Ridding Elves and Half-Elves of Darkvision
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  1. #1
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    Ridding Elves and Half-Elves of Darkvision

    For some reason, when my players all made their characters, there was a slight oversight (no pun intended) in giving the Dragonborn Darkvision. I was told they had it, it made sense (hey, Tieflings get it due to their heritage, why not Dragonborn...), but then recently discovered they don't get it.

    Well, that sucks for my players because everyone chose a race purposefully so they all had Darkvision! Now, of course, the Dragonborn doesn't. Since this was my mistake in not checking myself, I'll probably let the player keep it this time.

    But, it got me thinking: why do certain races get it and others don't?

    To review, these races have Darkvision (or Superior Darkvision): Dwarf, Elf, Gnome, Half-Elf, ,Half-Orc, and Tiefling.
    These races don't: Halfling, Human, Dragonborn.

    Now, I can certainly understand Dwarf, Gnome, and Half-Orc since all of these races do spend quite a bit of time underground. Likewise, I get Drow Elf having it. An argument can be made for the Tiefling's heritage I suppose, but then why not Dragonborns?

    And why would the other Elf races and Half-Elf get it? There is no reason why except for a hold-over from earlier editions IMO.

    If anyone would like to chime in on this, I'd love to hear your opinions and thanks!
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  2. #2
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    Well the used to get low-light vision. But they decided to dumb it down so now everyone just gets the 60' darkvision (or 120' for Drow elves).
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    ^^^^^^^
    This.

    It might make more sense to give elves low light vision, but 5e dumbed it down.

    EDIT: or simplified it. 5e, to its credit, simplified a lot of things.
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    I agree that it's really, really dumb that dragonborn don't have darkvision. Dragons have it, kobolds have it, why not dragonborn?

    As for elves, yeah, as others have said, they've historically had low-light vision, and 5e doesn't distinguish between low-light vision and Darkvision. And Darkvision only seems to come in 60 ft. and 120 ft. - Darkvision and Superior Darkvision. Not to mention, Darkvision has historically allowed you to see in darkness as if it were dim light within the specified radius, where in 5e it lets you see in darkness as if it were dim light at any distance, and in dim light as if it were darkness within the radius. Now, I'm not sure if this is RAI, but the that means by RAW, creatures with Darkvision can see out to their Darkvision radius in any lighting with no penalty at all (apart from it being monochrome, I guess).

    I'm not a fan. Personally, I house rule Darkvision back to its historical function, allowing you to see in darkness as if it were dim light out to the radius, and add in a Low-light vision that functions like the Skulker Feat, allowing you to make attacks and vision-based checks without penalty in dim light. Elves and half-elves have low-light vision in my games rather than darkvision, and Dragonborn have Darkvision in a 60 ft. radius.
    Last edited by Charlaquin; Sunday, 25th November, 2018 at 07:07 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Charlaquin View Post
    As for elves, yeah, as others have said, they've historically had low-light vision
    *cough* You mean infravisionŚlowlight vision only started in 3e. Mind you, the point about being different from darkvision remains.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Azzy View Post
    *cough* You mean infravisionŚlowlight vision only started in 3e. Mind you, the point about being different from darkvision remains.
    Guess it depends what one means by ôhistorically,ö but sure.

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    Quote Originally Posted by guachi View Post
    ^^^^^^^
    This.

    It might make more sense to give elves low light vision, but 5e dumbed it down.

    EDIT: or simplified it. 5e, to its credit, simplified a lot of things.
    Okay. Simplified.

    And generally I am okay with simplifying. In this case I think it was unneeded. Low-light vision was simple enough to understand and made the races a little more diverse.

    And yes, infravision was a thing back in the day. It was limited to 60' for elves, just like darkvision now. So I guess you could say that it is just going back to the basics of 1st and 2nd edition.

    Still like low-light vision better.

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    Technically 5E has basically gone back to infravision (since everyone forgot/ignored ultravision). Simplicity is good, but I wish they would have prevented it from working in Normal Light and required you to adjust between the two at the end of your turn. This would then only require one description, rather than two (those who only see 40 feet from the torch vs. 60 feet for darkvision), and blind darkvision characters for about a round if the lights suddenly go out. I've considered houseruling it, but I don't know if my players will go for it.

    Given my choice, I would have designed both Darkvision and Low-Light Vision, each with a listed distance.

    Darkvision: you can see in Darkness within this range as if it were Dim Light.
    Low-Light: you can see in Dim Light within this range as if it were Normal Light.

    Darkvision: Dwarf 60 ft, Gnome 40 ft, Half-Orc 60 ft, Tiefling 40 ft
    Low-Light: Elf 60 ft, Half-Elf 40 ft, Dragonborn 40 ft
    Neither: Human, Halfling
    Both: Drow 120 ft/ 60 ft, Half-Drow 60 ft/ 40 ft

    Arguments could be made about distance and possibly moving Tiefling and Dragonborn between the two, but they shouldn't have both. Ideally you want a balance of 1-2 with good of each type
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    The flip side of this is that "historically" darkvision removed the problem of darkness, but in 5e it doesn't -- even with darkvision, in 5e you suffer disadvantage on all perception checks.

    That's huge, and even parties with darkvision need to use light sources regularly.

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    Going back to the original post, I wouldn't see a problem house-ruling Dragonborn darkvision. It's really just a convenience if you don't want to bother micro-managing torches an the like. The race is a little underpowered anyway.

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