5.5 Darkvision and the Unseen

Yaarel

Mind Mage
The rules of illumination and obscurement, Blinded and hidden, unseen and guessing location, and Perception checks to notice or find, are somewhat complex.

5.5 needs to move all of these technicalities into one place in the Players Handbook.

Ways to simplify these rules are welcome. In principle, what should matter is something is either "Seen" or "Unseen": if Unseen, any roll that requires sight should be at a disadvantage or grant advantage against oneself, and some things are obviously impossible such as seeing the color of an unseen object. The rules for guessing a location work well and simply: whether one knows the location (such as from the sound of footsteps) or is wildly guessing, either way, an attack against an Unseen target at the correct location is at a disadvantage.

To track the radiuses of brightness and dimness for multiple light sources as well as for multiple creatures with darkvision ranges, burdens the DM. Such tracking especially interferes with theater of the mind. Many campaigns treat everything in an encounter as if having the same brightness, dimmness, or darkness. Relatedly, many campaigns forget or ignore the penalties of dim light of being a Lightly Obscured area.

A version of the slot 2 Darkvision spell is instead a cantrip, to make it more accessible without needing almost every race to have darkvision as a trait. It eschews ranges for darkvision and complications for dim light. Tentatively, it maintains the need for the DM to track areas of bright light. Perhaps if the DM only needs to track brightness, it is doable, and helps with narrative tropes. Tangible obscurement, such as an opaque smoke, can block any darkvision.



DARKVISION
Elemental, transmutation cantrip
Casting Time: 10 minutes
Range: 10 feet
Components: S, M (nonluminous part of a flame)
Duration: 1 hour or until using an action to dispel it

You can see in the dark. While in darkness or dim light, you see as if in bright light but only shades of gray.

Actual bright light becomes blinding. An area of brightness is Heavily Obscured as if by a shining opaque fog that blocks line of sight.

When casting, it takes 10 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the darkness. Afterward your eyes glow a dim light from within, and you see in darkness. You can choose a color, such as your eyes glow red, then your sight becomes shades of this one hue instead of gray. If your eyes are seen within the darkness, you remain Unseen but your location is known.

You can grant Darkvision to a number of willing creatures upto your proficiency bonus. Each target can use an action to dispel ones own Darkvision effect. If you cast it again, any earlier casting is dispelled.

At Higher Levels. At level 5, you can cast Darkvision without glowing eyes. At level 11, you can see normally in full color regardless of any lighting conditions, whether bright or dark, magical or nonmagical. At level 17, you also see Invisible things normally.
 
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad


Yaarel

Mind Mage
There's a lot of potential there, but it's way too powerful for a cantrip.
In what way is it too powerful for a cantrip? At level 1, almost every D&D race already has a form of Darkvision that is more powerful. There seems to be zero issues with gaming balance.
 

What about:

General ability:
When in a darkened room, after 10 minutes your eyes adapt to the darkness. When in near total darkness you can discern shades of grey. While in the area of dim light, you can see as if in in bright light.
If you are exposed to bright light for more than a split second, you need to adapt again.

Darkvision:
Due to your magical nature, you can adapt in 1 minute instead of 10 minutes and you can see shades of grey even in total darkness. When you are exposed to bright light while in total darkness, you are blinded for one round.

Cantrip:
Cast as action: you adapt to darkness or low light as described above. You are blinded for 1 round, if you are exposed to bright light and the spell is dispelled.
 



leonardozg

Because I'm the DM
Personally I'd like most racial darkvision to go away. You feel kinda stupid as a human rogue trying to scout ahead of the party these days.
Judging by the number of races with darkvision, I would change darkvision as an ability or characteristic and start to name regular vision as a disability, just like barbarians illiteracy in previous editions.
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
The rules of illumination and obscurement, Blinded and hidden, unseen and guessing location, and Perception checks to notice or find, are somewhat complex.
5.5 needs to move all of these technicalities into one place in the Players Handbook.
I'd say they need to be moved into the nearest trash can.

To track the radiuses of brightness and dimness for multiple light sources as well as for multiple creatures with darkvision ranges, burdens the DM.
Roll20 does this well. Pencil and paper DMs shouldn't bother - it's a waste of mental resources. Wing it, and if a PC insists on specifics, make a call each time that player's turn comes up.

A version of the slot 2 Darkvision spell is instead a cantrip, to make it more accessible
Making darkvision accessible removes one of the basic tenets of adventures: light sources are important. Maintain lamp fuel. Keep the wind off your torch (unless you have a Rings of Power torch). Build a campfire before dark. Waste a spell slot on Continual Flame.

I give PCs a choice: some light or no light. Darkvision only works in the darkest conditions, so if anyone has a light source, everyone's vision is limited to visible light. If no one has a light source, that's when darkvision can be used.
 

Personally I'd like most racial darkvision to go away. You feel kinda stupid as a human rogue trying to scout ahead of the party these days.

Actually it is better... way better... than 20 years ago:

Darkvision (and the low light aspect) is usually limited to 60ft, while in 3.x low light was unlimited and darkvision allowed to see as in bright light.
Also rogues could not sneak attack in dim light.
So today, the rogues has a way better time, as: he can hide in dim light and still do sneak attack damage, he just has to stay 60 ft away from a light source.
Creatures with darkvision either have to risk missing rogues in full darkness or use dim light and give away their position.

I think a big problem of darkvision is that too many people here played 3.x and 4e and do not read or use the rules properly.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
I think I want an even trade. Where "brightvision" is blind in darkness, darkvision is blind in brightness. Races are either on oneside or the other. Dimness is a kind of neutral territory, but darkvision has an edge.

Brightvision (Normal Human)
Bright: color
Dim: shades of gray
Dark: Blind

Darkvision
Bright: blind
Dim: color
Dark: shades of gray
 

I think I want an even trade. Where "brightvision" is blind in darkness, darkvision is blind in brightness. Races are either on oneside or the other. Dimness is a kind of neutral territory, but darkvision has an edge.

Brightvision (Normal Human)
Bright: color
Dim: shades of gray
Dark: Blind

Darkvision
Bright: blind
Dim: color
Dark: shades of gray

I am missing a category: near total darkness. Where someone woth brightvision can see enough to navigate (stary night), but not necessarily enough to discern a foe.

Also I would allow someone with darkvision to be able to navigate on a cloudy day or in some shades.

I also might have creatures that are able to switch their form of sight or at least allow to see normally in dim light/bright light with a few minutes of adaption.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
I am missing a category: near total darkness. Where someone woth brightvision can see enough to navigate (stary night), but not necessarily enough to discern a foe.

Also I would allow someone with darkvision to be able to navigate on a cloudy day or in some shades.

I also might have creatures that are able to switch their form of sight or at least allow to see normally in dim light/bright light with a few minutes of adaption.
Maybe only track areas of bright light and areas of darkness. Treat everything in between as "dim", whether shadowy or just barely perceptible.

That way, the DM only pays attention to a bright light radius but ignores the radius of dim light beyond that. Oppositely, the DM can pay attention to a Darkness spell, or situations like being underground where there might be no light or not enough.

Make candles 10 feet bright light, and torches 30 feet bright light, and call it a day.
 

jasper

Rotten DM
Judging by the number of races with darkvision, I would change darkvision as an ability or characteristic and start to name regular vision as a disability, just like barbarians illiteracy in previous editions.
67 races 37 with the darkvision. I think only the under dark races should have it.
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top