D&D 5E How Darkness helps the dungeon crawl experience immensely.

pukunui

Legend
If I was running without a map or VTT (extremely unlikely), I would either light up the adventure location so it doesn't matter or remove darkvision and similar effects so that light sources were required for everyone. Either of these would make it a lot easier to adjudicate without a map or VTT in my opinion.
I’ve considered it. Lighting up the dungeon is easier than removing darkvision, although I intend to do the latter next time I run Curse of Strahd in order to amp up the horror theme.
 

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iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I’ve considered it. Lighting up the dungeon is easier than removing darkvision, although I intend to do the latter next time I run Curse of Strahd in order to amp up the horror theme.
Basically D&D 4e's take was that even most subterranean denizens need light so the expectations is that there'd be a torch or brazier here and there or glowing crystals or mushrooms. Plus it was pretty cheap to have a sun rod which was like 20 squares of bright light that lasted for hours. This read to me like they just didn't want groups to deal with it very often and that does make it easier to run at the table.
 

Laurefindel

Legend
Basically D&D 4e's take was that even most subterranean denizens need light so the expectations is that there'd be a torch or brazier here and there or glowing crystals or mushrooms. Plus it was pretty cheap to have a sun rod which was like 20 squares of bright light that lasted for hours. This read to me like they just didn't want groups to deal with it very often and that does make it easier to run at the table.
Yes, the whole ecosystems developing around bioluminescence and fantasy underground landscape makes less sense if everyone and everything can get along just fine without any source of light.
 

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
The last time I really tried to use darkness in game turned out to be a huge pain. I looked at how far each party member could see, with their light sources and senses, and every turn, I would try to block whatever part of the map they couldn't currently see (I'm a battlemap guy). The juice was so definitely not worth the squeeze.

Plus, in 5e, given disadvantage on Perception checks, enemies need to see too, so it makes sense for them to use light as well. I remember, however, that Drow used to have special lanterns that only worked for infravision users, and I've considered bringing back things like that.

People treat darkvision like it's this "omg you see everything" and that's not the case- you will miss details if you rely on it consistently. That's why it's not a huge advantage, and is basically treated like a ribbon ability in race design, unlike the days where darkvision was a big deal for a race.

It's nice when you would otherwise be blind, but you really want light. Otherwise, you might be eaten by a Grue.
 


Horwath

Legend
If so many races didn’t have Darkvision, and it wasn’t so burdensome to implement in game I might agree on the use of more darkness in the game. As it is, it’s just an annoyance to the point all my dungeons are essentially prelit these days.
Well, if the dungeon has someone living and working there, it should be lit.

Most DMs, forgot to implement dim light penalties.

If you expand penalties outside perception,
I.E. investigation, Insight, tool usage, there would be more pressure to PCs to use light sources, even with darkvision.
 

Hussar

Legend
This really is one area where virtual tabletop actually glistens. When everyone is limited to exactly what their character can see - and Fantasy Grounds actually has dark vision only show up in black and white - it gets very interesting very quickly. Things like a warlock's Devil's Sight gets to be a HUGE advantage when you actually have LOS and lighting on a VTT.

On tabletop, it's a massive PITA to actually track.
 

Shiroiken

Legend
I know it's unpopular opinion, but I just can't seem to grasp how hard it is for some people to use light & darkness. While I play on a VTT, I don't have the nifty Dynamic Lighting (which is a paid feature, and I'm cheap). All I do is give the general description to the group, and the players know if they can see it or not based on their character's vision. It's not any different than when a Darkness spell is cast. Maybe I've been spoiled by good players? Of course, despite having darkvision, most of our groups use light sources anyway, since the penalty for dim light can be problematic.
 

Asisreo

Patron Badass
This really is one area where virtual tabletop actually glistens. When everyone is limited to exactly what their character can see - and Fantasy Grounds actually has dark vision only show up in black and white - it gets very interesting very quickly. Things like a warlock's Devil's Sight gets to be a HUGE advantage when you actually have LOS and lighting on a VTT.

On tabletop, it's a massive PITA to actually track.
I actually have a differing opinion. As someone that hardly ever uses player-facing maps, using darkness helps me as a DM quite a bit. Putting aside potential glitches, virtual tabletop maps usually end up having the players feel like they're either playing a board game or a computer strategy game rather than a roleplaying game, though that's up to taste. Plus, I'm a little too busy (read lazy) to trace the maps and set up the dynamic lighting.

What's useful about it in analog, though, is being able to narrow down the focus. You can trace the path they walk with your finger and simply remember they can see 6 squares ahead. So you can state "you see a three-way intersection ahead."

For the concern about warlock's devil sight, they can simply see 12 squares ahead, more than most creatures, which allows you to say "You, the warlock, see a group of goblins patrolling in the dark about 120ft ahead, they haven't noticed you yet, what do you do?"
 

Oofta

Legend
When I was using VTT I used darkness on a fairly regular basis and it made a huge difference in how people interacted and their party coordination. Throw the darkness spell and tell them they hear a noise and then only "ping" the general direction? Truly terrifying. Area in total darkness that has multiple branching paths and corridors? Amazing how quickly the party can get split up. Another fun thing to do was have heavy mist so people can only see a sphere around them of 5-10 feet. Then have creatures with reach further than they can see attack. :devilish:

On the other hand I kind of hate playing remotely so those things just don't really translate well. Because of the ubiquity of darkvision (which is a mistake IMHO), the impact of darkness is largely ignored. It helps to remember that darkvision only grants dim light which imposes disadvantage on perception, but only so much. If anyone in the party relies on a light source, it does make ranged attacks from the darkness far more threatening, In some cases can make what would otherwise be a relatively easy encounter far more deadly, but that gets old if used too often.

It can still add to an air of apprehension and add to the tension but it's something I tend to use sparingly. If used too often when playing in person, unlike when doing VTT, it kind of feels forced. Like "ooh, the DM is trying to scare us" because people are so used to virtually ignoring it. Fun now and then, not something I use often.
 

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