The description for the Luring Song action in the harpy's statblock (Monster Manual, page 181) reads:

Luring Song. The harpy sings a magical melody. Every humanoid and giant within 300 feet of the harpy that can hear the song must succeed on a DC 11 Wisdom saving throw or be charmed until the song ends. The harpy must take a bonus action on its subsequent turns to continue singing. It can stop singing at any time. The song ends if the harpy is incapacitated.

While charmed by the harpy, a target is incapacitated [...] before moving into damaging terrain, such as lava or a pit, and whenever it takes damage from a source other than the harpy, a target can repeat the saving throw. A creature can also repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns. If a creature's saving throw is successful, the effect ends on it.

A target that successfully saves is immune to this harpy's song for the next 24 hours.

So as far as I read it, the condition ends when the save is succeeded or the song ends.

If an affected character is deafened or moves through the area of a silence spell, the song still continues. But it seems only logical to me that ceasing to hear the song would have some effect.

Am I correct in reading that by RAW, if a charmed target is then deafened, the effect would still continue?


3 Answers 3


"Until the song ends" is a bit unclear

The wording here gives us less than what we'd really to have for a clear ruling. The Luring Song plainly states that as long as you can hear it, you are susceptible and that it continues until the song stops.

Adding silence into the scenario presents us with a difficult set of options. On one hand, it makes perfect logical sense that if the area is under silence, then no song is heard. But what happens? The Luring Song isn't clear about that situation, so that leaves the DM with some options.

I hear nothing!

A DM could very reasonably rule that an unheard song is a stopped song. Whether or not it means it's temporary or if they can be lured again would be up to the DM as well.

The power is in sustaining the song

The language also isn't clear in how the song's power is really used. A DM could also very easily rule that once under the sway, the only ways to end it are the actual singing stopping or the harpy being incapacitated. We can have all sorts of fluff as to why that still works, but it's magic is always a solid option, but if you want more you can look at this as as parallel to concentration mechanics where as long as the harpy is singing, the song's effects continue.

Go with what goes well at the table

Ultimately, these decisions come down to what works narratively and thematically at the table. What tells a more interesting story for you and your players? That's the question you'll need to ask yourself here.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you clarify what you said about "whether or not it means it's temporary or if they can be lured again"? I think the only thing that prevents being lured later is succeeding the save, right? \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 12, 2021 at 17:41

I don't think it matters what the exact RAW says. Blindly adhering to the RAW even when it leads to an absurd conclusion is not a good DMing habit.

The obvious intent here is that the charm effect is coming from hearing the song. Just because it says "every [target] that can hear the song" in reference to the initial save but then doesn't say something like "the effect ends if you can no longer hear it" shouldn't matter. If you can't hear the song anymore, the song has functionally ended for you, so I would certainly rule that deafness or a silence spell would end the effect on anyone affected.

However, it is worth noting that the song ending does not mean you saved against it, so anyone who has been freed of the charm because they stopped being able to hear it or the harpy stopped singing would not be immune to the song if it became audible again later.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Given that magic does weird things, I don't think your first sentence is helpful. A lot is absurd and if we wave it all away, then we have no dragons. I don't disagree that in this case it may not be helpful, but that's for an experience-based answer to show. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented May 10, 2021 at 16:14
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, I should've been more clear. I was actually editing myself to avoid sounding like I was criticizing adherence to RAW, but without that it doesn't actually address the question, so I'll add it back in. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 10, 2021 at 16:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch I disagree. There's a distinction between fantastical and absurd. D&D is full of fantastical creatures and magical effects, but those are not absurd within their own context. Absurd is taking a rule that's going out of its way to be all about hearing a song and claiming that because of a failure to repeat a minor clause, it still works when you can't hear the song. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 10, 2021 at 16:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ Sure, but we accept a plethora of playstyles here, and pure RAW is absolutely one of them. Let's not tell them they're playing wrong. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented May 10, 2021 at 16:28

My interpretation of this is that RAW does in fact support the charm falling off of a character that can no longer hear the song (for any reason, but perhaps especially a Silence spell).

My reasoning is that Luring Song simply states that it's effects end when the song ends. The first thing we need to do is define what "the song" is. I have seen plenty people make the mistake of equating "the song" with "the harpy singing", but logically these are not the same things.

The "song" is produced by the harpy singing, yes, but functionally these are separate events or entities. The song can only exist through the harpy singing it into existence in the first place, but once it exists, it exists independently of the harpy that created it. That is to say that it's existence (as an object or an event) once it's been sung is no longer dependent upon anything the harpy is or does. So, what is "the song". Well, common sense (which D&D often requires us to use - gravity for example, is presumed to exist even if it's never explicitly stated - in a fantasy world it is presumed that everything works just like it does in the real world, except where explicitly stated otherwise, for example magic) tells us that the "song" is sound. That is, it is composed of sound (just like words or any kind of utterance from the throats of creatures is). A song, by definition, is composed of sound.

That is to say, it is not composed of light, or butter, or dragon scales, or fire, or necrosis, negative or positive energy. The song is "made of" sound. That's what it IS. It is sound. Magical, yes, but still sound. It's constituent parts are of sound.

Now, the Silence spell says that no sound can enter and no sound can be produced inside the zone of Silence. This is equivalent to the song 'ending' inside the sphere, because 'stopping all sound' is grammatically equivalent to "ending all sound". In other words, if all sound dies within or at the boundary of (for sounds aimed at the sphere from outside) the sphere of Silence, then that sound "ends" right there (at the boundary if it's external, or inside it if not).

Therefore, the sphere of the Silence spell causes sound to end. It causes the Luring Song to end. The song ends, at the boundary of the sphere, or never even gets created if you put the spell on top of the harpy. Silence ends sound, therefore it also ends anything that is sound based, which would include things like Bardic Inspiration as well as Luring Song.

This means that you can stop a harpy both by casting it on top of yourself (just be careful not to silence your own casters), OR by casting it on the harpy which stops her from singing (but doesn't stop her from leaving the area of Silence).

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    – V2Blast
    Commented Jul 6, 2021 at 7:28

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