I'm trying to figure out how exactly Sending is supposed to work in 3.5. Basically, is the spell speech dependant or is the message sent mentally?
The issue came up because the party is trying to contact a party member that's been kidnapped, bound, and gagged. I responded that the response is muffled and incoherent. One of the players, who DMs our other game said that he has always assumed the message to be mental in nature.
The only clue in the spell that I can see is the sentence that reads, "It (the subject) can answer in like manner immediately." The way I interpret this is that the communication must be made in whatever method the caster has available to him, that being speech for most PC races (the caster in this case is a gnome), and therefore the response must be spoken as well. If the caster in question happens to have the Telepathy special quality and he chooses to do the Sending mentally, then the response would have to be mental as well, thereby allowing a gagged recipient to respond normally.
The Sending spell has a verbal component to it so I persume speach is required for the outgoing message. I assume the "answer in a like manner immediately," means the recipient must speak his reply IF HE CHOOSES TO GIVE ONE. I do not believe the Sending could be done using Telepathy and definitely do not believe it could be used to receive the reply.
You should remember that the target can choose not to reply which would be acting on the Sending. If the caster's telepathy could be used to receive a reply then it would almost always get something back even if the target didn't want to reply. While I believe the reply needs to be "spoken" I do NOT believe it needs to be "clearly" spoken so a reply may be possible despite being gagged although understanding that reply should be a lot harder.
As for the thought that Sending in Mental in nature I would point out that it is an Evocation spell. These spells "produce something out of nothing" which in the case of Sending would be the messages exchanged.
I will start by saying I am the player in Ahruhn’s campaign who also DMs our other game. As a player in his campaign, I abide by his decisions, so I have no problem accepting that sending requires the message to be spoken. With that said, I will share how I view the spell and allow it to be used in my own campaign.
Sending requires a verbal component to cast. But is the verbal component the spoken message, or is it the arcane words that trigger the spell? Many spells that have a verbal component do not produce a message, so I do not feel that by virtue of having a verbal component it means that the message to be sent must be spoken (I am not saying that it does not make sense however).
For me, the verbal component is the arcane words spoken to trigger the spell (along with the somatic and material components). The message itself is a separate part of the spell and can be spoken aloud or merely thought.
For me, the verbal component is separate from the message, so by using this feat, one can send a message without uttering a word. Combined with Eschew Materials, a few hand gestures and the spell is complete. Great for secret messages over a distance, etc.
For me, because the message received is mental, the reply is mental.
For me, the mental message (nothing) becomes an exchange of messages (something).
Purely going on the spell's text, the message would have to be mental (or something very similar), since the spell doesn't have the language-dependent descriptor, and doesn't describe any possibility of the effect being blocked by an obvious means, such as a deaf or silenced target not hearing the message, or a gagged or mouthless creature being unable to reply.
Since the target can answer in a like manner, its response would similarly be mental.
I'd leave the judgement on unconsciousness up to the DM; maybe you can reply while you're knocked out or asleep, maybe not.
I'd casually remind you that Sending takes 10 MINUTES to cast. I recognize that Silent Spell can get rid of the Verbal Component of the spell but without it you're going to be making sound the entire time so I really believe the message you carry will be verbal.
Slagger is right about the spell NOT being language dependent but because the target is in no way compelled to act there is also no reason to believe that it must be able to understand the message. While the spell does say anything with INT 1 or higher can understand the sending I take that to mean they can recognize what it is.
Thanks for the responses so far, and thanks to Vieh for contributing his points to the thread. Since the Sending spell is so vague on the subject I'm sure this will come down to a split decision.
I do agree with StevenO's point that the fact that this is an Evocation spell that it has to create some effect, in this case sound at the location of the subject and at the caster if the subject chooses or is capable of responding. If the Sending were meant to be mental in nature then it would fall into the Divination school (i.e.- Rary's Telepathic Bond, Detect Thoughts, etc.). The player attempting the Sending has another question.
If the spell creates sound for the person recieving the message then can others around the recipient hear the message? In the case I detailed above, would other people in the room when her cleric recieves her companions muffled response, would others in the room be able to make Listen checks in order to understand what he's saying?
In order to preserve the usefulness of the spell in communicating with people that may be in compromising situations I'm of the opinion that it would create a sound in the recipient's ear canal that he can hear clearly but that those around him could not, reminiscent of someone wearing earphones. In this case, others in the room would not be able to hear the response, or, if they succeed on a Listen check to hear the words, they would be straining too much to actually hear anything at all to be able to interpret severely muffled speech.
On the subject of Language-dependancy, the spell specifically states that the recipient understands the message. I interpret this to mean that, like the language translating technology in Star Trek, the spell has the effect of Tongues/Comprehend Languages between the caster and target.
So now, if the spell does in fact require spoken words, does that mean that the recipient needs vocal cords or the ability to speak at all in order to respond? Say you're trying to do a Sending with your Ranger friend's animal companion (Int 1 or 2) or your half'orc barbarian friend that's been Polymorphed into a newt (Int 7 or 8), can they respond (answers reflecting their capability/experience), effectively having the spell also create a Speak with Animals effect?
A wizard trying to do a Sending with his familiar with the Speak with Master ability should work without question I think.
As a Cleric4, Wiz/Sor5 spell it seems reasonable that it could produce these effects for a single 25 word message over 1000s of miles and across the planes.
IMO since the spell doesn't have the magic descriptor language-dependent, you don't have to understand the language(s) the caster knows. So an Int 1 creature would understand, but just couldn't respond by speech (since most likely it couldn't speak).
This doesn't mean the spell works on a mental basis only.
If the caster speaks the message, the target hears the message and understands it, and can speak a response back that the caster hears and understands even if they don't speak a similar language. If the target can't speak, then it only understands the message.
If the caster has telepathy (such as from Rary's), then the target "hears" the message in its mind and "thinks" it's response so the caster telepathically "hears" it.
I don't believe anyone but the caster and target hear each other, unlike the Whispering Wind spell that specifically says so (a 2nd level spell).
as was saying for StevenO i don't think that the spell make the target creature understand the message or to you understand what he is saying, as example what happen if the target is the tarrasque that have int 3 and no language.
This spell let you Send a speaking Message that only the target can listen, then the target hears it like any other normal conversation and he can no understand it as normal, or he can understand it and send a repply in her own language and you can no understand it as normal.
But Unlike that StevenO i think that the spell come in play after the cast then you can cast it as silence spell and then send the message that is described that only the target can listen.
I'm pretty sure the intent of this sentence,
"A creature with an intelligence score as low as 1 can understand the Sending, though the subject's ability to react is limited as normal by its Intelligence score."
indicates that it understands the message being sent despite any language barriers. If this wasn't the case then it should read that "the subject recognizes the Sending for what it is."
As far as trying to do a Sending to the Tarrasque, the spell says that the caster needs to be Familiar with the target creature. I can't find an official definition of familiar in any 3,5 books (if someone knows of one please let me know), but the Scrying spell defines it as "You know the subject well". This is a more intinate knowledge than Firsthand, which says "you have met the subject". So, it stands to reason that in order to do a Sending to the Tarrasque you would have to have met it and know it well. I don't think that is going to happen.
I realize that. The issue with coherent speech, whether caused by gagging, Feeblemindedness, etc, is the reason I began the thread.
Can, can't, will, won't...I'm not trying to play word games up in this piece, I'm just looking for the opinion of the gaming community so that I can provide a fair interpretation of vague rules.
Just to throw in my .02, I/we always assumed that it was telepathic and silent in nature. All the way back to AD&D days when the spell came out in that system's version of Unearthed Arcana. I don't know "why" we thought that, exactly. I pulled up the wording for that spell and the wording is really about the same.
Never mind the various differing schools of magic, but I think we had (and still have/do) look at a lumping of similar spells' effects including Dream and Telepathic Bond as various ways of approaching the Ends by whatever Means. All spells of about the same level, etc. (As opposed to the very intelligent comparison to the much lower level Whispering Wind by Shadowfax, above).
Anywho, that's just how we've always played it. I admit that a situation of duress never came up; Our characters use the spell simply as a "phone call", because a few of them are literally the monarchs of globally-separated kingdoms, not all hanging out together, until they decide to teleport/travel to some meeting place for whatever "adventure".
It not being language-dependent pretty much seals it as mental in some way for me. The main count against that is it being evocation. It seems a little too convenient that way, but then it's a 4th/5th-level spell that does nothing except taking 10 minutes to send a 25-word message, so you'd expect it to be hard for much to interfere.
As the spell has a Verbal component, I will asume that you could not cast it if you were gagged or couldn't speak coherently. To clarify, the spell has a 10 minute cast time so I would assume the words were spoken as part of casting rather then after casting (as it might be in some spells) This is reasonable because with a limit of 25 words one would want to be very specific and carefully choose their words rather then rush them.
It would be reasonable to assume the message is being woven into the spell and not simply "cast the spell and speak a brief message" since the spell has no requirement to speak the message, despite it's verbal component. This implies that it is not sent as a verbal message.
Most creatures can understand common, or can understand you said something, but as the message isn't audible at the location (target 1 creature, and only recognizes it as you not hears you) then it suggests they receive the meaning of the message rather then hear the message (since it could then be overheard, not heard by the deaf etc.
The message wording does say Int of 1 (which means a creature without language) can understand you. This of course would be impossible if they only heard the message.
the effect of the spell is to send the message. This is no different then spells like Circle of Protection of Glyph of Warding. The area you write the glyph on and the cricle you draw in silver on the floors are not part of the spell's effect.
The spell effect is to "Send a message" Nowhere in the spell does it say you have to verbalize it after casting.
You can "assume" that it is verbalized as part of the spell's verbal component, and that would be a reasonable ruling, but nowhere in the spell does it say it has to be verbalized after casting, maybe it can be written. The message says it sends a message it does not say how the message is composed (verbal, written, sign language since the spell has somantic components)
Or, maybe as part of the casting you are "Evoking" the words of the message, and they are perhaps verbalized during that process.
Either way, casting this spell as a Silent spell removes the verbnal component, and nowere in the spell does it say the message has to be said verbally, so unless it is part of the verbal component of the spell there is no requirement to verbalize the words.
Then You are the one who just said the "can" could mean "can't" Your interpretation of the rules reflects your funamental failure to grasp much of the language it is written in.
This discussion does have me wondering about about whether or not some spells should be usable without certain components. I mean how does a Silent Magic Mouth know what to say? Although the commands may not need to be issued during casting what about a Silent Geas spell.
Of course this all interpretations on the rules instead of the cold, unyielding, always right way the RAW indisputably works.
A spell’s components are what you must do or possess to cast it. The Components entry in a spell description includes abbreviations that tell you what type of components it has. Specifics for material, focus, and XP components are given at the end of the descriptive text. Usually you don’t worry about components, but when you can’t use a component for some reason or when a material or focus component is expensive, then the components are important.
Verbal (V): A verbal component is a spoken incantation. To provide a verbal component, you must be able to speak in a strong voice. A silence spell or a gag spoils the incantation (and thus the spell). A spellcaster who has been deafened has a 20% chance to spoil any spell with a verbal component that he or she tries to cast.
There is no standard for sending magical messages through time and space Oma. Sending is a stand alone spell.
That would be a reasonable interpretation of the rules Oma, and many DMs who like bland games would make it. I am not saying it is wrong, I am saying that "reasonable interpretations" can be made
However as a technical note, you " You contact a particular creature ... and send a short message"
Normally standard way of speaking which in contacting a person is to "say" a short message. not to "send" a message.
"The subject recognizes you if it knows you."
When Speaking they would recognize your voice so this is not relevant. It also suggests that you cannot "disguise" your voice either. This part BTW is important and not an irelevant text because it means that your friends wouldn't be confused by a impersonated sending that an enemy made to confuse the party, whereas the other spells coudl be used to impersonate someone by mimicing their voice.
"Target: One creature"
Sounds, even quiet whispers can be heard in a radius.
"A creature with an Intelligence score as low as 1 can understand the sending"
That is wierd, because someone who didn't speak the language of the message would not understand, nor would a creature with an Inteligence of 1 who cannot understand spoken languages.
and before you say "can means you sometimes can't" no, NO it does not. It means that you are "able to, have the ability to" And I know that if english isn't your first language that this is often confused with the word "could" here is a useful link my fine feathered friend: unenlightenedenglish.com/2009/04/can-vs-... because I do care, honest.
Except Oma, if they wanted to say that then they would state the complete opposite of what they said, such as `the creature must be able to understand the language` So it would not indicate either of what you suggested.
It is also the difference between Can and Could. In english it would say A creature could understand if the case was as you mentioned. Please refer to my helpful link.
You know what's funny and sad?
I may believe that Sending is based on a spoken message and the abilty to speak a reply, even if it doesn't need to be something anyone nearby can hear, and will provide some observations that I feel support that. However I recognize that other people may see things a little differently and there is enough ambiguity in the spell that it certainly is not worth fighting about. The short answer in this case is that it is simply a DM's call.
Now the funny/sad part is that some people on these boards just can seem to accept a difference of opinon and argue and argue and argue some more on the topic.
Thank you to everyone who took the time to post their thoughts on the spell's mechanics. I, personally, will continue to use it as I always have, as a 'mental' effect with the casting and the actual sent message being two seperate entities. I generally prefer simplicity as well, so by using the spell in that fashion, it avoids the various pitfalls of spoken language, outsiders hearing the message, functionality of spellcasting feats, etc. In the end, it is a 4th/5th level spell that sends a limited message. I like keep it simple. Cast it. Receive it. Reply to it (if of able mind and willing). Receive the reply.
Again, thanks to everyone who responded.
I always played as though it created a fortune cookie in the hands of the recipient, with the message written inside. The return message appears likewise in a cookie. It's great to add the cookie because a 5th level spell just to send a message should have a little bonus, otherwise the mage will just memorize Cloudkill or something else that kills my monsters. Cookie is incentive not to do that.
But there's a terrible problem with the cookie version, because what happens if you use sending to communicate with low-Int creatures, like dogs, monkeys, and orcs?
My guess is that they choose not to respond in a like manner.
You forget you left your dog at home, but you keep it fed by casting a lot of sending spells every day.
You also train it to salivate constantly in anticipation of random cookies appearing out of midair with no warning.
Hmmm, I'm not sure the fortune cookie route suits my needs, and certainly doesn't suit the needs of my players. I can see it now, their warmage friend is bound and gagged on the floor of a damp dungeon cell. A fortune cookie pops into existence on the floor before his eyes. He knows someone is trying to communicate with him but has no way of reaching it. He begins to squirm, inching his way closer and closer, trying to be as silent as possible. The pain in his broken fingers throbs with every movement and he can't help but to groan in release.
"Quiet in their, mate," warns the guard stationed just around the corner as he comes by to see what the commotion is. "Oh, what have you here now, friend? A fortune cookie? Where did you get this?" The guard reaches down and picks up the errant confection, popping it into his mouth and crunching heartily, swallowing the treat paper and all. "The boss wouldn't abide by you having such things, now would he? I just saved your life I did."
A single tear clears a path through the muck covering the warmage's face before becoming indistinguishable on the cell's moist floor.
And then the warmage flies into a berserk rage, because COOKIE!!! Before the astonished guard's eyes, the once-helpless prisoner begins to... change. The bonds break as he increases in size, and his skin changes hue in the dim light of the dungeon to... Wait, no. His skin is the same color, but he has sprouted blue fur! Realizing that in this bizarre new form, manual dexterity is no longer necessary*, the warmage blasts his way to freedom, with the last word many of his captors hear being "Cookie! Nomnomnom!"
*Seriously, did you ever notice how uncoordinated CM's hands were when he grabbed a plate of cookies?
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