an attack?. Not an attack, even though swinging the same torch at an oil-soaked creature would be. \$\endgroup\$ – Kirt Sep 13 '20 at 0:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ Although drinking a potion may not be casting a spell, many magic items such as scrolls, wands, and staves do permit the user to actually cast a spell (even if they are not the Cast a Spell action: rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/50054/…) and would end invisibility. Thus it really is up to the DM to determine whether this music resembles one more than the other. I think your answer would be improved by mentioning them both. \$\endgroup\$ – Kirt Sep 13 '20 at 8:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast Thanks for the feedback. I believe the format of my comment now addresses your concerns. \$\endgroup\$ – Kirt Sep 13 '20 at 20:27

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