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Originally Posted by Dexai
I mean the tabletop version.


It seems pretty clear to me. Somewhat ironically it's actually both. The spell description specifies an area of magical darkness (read: absence of light) that cannot be seen through by mundane sight or darkvision (therefore appearing perfectly opaque to creatures using those senses).

You could argue whether the area is a perfect geomatrical object or is more akin to fog with frayed edges I suppose, but apart from that I see no issue with its description.

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Originally Posted by Leuenherz
Excellent post, agree with almost all of it.

Two notes, though:

1.) Thunderwave is not as purposeless as you assume, the push can propel multiple objects, which can do damage when colliding with creatures or other objects. Someone demonstrated one-shotting the Adult Red Dragon in the Githyanki patrol by using Thunderwave to push a shit ton of objects down from the bridge and on top of it.

2.) Your explanation of how Darkness is supposed to work is actually incorrect. Darkness explicitly mentions that creatures with darkvision cannot see through it, so BOTH attacker and defender are functionally blind when attacking each other, neutralizing any disadvantage and advantage on attack rolls.



Thunderwave is not useless by any means. I only noted that, alongside other mechanics in the game, its value had been decreased in relation...

As for Darkness, I'm sorry, and I don't wish to come across as harsh or aggressive, but you're mistaken; my description is correct, and I am 100% certain of that.

Darkness, the written spell, says that it creates darkness. It notes that it is magical darkness - and specifies, to support that, that creatures with darkvision can't see through it. If it made creatures inside the darkness functionally blind, it would say so. This is a specific-beats-general classification: it is calling out a specific case where the general rule of darkvision in relation to darkness is overruled. Normally, creatures with darkvision would perceive "darkness" as "dim light". For this particular magical darkness, that is not so - it's still darkness to them.

That is what the spell says. For what effect that has on characters, we then have to look at what darkness does, and for that we need the rules on light and shadow. I'll quote them here:

(Italics mine)
Quote
Darkness creates a heavily obscured area. Characters face darkness outdoors at night (even most moonlit nights), within the confines of an unlit dungeon or subterranean vault, or in an area of magical darkness.


Quote
A heavily obscured area - such as darkness, opaque fog, or dense foliage - blocks vision entirely. A creature suffers from the blinded condition (see appendix A) when trying to see something in that area


Also, the wording on the Darkvision trait:

Quote
... You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light.


Note that it is not talking about where you are, or what condition you are in - it's talking about what you're seeing; a space apart from you but still within 60 feet. You can see in that patch of darkness, over there, within 60 feet of you, as though it were not darkness. If you're trying to see a creature that is within 60 feet of you, and that creature is in darkness, you aren't blinded against that creature - you can see it as though it were in dim light. That's how the trait works.

The Darkness spell specifically calls out its overruling of the darkvision trait, to say that even creatures with darkvision are still functionally blind when trying to see a creature within this particular magical darkness, even if the thing they are trying to see is within 60 feet of them.

These are all of the relevant rules for 5e, and they're consistent with the way light and shadow generally, actually, works. Darkness and light are not - and are never - about where you, the eyes looking, are. They are always about what you are trying to see. If what you are trying to see is not in an area that is heavily obscured, then it doesn't matter if you are... and if it did it would make hiding in ambush impossible.

Can you imagine the ranger attempting to ambush his foe from a dense patch of foliage... only to be told by the DM, that he has disadvantage because he is in an area that is heavily obscured? That's not how it works. Of course he's in an area that is heavily obscured - he's hiding from his foe and doesn't want to be seen! His foe is not in an area that is heavily obscured, so the ranger does not have disadvantage attacking them... the ranger has advantage, because he is an unseen attacker. The enemy, meanwhile, will have disadvantage to attack the ranger because they are trying to see the ranger, who is in an area that is heavily obscured.

((Edit: though I will concede, that it seems like the greater majority of people and players (at least in internet threads) all run darkness incorrectly... and that it is run and ruled incorrectly more often than it is run as written and intended... So please don't take any of this as an attack))

Last edited by Niara; 27/11/20 11:20 PM.
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But you can see through darkness (as in absence of light). You just can't see what's in the darkness. But you can easily see what's on the other side of the darkness. I believe this was Niara was getting at before.


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Originally Posted by Niara
snip


Let me assure you that you do not come across as harsh or offensive at all, but I appreciate your concern.

However, I still find myself disagreeing with you. Here is why.

Darkness (as in, the spell) explicitly prevents seeing *through* it, not merely into it. So if you're standing inside of the spell's area, your eyes cannot pierce the darkness with mundane sight or darkvision, it is effectively opaque.

From a real world perspective, this makes perfect sense as well. Yes, you can see something that is in light even if you yourself are standing in perfect darkness, but this works because the light reflected off the illuminated object is reaching your eyes. Mundane light explicitly does not work inside the Darkness spell.

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I appreciate that; I'm not interested in 'being right' - I'm only interested in having an accurate understanding for myself, and after that, sharing it with others. If anyone has anything compelling to offer or add that shows me to be in error, then I do absolutely want to know about it. However...

((Spoiler tagging in depth discussions to preserve thread clarity for those less interested))



Originally Posted by Leuenherz


Darkness (as in, the spell) explicitly prevents seeing *through* it, not merely into it.


If you wish to take that interpretation, then you are forced to say that creatures without darkvision CAN see through it... since the sentence only explicitly references creatures with darkvision. That makes very little sense and is obviously not a correct interpretation. If you want to say that creatures without darkvision also can't see through it, then you are making a logical jump - an assumption, or extrapolation, which invalidates any ruling you arrive at after that point; 5e philosophy is based around two basic precepts: "The rules do what they say, and not what they don't say" and "Specific beats general". This leaves no room for extrapolation or logical assumption, except as house rules.

That sentence in the spell is specifically calling out a "specific-beats-general" overruling of the darkvision trait... that is ALL it is doing. It doesn't reference creatures without darkvision, because it does not change the general rule for them in relation to darkness.

No part of the spell says that light cannot pierce it; it says that light cannot illuminate it. These are different things. If light could not pierce the spell, it would say so. That light cannot illuminate the spell area simply means that if an area of dim or bright light overlaps with the spell's area, it fails to illuminate that area - it remains dark. That is all it means.

The darkness is magical, yes; the spell then defines the ways in which it is magical. Those are the only ways in which it differs from mundane darkness. If it differed in any other way, the spell would say so.

The only way in which the magical darkness differs from mundane darkness are spelled out in the spell: creatures with darkvision still treat seeing into the area as full darkness, and mundane light, as well as magical light level 2 and below, cannot illuminate the space that it covers - it remains darkness, and overrules such attempts at illumination. Those are the only ways in which it differs from regular mundane darkness. If it differed in any other way, the spell would say so.

Quote
So if you're standing inside of the spell's area, your eyes cannot pierce the darkness with mundane sight or darkvision, it is effectively opaque.


This is untrue. Nowhere in the spell, or in the rules for light and darkness, is this said. If it created a magically opaque space, it would say so. It does not. If the blind condition came into the ruling of the spell in any way beyond the normal rules for light and shadow, it would say so. It does not. You are extrapolating to the idea that you can't see out of it; that is not part of the spell or the rules for light and darkness. That makes it a house rule of yours. As I pointed out previously, vision and targeting in 5e is always about what you are trying to see, not where you are looking from. The rules regarding darkness and vision support this: they explicitly call out the difficulty it causes when trying to see a creature that is IN a heavily obscured area... and explicitly do NOT say anything about impairment when attacking out of heavily obscured areas, such as magical darkness, which is used as an example along with dense foliage (If you were impaired when trying to attack out of a heavily obscured area, then ambushing anyone, ever, would be impossible).

Darkness itself has a recorded effect: it is heavily obscured, which is defined with the effect that creatures are considered blind for attacks they make when trying to target a creature within that area. A creature outside the darkness trying to a target a creature inside the darkness, then, is considered blind for the purposes of attacking that target. Two creatures within the magical darkness trying to attack each other are both unseen attackers by the other (due to being in a heavily obscured area), and blind in terms of trying to attack each other (trying to target a creature that is in a heavily obscured area), so they both go to straight rolls. A creature inside the darkness trying to attack a creature on the outside, that is not in a heavily obscured area is not impeded; if they were, the rules would say so. They do not.

The rules do what they say, and not what they don't. Anything else is house-ruling. Which is fine, incidentally; what matters is that your table agrees with the interpretations and that your table is having fun... But I'd prefer to see video game interpretations using the written rules.

IF darkness behaved as you're implying (and, I concede, as a very large number of people do seem to erroneously interpret it), then there functionally is no way to use the spell without always shooting yourself in the foot. It would be *especially* useless for drow, who have historically used the spell as part of their assassination tactics and politics. Do you feel that that is the intention? If it effectively renders anyone interacting with it in any way, in or out, from within or without, blind, then the spell would be a very stupid and ridiculous spell, and wouldn't ever really serve to benefit the user (with the solitary exception of devil's sight warlocks.... and then only by virtue of allowing them and only them to ignore its effects). Do you actually believe that that is how the spell is supposed to work? That someone would write the spell with the design intention of doing that?


((Last minute edit: As an extra example to back up my point about the way spells and rules do what they say and not what they don't, compare Darkness to Hunger of Hadar: Hunger says "[...] No light, magical or otherwise, can illuminate the area, and creatures fully within the area are blinded." Hunger explicitly notes that creatures within its darkness are blinded. Darkness does not. If a creature within the darkness created by Darkness was blinded by being in it, the spell would say so.))

Last edited by Niara; 07/12/20 12:50 AM.
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Originally Posted by Niara
*snip*


That is a very laudable attitude to take. I appreciate your stance on the matter. smile

As to the actual subject of discussion:

I think you do my argument a disservice in calling it an "assumption" (not taking it personally, just pointing it out). If darkvision cannot penetrate this darkness, then obviously mundane sight cannot either, as the latter is in every way inferior to the former. It is a matter of common sense. Not to imply you don't possess common sense, just that you don't seem to view its application as necessary here, because the rules already provide complete information in your eyes. But as I say it, darkvision is not a completely separate sense like blindsight or tremorsense. You cannot logically make the argument that mundane sight can see something where darkvision cannot, solely because WotC failed to provide wording for it. Nor do I think you can disregard wording that *is* there because of it.

I think what we have here is a conflict of RAW vs RAI. From your explanations so far, I can tell that we lean towards different ends of the spectrum. Filling in the gaps that incomplete wording leaves is not the same as actively changing how a rule works (as in: a houserule).

The comment regarding illumination inside the spell was meant to briefly touch upon your arguments regarding the rules reflecting how sight operates in reality. I already dread the side debate on the exact workings of the eye, but to my limited understanding if light does not illuminate anything (therefore is not visible to the eye), it will cause no reaction in the retinas and you therefore cannot see.

We run into a similar issue here. You say the rules do not explicitly say something and therefore it cannot be the case. Whereas I say we have the necessary information to fill in the gaps. If the eye cannot perceive the reflected light, then it only logically follows that it cannot see anything that light was reflected off of. To me, that is not an assumption, it's like solving for a variable in a mathematical equation.

Also, I want to point out when I say something is "effectively" blinded/opaque, I simply want to express there is no functional mechanical difference, despite the term itself not being used in the wording I am referring to.

Somewhat ironically (after everything I said about RAW vs RAI before), we come to the part where you bring up the design intent of Darkness. And yes, straight up, the spell is bad. It is a glorified fog cloud, with a smaller radius, different conditions for its removal and the option to cast it on an object and carry it around. It does not work for Drow as it did in older editions anymore, nor does its then tried-and-true combination with faerie fire. The combination with senses that can perceive through it (such as the devil's sight example you brought up) is its main valid use in a combat scenario. You can also block line-of-sight with it, which can be useful against enemy casters or neutralize existing advantage/disadvantage on the battlefield, but apart from that...

As for how WotC arrived at its current iteration and why, who knows? But I think we can both agree that it is not the only spell that is not worth taking due to lackluster design (unless we are talking certain niche applications).

Finally, I think this debate about rule wording and interpretation might detract a little from the actual point of the thread - or at the very least clutter it. If you like, we can continue this exchange over PM. If you think our viewpoints are too fundamentally incompatible to continue, we can also drop it here.

In any case, I very much appreciate the civility so far, despite our disagreements.

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Certainly, I'll message you on the matter; you're right that continuing to discuss it here clutters up the thread.

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My 2 cents on darkness:
The spell creates an area where no one can see through, not even with darkvision.
I would interpret this as: Somebody outside the area can only see a dark area but not whats inside.
Somebody inside the area is blind.

How to use this:
- Somebody in the area can get one step out, attack or cast a spell and move back in so somebody outside does not know where the person inside is going (maybe leaving the area in a direction the person outside cannot see.
- A char outside could use an AoE effect at the dark area and hope that the other char is hiding inside and is blind. He cannot target a char or object in the area
- The purpose of the spell is to protect the caster from ranged attacks/spells that target an individual char or to allow the caster to escape unseen.
- The char outside can go inside to attack the caster. In this case a blind char is trying to attack another blind char in total darkness. Maybe one of them has an advantage when he can hear or smell the other one.

The example with a ranger ambushing somebody from a hidden position is something different.
The ranger is in a strongly obscured area but not in an area of magic darkness.

This is just my interpretation of the text. I am not a PnP or DnD expert.


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Good points there. Yes please allow Mage Hand to open chests, pull levers, push buttons, open doors etc. its a utility spell i have many good memories about, i dont mind if there is a special tadpole or psionic version which can shove (attack) but base Mage Hand i would prefer as a utility cantrip

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Bigby's Big Hand or whatever it is called is specifically about grabbing and pushing people, isn't it?


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Love this thread, if Larian fixed all the spells based on this thread and nothing else from 5e mechanics it would still go a long way in making the game more fun and balanced.

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Aren't all spells nerfed due to the health bloat that isn't fixed even in the latest patch? Wizards feel worse than ever.

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I mean no ill here, but OP's interpretation of darkness is wrong, and that is out of question given wording from lead rules designer Jeremy Crawford on multiple occasions.

https://www.sageadvice.eu/2016/05/14/if-a-creature-inside-a-darkness-spell-throws-a-ranged-attack/
https://www.sageadvice.eu/2016/03/11/cloud-of-darkness-advantage-and-disadvantage/


Darkness, much like Fog Cloud, is used to equalize situations. There are many situations where an enemy would have advantage against you (maybe you're facing a Berserker with the Reckless Feature, or an enemy with Foresight). In those situations, you cast darkness and equalize the field. Since advantage and disadvantage cancel out, you screw them over. And you also prevent a bunch of spells from being cast inside the area.

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Those tweets are from the very earliest days of 5e, when it was still finding its feet and are, like a great many tweets and rulings from those days, not generally considered relevant or accurate.

Aside from that, Crawford's sage advice tweets are not considered official rulings and have been declared formally against being taken as such, for precisely the reason that whenever he gives out an answer that says more than just referencing the relevant rule verbatim, he often adjudicates it incorrectly or unclearly.

As with all things, players and DMs are free to houserule things in whatever way feels like it makes the most sense or is the most fun for them, however, by RAW, my description is 100% accurate, and I would move strongly that it is correct RAI as well, given the way in which the spell has historically been used within the realms lore (most markedly by drow assassins).

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I don't think you're correct, Niara. I don't care what Jeremy Crawford may or may not have said, it's plain (to me) by a simple reading of the text of Darkness what it does. It's total darkness that no light can illuminate within, and even Darkvision cannot penetrate it. Only creatures with some special ability to specifically counteract magical Darkness can see into, out of, or through it. This is why devils in 5e have the Devil's Sight ability specifically on their stat block, which says "Magical Darkness doesn't impede the devil's Darkvision." Which means that anyone else who doesn't have that ability cannot see, even with Darkvision. Note that when you look up drow in the Monster Manual (or the PHB), they have NO such ability listed.

In addition, the spell description itself says nothing about "the caster can see through this", and it definitely WOULD say that if that was the case. When a spell affects an area, but DOESN'T affect the caster or some other person in the area, the spell description always calls that out. It doesn't say that in the description of the drow race where it mentions them having the ability to cast Darkness, either. Literally nowhere does it say that drow or anyone else (except things with Devil's Sight or Truesight) can see through it.

Now, I agree that it shouldn't make it impossible to make attacks into or out of it. They should just do so as if blind, whether they are the caster or not.

As for realmslore, I've read the Drizzt books, and I remember him using his Darkness ability numerous times, as well as other drow characters using it. And it never says that any of them can SEE through the magical darkness. In fact, it talks about how they are highly trained blind-fighters (and part of Drizzt's training was in blind-fighting specifically for that reason!), and that's why it gives them an advantage. One of the main reasons they use it, also, is as a specific counter to light spells and the like. Or they use it just to block line of sight to set up other sneaky tactics, or blind a group of enemies (to prevent their ranged attacks, or perhaps force them to move out of an advantaged position), or just to hide themselves in. (Or in clever ways like using it just around the heads of giants and such, so that the giants are blind but they can still be seen by those on the ground.) It has plenty of utility, even if the caster can't see through it.

Obviously, it has the MOST utility when paired with Devil's Sight, which is why rogue/warlock is such a great multiclass. If anyone could see through magical Darkness, Devil's Sight and Truesight would have no purpose. I think maybe you have this idea in your head from some other source, sometime in the past, and you're reading that into the spell description when it isn't there. I've done that sometimes, heck most D&D players I've known have done that from time to time.

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This is the last post I'll make regarding this topic, because, as mentioned, I think it detracts or derails from the focus of this thread.
I have no ill will towards anyone partaking in the discussion, and I don't want to come across as brash or argumentative; that's not my goal.

Spoiler tagged for those not interested.



Precepts of 5e style are that spells do what they say, and don't do things that they don't say.
Precepts for 5e rules are that specific rules beat general rules, and that were nothing is mentioned the general rule applies.

The current, most up to date listings we have read like this:

Darkness: "Darkness creates a heavily obscured area. Characters face darkness outdoors at night (even most moonlit nights), within the confines of an unlit dungeon or a subterranean vault, or in an area of magical darkness."

Darkvision: "Many creatures in fantasy gaming worlds, especially those that dwell underground, have darkvision. Within a specified range, a creature with darkvision can see in darkness as if the darkness were dim light, so areas of darkness are only lightly obscured as far as that creature is concerned. However, the creature can't discern color in darkness, only shades of gray."

Lightly Obscured and Heavily Obscured: "A given area might be lightly or heavily obscured.
In a lightly obscured area, such as dim light, patchy fog, or moderate foliage, creatures have disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight.

A heavily obscured area--such as darkness, opaque fog, or dense foliage--blocks vision entirely. A creature effectively suffers from the blinded condition when trying to see something in that area."

Darkness (Spell): "Magical darkness spreads from a point you choose within range to fill a 15-foot-radius sphere for the duration. The darkness spreads around corners. A creature with darkvision can't see through this darkness, and nonmagical light can't illuminate it. [...] "

I'll reference these where appropriate.


The sentence in the spell says that creatures with darkvision cannot see through the darkness. This is worded this way because it means something very specific - and it doesn't mean or imply anything outside of that. This is a matter of 5e style. Things being worded in a particular ways are specific, and they mean specific things, even if we as english-speakers might normally use different language to express a similar point.

It says "creatures with darkvision cannot see through this darkness". The question I'd like you to think about, in this situation is, why does it not say "Creatures cannot see through this darkness" Or "Creatures that rely on sight cannot see through this darkness".

The reason here is that this sentence is Only applying, Specifically to creatures with the darkvision trait. This sentence applies, expressly, and absolutely, to No One Else.

What, then, does it mean? What could it mean that would apply all and only to creatures with the darkvision trait, and not all creatures, or all creatures who rely on sight? It means, and can Only mean, that the sentence is making a 'specific' ruling in relation to the functioning of the darkvision trait, to overrule the 'general' ruling for darkvision.

Normally, the 'General' rule in question here, is that characters with the darkvision trait can, if trying to see something in an area of darkness that exists within their darkvision radius, can see it as though it were in dim light, rather than darkness; this equates to lightly obscured, instead of heavily obscured.

The specific rule that the spell is making with that sentence is applying to that trait - it is saying that if a creature with darkvision is trying to see something in the darkness created by this spell, they still have to treat it as darkness, not as dim light, even if it is inside their darkvision range.

The intent here is clear: It is saying all and only that the feature of darkvision that allows a creature with it to treat darkness as dim light does not work on the darkness created by the spell, and as a result, even a creature with darkvision is effectively blind when trying to see something within the area of darkness.

In layman's terms, what this sentence says, specifically, is "If you have darkvision, it doesn't work for this darkness". That's all it's saying - it is saying nothing else.

Indeed, to say that creatures with darkvision are impaired here, but creatures with normal vision aren't would be absurd. If you want to say that that sentence implies actual impairment for creatures with darkvision, beyond simply not having their darkvision function, then that is the absurd conclusion you are necessarily arriving at - because the sentence only mentions creatures with darkvision, and mentions them specifically, to the exclusion of any more general grouping or category. Since that conclusion is, indeed, absurd... the only recourse is to realise that the sentence is not, and cannot be, implying any kind of impairment beyond the darkvision trait itself not functioning.

To say that that one sentence is ruling multiple things, and that saying "a creature with darkvision" is also intending to actively imply detriment to all sight-using creatures, including those without darkvision, feels deeply disingenuous to me: if that was what they wanted to say, this is, very obviously, not how they would say it... it's a very odd way of saying that the area "is opaque to creatures that rely on sight"... because that is what it would be meaning if it worked as you've said, and that is how it would be worded if it meant that; we have precedent for it.

Light penetrates heavily obscured areas just fine. There are a couple of cases where it doesn't, and those are explicitly called out. There is a difference between light passing through or penetrating an area, and light illuminating it.

"Light does not illuminate the area": this means a very specific thing, and it does not mean anything outside of that, not matter how rational it seems to you: it means that light cannot turn the area of darkness into dim light or bright light. A torch illuminates and area around it – bright light for a distance, and then dim light for a further distance beyond that. It cannot illuminate this darkness, even if it is brought into that range: it is darkness, and it remains darkness. This doesn't mean that it is opaque - again, if it did, it would say so. It means that it is darkness, nothing more, nothing less. Light passes through darkness just fine - that's just the laws of physics. It is a different thing entirely to suppose that an area of darkness is illuminated by light, or brightened up by it.

Light passing through darkness is what allows us to see the distant torch of a friend 200 feet away, while that friend cannot see us in the dark. Their light illuminates the darkness in a radius around them, but the light itself passes through and travels much further, allowing things in the darkness to see it. This magical darkness cannot be illuminated by natural light. The spell does not say anything about it magically preventing light from passing through it. If it did, the spell would say so.

If the spell was opaque, and prevent light from passing through it at all, that would have a significant impact on the spell - so you can rest absolutely assured that if the spell did that, it would absolutely, one hundred percent, say that it did. The fact that it does not is itself a ruling. As it is, it is just darkness, with a couple of explicitly defined magical features; the spell marks it as magical, and then explicitly defines the ways in which it is magical and differs from mundane darkness... but it is just darkness, beyond those very specific things. Light passes through darkness perfectly well without illuminating the dark space. We wouldn't be able to see the stars if it didn't. It doesn't illuminate the space in between - but we can see through the darkness to the stars that are illuminated. There is no corridor of illumination between us and them - just unilluminted darkness, through which light passes.

Presuming that the spell is opaque and prevents light passing through is, in fact, a massive, massive assumption, considering the impact on the function of the spell that such a detail would have. If it did that, the spell would definitely say so.

We have an example of a spell (Hunger of Hadar) that creates darkness that is opaque and does block light from penetrating or escaping: the spell says that it is and does. The spell also extends the blinded condition to any creature within its area – it explicitly calls out the fact that it does so.

Pointedly, Darkness does not say those things, and does not extend that condition, by its own wording. So I would question, given that we have an example of a spell that does this, and calls it out specifically, and we have an example of a spell that does not say these things and does not mention them, why do you feel that it is a valid interpretation to just go ahead and pile those details onto the spell that does not say it?

Saying that the Darkness spell is opaque and doesn't allow light to pass through it - saying that creatures inside the area of the spell are blinded - would be the same as saying that Scorching Ray ignites flammable objects... because burning hands does, so obviously scorching ray does too... despite the fact that burning hands explicitly notes that it ignites things, while scorching ray equally explicitly does not say that. The reality is that one spell ignites flammable objects and the other does not. We can rationalise or explain that however we like - the rule is clear. The same is true of Darkness: it does what it says it does. It does not do anything else.

There are effects that create opaque spaces, and effects that create heavily obscured spaces which inflict Blindness on any target within them. Those are something that we have, and which the game rules define. This is the proof that, when such tangible, game mechanical effects occur, the game notes them. We have that benchmark presented to us; in this case, then, if that note isn't given, then it's not intended to occur - if it was, it would say, and we have evidence proof to show that that is, indeed, the case - because there are places where it specifically does note it and call it out. To apply those riding effects and mechanics to spells and abilities that do not state them - when we have evidence of spells and abilities which Do state them to compare to, is absolutely house-ruling, and is absolutely not following the design intent of the spells you are modifying.

When something IS opaque, the game rules call it out: Tiny Hut, Wall of Fire and Arcane Gate, for some examples. Interestingly, Wall of Ice, the player spell is NOT opaque, while the ice devil summon wall of ice IS opaque - this is a difference that is called out specifically. Darkness does Not call this out. It is Not opaque. If it were, it would be mentioned. We have evidence that, if it were it would be mentioned, because other spells mention this detail where it occurs. You can rule that Darkness is opaque, but that is a house-rule that you are making, and it is not in line with the base ruling for the spell.

When an area inflicts the Blind condition on creatures within it, the game rules call it out: Hunger of Hadar is the best example already cited here. Wall of Sand is another. Darkness does Not call this out. It does Not inflict Blinded on creatures within it. If it did, it would be mentioned. We have evidence that, if it were it would be mentioned, because other spells mention this detail where it occurs. You can rule that darkness inflicts Blinded on creatures within it, but that is a house-rule that you are making, and it is not in line with the base ruling for the spell.

It is not common sense, that the spell does these things: if it did these things it would say so. It doesn't logically follow that the spell does these things: if it did, it would say so, just as we have other spells that say so.

Perhaps a person cannot logically see how a single character can make ten melee attacks in 6 seconds, moving ten feet between each one... so they say that, by common sense, you can only make a maximum of 4 attacks, even if you have other extending features. Someone can do that - but they most certainly cannot claim to be following the rules, and just applying common sense.

You don't need to dip into grey space of uncertainty for something like Darkness, because all the features of it are quite sufficiently defined. Each of the other effects that you and others have wanted to ascribe to the spell, which it does not say, are all things that other spells do, explicitly, call out and notify of when they occur. Pointedly, Darkness does not do those things.

Tiny Hut does not spontaneously generate food and water for the party "Because logically, food and water are required for a comfortable living condition as the spell says it creates"; no, if it did that, it would say it did that.

Darkness is not opaque; darkness does not inflict the blinded condition on targets inside it. There is nothing in the spell that suggests it does these things, at all. It's pure house-rule to suppose that it does.

==

What it is, is 'darkness', which cannot be illuminated (Changed from darkness into dim or bright light) by anything short of stronger magic, and for which mundane senses, such as darkvision, do not function. It can also be moved around by being anchored to an object. Beyond that it is JUST darkness – no different from regular darkness except in those very specific ways which the spell defines.

Regular darkness is a “Heavily Obscured” area, the general rules for which are clear. It is functionally, for mechanical purposes, identical to dense foliage, to use the example cited by the rules.

Targeting in 5e is always about what you are trying to see, never about where you are. Read it above; you are treated as blind when trying to see something that is in a heavily obscured area. It makes no mention of where you are. It's about what you are trying to see.

If you are a ranger, hiding in a patch of dense foliage beside a path, aiming to ambush a merchant, you are in an area that is heavily obscured: the Merchant cannot see You. The merchant is in the open and brightly lit. You can see the Merchant just fine... If this were not the case, you couldn't ambush them at all, ever. If being in an area that was heavily obscured impaired you from targeting out of it, there would never be any ambushes... the ranger would be at disadvantage to attack the merchant because of their own hiding spot (though if they were also unseen, they'd cancel it out, of course). This is ridiculous and obviously not the case.

If you are in darkness, you are in an area that is heavily obscured; creatures are functionally blind when trying to see you. You are not, yourself, blind. If your target is Not in an area that is heavily obscured, and is, in fact, well lit, then you do not have any impairment to attacking them. If you are indeed unseen by them, then you'll have advantage.

If your target is also in the dark, and you are both in darkness together, then you are both trying to see a creature that is in an area that is heavily obscured – you would both have disadvantage; you would also both be unseen by the other, and so it would cancel out to straight rolls. This is only if you're both in the darkness, however. If your target is not heavily obscured, and you are – such as the ranger in the bush and the merchant, then the obscured creature will have advantage to attack the unobscured creature, while the unobscured creature will be blind against the obscured creature. This is straight up just how light, darkness, lightly obscured and heavily obscured work in this rule set, printed in black and white (or black and tan, if you're looking at the phb).


You're right in that the spell does not say that the caster would not be affected; the caster absolutely is affected! There's no reason to suppose they wouldn't be, and if they were excluded the spell would certainly say so. There's also no reason to presume any of the things that people commonly presume, which the spell does not say; it's not opaque, it doesn't inflict blinded, and aside from creatures with darkvision not being able to treat the darkness as dim light, and it not being able to be illuminated (that is, turned from darkness into dim light or bright light) by regular light sources or lower level magic, it is just regular, normal darkness, and thereby follows all the rules of regular normal darkness, except where explicitly called out otherwise. Specific beats general. Spells do what they say and don't do things they don't say. Being in regular, normal darkness does not impair you in any way from attacking a creature that is not in darkness... or else sneak attacks from the shadows would not be a thing.


As I said, this is the last post I will make to this discussion; people are free to make their own house rulings or interpretations of things as they like, and are free, for whatever reason, to marry themselves to interpretations of a spell that heavily nerf it, and then bemoan its limited utility, if they want to. As long as players and DMs agree on the interpretation or ruling they're using, and everyone is having fun, that's all that matters in the end.

I'm well aware that the vast majority of players and DMs rule this incorrectly. I'm not expecting to change anyone's mind, and I'm not strongly interested in 'being right' – so much as I'm interested in having a clear and accurate understanding myself (I'm confident that I do, and nothing suggested by others has shown me any way in which I'm in error; if anyone does have something to show that does so, I most certainly do want to see it, and improve my own grasp of things), and then helping to share that understanding to others. The ultimate truth is that this is one of those cases where 'majority rule' is likely to win out regardless of the facts. The same has happened for a number of other spells, especially in adventure league rules – spells interpreted or run incorrectly by the vast majority, and then banned from use as a result. It happens.

I have done my best to illustrate what is accurate and correct here; how anyone else takes that is up to them. I cannot realistically do any more than this, and so I won't comment back to this discussion branch any further (not in thread anyway, I try to be good about PMs). I'm hoping that this is implemented correctly in the game; I don't have much confidence that it will be, because of the majority belief, but I'm hoping that by pointing to the relevant details and rules, it might be. Peace; I've no ill will or aggressive intention, and I don't want to come across as argumentative.

Last edited by Niara; 06/12/20 02:36 AM.
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It's fine with me if you don't reply to this, Niara. I'm perfectly happy with having the last word.

I know I won't change your mind. Nothing will change your mind. I could bring the entire staff of Wizards of the Coast in here AND the ghost of Gary Gygax, and they wouldn't change your mind. As you said yourself, you are "100% certain". I find that to be a very dangerous mindset, total certainty. Even scientists aren't "100% certain" about things that have, by and large, been proven. That's the way that zealots think. When one is "100% certain", they no longer really listen to conflicting evidence, they just automatically discount it as soon as they hear it, because it conflicts with that which they have already decided is an absolute fact. So I'm not trying to change your mind.

As I've said before, I appreciate your posts. I admire your thoughtfulness, your articulateness, and your attention to detail. You're one of my favorite posters on these forums. But I think you've just clamped down your jaw on this one and chosen a hill to die on, and the TONE of how you've dismissed those who disagree is sticking in my craw a little bit. "Oh, it's FINE if people want to HOUSE RULE things." "Oh, I recognize that most people are doing it WRONG, but *I* like to play by the RULES." It comes across as smug and condescending to me, so I'm not content to let it go.


The problem with a hyperliteral reading of RPG rules, where only what it says is true, and what it doesn't say isn't true, and what it says is absolutely true in the most specific way, and you can't make any logical leaps, is that it very quickly leads to absurd situations. Every set of complex rules has its little loopholes and contradictions, those of D&D definitely being no exception. When we find a conflict within D&D rules, we have to come up with an interpretation that resolves that conflict, in the way that we think best represents "design intent", as you said.

Here are some problems with your hyperliteral take on Darkness:

First of all, you're using the literal interpretation selectively. This is the most common tactic of rules lawyers. They take one sentence, or one part of a sentence, and apply it with exacting literalness, while conveniently ignoring some other sentence which can be interpreted more loosely or mitigated in some way by a less literal reading.

Darkness only does what it says it does, you say, and it doesn't say it's opaque, it doesn't say it blocks line of sight. True, it doesn't say that, but it doesn't have to, because the rules elsewhere already do.

To quote one of the rules YOU quoted: "A heavily obscured area--such as darkness, opaque fog, or dense foliage--blocks vision entirely. A creature effectively suffers from the blinded condition when trying to see something in that area."

A heavily obscured area--such as darkness, opaque fog, or dense foliage--blocks vision entirely.

blocks vision entirely

blocks

Interesting that we didn't take THIS super literally. Now I suspect that your argument, if you were going to reply to this, which you aren't, is that the second sentence in the rules quote, and specifically the "see something IN that area" part of it, partially invalidates the broadness of the first sentence. But it doesn't necessarily do so. It's just one particular way to interpret the meaning of those two sentences. It is a completely separate sentence. It is asserting a new, different thing. It is giving an additional, specific context. But it does not AUTOMATICALLY reduce the meaning of the first sentence.

If I say: "I like fruit. I like apples." that does not automatically mean that apples are the only kind of fruit that I like. Maybe that's just an example of a fruit that I like, among others. Maybe I especially like apples, but still also like other fruit, as I declared in my first sentence.

So, "blocks vision entirely" is pretty darn unequivocal. Block means to prevent something from entering or passing through. Therefore, by a hyperliteral reading of the rule, a heavily obscured area prevents any sight from entering or passing through it. But we'll come back to this one.


Another problem with the hyperliteral interpretation of Darkness is that it creates a clearly ridiculous scenario. Darkness says "a creature with darkvision can't see through this darkness". NOT "darkvision can't see through this darkness". Just a CREATURE with darkvision. And not "can't see inside this darkness", but "THROUGH this darkness". This leads to hilarity.

So what this means is, if you have a human standing on one side of a Darkness effect, and an elf standing on the other, the human can see THROUGH the Darkness spell clearly to the elf on the other side, but the elf can't see through to the human. That's especially hilarious when we realize that this rule prevents DROW from seeing through it, too.

Oh but wait! Maybe the poor elf is a Warlock, and they have Devil's Sight! NOW they can see through to the human, right? NOPE. "You can see normally in Darkness, both magical and nonmagical, to a distance of 120 feet." IN Darkness. IN. Not through. So the Devil's Sight elf is ALSO screwed. (Unless they stand INSIDE the Darkness spell, then they're good. But no seeing through from the other side!) Rules As Written, sorry.

Now, does this seem like "design intent"? Darkness, what a great spell for humans to cast! Terrible for elves, though. Even more glaringly so for drow, who have it as a racial ability. Oh Lolth, you got jokes.

You can't really come back with "oh you can't take THAT PART so literally" though, as you've already painted yourself into a corner by typing 1,000 words on just how literally we have to take the Rules As Written.


You've also chosen a specific, limiting definition of "illuminate". Technically, if any light enters the Darkness effect at all, even if only for the incredibly brief moment of passing through at the speed of light, it is, to at least a VERY SMALL degree, illuminating the space through which it travels. That space being within the Darkness. Which is literally disallowed by "nonmagical light can't illuminate it" in the rules. Sorry, hard reading of RAW means not one single photon is getting in there. So no seeing through for anyone. Take that, you almost Darkness-seeing-through overpowered humans!


Of course, the previously-mentioned hyperliteral interpretation of the heavily obscured area rule also breaks reason and sense. Because if it "blocks vision entirely", which RAW says it does, then how are we able to see a distant torch, or the stars? We know that can't be right, right?


These outcomes of literally following the RAW are patently absurd, and thus a reasonable person can conclude that they couldn't possibly be what the designers intended. What we have here is a rules CONFLICT. A conflict created by taking the words on the page TOO literally, and NOT making necessary "logical leaps". What can we do when we have such a conflict? How do we decide how to resolve it?

Well, fortunately, we now have the Internet. We can go and see what other people have to say about it, and try to suss out a good interpretation based on public acclamation. You've admitted that many people are ruling Darkness "wrong", but that kind of understates it. I spent about an hour just now looking at dozens and dozens of threads all over the Internet about Darkness, and it's not many people. It's VIRTUALLY EVERYONE. How could ALL these people have somehow come up with such a wrong interpretation if the RAW is so clear as you imply?

But maybe that's not enough to really feel confident in our interpretation. What if we could ask the actual designers of the game what the "design intent" was? I mean, the phrase "design intent" sort of suggest that the designers would know what they intended, right?

If there was one, isolated Jeremy Crawford tweet, and we REALLY wanted our own interpretation to be true, we could come up with all sorts of excuses why we shouldn't listen to him. Which you did an admirable job of. But I went to https://www.sageadvice.eu/ and searched for "Darkness", and found 10 pages of results. There are MANY designer posts which support the "people can't see through a Darkness effect to the other side" and "people are blinded while inside the Darkness" interpretation. Not just by Crawford, though he has several in this vein. There are also similar statements by Dan Dillon and Mike Mearls, Mike freaking Mearls!

[Linked Image]

BOTH co-creators of 5th Edition are wrong about this? Plus another designer (tweeting about it in a very specific question to the topic, in 2020), plus almost EVERYONE else across the internet? Plus four people disagreeing here in this very thread? They're ALL wrong? Really? Oh, these spoony designers, not knowing their own intent. They should probably write themselves some post-it notes or something. Oh, these hundreds of other D&D enthusiasts, sadly illiterate and unable to parse out the meaning of a simple spell. They all need to sign up for Niara's reading comprehension class.

I just really want to see the conversation where Niara sits down in a conference room with the designers of D&D and informs them all that they are wrong, and that they are of course FREE to house-rule the game as much as they want, but SHE prefers to play by the RULES.

I'm done here. I'll just leave a few links to SOME of the designer statements contradicting Niara's 100% certain reading of the rules.

https://www.sageadvice.eu/2015/06/18/cast-in-the-darkness/

https://www.sageadvice.eu/2015/02/02/blind-fog/

https://www.sageadvice.eu/2017/12/1...-far-you-can-see-beyond-the-spells-area/

https://www.sageadvice.eu/2017/12/2...re-inside-the-darkness-has-devils-sight/

https://www.sageadvice.eu/2020/04/1...s-spell-opaque-i-e-blocks-line-of-sight/

https://www.sageadvice.eu/2016/05/14/if-a-creature-inside-a-darkness-spell-throws-a-ranged-attack/

https://www.sageadvice.eu/2018/04/0...dim-light-or-as-if-it-were-bright-light/



And that closes the topic, I suppose, eh? Since OP isn't going to respond any more.

Niara, I really do like you, so I hope you don't take any of this as an attack. But I think you put your foot down a little too hard on this one. Everyone is welcome to their own religion, though.

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Please have the self-distance not to make a tone argument about how somebody shouldn't sound arrogant while you yourself end your entire post with disparagement and condescension, firesnake.


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Originally Posted by Dexai
Please have the self-distance not to make a tone argument about how somebody shouldn't sound arrogant while you yourself end your entire post with disparagement and condescension, firesnake.



That's a fair criticism. I thought about that myself. Condescension I will absolutely own up to, but this kind of cheeky condescension is part of my regular posting style, and it's firmly on-brand for me, so I'm gonna stick with it, and if people don't like me for it, that's certainly their right and I can't fault them one bit.

I'm not sure about disparagement, though. Did I overtly disparage?

If you're mainly talking about the very last sentence, then I'll agree that it's questionable. I debated putting it in. It is definitely a jab, but I consider it a friendly one, as I know my own motives and I have no ill-will for Niara at all. We've talked a lot and she's one of my favorite people on these forums. Really, it should have some kind of winking face attached, but I can't stand using those, so I'm willing to accept that it may be interpreted in the most malicious way by some people.

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I would like Mage Armor to be implemented to override whatever armor is currently being worn i stead of only being usable in robes. So far there are few clothing options and I would like a little variation in appearance between my Wizard, Arcane Trickster and Warlock.


Don't you just hate it when people with dumb opinions have nice avatars?
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