An interesting situation came up with my game last night. The bard wanted to go forward on his own to talk with a wary Bogard and attempt to communicate without a big threatening group surrounding it. To keep the others informed of what was going one he cast message:
You can whisper messages and receive whispered replies. Those nearby can hear these messages with a DC 25 Perception check. You point your finger at each creature you want to receive the message. When you whisper, the whispered message is audible to all targeted creatures within range. Magical silence, 1 foot of stone, 1 inch of common metal (or a thin sheet of lead), or 3 feet of wood or dirt blocks the spell. The message does not have to travel in a straight line. It can circumvent a barrier if there is an open path between you and the subject, and the path's entire length lies within the spell's range. The creatures that receive the message can whisper a reply that you hear. The spell transmits sound, not meaning; it doesn't transcend language barriers. To speak a message, you must mouth the words and whisper.
There was a discussion about the wording of the spell, and specifically around the use of the word whisper. Because the spell specifically states "whisper," some members of the party felt the spell wouldn't work if the bard was talking normally, and that he'd have to whisper everything separately for the group to be able to hear.
Others, myself included, thought that the word whisper was less important, and was only there because the spell would normally be used for communicating in stealthy situations. We thought the most important part was "you must mouth the words and whisper." Now again, not taking whisper literally, it seems the important component for the spell to work is that sound be made via speech, and so I ruled that normal speech could also be heard.
Which of the two interpretations is correct? Is whispering a key part of the spell, or does one just have to talk?