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5E Is 5e Darkvision A Good Design?

Is 5e Darkvision good/which parts are good or bad

  • Limited Distance Is Good

    Votes: 48 61.5%
  • Limited Distance is Bad

    Votes: 7 9.0%
  • Binary Darkvision (no separate low-light) is Good

    Votes: 31 39.7%
  • Binary Darkvision (no separate low-light) is Bad

    Votes: 32 41.0%
  • No Option for Darkness as Bright Light is Good

    Votes: 43 55.1%
  • No Option for Darkness as Bright Light is Bad

    Votes: 12 15.4%
  • I WILL NOT BE CONTAINED! (explain in thread)

    Votes: 8 10.3%

  • Total voters
    78

Li Shenron

Legend
I don't recall it ever really coming up. Either everybody has dark vision (in which case we just ignore it and everybody can see all the time) or only some have, so half the party has lanterns (in which case we just ignore it and everybody can see all the time).
Indeed few games I've seen which did not ignore illumination rules.

But I think it's worth knowing that, with the default rules, in the first case things still work differently if they choose to have light sources (no disadvantage on perception), and in the second case those with darkvision still have some advantage over the others whatever light source is used.

Of course one way to level the field is always to just set the adventure outdoor in broad daylight :)
 

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Whew, while certainly logical, I would get considerable blowback from players if i added something as drastic as these. Not even being blinded makes you move half speed, although it probably should.
It did in 3E. Which I thought was a little weird, because it's certainly physically possible to move at your full normal speed when you can't see -- blind people do it all the time.
 

Nebulous

Legend
It did in 3E. Which I thought was a little weird, because it's certainly physically possible to move at your full normal speed when you can't see -- blind people do it all the time.
I would argue that blind people usually have decades of practice to move full speed :). PCs usually got a few minutes to deal with it! but yeah, i didn't remember that from 3e.
 

the Jester

Legend
I feel like the second paragraph intentionally sidesteps the point to be pedantic? Sorry if that isn't your intent, but...yeah we all know that torches and such exist. That is obviously not the point.
Not trying to be pedantic; it's just that it is not only the obvious solution, but the traditional one. Adventurers bring torches and lanterns (and magic) into the dark, and the darkness encroaches all around the tiny island of light they create.

It seems to me that pushing for an unlimited range, same-as-if-its-lit, everyone gets it solution to darkness is the same as just never having darkness in the first place. I think that darkness is a key element in establishing the mysterious and dangerous atmosphere that dungeon delving ought to (?) come with. Ignoring it, while fine if a group wants it, seems like dispensing with traps, or with environmental hazards- you're dropping an elements of game play that has a lot to offer. (In the case of darkness, for example, outside of the sheer flavor of it, there's the case of a monster staying just out of sight, pursuing the pcs by means of the light they're giving off, waiting for the right moment to strike; there's the instance of a trap that is based on colors, which darkvision can't discern; there's the case of opening a door only to have a sudden wind extinguish your torches, like in the example of play in the 1e DMG; etc.)

And yes, light is a solution- and in fact, the very best solution- to the party's woes when it comes to darkness. I think that's a feature, not a bug.

Obviously, not everyone agrees, and that's fine. But to me, darkness is a primordial, basic, instinctively frightful element of play. Taking it away, or diminishing it by making it trivial to overcome- and that's what it seems like you're looking for- really isn't to my taste, and seems to detract from play, at least in my style of gaming.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
Whew, while certainly logical, I would get considerable blowback from players if i added something as drastic as these. Not even being blinded makes you move half speed, although it probably should.
I'd probably add the speed and range reduction to blindness. It would also affect exploring in pure darkness really a non-starter.
But I'm a sadist; I would probably make it 1/4 speed, 1/4 range while blinded :p

You know, make'em Conditions hurt a little beyond just another ''do stuff at disadvantage''.
  • diseased creatures also have disadvantage on healing roll.
  • trying to sleep while poisoned or diseased requires a DC 13 CON check after a long rest to see if they gain any benefit from it.

Anyway, you could also rule that dim light is difficult terrain, and a creature moving through darkness area must spend 4 feet of movement for every 1 foot it moves. So darkvision only reduces the heavy penalty of moving through darkness to difficult terrain for races who have it, requiring them to have a light source to explore at a normal pace.
 

Nebulous

Legend
Anyway, you could also rule that dim light is difficult terrain, and a creature moving through darkness area must spend 4 feet of movement for every 1 foot it moves. So darkvision only reduces the heavy penalty of moving through darkness to difficult terrain for races who have it, requiring them to have a light source to explore at a normal pace.
Yes. 5e is simple enough that they could alter it many ways. Where is our big 5e book of modular rules??
 

Benjamin Olson

Adventurer
I would kind of like if darkvision just meant seeing dim light as bright light since that coincides with how non-magical biology interacts with real world optics and would put races on more or less the same page. Darkvision would just mean avoiding disadvantage on perception rolls in dim light. The magic see with no light at all ability could be reserved for the superior darkvision folk with sunlight sensitivity.

My biggest problem with darkvision is it seems to make DMs think they should have goblins and orcs and such living without lights. Humans generally don't walk around in low light when we can turn on bright lights. Anywhere there is an awake, intelligent creature without blindsight who is not specifically lying in wait there should generally be lights going.
 


DMMike

Game Masticator
WEll that just isn't how "good" works, but okay. I disagree with the last part, though. That isn't any better.
Imma have to take issue here. Feel free to ignore it - I don't need to dedicate too much time to D&D rules.

1) Good is an opinion, so I'm pretty sure that's how good works: people having opinions. Unless you're D&D 5e, in which case "good" is an objective class into which a significant portion of the breathing (and some non-breathing) population falls, likely because some focus groups indicated that D&D wouldn't be D&D without alignment.

2) My version of darkvision might not be better, but it is simpler, and the lack of gratuitous detail allows the DM to make rulings without players calling foul because they think his adjudication was against the rules.
 



Horwath

Adventurer
There's a few things I think I'll add to ''dim light'' penalties:
  • disadvantage on tool's checks
  • disadvantage to Investigation and checks to spot illusions
  • Halves range of ranged attacks and spells.
  • Speed halved

probably not all of it, but its a start.
1&2 yes.

3. No need, you are already limited by your sight range, and darkness does not limit the power of your weapon. You have disadvantage on perception, so if you can see it, you can shoot it.

4. No need also as you can run if you see only general features of terrain. And as mentioned, traps/hazards of DC10-15 become much more dangerous with disadvantage to perception.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
so if you can see it, you can shoot it.
I understand your point.
From my point of view, low light does not affect combat (unless you have hidden hazards on the battle map, that is), which I personally find weird: you have disadvantage to spot things 10 ft from you in dim light, but can shoot your longbow 150 ft with no problems?

That's why my favorite way of handling vision reduction is the way Shadow arrow from the AA works: ''unable to see anything farther than 5 ft away''

Its a little video-gamey, but I'd probably go with something like this:

Dim light: Cant see anything farther than 30 - 60 ft away from you. Disadvantage of all ability checks that require sight. Normal terrain is considered difficult terrain.
Darkness: You are considered Blinded *. Normal terrain is considered difficult terrain.

Now, they'll witness the true power of a torch!
 


Horwath

Adventurer
I understand your point.
From my point of view, low light does not affect combat (unless you have hidden hazards on the battle map, that is), which I personally find weird: you have disadvantage to spot things 10 ft from you in dim light, but can shoot your longbow 150 ft with no problems?

That's why my favorite way of handling vision reduction is the way Shadow arrow from the AA works: ''unable to see anything farther than 5 ft away''

Its a little video-gamey, but I'd probably go with something like this:

Dim light: Cant see anything farther than 30 - 60 ft away from you. Disadvantage of all ability checks that require sight. Normal terrain is considered difficult terrain.
Darkness: You are considered Blinded *. Normal terrain is considered difficult terrain.

Now, they'll witness the true power of a torch!
you don't need to see your target "clearly". you just need to see it. You might not see what exactly you are aiming at (disadvantage on perception), but you see enough to make a good aim.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
My biggest problem with darkvision is it seems to make DMs think they should have goblins and orcs and such living without lights. Humans generally don't walk around in low light when we can turn on bright lights. Anywhere there is an awake, intelligent creature without blindsight who is not specifically lying in wait there should generally be lights going.
IMO, this is a legacy issue, because Darkvision used to allow perfect (albeit black and white) vision in total darkness. I think that the 5e approach is intended to make darkvision a fall back rather than the go-to option. Most races that live in total darkness would seek to have dim light sources anywhere they considered seeing important. However, I think a lot of DMs forget that it's changed or just don't want to incorporate it into their world building.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Not trying to be pedantic; it's just that it is not only the obvious solution, but the traditional one. Adventurers bring torches and lanterns (and magic) into the dark, and the darkness encroaches all around the tiny island of light they create.

It seems to me that pushing for an unlimited range, same-as-if-its-lit, everyone gets it solution to darkness is the same as just never having darkness in the first place. I think that darkness is a key element in establishing the mysterious and dangerous atmosphere that dungeon delving ought to (?) come with. Ignoring it, while fine if a group wants it, seems like dispensing with traps, or with environmental hazards- you're dropping an elements of game play that has a lot to offer. (In the case of darkness, for example, outside of the sheer flavor of it, there's the case of a monster staying just out of sight, pursuing the pcs by means of the light they're giving off, waiting for the right moment to strike; there's the instance of a trap that is based on colors, which darkvision can't discern; there's the case of opening a door only to have a sudden wind extinguish your torches, like in the example of play in the 1e DMG; etc.)

And yes, light is a solution- and in fact, the very best solution- to the party's woes when it comes to darkness. I think that's a feature, not a bug.

Obviously, not everyone agrees, and that's fine. But to me, darkness is a primordial, basic, instinctively frightful element of play. Taking it away, or diminishing it by making it trivial to overcome- and that's what it seems like you're looking for- really isn't to my taste, and seems to detract from play, at least in my style of gaming.
You’ve made some unfounded assumptions about my intentions, here. I’m not “looking for” anything.
 


Raduin711

Adventurer
I find it odd that Drow, as written would still use light on a day-to-day basis. They see in darkness as dim light, which is to say, with disadvantage... which seems odd for the subterranean race that tends to use darkness to their advantage. They even take daylight penalties, which seems like it would be fair trade to see normally in darkness.

For the other races, the current setup seems fine to me.
 

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