Dungeons & Dragons Online

Discussion: Unexpected Ethical Conundrums

Content of the article: "Discussion: Unexpected Ethical Conundrums"

I recently started majorly overthinking the 'Speak With Animals' spell.
I think most of us imagine animals in D&D, for example wolves, to be roughly the same as their real world counterparts.
Specifically, they don't have their own languages, display a higher than normal level of communication or show a more advanced understanding of the world.
We likely, in our heads, also limit the intelligence of many monsters (such as Owlbears) to comparable real world animals.

The potential issue is that when you cast Speak with Animals, simply gaining the ability to communicate verbally with an animal isn't enough, you inherently need to imbue it with a level of understanding about the world for this communication to be of any use.
They need to understand concepts like locations, descriptions, names, instructions and countless more to be able to give you any useful information.

Furthermore it's generally expected (in 5e, it's even directly specified) that they don't just gain this understanding for stuff in the present, as they can also provide you with information about things they've experienced in the past (even if that is limited to the last 24 hours in 5e).
In short, by communicating with an animal this way, you may inherently grant it a level of sapience (and arguably, self awareness) well beyond what is normal for them, only to rob them of this a few minutes later.

To put this in to context, imagine that instead you had a permanent spell that outright created an animal from thin air; an animal that was fully self aware, able to communicate, and even seemed to have memories from (at least) a full day of life.
After casting the spell, do you really think a character of most good (or even neutral) alignments would happily cast another spell 10 minutes later, without reason or remorse, that’d basically wipe most of this innocent creature’s mind, leaving it in an animalistic state for the rest of its days?

Read:  Make your players think they outsmarted you from time to time

Obviously there are other ways you could interpret how the spell works, but all the same I thought it was interesting that viewing it from a certain perspective raised such interesting ethical questions.
I was curious to know if anyone else had come up with any interesting ethical questions from spells in D&D, bonus points if it's something that most players would cast without even thinking about normally.

Source: reddit.com

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