D&D (2024) Darkvision: it's here to stay for most races. What penalties could be added to keep is viable, but still have incentive to use light?

So on the one hand, you want monsters to be functional in darkness, they aren't very scary if they are fumbling about. On the other, humans seeing just fine in the dark is a dissonance from our reality, that's simply not how we operate. So how do you reconcile that?
It's really quite simple. If they have no hands to carry a torch in, then they can have darkvision.
 

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Yaarel

He Mage
I would go the other direction. Make darkvision practically free for anyone.

Currently, 5e Darkvision is a slot 2 spell that is effectively always on, for 8 hours.

Instead, change Darkvision into a cantrip. So any level 1 caster can take it. Make the caster able to have upto one target per proficiency bonus going on at the same time. So a spellcaster that sacrifices a cantrip slot for it, can grace the blind human with sight.

Play the game without worrying about lighting.

Admittedly, a Darkness cantrip is more appealing than the Light and Dancing Light cantrips. But the other two are "not bad" but can be better, so to gain some interesting effects to make them more competitive with Darkvision.
 

Shiroiken

Legend
Darkvision is fine, and most monsters that live underground would likely use darkvision without any light source. Intelligent underground monsters might keep dim light sources in their lair, like luminescent fungi, but wouldn't use them when hunting. Characters who try to get by with just darkvision are going to stumble into ambushes/traps and miss clues due to the perception penalty (although the DM is also encouraged to apply penalties to other checks that seem appropriate).
 

I would avoid 'goblins have darkvision, of course they'd have no light sources ever', because even we humans can manage to move about in our house in the evening without the lights on, but... most people still put their lights on because it's just so much easier/nicer/faster/productive/uplifting/etc.
 
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tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Epic
Darkvision is fine, and most monsters that live underground would likely use darkvision without any light source. Intelligent underground monsters might keep dim light sources in their lair, like luminescent fungi, but wouldn't use them when hunting. Characters who try to get by with just darkvision are going to stumble into ambushes/traps and miss clues due to the perception penalty (although the DM is also encouraged to apply penalties to other checks that seem appropriate).
The problem with hanging darkvision on that hope is that it forces the GM to put their own game in a guillotine for several reasons:
  • Tuckers kobolds might be fun for the occasional thing but it's an extreme level of prep & planning with very high overhead for running it. That's not the sort of thing that can be done week after week
  • Gocha traps are the height of adversarial GM'ing & using them makes the GM look bad while souring their players on the game
  • Tomb of horrors style traps where the players know of but needs to find them slows the game to a plodding halt & burns out everyone involved on top of the tuckers kobold adjacent prep needs
  • 5e is designed so the players are not meaningfully impacted even if they "stumble into ambushes/traps" so you have all of the prior negatives for the GM's reputation & negatives for everyone building a result that doesn't really even impact the PCs themselves
 

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
The problem with hanging darkvision on that hope is that it forces the GM to put their own game in a guillotine for several reasons:
  • Tuckers kobolds might be fun for the occasional thing but it's an extreme level of prep & planning with very high overhead for running it. That's not the sort of thing that can be done week after week
  • Gocha traps are the height of adversarial GM'ing & using them makes the GM look bad while souring their players on the game
  • Tomb of horrors style traps where the players know of but needs to find them slows the game to a plodding halt & burns out everyone involved on top of the tuckers kobold adjacent prep needs
  • 5e is designed so the players are not meaningfully impacted even if they "stumble into ambushes/traps" so you have all of the prior negatives for the GM's reputation & negatives for everyone building a result that doesn't really even impact the PCs themselves
One could argue that 5e is designed so the PCs are not meaningfully impacted...period.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
One could argue that 5e is designed so the PCs are not meaningfully impacted...period.

Mod note:

Folks are free to have negative opinions of a game. However, posts that are loaded with negativity, and no constructive content are threadcrap, and not something the site needs.

If you really must spew bile, try Twitter - I hear they like that kind of thing over there.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Bring back infravision and ultravision. The write-ups for it are already there in 1e; the main piece being that ultravision works great outdoors but not indoors, while infravision works everywhere but at fairly limited range. This at least puts the Elves and other sylvan types on roughly equal footing with Humans when indoors or underground.

Also, be very harsh around the idea of any light source (other than moon/starlight) ruining either type of night-sight.

And, look at the various playable species and ask whether each one would even have night-sight...and while you're at it, ask yourself how keen (or not) its other senses might have evolved to be. Most creatures really rely on one or maybe two senses, with the others there more for confirmation and backup. Then, tweak your species write-ups to suit.
 


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