Hitchhiker's Guide to the Planes
Speak with Animals
“Excuse me fish, have you seen anything strange around here?”
“Blub blub blub. Nope. Just humans.”
“What were they doing?”
“Human stuff. Blub blub blub.”
“Blub blub. Eating my friend. Blub blub.”
“Well, what did they look like? "
“Blub blub blub. You know…like you. Humany. I have to go. I wanna eat another fish!”
“Wait, I have to ask….”
“Blub blub byyyyeeeee”
-Excerpt from The Misadventures of the Three Blind Mice Company of Heroes
One of the more common magics, Speak with Animals grants the ability to communicate directly with natural beasts in the wild. The spell is usually cast with a prepared or memorized ritual and done so in nature, using elements found within. The magic is accessible by many, but is most common among rangers and druid, with the odd bard or paladin also having access. Invoking this ability requires both a verbal and somatic component usually unique to the individual caster.
The spell is most commonly learned in one of two ways. Practitioners can either devote time to studying the arcane elements of the spell, thus learning a purely mechanical method of casting it or by dedicating time to a true understanding of the natural elements of the beasts with which one wishes to communicate, thereby gaining access to the ability by means which are thought to be far older than formal magical study.
A successful casting of this spell results in open and complete communication with any and all nearby natural wildlife for a period of approximately ten minutes. That is to say, a caster need not determine which species he or she wishes to communicate with in advance of the casting. May druids and rangers do, however, choose to do so out of respect for the animals.
Upon successfully casting, the caster’s language does not appear to be changed to outside observers. The caster continues to speak in Common, Orcish, Elivish, or whatever language they would naturally speak in. Any animal that hears them, however, is capable of understanding them on a sub-lingual level. Likewise, if the animal responds, they do so in their natural primitive speech patterns. While casters do not take on the actual speech of the animals they communicate, they do often mimic the tonality and even the body language of the beasts. Examples include literally singing to birds, licking the air while speaking with snakes, and a somewhat unfortunate lack of decency when relieving themselves while under the effects of the spell.
It should be noted that the spell only affects the ability of the caster to speak with said animals and does not contribute in any way to an understanding of the animal’s mannerisms, desires, or habits. Neither does the spell endear the caster to any animal. Too often do young bards use this spell under the impression it will give them the ability to convince a pack of hungry wolves to look for dinner elsewhere, only to be set upon by still hungry, if not somewhat confused, wolves and be made a meal of.
A failure in casting Speak with Animals creates no ill side effects and is usually readily apparent to those with any experience with nature and the magics used to create the effect. Only in cases of complete novices does the failure go unnoticed, often resulting in an idiotic display of attempted communication.
The procedure for invoking this spell is varied, as different individuals may learn the ritual from exceedingly different walks of life.
Those who spend abundant time in communion in nature are the most attuned to its languages. For them, the casting of the spell is less an incantation and more of a meditative process. A ranger wishing to speak with a bird may spend several moments collecting materials for and building a birds nest, contemplating the bird’s thoughts and whistling. A druid, more capable of connecting to the natural magics of the world, could rest his feet within the water and empty his mind to his own language.
Divine magics, on the other hand, are used to cast the spell in a more traditional manner, while a paladin, a servant and protector of the ancient forests, may simply drop to her knees and spend several minutes in prayer, asking or the power.