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In my ongoing Curse of Strahd game,

one of the PC's, a Monk following the Way of Shadow, has won the favor of the Keepers of the Feather and has asked them to be made a wereraven. I haven't decided on that yet but the player and I are talking scenarios.

The question has arisen about what spells a wood elf Way of the Shadow Monk would have access to in the various wereraven forms.

In the humanoid (wood elf) form, all spell casting would be available as normal.

In the hybrid form, most spell casting would still be available, as the hybrid has hands (S), voice (V), and Ki (M). She would just need to remember to bring her fleece after all her gear drops to the ground when changing forms in order to cast minor illusion.

In the raven form, however, most spellcasting would be lost, as the bird does not have hands (S). However, one possible spell retained is darkness, which does not have a Somatic component and which instead is just V, M. The Material components are replaced with Ki, as described in the subclass' abilities. But can the wereraven's ability to Mimic serve as the Verbal component?

Mimicry. The wereraven can mimic simple sounds it has heard, such as a person whispering, a baby crying, or an animal chittering. A creature that hears the sounds can tell they are imitations with a successful DC 10 Wisdom (Insight) check.

Is this mimicry close enough to actual sounds that it could serve as the verbal component of the spell? Or is it just imitation sound, not actual 'sounds of power', and insufficient?

Note that the 'verbal' component of spells derives its power not from the words themselves, but because the words sound like powerful magical sounds:

Most spells require the chanting of mystic words. The words themselves aren't the source of the spell's power; rather, the particular combination of sounds, with specific pitch and resonance, sets the threads of magic in motion.

This related question asks whether a druid in Wild Shape can speak in raven form. On the one hand, actual speaking would require far more verbal repertoire than casting a single action spell. On the other hand, perhaps the 'sounds of power' in a spell need to actually really spoken rather than just imitation sounds.

This related question concludes that Kenku can cast spells with verbal components, but it is primarily supported by a Crawford tweet that says "Kenku speak" and ravens seem more limited to me. At the level of mechanics, raven mimicry is detected by a DC-limited Insight check, while Kenku mimicry is detected by a contested Insight vs. Deception check, hinting that the Kenku is more personally in control of their 'speech' and some are better than others. In any event, the kenku is in their actual humanoid form, not an intelligent being in anadopted form.

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So, first, as always, this is up to the DM... but you are the DM, and coming for advice. That makes this a different sort of question, and it has... not exactly answers, but rather ways of coming to an answer.

The first is whether, by the rules as written, it makes sense for the raven to be able to do this. I'd say no. You've quoted the two pertinent parts of the rules. "The wereraven can mimic simple sounds it has heard, such as...", and "Most spells require the chanting of mystic words. The words themselves aren't the source of the spell's power; rather, the particular combination of sounds, with specific pitch and resonance, sets the threads of magic in motion." To my eyes, a complicated arrangement of mystic words, with specific pitch and resonance, is a lot more than just "simple sounds". If "simple sounds" can handle that, I'm not sure where you'd draw a line that makes any sense of that "simple" at all.

The other side of the question is whether or not you want them to. Here, I'd go with rule of cool. So, they're a raven, flying around in raven form. Do you want them to be able to call out eldritch words and bring arcane darkness, or would you prefer that they have to transform into some other form first? Which is more interesting for your campaign? Which feels more right to you?

At the end of the day it's one spell, and not one where the flight offers a heavy ability for exploitation. More concerning would be if the player somehow got a ranged damage cantrip that he could also use under the same ruling, but I suspect that you're getting to the levels where "ranged attack and flight" can't really be expected to just win fights for you anymore, and most cantrips are pretty weak as damage sources go.

At my table, I'd say no. At your table? You do you.

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No, since a wereraven can't speak in raven form.

From the wereraven statblock (Curse of Strahd, pg. 242):

Languages Common (can't speak in raven form)

The mimicry ability states:

The wereraven can mimic simple sounds it has heard, such as a person whispering, a baby crying, or an animal chittering.

Verbal components are described as:

Most spells require the chanting of mystic words. The words themselves aren't the source of the spell's power; rather, the particular combination of sounds, with specific pitch and resonance, sets the threads of magic in motion.

Verbal components are precise and complex. Mimicry is just the imitation of simple noises. Therefore, the wereraven's mimicry is insufficient for performing verbal components, ergo a wereraven cannot cast darkness.

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