[RPG] How far away can you hear a Signal Whistle


I was going through the equipment list and there's no extra information on a signal whistle. I mean, they bother listing that rations would be jerky, dried fruit, and nuts; but they have nothing for signal whistle. I figure this would be rather important information for players and the DM.

I blow my signal whistle. How far does the sound carry? 300 feet? Half a mile? The game doesn't say. Do any other editions provide relevant information on this?

Best Answer

This was a hard question to answer, because companies that sell signal whistles are weirdly reticent about giving distances that you can hear the whistle, probably because there are so many factors that can change exactly how far you can hear a whistle in real life.

There is no description given for signal whistle distances in either 5th ed or 3.5. In both editions, it's on the list of equipment, but doesn't have a detailed description. In general, this means that it's usefulness is entirely up to the DM to determine, which isn't super helpful.

I did some internet research, and it seems that the average signal whistle sounds at 110-120 db, and can be heard at least a half mile away. There isn't a lot more detail I can add here, but I think it would be fair to say that you hear the whistle automatically out to a half mile, and need to make a Wisdom (Perception) check to hear it out to a mile.

If you want to look at other systems, there is a much more detailed write-up of signal whistle mechanics in Pathfinder. The upshot of those rules is that you can easily hear a signal whistle out to a mile and a half, and much, much farther with a good Perception check. This is far more distance than I've seen anyone mention in articles about signal whistles in real life, so it might not be a good idea to use these rules if you'd prefer your game to resemble real life.