Ventriloquism is a way of using one's voice to throw sound around. However, this was not the case until the 1830's. Assuming of course, the world we are talking about is a modern or futuristic campaign(a standard campaign would most likely be a Religion check because it used to be a religious practice), would a character using ventriloquism add their Performance bonus or their Deception bonus?

Two contrasting situations come to mind and make this question hard for me:

  1. Using a puppet and ventriloquism
  2. Misleading another character by making them hear noises that aren't there(so, ventriloquism...)

Also, for the second situation, would the check be contested by the opposing creature's Perception(or maybe another skill)?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Since you mention Deception instead of, say, Bluff, I'm guessing this is specifically about fifth edition? \$\endgroup\$
    – Draconis
    Commented Apr 24, 2023 at 1:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ Why does it matter that the world is a modern setting? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 24, 2023 at 3:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ Being able to identify ventriloquism and knowing about the practice are two different things. It is up to the DM what skills are valid, but I would call for Perception before I call for Religion to identify that ventriloquism is used \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 25, 2023 at 15:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TieflingDragon84 Different editions have different rules, so it doesn’t make sense to ask this question about all editions. I’ve added back the 5e tag since that was what was originally asked and answered. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 26, 2023 at 1:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TieflingDragon84 This is a mechanics question, therefore there is no way to ask it and include all editions of D&D. However you are welcome to ask a different question for a different edition if you would find answers in that edition more useful. Generally it's best to just ask about the edition you are playing in as the mechanical answers will be the most useful there and we try to encourage you to ask about actual problems you are facing rather than theoretical "what about in X edition?" type questions. \$\endgroup\$
    – linksassin
    Commented Apr 26, 2023 at 2:14

1 Answer 1


Ask your DM

The rules for ability checks state:

For every ability check, the DM decides which of the six abilities is relevant to the task at hand

...and later:

Sometimes, the DM might ask for an ability check using a specific skill... At other times, a player might ask the DM if proficiency in a particular skill applies to a check. In either case, proficiency in a skill means an individual can add his or her proficiency bonus to ability checks that involve that skill.

So, the DM decides if an ability check is necessary, and then if it is Charisma or something else. The DM then decides if Deception, Performance, either, or neither would apply to the check.


You also ask whether a contest would be required. Again, determining these things is in the purview of the DM, but the rules for contests do provide some guidance:

This situation also applies when one of them is trying to prevent the other one from accomplishing a goal... In situations like these, the outcome is determined by a special form of ability check, called a contest.

If the player character is trying to prevent someone from accomplishing the goal of identifying the ventriloquism for what it is, a DM could very well call for a contest.

But they don't have to. Sometimes a DM will simply set a DC rather than making a contested check. Always remember this fundamental rule from the Introduction to the Basic Rules:

  1. The DM describes the environment.


  1. The players describe what they want to do.


  1. The DM narrates the results of the adventurers’ actions.
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    \$\begingroup\$ If I were the DM, then I would decide what check to ask for based on the intention of the ventriloquist given the circumstances. Do they want to entertain or do they want to deceive? In the first case, it's not just about the illusion of making a puppet talk, but also about making it witty. \$\endgroup\$
    – Philipp
    Commented Apr 24, 2023 at 10:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ One question(still unanswered). For situation number 2, would the check be contested by the opposing creature's Perception(or maybe another skill)? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 24, 2023 at 21:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TieflingDragon84 Still up to the DM. That’s the focus if this answer :) \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Apr 24, 2023 at 21:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TieflingDragon84 I elaborated a bit further to be more clear. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 24, 2023 at 23:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TieflingDragon84 and in a standard world, it wouldn’t necessarily be a religion check, it’s still up to the DM \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Apr 25, 2023 at 12:20

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