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Vision, Light & Stealth: Rules & Realism


Rules Questions


Hi all,
I wanted your opinions and suggestions about one specific topic:

Vision and Light.

The point it is this:

I have been plain in an official module and it is at least two or three missions we play that my DM keeps telling me all the places we go are in "normal light"...no matter if we are inside, if we are in a place that it is supposed to be abandoned, if we are in a place in which the windows are barred, if we are underground, etc...

I am starting to be seriously bothered by this, since I have one of the few characters with Dark Vision in the party, I have some extra bonuses when I am in darkness or in dim-light, Stealth is my character's focus and that already gives me the impression that he's doing that either to not bother about the Vision & Light rules or merely to piss me off...

( Obviously that simplifies the things *a lot* for the rest of the party, but I have decided to make a character focused on fighting in the shadows or in darkness...they are obviously much better in the other areas! )

...however...the fact that his rulings seems to switch between hyper-realistic and hyper-unrealistic whichever one of the two seem to be better to f$+@ up my tactics & plans I am starting to think it is the latter.

So I have decided to try to understand better how the vision & light rules work, but I want to be sure to understand them and I have a few doubts about how light/vision works and the possible limitations of each type of lighting:

a) [General] Does the "normal" radius represents the lightning level that is "normal" for the chosen light source (i.e., "bright light" for daylight spell, "normal light" for a torch, everburning torch,
common lamp, lanterns, sunrod, light spell, continual flame spell and dancing lights spell) or it is the "normal light" radius with a few notable exceptions (i.e.,candle and daylight spell)?

b) [General] The "extended" radius seems to represent the radius in which the areas "overlap"...but the lightning still cannot exceed the "normal" lightning radius, right?
For example, if I have two torches at 60 feet of distance of each other, the area within the overlapping radius would be in "normal light" (since each creates dim light)...while for a hooded lantern
the distance would be 90 feet...right?

c) [Limitations] I have the impression that the main limitation of mundane lights is "duration": A torch and a sunrod last 1 hour, while lamp and lanterns last 6 hours per pint of oil. This means that mundane lights need to be refilled or replaced...or they stop shedding light, am I right? Refilling or replacing require both "time" and "supplies", which mean that somewhere in the location there must be a stash of those supplies (torches, lamp oil, etc...) and someone must replace or refill the light source at constant intervals (4 time a day for a lantern refill), right?

d) [Limitations] Open flame light sources generate smoke, so probably it is not a good idea to have many of them inside a small enclosed or subterranean place, right? There is any official rule about smoke, enclosed spaces and suffocation?

e) [Limitations] Open flame light sources generate heat and, as such, aren't probably very safe around combustible materials...I mean...a torch could cause them to catch fire even according to game mechanics, right? So probably none would affix a torch in a room full of stuff that can burn, especially if it is underground or if they need to breath, right?

f) [Limitations] While the extended radius for most light sources is pretty good, having a whole area covered by "normal light" would necessarily require *many* light sources to be affixed to the walls or the ceiling, right? In order to refill the ones on the ceiling, one'd need to reach them, so some mean (i.e., a pole ladder) should be around to allow so, right?

g) [Limitations] Almost all created magic light sources seems to solve the "d", "e" and "f" limitations, but they have a serious "b" limitation and the only permanent light spell that I know of is Continual Flame...a 2nd level (for wizard) or 3rd level (for cleric) spell that requires a 50 gp ruby to cast...and the 0th level spell Light allows repeated recastings, but only one active per spellcaster (so it is unusable to fill a dungeon with lights!).
There are other low-level spells that you can think that create permanent light sources like Continual Flame?
This means that in order to have a dungeon or building full of permanent light sources, one's need an ARMY of wizards or clerics to cast Continual Flame all around the place...and would take days and days (since spell slots are limited), right?

h) [Limitations] An alternate possibility would be to have everburning torches all over the places, but each of these would cost 110 gp...so lightning the whole area would be incredibly expensive, right?

If you think that, based on a strict rule interpretation, all the above considerations could make sense...do you think there would be enough "material" to annoy* my DM to the point that *finally* he'll stop this bu...t of telling me that all the ... places we go into are in normal light as if everywhere and in every moment we were outside under the ... sunlight?

There are other in-game ways in which a location could be filled with permanent magical light sources?

( Normally I don't like to annoy people "as if it was a sport", but the impression that certain things are done on purpose to annoy me seriously ... me off ... )

Do you think there might be a rule-compatible explanation for having a place fully in "normal light" that does not involve a significant stock of torches, sunrods or lamp oil kept somewhere within the dungeon or location or that do not require to have many spellcasters just casting spells in the location to generate the light sources?

I am asking because, as hinted above, while I admit he allowed me some creative options, he seems quite keen in enforcing very strict rule interpretations and gritty realism on more canonical tactics and plans, but I feel that this constant "all the place is in normal light" is total c...p from game mechanic purpose...so I'd like to bring back the realism and the correct rule interpretation *also* in this area...but I recognize that my understanding of these rules might be limited...

Thanks,
Skarm

* = I seriously doubt he'll want to offer a chance to find a huge stock of sunrods or lamp oil jars...or even more...magical light sources to enforce the original ruling about lightning, but I must be sure the point raised on this topic are bullet-proofed!


Wooo doggy, thats a long 'n

A) The "Normal" radius is how far it sheds light of the "normal" level, normal light. Not sure if that's what you where asking.
B) It raises the light level from ambient by one category in the extended radius. No number of overlapping torches will equal daylight.
C) Yes.
D) There are rules for Smoke, but RAW, fires does not cause smoke... They do consume oxygen though.
E) Same as D.
F) Obviously.
G) Also "c" limitations. You wouldn't need an army... you would need one third level wizard to spend a week or three there setting up the lighting, at some point between when the PC's arrive and the dawn of creation.
H) "h" is identical to "g". Everburning torches are sticks someone cast continual flame on. Portability is a boon and a curse. If you want to light your cave for eternity, everburning boulder is the way to go.

Glowing plants/fungus are pretty popular. And skylights.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Touching on the base problem without getting deep into the wall of text, there's a self-defeating nature to builds that excel in darkness: you're not alone.

The game predicates on a party, and typically (but not always) there'll be someone who can't see in the dark, who will therefore cast light or carry a torch. When that happens, there's this radius around the party where dark-fighters don't shine. << Yeah, yeah, yeah. Thing is, that's where the action is going to be. Bad guys who can see in the dark will most often come in to melee the party. Aside from ranged/casters who hang back, a shadow build isn't going to get to do their thing. Further, the party will typically move (with their light) towards any lurkers in the dark as soon as possible.

Point is... just remember that focusing on fighting in the dark isn't a thing that will work very often. Riddick is cool, but he does his thing without three equally-cool allies at his shoulder, each of which carries a spotlight.

The Exchange

There's at least one Feat to mitigate the material component costs of casting a (potentially) infinite number of continual light spells...

False Focus:
You can use a divine focus to cast arcane spells.

Prerequisite: Knowledge (religion) 1 rank, ability to cast arcane spells.

Benefit: By using a divine focus as part of casting, you can cast any spell with a material component costing the value of that divine focus (maximum 100 gp) or less without needing that component. For example, if you use a silver holy symbol worth 25 gp, you do not have to provide material components for an arcane spell if its components are worth 25 gp or less. The casting of the spell still provokes attacks of opportunity as normal. If the spell requires a material component that costs more than the value of the divine focus, you must have the material component on hand to cast the spell, as normal.

Normal: A divine focus has no effect when used as a component in arcane spells.

Stealth is pretty easy by using cover or concealment (pack a smoke stick or two), but that's not going to help if your abilities specifically need 'dim light or darkness'.

In general, if you're inside and the light level is normal or better then it's a legitimate question to ask the GM where it's coming from - just as if water was entering the room it'd be expected that the players would be asking 'where from'. The answer may tell you interesting things about the setting, after all (is it glowing moss? torches in brackets on the wall? open windows? or just mysteriously, mystically, there?). A GM refusing to answer is like a GM refusing to tell you what the NPC you're looking right at looks like (and if you can't see them, refusing to tell you why you can't see them - are they in shadows? blurry? what?).


toastedamphibian wrote:

D) There are rules for Smoke, but RAW, fires does not cause smoke... They do consume oxygen though.

That is an amazing suggestion:

I'll try to use it to try rule out the mundane fires and check out, if this silly "all in normal light" keeps going on, I can make money out of it:

After all lightning mushrooms and globes of continual fire are probably pricey and we can make some quick cash out of them!

Anguish wrote:

Touching on the base problem without getting deep into the wall of text, there's a self-defeating nature to builds that excel in darkness: you're not alone.

...

Point is... just remember that focusing on fighting in the dark isn't a thing that will work very often. Riddick is cool, but he does his thing without three equally-cool allies at his shoulder, each of which carries a spotlight.

You have a point here, Anguish...but I am fine with that...

...but what pisses me off about the situation isn't to not be able to always use my "Dim Light/Darkness" benefits, but the fact that I am not even allowed to take advantage of my Stealth and that my "lightning question" are managed in a way that, frankly, feels like crap:

I am fine if you tell me there is no "dim light" outside during daytime, but if there is no dim light even INSIDE and in a FU...G ABANDONED PLACE I do expect a VERY GOOD REASON for it, not just "there is normal light" and that's it...as if there was the FU...G NEON LIGHT IN THE WHOLE FU...G DUNGEON!!

Anguish wrote:
Further, the party will typically move (with their light) towards any lurkers in the dark as soon as possible.

I know that...that was what was happening with my party while I was scouting, but ok...I don't expect my scouting to last an eternity, however, it could be simply managed as a "narrative moment" in which I do my scouting, I report back and the rest of the party could do some preparation...having a modifier of +25, I don't really see a fu...ng reason for being ALWAYS noticed, apart from the DM acting obnoxiously in a very gratuitous way!

Obviously I'd not reap the combat advantages of my "dark fighter", but still I would feel good because I used my "dark scout" competence to give an edge to the party members!

Even knowing that there is X and Y monster in a room would grant my party the possibility to set out a "commando" strike, which frankly seems more realistic than keeping "bumping into people" and managing things just by sheer luck!

ProfPotts wrote:
There's at least one Feat to mitigate the material component costs of casting a (potentially) infinite number of continual light spells...

That is interesting...thanks ProfPotts!!

ProfPotts wrote:
Stealth is pretty easy by using cover or concealment (pack a smoke stick or two), but that's not going to help if your abilities specifically need 'dim light or darkness'.

Yeah...but I am ok with that as long as I get my chance to Stealth if not 100% of time at least 40-50% of time...which is currently not happening... :-/

ProfPotts wrote:
In general, if you're inside and the light level is normal or better then it's a legitimate question to ask the GM where it's coming from - just as if water was entering the room it'd be expected that the players would be asking 'where from'. The answer may tell you interesting things about the setting, after all (is it glowing moss? torches in brackets on the wall? open windows? or just mysteriously, mystically, there?). A GM refusing to answer is like a GM refusing to tell you what the NPC you're looking right at looks like (and if you can't see them, refusing to tell you why you can't see them - are they in shadows? blurry? what?).

I will probably go down this path, but since my DM seems to have made a point of annoying me by not providing information or ignoring my requests and then come up with b...t like "You should have told me before!" (Which I DID try to do!) or "You should have done X and Y!" (Yes...the problem is that you IGNORED my request until 1 second before and then opened the fu...g encounter without allowing me any time to prepare for it!)...I think I'll use this "questioning" as a way to generate endless annoyances for him until he goes back acting out properly and giving ANY player the needed information and a fair and realistic playing environment (obstacles generated just to annoy this or that player aren't "realistic" nor "fair"...are just being obnoxious!)!

Thanks you all guys!
Skarm

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