Ridding Elves and Half-Elves of Darkvision

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collin

Explorer
I am adding a post here because this topic came up recently in my group. We found it difficult to reconcile how creatures of the outdoors and light would have darkvision. Clearly we came to the same conclusion: it's just a hold-over going back to 1st edition. As I got to thinking about this more, I came to the idea that elves should have Blindsight (or perhaps Truesight) but not Darkvision.

Has anyone out there tried home-brewing this type of change? Or perhaps changing it to something new, like a Farsight (basically can see farther than average humanoids). I am starting a new adventure campaign soon, I am thinking of making this a house rule.

Thoughts? Comments?
Thanks.
 

Al2O3

Explorer
I am adding a post here because this topic came up recently in my group. We found it difficult to reconcile how creatures of the outdoors and light would have darkvision. Clearly we came to the same conclusion: it's just a hold-over going back to 1st edition. As I got to thinking about this more, I came to the idea that elves should have Blindsight (or perhaps Truesight) but not Darkvision.

Has anyone out there tried home-brewing this type of change? Or perhaps changing it to something new, like a Farsight (basically can see farther than average humanoids). I am starting a new adventure campaign soon, I am thinking of making this a house rule.

Thoughts? Comments?
Thanks.
Since you seem open to create something new I'll describe the mechanic from 4e I miss the most: low-light vision.

Low-light vision: you are accustomed to moving around outdoors during star-lit nights. You treat dim light at any distance as bright light, but gain no benefit in darkness.

Darkvision changes to: you treat all dim light as bright light, and darkness out to 60 feet as dim light. You only see in black and white in darkness.

Those with superior darkvision keeps it, as do dwarves and maybe some gnomes. Tieflings and others with normal darkvision instead gain low-light vision (flavored to suit the story).

Having a human or other party member becomes less likely to be the difference between "we can all sneak without a light source" and "we need light for this one party member". However, those with low-light vision will still see more clearly in the light of a torch or similar; or in dim ambient light.

I would assume that darkness would be a bit darker with these rules than with the normal rules. RAW would probably describe a slightly moonlit or just starlit night as darkness (justifying elf darkvision), while I would describe it as dim light.

I hope this might help you and your group to figure out what you dislike about the standard rules and how you could possibly solve it.
 

Yaarel

Adventurer
Wood Elf, and maybe High Elf, deserve Darkvision, carrying a nocturnal vibe.

However, Eladrin ‘Sun Elf’ must not have Darkvision, having an aura of light, or a light cantrip, instead.

Eladrin ‘Moon Elf’ probably needs Darkvision with a nocturnal vibe.



In sum.

Wood Elf, needs Darkvision.
High Elf or Moon Elf, might have Darkvision or luminous aura.
Sun Elf, needs luminous aura.
 

Elfcrusher

Adventurer
Well, since this has been necro'd...

I would have given elves a kind of "keen vision", that treats dim light as bright light so that they wouldn't have disadvantage on Perception checks relying on sight in dim light. (And maybe doubles range, but that comes up very, very rarely.) They're used to running around at night and in dark forests, or at least their ancestors were, but they don't live in pitch darkness.

The nifty thing is that if they then get darkvision, through magic or subclassing or something, then darkness is equal to bright light for them.
 

CapnZapp

Hero
Simplifying vision into only Darkvision was something WotC did anxious to avoid 5E being a failure.

It was not necessary. It is a mistake. I can understand why they did it, but low-light vision needs to be readded to the game.
 

Fenris-77

Explorer
People have been choosing character races specifically for Darkvision since it was a thing. It was one of the main reasons human characters sucked for so long. If you want a level playing field take darkvision away from almost everyone. Let them by torches. Problem solved. Keep it for the legit subterranean races and no one else.
 

CapnZapp

Hero
Yes the devs failed to see how the abundance of Darkvision makes it too easy to create an all-Darkvision party.

Forest races (Elves, Half-Elves and Gnomes) should have low-light vision, not Darkvision.
 

Bobble

Villager
Your thoughts were also the thoughts of the creators of C&C. Here is what they did for elves: "TWILIGHT VISION : Even under starlight, moonlight or torchlight, elves have exceedingly good vision. They can distinguish color and detail under these conditions for up to one mile but only if they are outside."

Absent a light source they are as blind humans.
 

Yaarel

Adventurer
Low light is a pain in the neck to keep track of. Even when I remember there is low light, I just handwaive it. Any amount of bright light is bright within close range, and dim for a virtually unlimited distance beyond the bright light.

Maybe low light vision is useful for scanning a distance. But really I dont care.

I am glad the only two meaningful options are either darkvision or a bright light source. Any thing else adds more complication for less benefit.
 

CapnZapp

Hero
Low light is real easy to keep track of. As soon as you're outdoors, say on a moon-lit night, you just see as normal. And in dark dungeons, you see twice as far as the humans.

Definitely low light vision is useful to force the heroes to have a light source. But really the devs dont seem to care.

I am sad the only two meaningful options are either darkvision or a bright light source. Any thing else adds very little complication for a major benefit.
 

Azzy

Cyclone Ranger
Yes the devs failed to see how the abundance of Darkvision makes it too easy to create an all-Darkvision party.
Or maybe they weren't concerned that players could create an all-Darkvision party. Because why would they be—it the players want to do so, why not let them?
 

CapnZapp

Hero
Or maybe they weren't concerned that players could create an all-Darkvision party. Because why would they be—it the players want to do so, why not let them?
Because that severely shortchanges you, at least if you run light and darkness anywhere close to resembling reality.

For instance, on a moonless night, you can spot a cigarette from quite a distance. And in a lightless cavern system, you can pick up the light from an approaching party of heroes from far away, even when that light isn't direct, but bounces off of several cliff walls.

That is, carrying a torch gives you away, period.

You have always been able to create an all-Darkvision party (four Dwarves, say). The annoying difference now is that you can go Half-Elf, Gnome, Dwarf, Elf and practically replicate the "standard" adventuring party (Human, Halfling, Dwarf, Elf) and STILL gain the not inconsiderable benefit of not having to carry any light.

And just because I've been in this discussion - no, the disadvantage on Perception isn't really a problem: most monsters have very poor Stealth. If anything, getting -5 to your score fixes the big that almost everything is trivially easy to spot!

Besides, in many cases the dungeon provides light for you, for most of your trap-finding needs.

Still, the advantage of not being seen means far less ambushes, which is much more beneficial than percepting in the dark is a drawback. (Especially considering the enemies are in that dark too)
 

dnd4vr

Hero
We split the nine races thus:

Darkvision: Dragonborn, Half-Orcs, Tieflings
Shadowsight (aka Low-Light): Dwarves, Elfs, Gnomes
Normal: Half-elves, Halflings, Humans.

Our current party has one dragonborn, a dwarf, three elves, one human, and a half-orc.

Since most of the party has darkvision or shadowsight, we often are using dancing lights to make darkness into dim light. Then the human can see well enough, and everyone else can see normally. Sending the dancing lights out up to the maximum range is useful for exploring and avoiding ambushes. With several casters in the group, dancing lights and light gives us ample ability to see. With some of the party with very high passive perceptions, we don't get ambushed often as well.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Vision is like spell components... If you think it's an important part of the game, anything the devs put in the book was not going to be as noodly or as in-depth as you were going to want the rules to be. And you were going to house rule your own system into place anyway. Which is why they didn't bother making any big rule system that was just going to be ignored by most people as a result.

Thus we can see they learned at least one important lesson from 3E. ;)
 
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jgsugden

Adventurer
I have many diferent types of vision in my games:

1.) Infravision - if you're a surface dwelling hunter race, you're likely exchanging darkvision for infravision. It sees into the infrared range at any distance.

2.) Low light vison - Not a hunter, but on the surface? You get low light vision. Double the range of all lightsources, treat environmental dim light as normal light (for example, dusk hours), and treat some dark like dim light.

3.) Darkvision - as written (the 60'/120' range is a huge limitation compared to many other visions). This is generally found on otherworldly creatures and underdark creatures. It is explained as your eyes making a dim light (black/white/grey) that only you can see, usually.

4.) Ultravision - a secret vision that a few spellcasting races possesses. It primarily alows you to see into a range of light that spellcasters use to leave secret messages.

5.) Devil Sight - see in any darkness.

6.) Arcane sight - the effect of detect magic.

7.) Tuesight - As the spell.

8.) Tremorsense - As the ability.

9.) Sonar - Certain creatures have this rather than darkvision. It comes with certain sound vulnerabilities, but it is not treated as dim light vision.

When a PC is built, I give them the option of darkvision per the PHB or to opt into their race's typical vision. This is explained in game by a common mutation - some call a curse - where many races have darkvision rather than their race's normal enhanced vision.
 

Azzy

Cyclone Ranger
Because that severely shortchanges you, at least if you run light and darkness anywhere close to resembling reality.

For instance, on a moonless night, you can spot a cigarette from quite a distance. And in a lightless cavern system, you can pick up the light from an approaching party of heroes from far away, even when that light isn't direct, but bounces off of several cliff walls.

That is, carrying a torch gives you away, period.

You have always been able to create an all-Darkvision party (four Dwarves, say). The annoying difference now is that you can go Half-Elf, Gnome, Dwarf, Elf and practically replicate the "standard" adventuring party (Human, Halfling, Dwarf, Elf) and STILL gain the not inconsiderable benefit of not having to carry any light.

And just because I've been in this discussion - no, the disadvantage on Perception isn't really a problem: most monsters have very poor Stealth. If anything, getting -5 to your score fixes the big that almost everything is trivially easy to spot!

Besides, in many cases the dungeon provides light for you, for most of your trap-finding needs.

Still, the advantage of not being seen means far less ambushes, which is much more beneficial than percepting in the dark is a drawback. (Especially considering the enemies are in that dark too)
Like you said, you could run an all-Darkvision parties with dwarves (or drow, etc.). Now you can do so with a more interesting (not monolithic) party selection. It plays different than not having a party where darkvision is limited. But, then, a party of "weird" races plays diffently in non-cosmopolitan urban adventure than a "normal" party. That's not a bad thing, it's just different from what you're used to.
 

Azzy

Cyclone Ranger
We split the nine races thus:

Darkvision: Dragonborn, Half-Orcs, Tieflings
Shadowsight (aka Low-Light): Dwarves, Elfs, Gnomes
Normal: Half-elves, Halflings, Humans.
I'm curious about rationale of this selection. One would think that dwarves, living underground, would have darkvision as opposed to half-orcs (given that half-orcs are more above-ground than dwarves).
 

dnd4vr

Hero
I'm curious about rationale of this selection. One would think that dwarves, living underground, would have darkvision as opposed to half-orcs (given that half-orcs are more above-ground than dwarves).
Well, dwarves do spend a lot of time underground, but in all the media (books, movies, etc.) they nearly always have light sources (fireplaces, torches, lanterns, candles, etc.). Our rationale was the dwarves are adapted to seeing better in dim light due to their common use of "limited" light sources. They are not known to typically operate in absolute darkness, however. I should mention, though, Duergar have Darkvision (as do Drow Elves and Deep Gnomes).

For Half-Orcs, it depends a lot on your game world. In someplace like Faerun, half-orcs have villiages and even towns, often living above ground. In our game, half-orcs are not common at all and often shunned by "the good folk" due to their orc nature but also often treated brutally or even enslaved by the orcs for the "human weaknesses." Due to orcs often living below ground in dark or near dark conditions, half-orcs retain enough of their orc heritage to keep their darkvision.

Similarly, Dragonborn and Tieflings retain darkvision because of their heritage to dragons and devils.

It also created a nice balance between the races, with three races having darkvision, three having shadowsight, and three having normal vision.
 
I am adding a post here because this topic came up recently in my group. We found it difficult to reconcile how creatures of the outdoors and light would have darkvision. Clearly we came to the same conclusion: it's just a hold-over going back to 1st edition
Its not a holdover, in the sense that it had been gone quite while, so more of a callback - which is true of a lot if 5e, really - and, really, so is your observation. Back in the early 80s there was a very earnest, carefully thought out Dragon magazine article that put forth arguments that elves and other above-ground races should have Ultravision instead of Infravision. (Yep, D&D was that freak'n anachronistic back then.)

In latter eds it became Darkvision (nice and fantasy-sounding) and Low-light (not s'much).

Has anyone out there tried home-brewing this type of change?
Yes, back in the day, I renamed and redefined them to Darksight and Nightvision. The latter was fairly conventional, seeing well in very dim light. The former was more fantastic, based on a definition of light & darkness as opposed elements, darkness being opaque to normal sight - Darkvision was the opposite, seeing clearly in total darkness, but unable to penetrate light.
 

CapnZapp

Hero
Vision is like spell components... If you think it's an important part of the game, anything the devs put in the book was not going to be as noodly or as in-depth as you were going to want the rules to be. And you were going to house rule your own system into place anyway. Which is why they didn't bother making any big rule system that was just going to be ignored by most people as a result.

Thus we can see they learned at least one important lesson from 3E. ;)
No, that makes it sound like low-light vision is only a specialist need, and too complicated to include in the base game.

In reality, they removed lots of things in their panic to avoid 5E ending up like 4E. Removing low-light vision was one of the less good things: sounds like a trivial change, but with irritatingly large ramifications on how you adventure.

The minor savings in rules overhead are not worth having to deal with that many more all-Darkvision parties.
 

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