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D&D 5E Revisiting RAW Darkness Spell

FitzTheRuke

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?

You nailed it!
 

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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
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?
Pretty sure that we are all still under the cover of darkness. Beyond that. 🤷‍♂️
1.) The spell is poorly written and creates different opinions on what is intended.
Sounds right.
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).
It seems the intent was to cause complete blindness, due to the Blind condition it applies that makes it so that you can't see.
3.) DMs are going to rule however, they feel here due to the ambiguity, so arguing does no one any real benefit.
This sounds right as well.
 

Mike R

Explorer
The same purpose it served back in 3.5 e and the Cleric version served in AD&D 1e.
Also, nobody argued it was impossible to imagine back then.
I don't believe you have complete knowledge of all arguments about spells that have ever taken place among the entire customer base of any edition.
 
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Mike R

Explorer
Yes, but page 183 of the PHB says normal darkness can't be seen through as well. Does it make you believe normal darkness should be opaque too? The only difference here is that the spell cannot be negated by Darkvision.
Honestly, "it's hard to imagine" isn't a very compelling argument.
Until a coherent visual model is provided, no argument is necessary.

The book is simply incorrect with regards to normal darkness.
 

Mike R

Explorer
Sure, something like that. The exact level of "dimmed" would be up to whatever you feel comfortable with counting as "not enough obscurement to count mechanically as heavily obscured" (for the woman) and "enough obscurement to count mechanically as heavily obscured" (for the man). You can see her well enough to shoot her without disadvantage, and you can see him poorly enough to have disadvantage on shooting him. From my (perhaps "our" when we keep talking about "sides") perspective, that means she's dark and he's darker, but she's not GONE and nor is he. Again, I (we?) feel that the Inkblot side seems to be insisting that he has to be absolutely black to be "heavily obscured" and she has to be absolutely bright to not be. (And would be utterly gone too, if the area of the spell is in front of her).




I'm an artist too and I absolutely could paint what I'm talking about. I assume that you really, fundamentally just can't grasp what I'm saying, for whatever reason. I have no idea why this is, but it has nothing to do with "top-down" playing or whatever, I play mostly theatre-of-the-mind.
Then do so, and post it here.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
The same purpose it served back in 3.5 e and the Cleric version served in AD&D 1e.
Also, nobody argued it was impossible to imagine back then.
In 3.5 it served the purpose of a 20% miss chance. The 5e version is clearly not intended for that purpose, so we can scratch it off the list. The 1e version explicitly creates blackness, not shadows. The 5e version also causes inky blackness, because Darkness uses the heavily obscured form of darkness that causes the Blind condition which says "can't see." Blind doesn't allow you to see shadows. The normal version of that darkness would be the kind you find deep in a heavy forest with no moon out. Pitch black. You can't see.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Until a coherent visual model is provided, no argument is necessary.

The book is simply incorrect with regards to normal darkness.
I don't think the book is incorrect at all. Normal "darkness," which is what we think of when night happens, isn't darkness in the game. It's dim light. Darkness in the game happens when you go deep into a cave or into a cave at night, or into a thick forest with no moon, or heavy cloud cover which prevents starlight and moonlight. The book uses darkness for those times when you are heavily obscured and literally blind to anything around you. I've been in darkness like that here in the real world. You can't even see your hand in front of your face.
 

FitzTheRuke

Legend
Then do so, and post it here.
Naw, I think we long ago established that if I did, everyone would just say that he's only "dimly lit" because you can see him. I think we've figured out that some of us put the description before the mechanics, and some the other way around (and most of us do one or the other, depending on what exactly we're talking about). It's all relative.

I've never expected everyone to agree, but I think I may have naively assumed that if everyone understood each other, then they'd at least agree to disagree. I'm getting the impression that even that small concession is too much to ask.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Naw, I think we long ago established that if I did, everyone would just say that he's only "dimly lit" because you can see him. I think we've figured out that some of us put the description before the mechanics, and some the other way around (and most of us do one or the other, depending on what exactly we're talking about). It's all relative.

I've never expected everyone to agree, but I think I may have naively assumed that if everyone understood each other, then they'd at least agree to disagree. I'm getting the impression that even that small concession is too much to ask.
If I were in a game where the DM ran it like normal darkness(real world version), rather than the heavily obscured game version, I wouldn't mind very much. I'd probably think it's odd, but it's not something that's a big enough deal to get upset over.
 

Mike R

Explorer
The more I look at them, both the questions and the answer are just very poorly worded. The first question equates opacity with blocking line of sight when I think we can at least agree that non-magical darkness blocks line of sight to things in the darkness, but not to things outside of the darkness, so is it opaque or not? The second question is more to the point and makes clear that the overall question is specifically asking about blocking line of sight to things outside the area of the spell as opposed to how non-magical darkness works.

The "answer" does not answer this question! It basically just says that the area of the spell is heavily obscured, which is not at all different from non-magical darkness. It also glosses heavily obscured as "impenetrable to vision" which, if understood in the context of non-magical darkness must mean impenetrable to vision targeting things in the area. The answer also implies that if you have darkvision (the ability to see through non-magical darkness) that the area of the spell is not impenetrable to vision, which, no matter how you interpret "impenetrable to vision" can't be right unless by "that area" Dan is also referring to an area of non-magical darkness.

So I'd say the answer, just like the rules they're an echo of, is trading on the ambiguity that surrounds game-terms like "blocks vision entirely", "can't see (clearly?)", and "can't see through", allowing the reader to apply and perceive support for their preferred interpretation, thus preserving, not clarifying, the ambiguity of the text, which is intentional.
There isn't any such thing as "vision targeting things in an area". Vision doesn't target things. It is directional. A thing is either penetrable by vision (some percent transparent) or it is not.

If darkness is impenetrable to vision, you cannot see anything on the other side, or in it. If it is not, you can, to some degree, see things on the other side, and inside it. There are no other possibilities.
 

Mike R

Explorer
My only real gripe with your Darkness blocking vision beyond the affected area is that it becomes no different than a cloud of black smoke instead of the magically induced ausence of light you would expect from the spell description.
I would expect an opaque black globe from the spell description. Attempting to dictate people's expectations to them makes your argument less convincing, not more.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I would expect an opaque black globe from the spell description. Attempting to dictate people's expectations to them makes your argument less convincing, not more.
The spell description doesn't matter. Darkness causes the Blind condition, which means zero visibility is possible within it. It would take a house rule to change that.
 

FitzTheRuke

Legend
If I were in a game where the DM ran it like normal darkness(real world version), rather than the heavily obscured game version, I wouldn't mind very much. I'd probably think it's odd, but it's not something that's a big enough deal to get upset over.
That's pretty much the reaction I would have expected to see regarding it. I've been surprised that there wasn't more... "Huh. I wouldn't do it that way, but you have fun with that."
 

Mike R

Explorer
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.
If the listener doesn't understand, you have failed. Improve your communication.

You are at fault. Your explanation is insufficient.

You are the only person in the thread who has consistently lowered its quality. If you hate it so much, leave. We'll all be better off.
 

Mike R

Explorer
Naw, I think we long ago established that if I did, everyone would just say that he's only "dimly lit" because you can see him. I think we've figured out that some of us put the description before the mechanics, and some the other way around (and most of us do one or the other, depending on what exactly we're talking about). It's all relative.

I've never expected everyone to agree, but I think I may have naively assumed that if everyone understood each other, then they'd at least agree to disagree. I'm getting the impression that even that small concession is too much to ask.
Very well, your claim is dismissed.
 

FitzTheRuke

Legend
If the listener doesn't understand, you have failed. Improve your communication.

You are at fault. Your explanation is insufficient.

You are the only person in the thread who has consistently lowered its quality. If you hate it so much, leave. We'll all be better off.

I was mostly enjoying it until you showed up and started insulting me for no reason. What gives?
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Insulting other members
If the listener doesn't understand, you have failed. Improve your communication.

You are at fault. Your explanation is insufficient.

You are the only person in the thread who has consistently lowered its quality. If you hate it so much, leave. We'll all be better off.
So if I'm talking to someone with the IQ of a tree stump, it's my fault if he doesn't understand?
 


Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
If the listener doesn't understand, you have failed. Improve your communication.

You are at fault. Your explanation is insufficient.

You are the only person in the thread who has consistently lowered its quality. If you hate it so much, leave. We'll all be better off.
One of ENWorld’s core rules is “Don't make it personal.” See also “Keep it civil.” This post violates both, so dial it back or...
 


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