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A few people climb a mountain, finally reaching a safe tunnel for the night.

Upon entry, a few Shriekers start screeching. That alarms the Harpies that live on the other side of the tunnel. The Harpies immediately decide to start singing.

Is that a valid scenario or would the screeching be so loud that the characters would anyway not hear the Harpies' songs?

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3 Answers 3

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Shriekers do not prevent creatures from hearing anything. There is a Deafened condition in Appendix A of the PHB; if Shriekers were meant to make it impossible to hear anything, they would give creatures this condition.

The Harpy's Luring Song, like the Shrieker's Shriek, is audible within 300 ft. You're free to rule however you choose, of course, but as far as the book is concerned, any creature within 300 feet of the Harpy that hasn't lost its hearing somehow can be affected by Luring Song.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Allowing a bonus to the save seems like a reasonable ruling: "you can't hear the song clearly but if you went further down the tunnel...". \$\endgroup\$
    – richardb
    Feb 13, 2015 at 0:00
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Depends. A single shrieker, probably not. But three, or four? I'd say so. DM's call.

Note that one noise being louder than another isn't really anything to do with being deaf.

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Depending on the exact distances involved, it would certainly be reasonable to say that the players can't hear the Harpies' song until they have moved away from, or otherwise silenced, the shrieker(s).

Two things being loud enough to be heard up to 300 feet away means it's LOUD, not that it will suddenly become completely audible at 300 feet, but an inch further away it is completely silent.

Think about being at a concert. The person next to you (less than 5 feet away), is shouting at the top of their lungs to be heard over the sound of the speakers 30 feet in front of you, and you still have trouble hearing and understanding them. Any sufficiently loud noise will make another noise inaudible, or at least imperceptible, and this will happen long before it is loud enough to actually induce deafness (temporary or otherwise).

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    \$\begingroup\$ At the same time, the Harpie's songs are magical... so wouldn't that work even if you don't hear the whole song words and melody may not be as important? \$\endgroup\$ Feb 14, 2015 at 23:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ But they're still songs. If you can't hear them, because they're drowned out by much louder things much closer, you can't hear them. \$\endgroup\$ May 3, 2015 at 18:42

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