D&D 5E Sudden Realization On Darkvision Wording

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Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Not clearly enough to avoid confusion among fans. Clearly. Since there’s constant references to people not understanding or not applying the rules for darkvision.

I’ve seen far more misunderstanding around 5E’s darkvision than infravision. 5E’s been out, what 10 years while AD&D’s been out, what 45-47 years. Still more confusion over darkvision.

AD&D PHB p102. “nfravision is the ability to see into the infrared spectrum. Thus heat radiation becomes visible and differences in temperature allow infrared sight. Warm things are bright, cool things grey, very cold things are black. Most infravision extends to 60' distance. Dungeon-dwelling monsters have infravision to 120'. All infravision is spoiled if a light source is shedding illumination upon the creature possessing the infrared sight capability. Similarly, great heat will spoil the capability.

Thieves hiding in shadows are successful with respect to infravision only if there is a heat/light source nearby to mask their body heat, or a very cold object or radiation to provide similar cover.”

This is further detailed in the DMG, on page 59.

“You see heat. Watch Predator* or clips on YouTube. You’ll get it.”

* Although Predator even gets it wrong because the mud doesn’t warm as it sits on Ahnuld’s pecks.

It’s nowhere near as hard as people make it out to be.
Cold radiation 🤣

Even the authors don’t understand how things actually work.


Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Assuming these are asked in good faith.

No. You see heat. Anything that's a significantly different temperature than the ambient heat level would stand out.

Nope. If everything's the same temperature, it would all blend together. What you see in most infrared or thermal images is a combination of image enhancement and thermal imaging. Without that image enhancement, everything that's the same temperature would blend together.

Only if their temperature doesn't vary significantly from the ambient temperature. The more they move, the more they'd heat up (if real-world physics applies), so things like feet that scrape against the floor, joints that move, etc would stand out.

The moon reflects light and heat. It doesn't mess with infrared goggles, but no idea if it would mess with someone with infravision. This might be where Gary messed up.

If you had identical twins in the same clothes you couldn't tell them apart, but you'd still see things like the shape of clothes, outlines, height difference, body shape, body type, etc.

No. You can see everything within the range. All objects and creatures vary in temperature from the things around them, even if only minimally.

Yes. As long as there are any temperature gradiants, you notice it. If there is no difference in temperature, then effectively everything would be the same color and blend together, effectively making your infravision ineffective.

No, you can see them unless they are precisely the same temperature as the ambient temperature around them. VERY rarely would anything like this happen unless artificially created.

Sadly, yes, since the range of moonlight is effectively infinite. Infravision really only helps in areas of complete darkness.

I knew some DMs who would rule moonlight wasn't intense enough to spoil infravision, but for me it was always an "all or nothing" thing. Which is why it is mostly associated with dungeon-dwelling creatures--things living in complete darkness.

As much detail as you could derive depending on how close you are to the person, sure.

Because elves do a lot of their celebrations during the night, especially under moonlight, etc.?

Otherwise, it is a carry over from earlier versions. 🤷‍♂️
Two different answers, spoken with equal confidence, neither agree with each other, and both referring to real life physics and technology to arrive at those conclusions, because the game rules alone are not sufficient to determine what the character can or can’t see. And that, in my experience, is always how it goes with infravision. Which is precisely why WotC switched to Darkvision.


Dusty Dragon
Now you have me questioning myself, but I run it as 60 feet being the absolute maximum for darkvision. So if you have darkvision and are in total darkness, you see as if in dim light out to range of 60 feet. If you are in dim light, you can see as if bright light for 60 feet but beyond that would still be dim or darkness depending on the light source and its range.

So in my understanding, darkvision does not change the range of existing light sources, but provides its own range.

I do miss Low-Light Vision from 3E (which did do that) and still use is for some species in my 5E games.
I recently checked, and my game has 8 house rule already (... 9...) and I don't want to add more. If I had a more "I will run the game exactly like I want attitude, hell yes I would have low light vision. Too many races have dark vision these days!

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