In a popular anime called One Piece, particular fruits called Devil Fruits grant power to a person who eats them. For example, the body of the main protagonist, Monkey D. Luffy, became rubber after eating a Devil Fruit that grants its eater to become like rubber. One Devil Fruit that I became fascinated with in the series is the Calm-Calm Fruit. It gives its eater the power to soundproof an area.
I would not mention who ate the Devil Fruit because it is a potential spoiler for anyone who wants to read or watch One Piece. Still, the eater can make an area soundproof, which means nobody or nothing can produce any noise within the region. The eater can also block incoming noise from passing through the site. I was somewhat surprised that such an effect can happen in D&D through the Silence spell.
Silence does what the spell’s name implies; it silences a specific area. Thus, no sound comes through from the outside, and nothing can make a noise from the inside. It may sound (heh) useless at first, but once you consider that many spells require casters to speak, it becomes pretty fascinating. It still has some disadvantages, though. This Silence 5e guide will help you understand what they are and if you should pick them.
Bottom Line Up Front: What is Silence in D&D 5e?
Silence is a level two illusion spell you can find in the Player’s Handbook on page 275. This spell is an illusion spell similar to Minor Illusion and Disguise Self because it warps a person’s senses, particularly their speech and hearing. Additionally, you can cast this spell as a ritual without needing a spell slot. Below are the crucial details about the Silence spell.
- Level two illusion (ritual)
- Casting Time: one action
- Range: 120 feet
- Components: V, S
- Duration: Concentration, up to 10 minutes
How to Use Silence in D&D 5e
Before making an area extremely quiet using the Silence spell, you must fulfill its requirements first. In previous guides, I have explained the typical requirements of many spells. So, if you want something more detailed, you should read my Call Lightning 5e Guide since they have similarities between Silence, albeit with a few exceptions.
Both spells can last for up to ten minutes as long as the caster can concentrate on the spell. I have written the rules of concentration before, and you should read the Call Lightning 5e Guide if you want a detailed explanation. Both spells have a casting time of one action, a range of 120 ft., and the verbal and somatic component requirements.
Silence is a level two spell (which requires at least a level two spell slot), while Call Lightning is a level three spell (which requires at least a level three spell slot). You can use a higher-level spell slot for both spells, but the effects of Silence would stay the same regardless of the spell slot level.
Alternatively, you can cast Silence without using a spell slot by casting it as a ritual. For the ritual rules, proceed to the “How to cast Silence as a ritual in D&D 5e” subsection. Afterward, you can continue where you left off here.
If you meet all the requirements of the Silence spell, you have the power to cast it. When you cast it, whether by using a spell slot or doing a ritual, you must:
Choose a central point within 120 ft. of you where the 20-foot-radius soundproof sphere originates.
After choosing an area, proceed to the next section, i.e., the “How does Silence work in D&D 5e?” section, to learn more about the spell’s effects.
How to Cast Silence as a Ritual in D&D 5e
First, you need to check if you can cast spells as rituals. The most common way of getting this ability is through a class feature. Five classes can cast spells as rituals: the Artificers, Bards, Clerics, Druids, and Wizards. If you belong to a class that cannot cast rituals, e.g., the Sorcerer, you cannot cast spells as rituals even if they have the ritual tag.
Secondly, you need to have the spell prepared or in your known spells list. You can be exempted from this rule if your Ritual Casting ability says so. For example, Wizards do not need to prepare the spell; as long as it is in their spell book, they can cast it as a ritual.
You do not use up a spell slot when you cast the Silence spell as a ritual. Instead, you spend ten minutes more than the spell’s standard casting time to perform the ritual. After completing the ritual, you cast the spell as usual. If you cast spells through a ritual, you cannot cast them at a higher level than they are.
How Does Silence Work in D&D 5e?
A soundproof barrier spreads out from the chosen central point, and the area within it becomes incredibly silent. The following effects immediately occur:
- Sound cannot be produced or pass through the sphere. For example, a glass vase breaking inside the Silence sphere does not make any noise. Additionally, nobody inside the Silence sphere can hear the ferocious roar from a creature outside it.
- Creatures in the sphere cannot cast a spell requiring the verbal component. Consequential to the previous point, anyone in the sphere automatically fails to cast spells requiring you to talk since no sound can come out of your mouth.
- Creatures or objects in the sphere become immune to thunder damage. Becoming immune in D&D means, you do not receive damage (in this case, you do not receive thunder damage).
- Creatures in the sphere cannot hear. This effect is due to the “Deafened” condition from which creatures in the sphere suffer.
- Creatures in the sphere automatically fail ability checks requiring the sense of hearing. This effect is due to the “Deafened” condition from which creatures in the sphere suffer.
This spell will last up to ten minutes if the caster can concentrate on it for the entire duration. Even though it is straightforward, some players often find the Silence spell confusing. For example, some wonder if a caster casting a spell requiring a verbal component from outside the sphere can target a creature within it. The following section features an experiment that answers your burning questions.
Example Scenario for Using Silence in D&D 5e
Welcome to Arthur’s Lab, where the Silence spell is not enough to shut us up about the beauty of experimenting with magic. Marshal the Half-elf Wizard will be a part of this experiment, but he is coming late (traffic is heavy these days). Instead, we have Mr. Operator the Elf Ranger (he also participated in my Heavy Crossbows 5e Guide) and a new friend, Shorty the Halfling Bard. Both of them know the spell.
We also have a bandit we “brought along” to participate in our experiment. We have instructed him to stay still so that no accidental injuries happen. We will also move to a private island as the standard lab may be too cramped.
Before we start, you need to know the effects of the spells below because our participants will cast them to show how Silence works. Note that all these spells have a casting time of one action and an instantaneous duration.
|Thunderwave||Self (15-foot cube)||Verbal,
|Everyone in a 15-foot cube from you makes a Constitution saving throw. If the save is a failure, the creature receives 2d8 thunder damage, and the spell pushes them away by ten ft. from you. If the save is a success, the creature gets half the damage, and the spell does not move them out. The spell also pushes unsecured objects within the area of effect and emits a loud, thunderous boom.|
|Vicious Mockery||60 feet||Verbal||You target a creature you see within 60 ft. of you. If they can hear you, it makes a Wisdom saving throw. If the save fails, they receive 1d4 psychic damage and a disadvantage on their next attack roll.|
|Fire Bolt||120 feet||Verbal, Somatic||You target a creature you see within 120 ft. of you. You make a ranged spell attack against them, and if it hits, they take 1d10 fire damage.|
First Scenario: Casting Silence as a Ritual
First, we need to cast the spell. Mr. Operator and Shorty can cast the spell using a level one spell slot, but Shorty can also cast it as a ritual. She does so, and she takes ten minutes to do her ritual. After ten minutes have passed, the Silence spell activates. She picks a point within 120 ft. of her, and a 20-foot-radius sphere emerges from the chosen point.
She did not lose a spell slot because she cast it as a ritual. Casting spells as a ritual is good if you are low on spell slots, but you also need a lot of time. Rituals only efficiently work when preparing for a situation and not casting it on the spot. Remember, ten minutes in battle is 100 turns; a battle would not last for that long!
Second Scenario: Casting Silence Using a Spell Slot
Shorty dismisses her Silence spell and lets Mr. Operator cast the spell instead. As Mr. Operator casts it, a 20-foot-radius sphere emerges from a point he chose. Below is a visual representation of the Silence area’s effect. Mr. Operator uses a level one spell slot, but he can also use a level two or higher spell slot. Still, the effect will not change regardless of the spell slot level.
Third Scenario: Casting Thunderwave Inside and Outside Silence
For this experiment, Shorty will try to cast Thunderwave while she is inside and outside the Silence area. Unfortunately, she cannot cast the spell inside the Silence area because it requires the verbal component, i.e., she needs to speak to cast the spell. So, she moves outside the Silence area and casts it.
Mr. Operator and the bandit moves near Shorty for this scenario. As shown in the picture below, the yellow square represents the Thunderwave spell’s area of effect.
Due to Thunderwave, Mr. Operator and the bandit make a Constitution saving throw; the former succeeds in the save while the latter fails. Usually, The spell would deal 2d8 thunder damage, but because of the Silence spell, Mr. Operator and the bandit do not receive any damage.
However, the other effects still work since the Silence spell only nullifies the thunder damage. So, the Thunderwave spell pushes the bandit ten ft. away from Shorty (Mr. Operator remains in his position because he succeeded in his save).
As you can see, casters can cast spells requiring the verbal component outside the Silence area and not inside it. Plus, spells from outside the Silence area can still affect the people inside it as long as the spells in question do not require their targets to hear something.
The bandit does not receive any thunder damage from the Thunderwave because the Silence spell grants immunity to it. If the spell’s additional effects do not require sound, then they will still work (e.g., Thunderwave pushing back creatures on a failed saving throw). Think of it like a large sound wave; the sound disappears in the Silence area, but the tide still moves along.
Fourth Scenario: Casting Vicious Mockery Whose Target is Inside Silence
Next, Shorty casts Vicious Mockery. She is still outside the Silence area, so she can cast spells requiring the verbal component. She targets the bandit inside the Silence area since she can see him. However, according to the spell’s mechanics, nothing happens if the target cannot hear the caster’s words. Because the bandit cannot listen to her due to Silence, the spell automatically fails.
The keynote about this scenario is that you need to look carefully at the spells you are casting. If nuances indicate that the spells require a sense (e.g., sense of hearing) to work, then it would not work within an area that nullifies that sense.
Fifth Scenario: Casting Fire Bolt, Whose Target is Inside Silence
Marshal has arrived! He lands on the private island, sees the bandit, and does not go inside the Silence area. Instead, he casts Fire Bolt and targets the bandit since he is within the spell’s indicated range (within 120 ft. of the caster). He makes a ranged spell attack, and it penetrates the bandit’s Armor Class. The question is: will the Fire Bolt do damage?
The answer is: yes, the Fire Bolt will do damage. The Silence area only nullifies thunder damage, so the fire damage from the Fire Bolt still works. Marshal can also cast the Fire Bolt spell, a spell that requires the verbal component because he is outside the Silence area. Going back to the situation at hand, the bandit receives six fire damage thanks to Marshal’s Fire Bolt.
- Casters cannot cast spells in the Silence area if they require the verbal component.
- Casters deal zero thunder damage to targets inside the Silence area.
- Spells will not work if they require their target to hear something.
- Effects of spells will still work if it does not require the sense of hearing or deal thunder damage.
- Other types of damage aside from thunder damage still work inside the Silence area.
Who Can Cast Silence in D&D 5e?
Three classes (Bard, Cleric, Ranger), five subclasses (Divine Soul Sorcerer, Fathomless Warlock, Land (Desert) Druid, Shadow Monk, Undying Warlock), and one race (Gnome with the Mark of Scribing) have access to the Silence spell.
Classes That Can Cast Silence in D&D 5e
Bards, Clerics, and Rangers can set up soundproof barriers through the Silence spell. Since it is a level two spell, these classes need at least a level two spell slot. Bards and Clerics have two second-level spell slots at level three, while Rangers have them at level five. These class levels are the earliest stages where they can cast the spell. Below are the class sources for each class that can cast Silence in D&D 5e.
- Bard: Player’s Handbook, page 51
- Cleric: Player’s Handbook, page 56
- Ranger: Player’s Handbook, page 89
Subclasses That Can Cast Silence in D&D 5e
Five subclasses have access to the Silence spell; below are the essentials for each subclass.
|Subclasses that can cast Silence||Subclass Feature for Silence||Originating Class||Subclass Source||Class Source|
|Divine Soul||Divine Magic||Sorcerer||Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, page 50||Player’s Handbook, page 99|
|Fathomless||Expanded Spell List||Warlock||Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, page 72||Player’s Handbook, page 105|
|Land (Desert)||Circle Spells||Druid||Player’s Handbook, page 68||Player’s Handbook, page 64|
|Shadow||Shadow Acts||Monk||Player’s Handbook, page 80||Player’s Handbook, page 76|
|Undying||Expanded Spell List||Warlock||Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide, page 139||Player’s Handbook, page 105|
Sorcerers with the Divine Soul sorcerous origin get access to the Silence spell thanks to their Divine Magic subclass feature. Typically, Sorcerers learn new spells and can replace existing ones throughout their levels. The Diving Magic subclass feature allows them to pick a cleric spell instead during this process. Since Silence is part of the Cleric spell list, Divine Soul Sorcerers can get it as early as level one.
Warlocks who have The Fathomless and The Undying as their otherworldly patron get access to the Silence spell thanks to their Expanded Spell List subclass feature. It gives them additional spells to choose from, and Silence is a part of them. Warlocks get level-two spell slots at level three; thus, they can get the Silence spell at that level.
Druids in the Circle of the Land get access to the Silence spell thanks to their Circle Spells subclass feature. It grants these Druids a bunch of spells that are always prepared, and they depend on which land the Druid is connected with. Only the Druids connected to the desert have access to the Silence spell. They can cast this spell as early as level three since they gain two level two spell slots at that level.
Finally, Monks connected to the Way of the Shadow get access to the Silence spell thanks to their Shadow Acts subclass feature. It allows them to use two ki points to duplicate the effects of a number of spells, and Silence is one of them. They get this subclass feature at level three, and by that level, they have three ki points. So, they can cast the Silence spell as early as level three.
If you allow Unearthed Arcana content in your campaign, you can also use the Raven Queen Warlock, Favored Soul Sorcerer, Lurker in the Deep Warlock, and Undead Warlock since they have access to the Silence spell too.
Races that Can Cast Silence in D&D 5e
Only one race can access the Silence spell: the Gnome with the Mark of Scribing. You should know, though, that this race entered the game in the Eberron: Rising from the Last War book. Specifically, their details are on page 47. If your table’s campaign’s setting is not Eberron, then it would not make sense. Thus, ask your DM if you can use it in your campaign first.
They get access to the Silence spell thanks to their “Spells of the Mark” race feature. However, they must belong to a class that knows how to cast spells in the first place, e.g., a Wizard or Bard. Think of this subclass feature as an addendum to your spell list; despite what spellcasting class you are, you can pick Silence as part of your kit.
Creative and Useful Ways to Use Silence in D&D 5e
Some players might say that Silence is not a worthy spell to pick up. Someone inside its area of effect can simply leave if they do not want to become deafened, right? Indeed, there are better spells that you should be concentrating on the battlefield. If you play around with it and dig deep into your creative senses, you can think of ways to make it good. Here are some of the ways that I thought of:
- Opening locked barriers silently
- Abusing the Sorcerer’s Subtle Spell
- Disabling casters under challenging situations
- Duplicating Counterspell
Opening Locked Barriers Silently Using Silence in D&D 5e
A D&D campaign is not complete without a stealth mission (or at least in my games). As a DM who is curious about how their players approach being quiet, my players would often find themselves in situations where they need to infiltrate a well-guarded place as sneakily as they can. When you are facing a similar problem, an excellent spell to have would be the Silence spell.
Infiltration can be tricky sometimes with their locked doors, gates, chests, and more; more often than not, a simple lockpick would not solve your problem. With Silence, you can destroy the door without caring for noise. You can even cast it as a ritual (if you can) since you are not in fast-paced combat. However, do not cast it as a ritual if you are in a hurry and a ten-minute delay is too long.
Is the gate locked from the inside? You can cast Silence and blow it up with an explosive. Do you need to steal an item inside a heavily-locked chest? You can cast Silence and smash it into pieces. You can even open them up using the Knock spell; typically, the Knock spell makes a loud noise audible 300 ft. away. If you cast it outside the Silence area and target the locked barrier, no sound will come out at all.
Abusing the Sorcerer’s Subtle Spell Using Silence in D&D 5e
Sorcerers gain a class feature at level three known as Metamagic. It allows them to twist the capabilities of the spells they cast at the price of sorcery points, which are internal currency these classes have. One of Metamagic’s abilities is the Subtle Spell; at the cost of one sorcery point, Sorcerers can cast spells without the need for a somatic or verbal component. Combine this ability with Silence, and voila!
The first step: be a level three Sorcerer. The second step: have a friend cast Silence. The third step: use Metamagic’s Subtle Spell. You can now cast spells that need the verbal component inside the Silence area of effect while your enemies cannot. Imagine the look on their faces when you suddenly cast Levitate to fly away. This method is beneficial in scenarios where you are the ones stuck in a Silence spell.
Disabling Casters Under Challenging Situations Using Silence in D&D 5e
Do you remember when I said that people could simply leave Silence’s area of effect? You can jump around this problem by casting Silence where casters cannot merely escape. For example, Silence in a small room can be deadly for a caster; even in a space larger than the Silence area’s boundaries, casters can be forced to a corner to cast spells. Plus, there are other ways to make the situation difficult.
You can cast spells that convert the ground in the Silence’s area of effect to difficult terrain. Examples of such restraining spells are Entangle, Evard’s Black Tentacles, Grease, and Web. By doing this technique, you effectively disable a caster from casting spells by making it difficult for them to leave the Silence area. I would recommend that you have a friend to cast the other spell with to make it more effective.
Duplicating Counterspell Using Silence in D&D 5e
Counterspell is a precious spell that many players seek to have; it effectively interrupts someone from casting a spell, potentially avoiding unnecessary difficulties in the midst of battles. However, it is a level three spell. It is relatively early to get since most spellcasters can have level three spell slots starting at level five. However, if you do not have level three spell slots yet, use Silence.
In D&D 5e, you can ready a spell and release its effects when particular conditions or triggers of your choice occur. For example, you can prepare a Fire Bolt cantrip on your turn and set it to trigger when an enemy carries a flammable object. During the next turn, your enemy uses their turn to pick up a stack of hay. Your trigger has occurred; you can release the Fire Bolt against them even when it is not your turn.
Thus, you can ready the Silence spell and set it to trigger when an enemy is about to cast a spell with a verbal component. This method only works on spells with verbal components, but there are 482 or more of them among the 514 spells throughout the official sources. However, I would not rely on this technique if you want to cast Counterspell. I suggest you do this technique as a last-minute effort.
There are downsides to readying Silence as a way to duplicate Counterspell. Firstly, it does not waste the caster’s spell slot. You simply create a soundproof barrier around the caster the moment they try to cast their spell. Thus, their spell did not start in the first place since they did not meet the verbal component. Then, the caster can simply leave the Silence area (unless you make it difficult for them to go).
Secondly, you waste an action to ready the spell, whereas you cast Counterspell as a reaction instantly. Thirdly, readying a spell requires your concentration, so if you take damage, your readied spell fizzles out. Fourthly, you might waste the readied Silence if your trigger never happens. If anything goes wrong while readying the spell, you waste a level two spell slot. Thus, you need to think if the risk is worth it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Is Silence a Wizard spell in D&D 5e?
ANSWER: No, silence is not part of the wizard spell list in d&d 5e. The classes that have this spell in their spell list are bards, clerics, and rangers.
QUESTION: CAN A PALADIN CAST SILENCE IN D&D 5E?
ANSWER: No, paladins cannot cast silence in d&d 5e because it is not part of their class’s spell list. The silence spell is only a part of the bard’s, cleric’s, and ranger’s spell list.
QUESTION: CAN YOU CAST COUNTERSPELL ON SILENCE IN D&D 5E?
ANSWER: Yes., you can cast counterspell against someone attempting to cast silence in d&d 5e. The silence spell immediately fails and produces no effect after the counterspell since it is a level two spell.
QUESTION: DOES SILENCE STOP SPELLS IN D&D 5E?
ANSWER: Yes, silence can stop casters from casting spells in d&d 5e if the spells in question have a verbal component. Silence sets up a 20-foot-radius sphere wherein no sound can be made or pass through its barriers. Spells with the verbal component require you to talk; thus, if you are inside the silence’s area of effect, you can not speak. Therefore, you cannot cast these spells.
QUESTION: DOES SILENCE STOP THUNDER DAMAGE IN D&D 5E?
ANSWER: Yes, silence stops thunder damage in d&d 5e because it grants the people inside its area of effect immunity to thunder damage.
Conclusion: Is Silence a Good Spell in D&D 5e?
I think that the Silence spell is a good one, considering that 93.77% of spells throughout the official sources have the verbal component as a requirement. You effectively eliminate their capabilities by casting Silence in an area where a caster is about to cast a spell. The biggest weakness that the Silence spell is that people can walk out of it without any consequences, and you cannot move it after placing it.
You can solve the first problem by creating the consequences yourself. As I discussed, you can make their situation difficult so that escaping can have effects. For example, flanking a caster inside the Silence area will leave them prone to opportunity attacks. Another bad thing about Silence is that thunder damage is not too prevalent in the game; only 13 spells out of 514 deal thunder damage.
As for the bestiary, only 61 out of 2738 possible enemies can deal thunder damage, with eight of them coming from the Monster Manual. If you are about to face an enemy that revolves around dealing thunder damage, like a Storm Giant or an Adult Bronze Dragon, the Silence spell is a great pick. If you are facing spellcasters, it is also a great move to have it in your arsenal. Overall, it is a situational spell.