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Ridding Elves and Half-Elves of Darkvision

  • Thread starter WhosDaDungeonMaster
  • Start date

Satyrn

Villager
. . . in 5e it lets you see in darkness as if it were dim light at any distance, and in dim light as if it were darkness* within the radius.
I've never seen this interpretation before. I've always read it as both conditions only reaching out to 60 ft.

Reading it again, I can see why you interpret it as saying it lets you see in darkness as if it were dim light at any distance, though. How many other people here go with this interpretation?



*I'm assuming you meant bright light instead of darkness.
 

Charlaquin

Explorer
I've never seen this interpretation before. I've always read it as both conditions only reaching out to 60 ft.

Reading it again, I can see why you interpret it as saying it lets you see in darkness as if it were dim light at any distance, though. How many other people here go with this interpretation?
I can see how the wording could be interpreted as meaning that the creature can only see in darkness as if it were dim light out to the radius. But if that’s the intent, it would seem to me to be awkwardly worded. If within the darkvision radius you can see both in darkness as if it were dim light, and in dim light as if it were bright light, then it would communicate the same effect with less ambiguity to simply say “you can see in dim light and darkness within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light,” or something to that effect.

*I'm assuming you meant bright light instead of darkness.
That’s correct, sorry for the typo.

EDIT: So, with some google searching, I found out that Jeremy has weighed in on this on Twitter, for what it’s worth.

https://www.sageadvice.eu/2016/05/09/is-darkvision-limited-or-unlimited/


So, I guess the intent is for both to be limited by the radius. It’s also probably not intended that you be able to see in darkness within the radius as if it were bright light, even though that is the effect of the interaction between being able to see in darkness as if it were dim light and in dim light as if it were bright light.
 
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Satyrn

Villager
I can see how the wording could be interpreted as meaning that the creature can only see in darkness as if it were dim light out to the radius. But if that’s the intent, it would seem to me to be awkwardly worded. If within the darkvision radius you can see both in darkness as if it were dim light, and in dim light as if it were bright light, then it would communicate the same effect with less ambiguity to simply say “you can see within 60 feet of you in all lighting conditions as if it were bright light,” or something to that effect.
It seems straightforward to me. To me, Darkvision treats darkness as dim light, and dim light as bright light. You seem to be suggesting that that would mean darkness would get bumped up to dim light and then instantly bumped again to bright light. I wouldn't like that . . . perhaps mostly because I've found a cool interpretation for what a dwarf sees in total darkness: I try to picture what the scene would look like if it was instead my house illuminated only by streetlights as I got up in the middle of the night to pee.
 

Charlaquin

Explorer
It seems straightforward to me. To me, Darkvision treats darkness as dim light, and dim light as bright light. You seem to be suggesting that that would mean darkness would get bumped up to dim light and then instantly bumped again to bright light. I wouldn't like that.
Well, it’s probably not intended to work that way. Logically speaking though, if you see in dim light as if it were bright light, and you see in darkness as if it were dim light (which you see in as if it were bright light), then what you’re left with is seeing in all conditions as if it were bright light.
 

Satyrn

Villager
Well, it’s probably not intended to work that way. Logically speaking though, if you see in darkness as if it were dim light, and you see in dim light as if it were bright light, then you must see in darkness as if it were bright light. Because you see in dim light as if it were bright light, being able to see in darkness as if it were
I tend not to worry about logic, so I'm good. :uhoh:

But mostly, I'm intrigued by the idea of darkvision treating darkness as dim light without a limited range and I'm wondering how many others here treat it that way, too.
 

Charlaquin

Explorer
I tend not to worry about logic, so I'm good. :uhoh:

But mostly, I'm intrigued by the idea of darkvision treating darkness as dim light without a limited range and I'm wondering how many others here treat it that way, too.
To be fair, I don’t treat it that way because I houserule Darkvision to only treat darkness as dim light within the radius and not affect dim light, and add a low-light vision that removes the disadvantage on attacks and vision-based checks in dim light. But that was how I interpreted the RAW on Darkvision, and didn’t realize until today wasn’t the typical interpretation.
 

Satyrn

Villager
To be fair, I don’t treat it that way because I houserule Darkvision to only treat darkness as dim light within the radius and not affect dim light, and add a low-light vision that removes the disadvantage on attacks and vision-based checks in dim light. But that was how I interpreted the RAW on Darkvision, and didn’t realize until today wasn’t the typical interpretation.
That looks like a fantastic solution for the OP. He can then give elves the lowlight vision. (And give the forest gnomes lowlight vision while tinker gnomes keep the weakened darkvision)

(Yeah, I know you mentioned it right near the start of the thread, but it didn't click for me the way you described it then)
 
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Charlaquin

Explorer
That looks like a fantastic solution for the OP. He can then give elves the lowlight vision. (And give the forest gnomes lowlight vision while tinker gnomes keep the weakened darkvision)
Thanks!

(Yeah, I know you mentioned it right near the start of the thread, but it didn't click for me the way you described it then)
No worries. That post was as much grumpy ranting as proposing a solution, so I don’t blame anyone for missing the latter due to the former being distracting or disintetesting.
 

Yaarel

Explorer
I think of the D&D Wood Elf as a nocturnal land spirit, in the tradition of the English fairyfolk. As dwellers of darkness, they benefit from darkvision.

But any elf of Norse tradition there is no darkvision, and I remove it and instead grant the Light cantrip atwill, to represent their affinity with shineshine. Also for the Norse elf, +2 Charisma and +1 Any replaces the ability improvement.
 
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WhosDaDungeonMaster

Guest
Yeah, if 5E didn't over simplify it to nothing but Darkvision, I could see ruling Elves with "low-light" and the underground races with Darkvision or something.

But, while simplifying things to an extend is good, I think they went overboard in 5E and oversimplified too many things IMO. I'll be giving it more thought, but regardless some races will be losing Darkvision in my games. :)
 

Yaarel

Explorer
It seems possible to make ‘darkvision’ and ‘dimvision’ identical statistically, except that the dimvision requires at least some lightsource, no matter how small − even a single star would suffice.
 
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WhosDaDungeonMaster

Guest
I went through my MM and found it interesting that out of the four fey I found (Dryad, Pixie, Satyr, Sprite), only the Dryad has Darkvision. So arguing that Elves have it because of their Fey connection isn't well supported. Since they do operate under twilight and moonlight conditions culturally, it makes sense for them to have something in game mechanics to compensate (i.e. Darkvision).

However, like a lot of you have mentioned house-ruling a return of Low-light Vision, I will probably give Elves and Forest Gnomes "Moonsight" (aka kind of like Low-light but it sounds more fantasy-ish). With Moonsight, the character can see in Dim light as if it were Bright light up. Moonsight does see in color, albeit slightly muted with a silvery edge, and it has normal range (normal vision distances). Elves and Forest Gnomes in Darkness cannot see and suffer from the condition as normal. Moonsight will not operate in magical Darkness.

Half-Elves do NOT have Darkvision or Moonsight. (Hey, they get enough IMO.)
Drow will retain Darkvision and as well as other Gnomes. Darkvision is mechanically RAW, but shows color that is tinged by heat (infrared) instead of just shades of gray.

In summary:

Dwarf: Darkvision
Halfling: Normal
Elf: Moonsight (Drow: Darkvision)
Human: Normal
Dragonborn: Darkvision
Half-Elf: Normal
Half-Orc: Darkvision
Gnome: Darkvision (Forest: Moonsight)
Tiefling: Darkvision

Pixie, Satyr, and Sprite have Moonsight as well.
 

Prakriti

Hi, I'm a Mindflayer, but don't let that worry you
In 1E, a character's eyes needed to adjust to the darkness before benefiting from Darkvision. So if your party was carrying around a torch or a lantern, then you didn't benefit from Darkvision. You just saw by the light of the torch, and if there were monsters skulking around just outside the torch-light, well too bad: you couldn't see them.

The current iteration of Darkvision is more like a super-power in that it's always on and it overlaps with all light-sources, so if you're carrying around a torch, you can see 40' from the light, plus another 20' from Darkvision. To me, that's just stupid, and I hate it, because that's not how eyesight works.
 
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WhosDaDungeonMaster

Guest
I was already debating about making it a Move or regular Action to adjust vision-type. For the benefit of having Darkvision, it is a reasonable trade-off IMO.
 

doctorbadwolf

Explorer
Well, it’s probably not intended to work that way. Logically speaking though, if you see in dim light as if it were bright light, and you see in darkness as if it were dim light (which you see in as if it were bright light), then what you’re left with is seeing in all conditions as if it were bright light.
I’m not sure why it would work that way, ever, tbh. Dim Light and Darkness are objective environmental conditions that exist outside of the perception of a given creature. When you are in darkness, it is darkness regardless of how you “treat it”, so you always treat it as Dim Light.

When you are in actual, objective, Dim Light, you treat it as bright light.
 

Charlaquin

Explorer
I’m not sure why it would work that way, ever, tbh. Dim Light and Darkness are objective environmental conditions that exist outside of the perception of a given creature. When you are in darkness, it is darkness regardless of how you “treat it”, so you always treat it as Dim Light.
Which you treat as Bright Light.

The way these two abilities interact does not leave any room for a treatment of light within its radius as anything but bright.
 
Personally, I would give Dwarves, Half-orcs, and Tieflings low-light vision, give Elves advantage on Perception checks, and eliminate darkvision entirely.

But that's just me. :)
 

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