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D&D 5E Revisiting RAW Darkness Spell

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Yes, opaque is used as an intensifying descriptor for fog. I don't think that establishes opacity as a necessary condition for something to constitute a heavily obscured area. Also, fog isn't actually opaque. It might appear so from a distance (like dense foliage), but at its edges it is quite translucent or even transparent, especially to an observer looking out into an area under daylight.
Fog, like foliage, comes in ranges of thickness. It can be so thick that you cannot see break lights a few feet in front of you. You get 100+ car pileups that way. Or it can be light and you can see for hundreds of yards. One of those is heavily obscured and the other is not. If you do have a heavy fog and it's light around the edges, then the edges are not heavily obscured. Same with foliage. Foliage heavy enough to be heavy obscurement is the kind that's so thick you have to chop your way through every foot of it. The kind with holes to see through is not heavy, it's moderate and gives light obscurement.
 

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Xetheral

Three-Headed Sirrush
You aren't actually seeing the creature/object when you see the silhouette.
But, I was making the exact opposite point.... :(

I really am in poor form today given the rate at which my posts are being read as saying something entirely different than I intended. I'll try again tomorrow when hopefully I can write more clearly.
 

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
Fog, like foliage, comes in ranges of thickness. It can be so thick that you cannot see break lights a few feet in front of you. You get 100+ car pileups that way. Or it can be light and you can see for hundreds of yards. One of those is heavily obscured and the other is not. If you do have a heavy fog and it's light around the edges, then the edges are not heavily obscured. Same with foliage. Foliage heavy enough to be heavy obscurement is the kind that's so thick you have to chop your way through every foot of it. The kind with holes to see through is not heavy, it's moderate and gives light obscurement.
Yes, I'm familiar with various types of fog and foliage.
 

FitzTheRuke

Legend
I don't think that's quite it. I think the difference is in how we each expect this rule to function in the game. For me, it tells me what happens when and only when a creature tries to see something in that area. I get to make up why that happens. For you, it seems to establish some causative quality of the area (opacity) that exists in the fiction even when a creature is not trying to see something in that area. Does that make sense?

This is very telling as to why we wind up on the same "side" - I'm with you here.
 

I don't think that's quite it. I think the difference is in how we each expect this rule to function in the game. For me, it tells me what happens when and only when a creature tries to see something in that area. I get to make up why that happens. For you, it seems to establish some causative quality of the area (opacity) that exists in the fiction even when a creature is not trying to see something in that area. Does that make sense?
It was you who was earlier insisting that obscurement is objective quality of the square when I told you that it is more sensible to interpret as transient subjective state that depends on the specific situation!
 

FitzTheRuke

Legend
Fog, like foliage, comes in ranges of thickness. It can be so thick that you cannot see break lights a few feet in front of you. You get 100+ car pileups that way. Or it can be light and you can see for hundreds of yards. One of those is heavily obscured and the other is not. If you do have a heavy fog and it's light around the edges, then the edges are not heavily obscured. Same with foliage. Foliage heavy enough to be heavy obscurement is the kind that's so thick you have to chop your way through every foot of it. The kind with holes to see through is not heavy, it's moderate and gives light obscurement.
I'm pretty sure that most foliage that I've seen in adventures can grant Heavy Obscurement while only counting as Difficult Terrain. It would be hard to Hide in the kind of foliage that you'd have to hack your way through. (On the other hand, I don't like the idea that all foliage that grants Heavy Obscurement would be the type that's easy to push through while being so leafy that you can't see a thing in there).

I'm still of a mind to expect it to be a range of foliage types that include both of those, and other varieties and densities (as long as they could all be considered suitably "thick" - same goes for fog, and for darkness. Thick is relative. Dense is relative. Dark is relative. To me, the degrees of each that would count as Heavy Obscurement are certainly down near the end of the line, but not limited to the very extreme end.
 

FitzTheRuke

Legend
It was you who was earlier insisting that obscurement is objective quality of the square when I told you that it is more sensible to interpret as transient subjective state that depends on the specific situation!
I think back then he was referring to the RULE part, not the fiction! Now he's saying that the fluff is relative. The square is either obscured or not. (Most of the time).
 

Nefermandias

Explorer
How about we agree to disagree as to the viewpoints of other posters expressed in past posts? The alternative is wading through 40 pages to find quotes, then arguing about the context of those quotes, and we'll likely just end up conceding that the other one's interpretation of the thread is plausible, even though we each prefer our own.

Can we skip ahead to that? :)
Hey Xen, do you know Vsauce? They have recently released a nice video about how people are terrible when it comes to rationalize why they have any given opinion. Since most of our decision making through the day is made heuristically, sometimes we don't even know wh to we think that way. I believe it's relevant to this thread somehow
 

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
It was you who was earlier insisting that obscurement is objective quality of the square when I told you that it is more sensible to interpret as transient subjective state that depends on the specific situation!
What I said isn't at odds with establishing that an area is obscured. In play, I'll describe areas in ways that hopefully make it obvious to the players whether they are obscured or not. I might outright say an area is heavily or lightly obscured. Then, if they try to "see something" in that area, meaning that the player declares an action for their character that depends on vision to an object or creature in that area, the rules tell me whether a check is required, what type, and what the result of their action is.
 



Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Wrong. Spells do what they say that do. I can't have my fireball suddenly starting healing people instead of causing dame "because magic".
5e is written so vaguely(intentionally) that very little is only restricted to what it says. It's a rulings over rules edition in large part because of that vagueness. Darkness in 5e, though, both normal and magical, doesn't allow silhouettes. It bestows the Blindness condition which makes it impossible to see anything inside of it at all. 5e darkness is not real world darkness unless you house rule it to be that way.
 

Mike R

Explorer
Well, I'm pretty sure the way we see this communication gaffe, and I don't speak for us all, is that "we've" communicated it just fine (keep in mind, I for one was on the other "side" at the start of this), but some people have chosen to continue to argue that it's impossible to understand. Keep in mind that I don't think that anyone is doing this on purpose - but I've never had trouble understanding or imagining it since it was first explained in this very thread. I don't agree that the description is at all difficult to understand - I grasped it immediately.
If the people you're talking to are asking for clarification, you haven't communicated successfully. You are not the judge of your ability to communicate. Your audience is.
It really feels like you just keep screaming "but it doesn't make sense" when it does. (Again, I don't think that you mean to do this - it's just typical internet communication SNAFU.)
It doesn't make sense. You do not have a visual model of the spell in mind and it is obvious in each of your posts.
In addition, I mentioned it to my players - we've always played with the opaque sphere before - and everyone immediately understood and liked it better that way.
You don't have any players. You don't run games.
So... while I'm sure you feel that we've not "managed to communicate the visuals of the situation understandably"... are you sure it's not just you that's failed to grasp it?
The failing is yours.
 



FitzTheRuke

Legend
1) If the people you're talking to are asking for clarification, you haven't communicated successfully. You are not the judge of your ability to communicate. Your audience is.

2) It doesn't make sense. You do not have a visual model of the spell in mind and it is obvious in each of your posts.

3) You don't have any players. You don't run games.

4) The failing is yours.

I think I will handle this in order, though I can infer from your response that you're not worth the effort.

1) It's the responsibility of both parties in a conversation to reach understanding. The speaker does their best to imply the things they want to get across, and the listener does their best to infer the speaker's intent.

2) It does and I do. I'm sorry if I haven't explained it in a way that you can grasp, but we're equally at fault for that.

3) Now that's just rude, obviously. Of course I do. I have a LOT of players. I own an FLGS, and while we are not playing there now due to the pandemic, I have played with literally hundreds of people. I run 90% of the games that I play. I still have a group that plays on MSTeams every week (this is the group that I talked to) AND I run THREE PBP games HERE ON ENWORLD. (Though I haven't talked to them about it.)

4) Sure, whatever you say buddy. I honestly don't know why I bothered to answer you here.

In fact, I don't know why I've bothered to continue to engage in this thread, after trying to get out a few times (they pull me back IN!) Up until now, everyone's been pretty good to talk to, though. I guess it was too good to last.
 

FitzTheRuke

Legend
I mean I can imagine the partially opaque part. The part I cannot imagine the things other side of it still being clearly visible whilst things in it are not.
I've always agreed with that. I may have tried to spitball an answer or two to help out the others, but I would never run that the other side is MORE visible than the inside (which I would run as pretty darn dark, but I am fine with it not being Ink-blot dark).

.... Except maybe someone holding their own light source. I might make that light source itself more visible, making them more obvious than someone in the darkness.

I don't know. I've only just started thinking about this partway through this thread. I've always run it as Inkblot and I haven't had the chance to do otherwise yet. I just understood the OP.
 

I'm pretty sure that most foliage that I've seen in adventures can grant Heavy Obscurement while only counting as Difficult Terrain. It would be hard to Hide in the kind of foliage that you'd have to hack your way through.
Other than wood elves who can hide when only lightly obscured by foliage, (and heavy rain, falling snow, mist etc), a creature must be in a heavily obscured area in order to hide and attempt a Stealth check. So in order to hide, it has to be heavily obscuring foliage.

In my (admittedly very humble) experience, it doesn't take much for terrain to force you to slow down or dedicate 100% of your attention to your movement (i.e. forfeiting a spell or an attack to take the dash action just to keep your current speed), which D&D would consider "difficult terrain". If "heavily obscuring foliage" can be defined by "enough for someone to hide in", then heavily obscuring foliage doesn't have to be that thick. That goes well with heavily obscuring foliage granting disadvantage against attacks, but your enemies can still "see" you and know where you are (at least enough to warrant an attack roll).
 

FitzTheRuke

Legend
Other than wood elves who can hide when only lightly obscured by foliage, (and heavy rain, falling snow, mist etc), a creature must be in a heavily obscured area in order to hide and attempt a Stealth check. So in order to hide, it has to be heavily obscuring foliage.

In my (admittedly very humble) experience, it doesn't take much for terrain to force you to slow down or dedicate 100% of your attention to your movement (i.e. forfeiting a spell or an attack to take the dash action just to keep your current speed), which D&D would consider "difficult terrain". If "heavily obscuring foliage" can be defined by "enough for someone to hide in", then heavily obscuring foliage doesn't have to be that thick. That goes well with heavily obscuring foliage granting disadvantage against attacks, but your enemies can still "see" you and know where you are (at least enough to warrant an attack roll).
I'm well aware of your first paragraph, so I think you missed what I was saying - my comment about hiding was saying that if ALL heavy obscured foliage was thick enough that you had to hack your way through, it would be hard to hide in. It's the type of foliage that you are expected to hide in, so I think that much of it (not all - one might start to understand that I never mean all) must be easier than that to move through.

Your second paragraph goes along with what I was saying, nearly exactly.
 

jgsugden

Legend
I have not been able to keep up with the ... d i s c u s s i o n ... Is this still where we are at?

1.) The spell is poorly written and creates different opinions on what is intended.
2.) WotC comments on it are sparse, but seem to indicate the intent was to create obscurement within the darkness (unless you can see through magical darkness).
3.) DMs are going to rule however, they feel here due to the ambiguity, so arguing does no one any real benefit.

Is that all correct?
 

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