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D&D 5E Just About Sick Of Darkvision.

TornadoCreator

First Post
I'm just about sick of Darkvision. Why is it that every single bloody race seems to have Darkvision now? It makes theming downright impossible; and makes stupid things like a lamp, or the light spell completely useless.

Considering the Players Handbook, Players Companion, and Dungeon Masters Guide there are the following races with and without Darkvision, that are currently playable.

Races with Darkvision (9, 14 if counting subraces):
Dwarves (Both Hill & Mountain) Elves (All 3; High, Wood, and Drow), Gnomes (All 3; Forest, Rock & Deep), Half-Elves, Half-Orcs, Tieflings, Genasi (Fire), Eladrin, Aasimar.

Races without Darkvision (6, 9 if counting subraces):
Halflings (Both Lightfoot & Stout), Humans, Dragonborn, Aarakocra, Genasi (Air, Water, Earth), Goliath.

Remember also that Drow and Deep Gnomes have SUPERIOR Darkvision! Which let's them see 120ft in darkness and discern colour in darkness. What the hell?!

Considering the races without darkvision are considerably rarer (except Humans), than the races with darkvision, this means darkvision is the NORM! How is that right? Magically being able to see with your eyes, light sensory organs, in the absence of light... is NORMAL!? Why? What makes Human and Halfling eyes so utterly :):):):):)?

Now maybe you're thinking, "Yeah, but it's because the players want to play cool races... the cool races probably have darkvision, but it's likely not the norm for everything", which couldn't be more wrong. When it comes to monsters that get darkvision, well it's pretty much every major monster you're ever likely to use...

Is your campaign set in a forest area, traditional D&D fare... well don't bother hiding in the dark because the following traditional staples all have darkvision: Goblins, Orcs, Kobolds, Gnolls, Bugbears, Ogres, Trolls, Hobgoblins, Troglodytes, Ettin and Gargoyles... (and this is not an exhaustive list).

Is your campaign set in a swamp, jungle, at sea, or around water; a chance to use those amphibious or water based monsters. Well darkness again means nothing as the following again all have darkvision: Sahuagin, Yuan-Ti, Merrow, Kuo-Tao (Frogmen), Slaad... the only major staple I could find that doesn't are Lizardmen.

Aaah, but maybe you're going for a more magic heavy campaign, based around traveling the planes and facing magical beings. Again, darkness is incidental: Every single breed of Angel, Demon and Devil had darkvision (most have superior darkvision) or truesight; so hiding is pointless. OVER 30 different variants of being and the ALL have darkvision. Then there's Genies, all 4 variants have darkvision. Constructs? All Golems, and pretty much every construct has darkvision. So do all Elementals, and all Mephits; so pretty much every creature a Wizard might summon.

OK, but what about going into the feywild? Well, all Elves and Eladrin already have darkvision, but then there's Nymphs, Formorian, Umber Hulk and Oni who all have darkvision too... so yeah, everything there has darkvision as well it seems, except Pixies for some reason, they get screwed over...

Well, what about deep dungeons, or more obscure creatures. Well, Gryphons and Yetis both have darkvision! Why? Who the hell knows but they do. Myconids are mushroom people, really cool monsters, with darkvision. Rakshasa are tiger-people and they have darkvision. All the old "Greek Legend" monsters, such as the Medusa, Hags, Minotaur etc. all have darkvision. Hell, even the damn Stone Giant has darkvision.

Well, maybe you're playing a cleric or paladin centric campaign and face a lot of undead... Bad news, literally every single undead I could find in the entire :):):):)ing monster manual has darkvision. I mean literally everything: Death Knight, Ghost, Ghast, Ghoul, Lich, Mummy, Revenant, Skeleton, Vampire, Wight, Wraith, even the damn Zombie... they ALL have Darkvision.

So then the question remains, what about all the creatures from the Underdark and similar areas (dependent on setting), your Beholders, Mind Flayers, Duergers, Drow, Quaggoths, Deep Gnomes and more... well, they all have SUPERIOR Darkvision! Because that makes sense.

Considering the Dragonborn, Aarakocra, Genasi, and Goliaths are described as being rare; and only one of them is actually in the players handbook anyway. What we've got is a situation where Humans and Halflings are effectively blind. You may as well be playing a blind character. Every other major playable race and practically every monster or antagonist race you face has darkvision. Oh, yes, and let's not forget Dragons; this is Dungeons & Dragons after all. Yes, every single type of dragon has darkvision; even the bloody Half-Dragon has darkvision.

The only major races I could find that didn't have darkvision other than the ones above, are Merfolk, Lizardmen, Lycanthrobes, Pixies and Gith. THAT'S IT! And Merfolk are one of the few races that it would make sense for them to have darkvision because it's very dark in deep water.

Now am I the only one who thinks this is just a little bit excessive? Surely others agree that giving practically every race on the planet darkvision is pretty dickish. It screws over anyone trying to stealth, it makes spells like darkness pointless because almost everything that isn't a human can see though it. It destroys the point in having candles, lanterns, the light spell, and so many more utilities. It makes me question why any civilisation would bother having light when everyone bar Humans and Halflings can see in the :):):):)ing dark. Are underground Dwarven holds pitch black? Do Elven buildings lack windows and any form of artificial light, after all, why bother when you can see fine in utter darkness? This strikes me as just so utterly stupid.

So do others agree, and if so, would you house rule a change to this?
 

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GameOgre

Adventurer
Yes, and No

Yes you are 100% Right that Darkvision totally negates so many things. Some of these things were HUGE in early editions of the game. to make matters worse they give it out to every stinking race that comes around the corner regardless.

Why do Elves even have it? It's not like they evolved by hanging out in dark places ect like Dwarves. They have it cause well, they are Elves dang it! The have Super Hearing to!

Here is the thing though.

A LOT of people don't like keeping track of all that. The Rules SUCK on it and are or have been rather complicated and unless you grew up playing by the old way......most people just don't care. They want to play a D&D action movie not How Many Torches does it take to detect traps in 400 feet of Hallways?

If it's messing with your fun,Fix it!
 

Corpsetaker

First Post
Can I just say that Darkvision does not negate hiding. If they can't beat your Stealth roll then they can't see you. It's not about just standing in darkness or a shadow, it's about staying out if sight by whatever means necessary.
 

Gadget

Adventurer
Agreed. One thing I really liked in 4e is how it cut back on the darkvision and just had a lot of low light vision races instead. I guess they were trying to simplify things, ditched low light vision, and realized that every monster and it's sister would need darkvision, and went from there.
 

TornadoCreator

First Post
Yes, and No

Yes you are 100% Right that Darkvision totally negates so many things. Some of these things were HUGE in early editions of the game. to make matters worse they give it out to every stinking race that comes around the corner regardless.

Why do Elves even have it? It's not like they evolved by hanging out in dark places ect like Dwarves. They have it cause well, they are Elves dang it! The have Super Hearing to!

Here is the thing though.

A LOT of people don't like keeping track of all that. The Rules SUCK on it and are or have been rather complicated and unless you grew up playing by the old way......most people just don't care. They want to play a D&D action movie not How Many Torches does it take to detect traps in 400 feet of Hallways?

If it's messing with your fun,Fix it!

Yeah, but that's because people aren't thinking. First of all, you shouldn't be using torches AT ALL in a dungeon. You're not outside so a medieval bitumen torch (hell even a modern paraffin recreation), would stink and create so much smoke you'd all choke to death. You should be using a lantern... which will burn for hours on a single oiled wick or candle.

Then there's magic. 'Light' is a cantrip, and 5e is falling over itself to give every single class access to arcane magic so it's not like we're short of ways to create light.

I agree, it can be a pain to keep track of all these things sometimes, but surely it's more of a pain to be playing a rogue and NEVER be able to hide because it doesn't matter how dark it is, they can just see you anyway; and casting Darkness doesn't make any difference so that cool racial bonus that Tieflings get is little more than a parlour trick... it's not Darkness it's "wash out colours" the spell.

I'd rather just hand-wave the idea that the party has unlimited candles than give everyone Darkvision, but also, by not giving Darkvision to Humans and Halflings chances are we'll have at least one party member bumbling around in the dark, so we're not actually solving anything. There's still the need for torches that there was before.
 

The Human Target

Adventurer
Yes, and No

Yes you are 100% Right that Darkvision totally negates so many things. Some of these things were HUGE in early editions of the game. to make matters worse they give it out to every stinking race that comes around the corner regardless.

Why do Elves even have it? It's not like they evolved by hanging out in dark places ect like Dwarves. They have it cause well, they are Elves dang it! The have Super Hearing to!

Here is the thing though.

A LOT of people don't like keeping track of all that. The Rules SUCK on it and are or have been rather complicated and unless you grew up playing by the old way......most people just don't care. They want to play a D&D action movie not How Many Torches does it take to detect traps in 400 feet of Hallways?

If it's messing with your fun,Fix it!

I agree with this, but I'd rather dark vision get toned way down in frequency (4e style) and just let people who don't want to mess with lighting details (me a lot of the time) just ignore it.

Having tons of dark vision races but still requiring light sources for some races to function is the worst of both worlds.
 

steeldragons

Steeliest of the dragons
Epic
Does darkvision pierce magical darkness in 5e? It never did before that I know of...or had noticed it would in 5e either. Do I have this wrong?

EDIT TO ADD: You asked for houserules.

In my homebrew, I use Twilight Vision [what was called in the past, I believe, just "Low Light Vision"]. Basically, take away the Darkness component. Simple. Say Dim light is seen as bright light, with color and everything. Darkness is still darkness.

Let dwarves have it, I guess, if you think it makes sense. I, personally, don't and prefer the image of great dwarven halls lit with huge elaborate rock-hewn sconces and fire pits. So all PC races I allow [drow and other underdark races are not permitted for PCs in my games] have Twilight Vision, not Darkvision.

I see no reason to change it when Iget a 5e game going.

Leave the Darkvision for Drow and Deep Gnomes [or other underdark or deep sea races] only.
 
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Gadget

Adventurer
Darkvision does not allow one to see through magical darkness, IIRC. There's just that one warlock invocation (Devil's sight?) that allows this. So Magical darkness is still useful.
 

DaveDash

Explorer
We use Roll20 and dynamic lighting, and dark vision adds A LOT. One player who is a Drow can literally see twice as far as the other players, and conveys to them what is going on using Rarys Telepathic Bond. It adds another dimension to the game.

It also makes it very powerful. Races that do not have it are really disadvantaged the moment you step into a dungeon, especially given how surprise works now.

I agree though that when I first read the PHB I didn't like the races that had it, and didn't have it. Elves shouldn't have it IMO.
 

TornadoCreator

First Post
Can I just say that Darkvision does not negate hiding. If they can't beat your Stealth roll then they can't see you. It's not about just standing in darkness or a shadow, it's about staying out if sight by whatever means necessary.

To an extent I agree, but I take a certain approach to Stealth which I know upsets some people... and that's, you can roll a natural 20, but if you're trying to Stealth across a room without cover when there are guards watching, you AUTO FAIL! I don't care how good your Stealth roll is, the room I'm in right now is a rectangle. You cannot, it is physically impossible, for you to walk across this room from one door to the other, without me seeing you.

The idea that rolling your skill is enough just doesn't fly for me. I want an actual roleplaying reason why you can succeed. This is where utility magic comes into play. The invisibility spell, sleep spell, hell even charm person would be enough. You could even, if you where especially clever about it do it with something as minor as prestidigitation.

"I cast a Prestidigitation on my cloak and clothes to change their colour to that of the stone wall of this room, taking time to mimic the texture as best I can. I'm taking my time on this so can I take 20? I will then use Prestidigitation again on the guard to mimic the feeling of a spider crawling down the back of his neck and under his leather armour, when he reacts and jumps up, he'll no longer be watching the room and I'll use this time while he's distracted, as my opportunity to dart across the room. I'm carrying only what I need on the other side of the room, so I'll not have any heavy metal objects clanging around."

That is roleplaying an arcane trickster with style. Just rolling Stealth and claiming a win because you beat their Perception just isn't good enough in my games because an open room is an open room, and you can't hide in a room without cover; any more than you can swim in a pool without water... and if everyone has darkvision, that's just making it even harder surely.

Agreed. One thing I really liked in 4e is how it cut back on the darkvision and just had a lot of low light vision races instead. I guess they were trying to simplify things, ditched low light vision, and realized that every monster and it's sister would need darkvision, and went from there.

I'm tempted to simply delete Darkvision outright. Unless your race specifically states it has "Superior Darkvision" it gets nothing, and Superior Darkvision, will work like base Darkvision. So basically, Drow and Deep Gnomes get it, and that's it... I may let Tieflings keep Darkvision as it makes sense with them having the spell Darkness as a racial spell. That'll be it though. The same goes for monsters. Unless your race has grown up in the Underdark, such as the Mind Flayer, Drider, Quaggoths, Duerger; you don't get Darkvision... though I might give some races heightened senses; something like a Gnoll loses Darkvision, but gains a scent bonus to perception. That could work.

It'll make Darkvision actually matter again. Like it should. Darkvision should be similar in power to Tremoursense.

I MAY give Low Light Vision back to a few races, but honestly I don't see the point. There are plenty of ways to create light.
 

TornadoCreator

First Post
We use Roll20 and dynamic lighting, and dark vision adds A LOT. One player who is a Drow can literally see twice as far as the other players, and conveys to them what is going on using Rarys Telepathic Bond. It adds another dimension to the game.

It also makes it very powerful. Races that do not have it are really disadvantaged the moment you step into a dungeon, especially given how surprise works now.

I agree though that when I first read the PHB I didn't like the races that had it, and didn't have it. Elves shouldn't have it IMO.

That's fine... I'm not saying Darkvision isn't worthwhile. Drow should definitely have it. Elves, Gnomes, Orcs, Gnolls, Zombies, etc. definitely shouldn't have it though. It takes away one of the defining things that makes Drow, Deep Gnomes and other so special. I'd maybe let someone take Darkvision as a feat, if they'd spent years living in the underdark; but even then I'd probably only do that if a player was insistent that it was necessary for their concept. I'd actually much rather they spent a few sessions gathering treasure and making NPC contacts in order to find an Artificer Wizard who can craft and attune a pair of Goggles Of The Night for the player. It's a magic item, uncommon, so should cost between 500 and 5000 gold depending on how they go about getting the item. Hell, if they character was above level 5, they could start with that as their one magic item.
 

krunchyfrogg

Explorer
If you were to take a "realistic" approach to DND (yeah, I know...), in a world where darkvision is the norm, races without darkvision would be at a significant disadvantage from an evolutionary standpoint.

Heck, they'd probably have never survived at all.
 

TornadoCreator

First Post
Darkvision does not allow one to see through magical darkness, IIRC. There's just that one warlock invocation (Devil's sight?) that allows this. So Magical darkness is still useful.

I wasn't sure about that, it didn't seem clear in the book to me. If that's the case, now there's two kinds of darkness, real (magical) darkness, and fake darkness that just turns everything black and white for most people. Which is just silly I feel.
 

The Human Target

Adventurer
We use Roll20 and dynamic lighting, and dark vision adds A LOT. One player who is a Drow can literally see twice as far as the other players, and conveys to them what is going on using Rarys Telepathic Bond. It adds another dimension to the game.

It also makes it very powerful. Races that do not have it are really disadvantaged the moment you step into a dungeon, especially given how surprise works now.

I agree though that when I first read the PHB I didn't like the races that had it, and didn't have it. Elves shouldn't have it IMO.

Yeah on Roll20 its probably fun to have all the different visions/light sources.
 

DaveDash

Explorer
Yeah on Roll20 its probably fun to have all the different visions/light sources.

Heh yep.

If you do have a non darkvision player and you put out their only light source, life becomes very scary for them. They can literally only see a small band around them and have to fumble around in the dark with their token.
 

guachi

Explorer
Does darkvision pierce magical darkness in 5e? It never did before that I know of...or had noticed it would in 5e either. Do I have this wrong?

EDIT TO ADD: You asked for houserules.

In my homebrew, I use Twilight Vision [what was called in the past, I believe, just "Low Light Vision"]. Basically, take away the Darkness component. Simple. Say Dim light is seen as bright light, with color and everything. Darkness is still darkness.

Before 5e, I last played 2e when it was called infravision and you saw heat. That being said I basically agree with the OP and do you what you suggest. No seeing in darkness. You have to have some photons hitting your eyeball to see at all.
 

S

Sunseeker

Guest
I agree that darkvision is overdone, I would remove it on orcs, one type of elves (probably high elves) and both types of gnomes, downgrading deep gnome darkvision to 60' and removing sunlight sensitivity. Probably take it off half-elves too, or shorten its distance to 20'. It makes no sense that bird people and dragon-people don't have darkvision when freaking dwarves have it, probably remove it from dwarves too.

You just can't reasonably run a "spooky things in the shadows" game with so many darkvision races. When a torch only illuminates 30' but the elf can see 60', it just makes it far too difficult to have creatures lurking in the shadows.
So anyway, I'd ramove darkvision from:
High Elves
All surface gnomes
half-elves
half-orcs

That would balance the total numbers out, more or less, leaving 7 base races with darkvision and 9 total including subraces.

Otherwise, I'd add back in "low-light vision" to numerous races and completely reallocate who does or does not have darkvision.
 

Remathilis

Legend
That's fine... I'm not saying Darkvision isn't worthwhile. Drow should definitely have it. Elves, Gnomes, Orcs, Gnolls, Zombies, etc. definitely shouldn't have it though. It takes away one of the defining things that makes Drow, Deep Gnomes and other so special. I'd maybe let someone take Darkvision as a feat, if they'd spent years living in the underdark; but even then I'd probably only do that if a player was insistent that it was necessary for their concept. I'd actually much rather they spent a few sessions gathering treasure and making NPC contacts in order to find an Artificer Wizard who can craft and attune a pair of Goggles Of The Night for the player. It's a magic item, uncommon, so should cost between 500 and 5000 gold depending on how they go about getting the item. Hell, if they character was above level 5, they could start with that as their one magic item.

A lot of races that get it are throwbacks to AD&D, where infravision (aka seeing the infrared spectrum or heat vision) was hella common. So races that were nocturnal (elves, orcs, goblins), dwelled underground (dwarves, gnomes) or had supernatural senses (demons, dragons, undead) all got infravision (or better). In 1e, 6 out 7 races had a chance of having infravision (guess which one never did).

I know its not much consolation, but there ARE limitations to darkvision, if you extrapolate from Night Vision cameras/goggles.

1.) Any sort of light ruins it. Moonlight, candlelight, etc all will reduce its effectiveness to practically nothing.
2.) As far a parties go, its an all or nothing thing. If you have one human among six other darkvision-enhanced seers, he's still blind and going to need a light source, negating darkvision. (See 1.)
3.) Black and White (only) is very limiting: you can't read by it; you can't tell if something is water or blood by sight, and detail isn't always clear.
4.) Evolution-Smevolution; in a world where goblins, orcs, and kobolds all fight gnomes, elves, and dwarves (all with darkvision) you'd think they'd have learned techniques to hide from it.
 

I still don't see it. Darkvision gives you colorless dim light in darkness. Dim light is bad. Remember, even a candle produces bright light; darkvision is less light than a candle. Everything is lightly obscured. You explicitly have disadvantage on Perception, so that's -5 on passive Perception. Indeed, you probably have disadvantage on everything that requires sight more complicated than finding a target. In the confusion of battle, you might even have difficulty discerning freind from foe. You're also going to set off every trap you encounter. You can't discern color. You have no idea if you're looking at a pool of water or oil or sewage or blood. You can't tell if the walls are merely wet or covered in green slime. You have no idea if you're walking past armor stands or armed soldiers. You have no idea if you're walking past statues or creatures. You can't even read.

The rules also don't ever state how darkvision is impacted by other light sources. In 2e, infravision was explicitly spoiled by any other light source. I find it hard to believe that someone can stand next to you with a torch and it doesn't impact your darkvision just because of glare. 5e darkvision isn't 3e's darkvision that explicitly didn't rely on light. 5e darkvision partially does rely on light.
 

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