Darkness spell clarification?


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Alright, so I've read over how the spell is described as working. I'm still confused as to how it works.

As written it either reduces the light level by one except that nonmagical light sources that originate inside it might as well not exist for light levels, while ambient light sources outside its radius still affect its light level. And Spells lower level than it are treated the same way.

Or it ignores any nonmagical light source as well as well as any light spell lower than itself and always makes its area pitch black except where higher level spells are involved.

And in either case darkvision functions normally, its cast on an object and therefore mobile, only more powerful light spells counter it and even then only to a limited extent.

If the second interpretation is correct, my concern is that it is in danger of becoming a cheese spell for casters with darkvision... for example any of them who bother to have the spell. In addition, why bother listing the fact that it decreases the light level at the beginning of the spell as if that's the really significant part of the spell? Just say it create a globe of darkness and then list the effects of higher level light spells later.

Not only is does the spell allow a caster (and friends) with darkvision 50% miss chance at no penalty for 10 min per level, but it also makes it hard to solidly target anyone inside it with a melee or ranged attack or spell unless you use area of effect spell, since its an area of solid darkness that grants anyone inside it total concealment.

This seems to be a simple, deadly and horribly unbalanced combination that allows, say, a half-orc cleric with a darkness spell to horribly slaughter anyone in his path (since there are also alot of other penalties applied to a blinded target, ie anyone in total darkness) who does not happen to have a daylight, continual flame, or darkvision spell. Plus the cleric can grant it it any friends with darkvision who stay in the radius the benefits at no penalty as well.

Really, what I'd like is a response from the Paizo team so that I can get what their interpretation of the spell is supposed to be, and maybe reasoning too.

Liberty's Edge

Basically, Darkness works like this: "For each Square within its radius, the light level within that square is reduced by one."

You seem to be confused as to how the spell works. It's exactly the same as a light or daylight spell, except instead of creating a magical source of light that adds light, it creates a magical source of dark that subtracts light.

Alternatively (meaning as an entirely different whole other completely separate spell effect and you can only choose one OR the other at the time of casting), you can cast it to counter or suppress a single existing magical source of light.


"This spell causes an object to radiate darkness out to a 20-foot radius. This darkness causes the illumination level in the area to drop one step, from bright light to normal light, from normal light to dim light, or from dim light to darkness. This spell has no effect in an area that is already dark. Creatures with light vulnerability or sensitivity take no penalties in normal light. All creatures gain concealment (20% miss chance) in dim light. All creatures gain total concealment (50% miss chance) in darkness. Creatures with darkvision can see in an area of dim light or darkness without penalty. **Nonmagical sources of light, such as torches and lanterns, do not increase the light level in an area of darkness. Magical light sources only increase the light level in an area if they are of a higher spell level than darkness.**

If darkness is cast on a small object that is then placed inside or under a lightproof covering, the spell's effect is blocked until the covering is removed.

This spell does not stack with itself. Darkness can be used to counter or dispel any light spell of equal or lower spell level. "

The starred sentences are where I'm confused. It seems to say that torches have no effect inside or outside. Or that no light from torches or even sunlight counts in the area of darkness.


Darkness lowers the light in its radius down two levels. So in the daytime if a character casts darkness, the light goes from Bright to Dim. So people without Darkvision could still see in the radius of darkness spell in this case.

Since it is a magical source of darkness, nonmagical light sources like sunlight or torches don't add to the light levels at all with the radius, so the light level remains where Darkness set it.

It is powerful yes, but it is only a 20ft radius so those without darkvision should be careful to stay out of the giant ball of moving darkness.

It should be worth noting that a cleric could cast silence on a Warrior and have the warrior charge the enemy wizard and entirely negate their spell abilities for a few rounds.

The Exchange

you appear to NOT be getting an answer. I posted basicly the same thread a couple weeks ago, and got no official answer also. search for "Continual Flame torches & Darkness".

Hope you get someone from Paizo to answer, so I'm hitting FAQ to help it along.


Quote:
As written it either reduces the light level by one except that nonmagical light sources that originate inside it might as well not exist for light levels, while ambient light sources outside its radius still affect its light level. And Spells lower level than it are treated the same way.

Correct. For future reference, the standard light levels are: bright, normal, dim, darkness.

Your confusion comes from the fact that a lighting condition has the same name as the spell. Read the vision and light rules and everything will be clear.

For the record, an everburning torch is at least the same level as Darkness, and can be higher depending on who crafted it.

Quote:
Darkness lowers the light in its radius down two levels.

The spell description was quoted immediately before your post, over an hour before you posted. It clearly says it drops by one step.

Quote:
It should be worth noting that a cleric could cast silence on a Warrior and have the warrior charge the enemy wizard and entirely negate their spell abilities for a few rounds.

This is a great tactic, but remember to check casting time on spells.

Sovereign Court

It means exactly what it says. When you cast darkness the ambient light level is reduced one step. No non-magical light source can change this either inside or outside the radius of the spell.

If a group is standing outside at noon the light level is reduced from bright to normal (removing penalties for Light Blindness or Light Sensitivity).

If a group is standing in a city alleyway during the day the light level goes from normal to dim (thereby granting concealment).

If a group is in a field at night under moonlight with torches the light level is reduced from dim to dark (the torches are removed from the discussion being non-magical).

In a cave (naturally dark) the spell does nothing except negate mundane light sources.

When talking about magical light sources the spell must be a higher level than the 2nd level darkness spell. So Everburning Torches as priced in the CRB are not higher as they were made by a Wizard whose light spell is also 2nd level. A Clerics light spell however is 3rd and would increase the level.

--Vrockets Red Glare


King of Vrock wrote:


When talking about magical light sources the spell must be a higher level than the 2nd level darkness spell. So Everburning Torches as priced in the CRB are not higher as they were made by a Wizard whose light spell is also 2nd level. A Clerics light spell however is 3rd and would increase the level.

--Vrockets Red Glare

Everburning torches aren't made with Light, unless something has changed.

The Exchange

I find the answers "it works like it says in the write up" to be incomplete. (please do not flame me or my INT).
I need examples of the interaction of Darkness with different light sources and different locations.

1) Light source outside the area of the darkness, when the two areas overlap.

2) Light source inside the area of the darkness - but it's area extends outside the area of the darkness.

3) Light source and Darkness is viewed by different vision abilities (Low-light and normal vision.

For these please use a normal light source or one of 2nd level or less.

Thanks!


nosig wrote:

I find the answers "it works like it says in the write up" to be incomplete. (please do not flame me or my INT).

I need examples of the interaction of Darkness with different light sources and different locations.

1) Light source outside the area of the darkness, when the two areas overlap.

2) Light source inside the area of the darkness - but it's area extends outside the area of the darkness.

3) Light source and Darkness is viewed by different vision abilities (Low-light and normal vision.

For these please use a normal light source or one of 2nd level or less.

Thanks!

The only light sources that influence darkness are magical light sources so when determining darkness levels if the ambient(natural) level of light is not enhanced by magic then it does not factor into the equation.

If you have a nonmagical light source that has a bigger radius than than the darkness spell then the light outside of the 20 ft radius will not be affected.
Darkvision ignores the darkness spell. Low-light is trumped by the darkness spell completely. The only reason darkvision bypasses darkness is because there is specific text that says so, which is the only change made with regard to extraordinary sight(low light and darkvision) from 3.5 to pathfinder.

The Exchange

wraithstrike wrote:
nosig wrote:

I find the answers "it works like it says in the write up" to be incomplete. (please do not flame me or my INT).

I need examples of the interaction of Darkness with different light sources and different locations.

1) Light source outside the area of the darkness, when the two areas overlap.

2) Light source inside the area of the darkness - but it's area extends outside the area of the darkness.

3) Light source and Darkness is viewed by different vision abilities (Low-light and normal vision.

For these please use a normal light source or one of 2nd level or less.

Thanks!

The only light sources that influence darkness are magical light sources so when determining darkness levels if the ambient(natural) level of light is not enhanced by magic then it does not factor into the equation.

If you have a nonmagical light source that has a bigger radius than than the darkness spell then the light outside of the 20 ft radius will not be affected.
Darkvision ignores the darkness spell. Low-light is trumped by the darkness spell completely. The only reason darkvision bypasses darkness is because there is specific text that says so, which is the only change made with regard to extraordinary sight(low light and darkvision) from 3.5 to pathfinder.

a human and an elf are standing in a cavern. the elf carries a bullseye lantern and shines it across the cavern.

the human sees 60' cone of normal light and another 60 foot of dim light.
the Elf sees 120' cone of normal light and another 120' of dim light.
the elf pulls coin with a Darkness cast on it out of his pocket and what do they see now?

the human sees 20' of darkness then a 40' cone (sort of) of normal light and another 60 foot of dim light?
the Elf sees 20' of darkness then a 100' cone of normal light and another 120' of dim light?


I am in a cave, adn the sourcde of light is torches and they take the light level of the cave to normal, I then cast darkness

What happens to the light level in the cave? is it Darkness, because the torches are negated, or is it Dim because the room was normal light when darkness was cast?


@Nosig:The torch light has no bearing in magical darkness. Whatever the light level in the cave is without torches is reduced by 1 step.

@Waiph:It would be darkness because the torches are negated.

The Exchange

wraithstrike wrote:

@Nosig:The torch light has no bearing in magical darkness. Whatever the light level in the cave is without torches is reduced by 1 step.

@Waiph:It would be darkness because the torches are negated.

what about the area not covered by the Darkness (more than 20' from the point that the spell is cast), but within the area of the Torchlight (40' from the torch for the elf)?


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Maps, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Lots of misinformation floating about.

Stynkk wrote:
Darkness lowers the light in its radius down two levels.

It's one level, not two. You're thinking of Deeper Darkness.

Trikk wrote:
For the record, an everburning torch is at least the same level as Darkness, and can be higher depending on who crafted it.

To clarify: It's based on spell level, not caster level. Continual flame is a 3rd-level cleric spell and a 2nd-level wizards/sorcerer spell. Darkness, being a 2nd-level spell for all classes, means that only clerics can negate it with continual flame.

Also, everburning torches are not crafted in the traditional sense. They are merely an ongoing spell effect.

King of Vrock wrote:
When talking about magical light sources the spell must be a higher level than the 2nd level darkness spell. So Everburning Torches as priced in the CRB are not higher as they were made by a Wizard whose light spell is also 2nd level. A Clerics light spell however is 3rd and would increase the level.

I think you meant continual flame, not light.

nosig wrote:
what about the area not covered by the Darkness (more than 20' from the point that the spell is cast), but within the area of the Torchlight (40' from the torch for the elf)?

I do not believe light can pass through the area of a darkness spell. Therefore any light sources that have their ORIGIN SOURCE snuffed out simply do not function. This is more an interpretation than it is RAW, however, so take it with a grain of salt.

The Exchange

wow - it took a Raving Dork to get a clear answer.

and the fact that you listed your last paragraph as your opinion adds to the weight of your judgement I think.

If I might trouble you a bit more, when you say "any light sources that have their ORIGIN SOURCE snuffed out simply do not function" you mean that any light sources that are in the AREA of the darkness spell do not function right? so I cannot have a non-magical light source shining out of the darkness?


Ravingdork wrote:
I do not believe light can pass through the area of a darkness spell. Therefore any light sources that have their ORIGIN SOURCE snuffed out simply do not function. This is more an interpretation than it is RAW, however, so take it with a grain of salt.

Even though this goes against my earlier post I have to agree with it since it makes sense.

+1.


nosig wrote:

wow - it took a Raving Dork to get a clear answer.

and the fact that you listed your last paragraph as your opinion adds to the weight of your judgement I think.

If I might trouble you a bit more, when you say "any light sources that have their ORIGIN SOURCE snuffed out simply do not function" you mean that any light sources that are in the AREA of the darkness spell do not function right? so I cannot have a non-magical light source shining out of the darkness?

That is correct. Once the darkness is gone the item will emit light again.

The Exchange

wraithstrike wrote:
nosig wrote:

wow - it took a Raving Dork to get a clear answer.

and the fact that you listed your last paragraph as your opinion adds to the weight of your judgement I think.

If I might trouble you a bit more, when you say "any light sources that have their ORIGIN SOURCE snuffed out simply do not function" you mean that any light sources that are in the AREA of the darkness spell do not function right? so I cannot have a non-magical light source shining out of the darkness?

That is correct. Once the darkness is gone the item will emit light again.

Can I then have a light shining thru an area of darkness? and example would be a bullseye lantern, to an elf it shines 120 feet. would the beam "dim" for the area covered by the Darkness? or would it be blocked. for example shine the beam so that part of the light crosses an edge of the darkness - does it "trim" the cone - say 5' of it's width, and then continue "cone-ing" on the other side of the darkness (minus the 5') or just suppress the light level in the area of the darkness? In other words, does an area of darkness cast a shadow outside of it's area?


nosig wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:
nosig wrote:

wow - it took a Raving Dork to get a clear answer.

and the fact that you listed your last paragraph as your opinion adds to the weight of your judgement I think.

If I might trouble you a bit more, when you say "any light sources that have their ORIGIN SOURCE snuffed out simply do not function" you mean that any light sources that are in the AREA of the darkness spell do not function right? so I cannot have a non-magical light source shining out of the darkness?

That is correct. Once the darkness is gone the item will emit light again.
Can I then have a light shining thru an area of darkness? and example would be a bullseye lantern, to an elf it shines 120 feet. would the beam "dim" for the area covered by the Darkness? or would it be blocked. for example shine the beam so that part of the light crosses an edge of the darkness - does it "trim" the cone - say 5' of it's width, and then continue "cone-ing" on the other side of the darkness (minus the 5') or just suppress the light level in the area of the darkness? In other words, does an area of darkness cast a shadow outside of it's area?

The darkness should block any light(non-magical) that has to travel through it. Any light that does not pass through the darkness will be ok though.

Sovereign Court

Trikk wrote:
King of Vrock wrote:


When talking about magical light sources the spell must be a higher level than the 2nd level darkness spell. So Everburning Torches as priced in the CRB are not higher as they were made by a Wizard whose light spell is also 2nd level. A Clerics light spell however is 3rd and would increase the level.

--Vrockets Red Glare

Everburning torches aren't made with Light, unless something has changed.

You're right I did mean the continual flame spell.

--Shot Vrock violation


My apologies for my previous post containing the comment about Darkness moving the light levels down two levels. Reimagine my post with the correct terminology please, as it should be ony one level down on the light scale as everyone in the world has noted.

As for your examples, its hard to give specific answers without specific scenarios, but I concur with RD and Wraith's comments to the ones you've suggested.


1 person marked this as FAQ candidate.

Alright, so what I think I'm getting from this is that light that has a source outside the radius still affects the darkness in the normal way, while light sources that enter the magical darkness effectively emit no light;

So say you have a torch and an anti-torch (a stick with darkness on it) that are in a deep cave and are 40 feet from each other. The darkness has no effect on the darkness in the cave. Since a torch emits an area of normal light 20 feet around it and dim light up to 40 feet around it, a patch of the dim light is turned to darkness. Then you move the antitorch 10 feet closer and more of the dim light is now darkness and a small patch of the normal light is now dim. Then you move the antitorch 10 feet closer and the torch light goes out entirely, though it still emits heat and can burn people.

On the other hand, an item with continual flame cast by a cleric is affected as above except it does not go out when it enters the magical darkness.

Have I got it?

The Exchange

well... depends on your Judge. Some listen to the arguments, read all the posts, carefully weigh the options and make the strangest rulings.

Some Possibles (I've played with Judges who rule like this) -
1) The Darkness cancels torchlight in it's area - you would get dark (not dim light) in any area of overlap, even if the source of the light (the torch) is outside the area of the Darkness. (I'm not sure how this guy would rule with a Darkness spell cast in a sunlit area)
2) The Torchlight still lights areas outside the area of the Darkness spell - even if the torch is in the area - so it is possible to cast Darkness on a burning torch and get a ring of dim light (or a ring of light for an elf, who would see 20' radius of Darkness, followed by a ring of 20' of light followed by 40' of dim light).
3) Darkness and a light spell of 2nd level cancel each other - they both wink out when their areas touch - dispelled. This means a Darkness spell will distroy a Continual Flame torch (Everburning torch) if the two areas touch. (not sure how this judge would rule if an Elf was involved, as the area of the light would be bigger).

anyway - you might just want to review the effects with your Judge before you play. If you are the DM, "listen to the arguments, read all the posts, carefully weigh the options and make..." the correct call (you are the DM after all), just be sure to tell you players how it works before they start throwing Darkness spells about.


Well thats the point of this post, to get the actual intent of how the spell is written. What did the developers mean when they wrote it? Because as written, its pretty damn confusing and contradictory in its seeming intent.

The Exchange

yeah, but it's current write-up is a result of the way the spell was in 1st ed., then "fixed" for 3rd, again for 3.5 and finally for PF... and never re-written, only patched. Are you going to be the DM? or is this for PFSOP? or are you going to be a player in a home game?

Sovereign Court

nosig wrote:

Some Possibles (I've played with Judges who rule like this) -

1) The Darkness cancels torchlight in it's area - you would get dark (not dim light) in any area of overlap, even if the source of the light (the torch) is outside the area of the Darkness.

This.

Even mundane light sources outside the area of the darkness spell can't illuminate anything within that area. Their light just stops at the edge of the spell.

So you have an area of darkness and a torch 10 feet away from it. The torch illuminates everything normally except the area of the spell. If it enters the area of the spell it is suppressed entirely. When it exits it once again illuminates everything outside the area.

--Vrocky Balboa

Lantern Lodge

The way I have been able to understand darkness is as follows. Imagine if you're in an area of ambient "darkness" (in a cave, for example). Your buddy lights a torch (or casts a light spell), thus creating a 20' radius of "normal light" around him, and then an additional 20' of "dim light". Now for you, standing outside the circle of light, you still can't really see things near you, but near your buddy you can see, and then on the far side of your buddy you can't really see again.

Without any light sources nearby, darkness is exactly the opposite of this effect. If you're in an area of normal light, standing outside the darkness, you can see around yourself, but you can't see things inside the darkness very well (it's dim), and then you can see stuff on the far side just fine. This makes no physical sense, because it's magic.

The understanding troubles come when people are carrying lights near a darkness effect. The rules, as I understand them to be written, say that such lights (short of a cleric's continual flame or a daylight or better) have no effect INSIDE the darkness, but continue to work as normal OUTSIDE the darkness. This, again, makes no physical sense, in fact somewhat less than the last part. Basically the photons are still generated, but because they were not generated by a sufficiently powerful effect, the darkness suppresses them until they leave the area.

I think the most complicated example we can have here is a torch or light spell, 15' from the edge of an area of darkness, in an area of ambient "dim light". In this case, the 20' radius of darkness reduces that area to "darkness" (one step down from "dim"). Nothing short of daylight can affect this area. However, there is a crescent-shaped area that is less than 20' from the torch but outside the darkness, so it receives "normal light". There is also a lopsided-doughnut-shaped area within 40' of the light but outside the [/i]darkness[/i]; this area also receives "normal light" because it is one step up from "dim" (in an area of ambient "darkness", this region would only be "dim"). Beyond this region the area stays "dim" because nothing changes it.

You can construct more complicated examples with deeper darkness and daylight, but because of the extra clause in daylight that it simply cancels darkness effects rather than doing complicated light-addition things, they end up not being as interesting.

The Exchange

two different judges (if Vrock and Paul are Judges) and you get two different takes on the spell. Both are valid as far as I can tell. My take on it would be closer to Paul I think, but that is not to say Vrock is less right - and if he is the DM then his way would be correct.

Darkness is just another example of YMMV, ask the Judge.

Sovereign Court

I think Paul and I are describing the same thing... I like the example of standing in the dark looking at someone else holding a torch example and reversing it.


telriche wrote:

Alright, so what I think I'm getting from this is that light that has a source outside the radius still affects the darkness in the normal way, while light sources that enter the magical darkness effectively emit no light;

So say you have a torch and an anti-torch (a stick with darkness on it) that are in a deep cave and are 40 feet from each other. The darkness has no effect on the darkness in the cave. Since a torch emits an area of normal light 20 feet around it and dim light up to 40 feet around it, a patch of the dim light is turned to darkness. Then you move the antitorch 10 feet closer and more of the dim light is now darkness and a small patch of the normal light is now dim. Then you move the antitorch 10 feet closer and the torch light goes out entirely, though it still emits heat and can burn people.

On the other hand, an item with continual flame cast by a cleric is affected as above except it does not go out when it enters the magical darkness.

Have I got it?

The magical darkness can not be influenced in any way by nonmagical light.

The Exchange

I'm not sure if Wraithstrike's response put him in as a third way the spell works, different from both Paul and Vrock. Or maybe that would be four, being different from Paul, Vrock and me. So I would say, 4 DM's, 4 different ways the spell works.

The Exchange

King of Vrock wrote:

I think Paul and I are describing the same thing... I like the example of standing in the dark looking at someone else holding a torch example and reversing it.

I do not think so. Pauls saying (I think) that a torch inside the area of a Darkness spell will shine light outside the area. "However, there is a crescent-shaped area that is less than 20' from the torch but outside the darkness, so it receives "normal light". "

Liberty's Edge

How I've run it:

1) Non-magical light source that is outside of the area of the spell influences areas normally. After this influence is taken into account, lower the light level as per the spell.

2) Non-magical light source that is inside of the area is negated entirely, always. Just pretend it isn't there.

3) Magic light source inside the darkness spell that is of lower level is negated.

4) Magical light source inside the darkness spell of equal level cancels out with darkness in the overlapping area.

5) If you choose to you can, instead of making the area darker, use the spell to negate a magical light source of equal or lower level.

6) Magical light source of higher level cancels out the darkness effect then raises light levels as normal.

How it seems to be, as per the spell's current wording:

1) Non-magical light increases the light level only outside of the darkness spell. Inside the area of the darkness spell they have no effect. Oddly, the way it's currently worded, a light source inside the spell area would still increase light levels outside the spell area (which makes no sense to in relation to real world physics, but that's because this spell is creating darkness particles, not destroying/blocking light).

2) Magical light of equal or lower level than the darkness is treated the same as non-magical light.

3) Magical light of higher level increases the light level, but still requires fighting the drop that darkness causes.

4) Points 2+3 above potentially conflict with other spells, such as daylight, which say that the effects negate each-other in the overlapping area (leaving the prevailing non-magical light levels behind).

5) Same as point 5 in the other list.

TL;DR - *shrug*

The Exchange

I think Stabbity added two different ways the spell works (but I also thought I was going to be rich by now and we see where that got me!), which might put us to 5 DMs and 6 ways to work the spell. Except I think one of his is the same as Pauls, which is real close to mine (minor differences), which maybe puts us at 5 DMs and 4 ways.

The only one that really counts though, is the one that the guy running the game uses during the game.

That said, I do (mostly) agree with the second of Stabbity's write-ups.


1 person marked this as FAQ candidate.

Hmm.... I took a closer look at the other related spells. Deeper Darkness is of course a more powerful and wider radius spell than darkness as well as affecting ambient light by two steps. Then I took a look at Daylight... and now I'm more confused.

Daylight is the same level as Deeper darkness, which according to the write of the darkness spell Deeper Darkness is based off of means daylight cannot affect Deeper darkness. And then I read more the description of Daylight.

"You touch an object when you cast this spell, causing the object to shed bright light in a 60-foot radius. This illumination increases the light level for an additional 60 feet by one step (darkness becomes dim light, dim light becomes normal light, and normal light becomes bright light). Creatures that take penalties in bright light take them while within the 60-foot radius of this magical light. Despite its name, this spell is not the equivalent of daylight for the purposes of creatures that are damaged or destroyed by such light.

If daylight is cast on a small object that is then placed inside or under a light-proof covering, the spell's effects are blocked until the covering is removed.

-->**Daylight brought into an area of magical darkness (or vice versa) is temporarily negated, so that the otherwise prevailing light conditions exist in the overlapping areas of effect.**<--

Daylight counters or dispels any darkness spell of equal or lower level, such as darkness."

Alright.. so if daylight is the only spell that can counter darkness, but it emits a Bright light and then 1 step lower radius around it, while Darkness would lower the lighting by 1 step. It would level the effects of darkness of course at its outer rims, except that the lower level darkness spell overcomes the bright light area as well and makes it the prevailing light conditions without the daylight spell.
Not only that, but it also contradicts the aspect of Deeper Darkness, in that only a higher level spell than the Deeper Darkness can affect light within the radius.
Heck, at that point, why include the 1 step lower or 2 steps lower if it blocks all non-magical light, and the daylight spell can only bring the ambient light back to normal... or not affect Deeper Darkness at all for that matter except to counter it in a fashion similar to dispel magic or counter-spelling...

This makes my head hurt...

Lantern Lodge

StabbittyDoom wrote:

How it seems to be, as per the spell's current wording:

1) Non-magical light increases the light level only outside of the darkness spell. Inside the area of the darkness spell they have no effect. Oddly, the way it's currently worded, a light source inside the spell area would still increase light levels outside the spell area (which makes no sense to in relation to real world physics, but that's because this spell is creating darkness particles, not destroying/blocking light).

2) Magical light of equal or lower level than the darkness is treated the same as non-magical light.

3) Magical light of higher level increases the light level, but still requires fighting the drop that darkness causes.

4) Points 2+3 above potentially conflict with other spells, such as daylight, which say that the effects negate each-other in the overlapping area (leaving the prevailing non-magical light levels behind).

5) If you choose to you can, instead of making the area darker, use the spell to negate a magical light source of equal or lower level.

I'm pretty sure my writeup above is equivalent to Doom's second interpretation here, except for point 5; you can use darkness to dispel a magical light effect of equal or lower level, but it's a dispel check, not automatic. In practice you almost never want to use it to do this, since the light effect is suppressed inside the darkness anyway, but if you want to also get rid of the crescent and doughnut regions this is what you have to do. It only matters in a room bigger than the darkness anyway, which isn't very common in dungeons.

Yes, point 1 is strange. No, it doesn't make any physical sense. If you like, you can treat darkness as having the same effect on photons created by a weaker effect that an antimagic field has on summoned creatures; they're still there, just "winked out" and useless until they manage to leave the area of effect. This "wink out" effect is in addition to the suppression of ALL light inside the area by one step. But it has the behavior that I think the designers wanted, which is that darkness is a viciously powerful battlefield control (against creatures without darkvision) with a sharply limited area of effect. If you can get your target outside the effect, you're just fine. More than that and it is simply too powerful for a 2nd level spell; it's already pretty far above the curve. This does have the odd effect that fighting on the edge of darkness is a big advantage for the guy inside (he has concealment but his opponent is well lit and does not, even against the darkened attacker), but I'm fine with that; your GM may not be so check with him before you rely on it. This advantage is basically equivalent to a blur spell, which is also 2nd level, so it seems ok to me.

And let me tell you, even with most limited interpretation currently suggested (mine, I think), it is still HARSH when applied correctly. I recently had 3/4 of my 4-adventurer party pretty much shut down completely by a single 3rd level cleric wielding a darkness spell in an otherwise dark cave; the half-orc barbarian could still see, but everyone else was basically screwed since we didn't exactly have access to daylight at 3rd level. We only won that one by having the half-orc basically bull-rush the cleric out of the darkness, so the rest of us could see her again.

There may also be some confusion about "ambient light" as used by darkness and similar effects. My interpretation is that ambient lighting conditions are those generated by celestial objects. Suns, moons, and stars, that's it. Anything else is nonmagical (ordinary fire) or generated by a spell of some particular level, and its interaction with darkness is described by the above guidelines, but the sun and moons were created by the gods and no merely mortal magic defeats them outright.


2 people marked this as FAQ candidate.

That's certainly one way of ruling it. Though my concern is that the darkness is now mobile since it is cast on an object, thus making it an easy "I win" button for those with darkvision. A 50% miss chance is significant, and 50% miss chance in an area and can be mobile has game balance concerns for me. Plus a cleric with the Darkness domain has the ability to see through Darkness effects, bypassing the darkvision shutdown of Deeper Darkness. This has even more serious balance issues and has a certain cheese factor since there are really so few ways to counter such a powerful effect. And thats not to mention the fact that if they put the object down, you then have to GUESS which square they are in to even get the chance, and then you still have a 50% miss chance.
For a second level spell, it should not have such wide ranging power. Situational power is one thing, but effects that can be used in such a powerful way so readily should be a higher level effect.

But as for the descriptions, you see my point as to how it seems very twisty and confusing, when it could have been much more clear?

I still don't get why they bothered to include the light level adjustment part of the spell, and at the beginning of the spell like its the primary effect of the spell. Really its almost like they are talking about two different spells in the same paragraph.

The Exchange

I am guessing that the reason it reads like it is two different spells, is because it has been batched several times in an effort to "fix" it and never just re-written from scratch. Hopefully this spell (and Deeper Darkness) will be "fixed" again soon - only clearer.


2 people marked this as FAQ candidate.

That would be nice. Its also why I was hoping the Paizo developers or someone else in the know of the design process could clear it up by stating the intent.

Or an Errata. Errata is nice too.

Sovereign Court

nosig wrote:
King of Vrock wrote:

I think Paul and I are describing the same thing... I like the example of standing in the dark looking at someone else holding a torch example and reversing it.

I do not think so. Pauls saying (I think) that a torch inside the area of a Darkness spell will shine light outside the area. "However, there is a crescent-shaped area that is less than 20' from the torch but outside the darkness, so it receives "normal light". "

With that I disagree entirely. A mundane light source inside a darkness spell is entirely supressed. No light leaves the spell area because there is no light. You have to take the light source out of the spell area in order for it to provide illumination again.

I thought the doughnut analogy was refering to the crescent of normal light left from a torch outside of the spell... Adventurers with a sunrod in a normally dark cave that are attacked by Dark Folk are not going to have any light unless they can bring the sunrod outside of the darkness effect.

--SunVrock SPF 50

Liberty's Edge

@Paul: Counterspelling never requires a check except to identify what spell you're countering (so you know what to counter it with, I suppose you could get lucky) EXCEPT when using dispel magic, which does not require a spellcraft check but requires a caster level check instead. You can house-rule otherwise, but that's how it works.

I presume that an active magical darkness/light effect would be relatively obvious, or at least obvious enough that the average caster would try counterspelling it if it's a problem.

Lantern Lodge

King of Vrock wrote:
With that I disagree entirely. A mundane light source inside a darkness spell is entirely supressed. No light leaves the spell area because there is no light. You have to take the light source out of the spell area in order for it to provide illumination again.

I draw my interpretation from the following sentence in darkness: "Nonmagical sources of light, such as torches and lanterns, do not increase the light level in an area of darkness." I read this to mean that while the light still works properly, it simply has no effect on the light level inside the darkness. It continues to work on areas outside the darkness, even if the light itself is inside. You are of course completely entitled to your differing opinion; in the absence of any judgement from Paizo staff I have no support for my own beyond the argument I have just advanced, and my personal belief that darkness is uncounterably overpowered under any stronger interpretation. As I warned, check with your GM about his ruling on matters like this before you start relying on them.

As far as darkness and friends being overpowered because they're now mobile: continual flame still dispels it if your wizard can beat the enemy at a caster level check, and daylight automatically negates both darkness and deeper darkness with no check required. Since daylight is a 3rd level spell, you can expect to have access to it whenever your opponents have access to deeper darkness, and the small area of effect and short duration of darkness is meant as its primary limiting factor. Sure, an enemy with darkvision can cast it on his hat, which is annoying, but you can try to dispel it with continual flame, or completely negate its effects by having precast darkvision (another 2nd level spell) on your most important combatants who didn't already have it, or just run away for a couple of minutes until it times out.

StabbittyDoom wrote:

@Paul: Counterspelling never requires a check except to identify what spell you're countering (so you know what to counter it with, I suppose you could get lucky) EXCEPT when using dispel magic, which does not require a spellcraft check but requires a caster level check instead. You can house-rule otherwise, but that's how it works.

I presume that an active magical darkness/light effect would be relatively obvious, or at least obvious enough that the average caster would try counterspelling it if it's a problem.

You have counterspelling and dispelling confused. Counterspelling is a specific battlefield tactic, wherein you Ready An Action to spend your spells in order to prevent enemy spells from having any effect in the first place, if you make your (medium-easy) Spellcraft check to identify the spell before it comes out. If you're using the exact same spell, or a spell that specifically "counters" the incoming spell, there's no further check; you just chant your spell backwards and it cancels out. (You: "Try to cast something, I dare you." Enemy wizard: "I know, I'll throw a spell! Fireball!" You: "Ooh, I know that one! !llaberiF" [massive magical fizzle]) Since it burns one of your spells and your action for one of the enemy's spells and actions to make a grand total of "nothing happens", this isn't usually worth the effort, but it's fiendishly annoying when some quick-thinking PC pulls it out. But once the spell is successfully cast, it's out there, and counterspelling doesn't help.

Dispelling is getting rid of a continuous magical effect already in existence. This involves a caster-level check, as described under the Targeted Dispel section of dispel magic. Many spells (including darkness) can be used as though they were dispel magic to dispel certain effects, but this is where the caster level check comes in.

The confusing part is that, as a special feature of dispel magic you can ALSO use it to counter any spell, but using dispel magic for this purpose requires an extra caster level check in addition to the Spellcraft check for identifying the spell. Basically you can think of this as readying your dispel magic to dispel the enemy's spell as it's appearing but before it's "fully formed". (You: "Try to cast something, I dare you." Enemy wizard: "Fireball!" You: "No. No magic for you. Dispel magic!" [massive magical fizzle]) This is actually worthwhile a lot more often than a straight counterspell, because you can burn your 3rd level spells countering the bad guy's 8th level spells. But it's still at best middling-to-weak as a battlefield tactic, except to counter specific hard-to-dispel effects like prismatic sphere or antimagic field.

Lantern Lodge

Paul Zagieboylo wrote:
The confusing part is that, as a special feature of dispel magic you can ALSO use it to counter any spell, but using dispel magic for this purpose requires an extra caster level check in addition to the Spellcraft check for identifying the spell.

Correction: I was mistaken here; the caster level check for counterspelling with dispel magic is IN LIEU of the normal Spellcraft check. I happened to trip over this looking for something else.


1 person marked this as FAQ candidate.

I've been pulling my hair out trying to resolve the darkness quandaries. This is my take on it, and my educated guess as to the intent of the Pathfinder authors.

Remember that 3.0 darkness was a sphere of pitch black, and not even darkvision worked in it.

Remember that 3.5 nerfed it down to shadowy illumination in the area. An area of shadowy illumination imposed a 20% miss chance, and even darkvision did not bypass the 20% miss chance. There were discussions online which suggested that the 3.5 darkness spell cast in a pitch black area would actually raise the light level to shadowy illumination, contrary to all fluff and reason.

Fast forward to Pathfinder. They tried to clean this up. The darkness spell now reduces the light level by 1 step. However, the author of the Pathfinder darkness spell was apparently concerned that this may be read to introduce a contradiction with light generating spells and equipment. Example:

http://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic/all-spells/l/light
"shedding normal light in a 20-foot radius"

http://www.d20pfsrd.com/equipment---final/goods-and-services/illuminations- explosives#TOC-Torch
"shedding normal light in a 20-foot radius"

The author read this as a contradiction. Which wins - darkness in reducing the light by 1 step, or the torch text which specifically states that it sheds normal light in a 20-foot radius? Thus, the author of the Pathfinder darkness spell added in the very confusing and badly phrased text, which is at the heart of the matter:

http://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic/all-spells/d/darkness
"Nonmagical sources of light, such as torches and lanterns, do not increase the light level in an area of darkness. Magical light sources only increase the light level in an area if they are of a higher spell level than darkness."

The intent of this text is to clarify that darkness does indeed drop the light level by 1 step, even if other sources disagree. The purpose of the text is to say that the light lowering properties of darkness trumps the description of a torch which specifically says it produces "normal light", and trumps the description of the light spell which specifically says it produces "normal light".

The intent is not to say that the light level in a darkness area is completely independent of non-magical and lower spell level light sources. The Pathfinder authors never intended to buff the darkness spell from 3.5 to be like 3.0 darkness, especially after they made darkvision work in (some) magical darkness. They never intended darkness + darkvision to be an auto "I win" card vs those without darkvision or a daylight spell.

The darkness spell should read:

Quote:

This spell causes an object to radiate darkness out to a 20-foot radius. This darkness causes the illumination level in the area to drop one step, from bright light to normal light, from normal light to dim light, or from dim light to darkness. This spell has no effect in an area that is already dark. Creatures with light vulnerability or sensitivity take no penalties in normal light. All creatures gain concealment (20% miss chance) in dim light. All creatures gain total concealment (50% miss chance) in darkness. Creatures with darkvision can see in an area of dim light or darkness without penalty. This spell lowers the light level even in areas lit by magical sources of light. However, a darkness spell does not affect the light level in an area of a magical source of light if the spell is a higher level than darkness.

If darkness is cast on a small object that is then placed inside or under a lightproof covering, the spell's effect is blocked until the covering is removed.

This spell does not stack with itself. Darkness can be used to counter or dispel any light spell of equal or lower spell level.

I think there's still some open questions about the specifics of daylight, but that's it. Specifically: What is the area of effect of daylight for the purposes of suppressing darkness spells? If we have two darkness spells originating from the same square, can a single daylight spell suppress them both? Would then two daylight spells originating from the same square completely ignore all darkness spells and light up the area as if the darkness spells were not present? Or should one daylight spell be able to suppress at most one darkness spell per square?


Holy Necro, Batman!


Sorry - I've done thorough searching, and I didn't find a more relevant topic. Should I have made a new thread?

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Nah, this one's fine, I'm just ribbin' ya. :)

As for your questions:

1) "What is the area of effect of daylight for the purposes of suppressing darkness spells?"

If you're talking about how both effects are negated in the overlap, it's unclear. I think the most reasonable theory is 60ft.

2) "If we have two darkness spells originating from the same square, can a single daylight spell suppress them both?"

I think here you'd have the rule that darkness doesn't stack, so yeah, I think it'd suppress them both.

3) "Would then two daylight spells originating from the same square completely ignore all darkness spells and light up the area as if the darkness spells were not present?"

Since daylight doesn't have the no-stack clause, I think this works.

As you've noticed, these light spells interact rather confusingly. The answers I've written here are my best guesses/interpretations, and how I'd probably run it. But I'm sure other cases could be made, as the rules are unclear in some respects.


As much as it annoys me, one or two of my players are RAW sticklers, and while the DM can override people and change the rules, it's easier if the RAW was fixed in the first place. Are the Pathfinder people ever going to fix the darkness spell description? It really is badly worded and ambiguous, no matter what was intended.

EDIT:
Assuming I'm right, then the Pathfinder people aren't all on the same page about this. See the sidebar at:
http://www.d20pfsrd.com/equipment---final/goods-and-services/illuminations- explosives#TOC-Moonrod

My player is trying to use that to argue that "no, Pathfinder intended to make darkness more like the 3.0 version".

Of course, this brings up the problem of what is "ambient" light? All light is from a source, magical or not. And while I normally like to avoid ruleslawyering physics, I don't see an alternative in this case. In an indoor room, the "ambient" light is going to be from torches, so darkness by this interpretation would make everything pitch black, no exceptions, even in direct sunlight. My player makes a special pleading that "obviously sunlight penetrates" darkness, but the special pleading is unimpressive to me.

Liberty's Edge

JohnDoomdriven wrote:
Of course, this brings up the problem of what is "ambient" light? All light is from a source, magical or not. And while I normally like to avoid ruleslawyering physics, I don't see an alternative in this case. In an indoor room, the "ambient" light is going to be from torches, so darkness by this interpretation would make everything pitch black, no exceptions, even in direct sunlight. My player makes a special pleading that "obviously sunlight penetrates" darkness, but the special pleading is unimpressive to me.

Ugh, I completely agree. Unless the sun is considered a magical source of light (not impossible in a fantasy game, I suppose), then there is no ambient light. I'm pretty sure that the spell is supposed to reduce light from whatever it was down 1 level. For this reason alone, I think that any source of light outside the darkness spell is resolved first (setting the "ambient" light level), then darkness drops everything one level, then any magical light effects inside the darkness spell can move it back up (spell level permitting).

EDIToh, I think that maybe Trikk had it right:

Trikk wrote:

Correct. For future reference, the standard light levels are: bright, normal, dim, darkness.

Your confusion comes from the fact that a lighting condition has the same name as the spell. Read the vision and light rules and everything will be clear.

Some of the posts above cite the sentence:

Darkness wrote:
Nonmagical sources of light, such as torches and lanterns, do not increase the light level in an area of darkness. Magical light sources only increase the light level in an area if they are of a higher spell level than darkness.

In my printing of the core book the first quoted instance of the word darkness is not italicized. The second one is. Italics are used to show reference to the name of the spell. The non-italicized text must refer to the lighting condition.

So, nonmagical sources of light, such as torches and lanterns, do not increase the light level in an area of (the lighting condition) darkness. Magical light sources only increase the light level in an area if they are of a higher level than (the spell named) darkness.

I guess that means that if the darkness spell brings the light down to "darkness" then non-magical light sources won't help. If the darkness spell only brings down the lighting condition to "dim" then non-magical sources of light might actually help!

OMG, my brain hurts! FAQ this people!

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