Dancing Lights vs. Light


Advice


Both are Evocation Spells, both can be spammed (Orosions/Cantrips), both shed light like a torch, both can be made permanent, both can only have one of itself active at once. Light lasts longer, but they can both be spammed! Light is target: touch, Dancing Lights can be conjured anywhere (as far as 110' at first level). Light is stationary, unless cast on a movable object, and unless the movable object can move on its own, it's still only as mobile as a regular torch. Dancing Lights can move 100'/round. IN ANY DIRECTION. Light is a static shape, Dancing Lights can be molded into many hilarious/spooky shapes.

Can anyone tell me why Light would be taken over Dancing Lights? Am I missing something? The only application I could see Light being used for over Dancing Lights is to give an object with Light cast on it to another player who will be moving far away from you. OR countering/dispelling a Darkness spell of equal level...which is 0...you could always Heighten it?


No, you've pretty much nailed it AFAICT. I've never seen a PC take Light -- they always take Dancing Lights instead.

Doug M.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Well, dancing lights is arcane only. There's also a danger of having the spell suddenly end in the middle of a fight. Other than that, you're absolutely right.


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A lot of the cantrips are left over from 3.x, which in turn inherited them from earlier editions. So, they vary quite a bit -- from "pretty cool" and/or "occasionally quite useful" to "this is ridiculous" and "why would anyone ever...?"

Incidentally, spammable Dancing Lights + Paizo handing out darkvision to every new PC race = nobody cares about lighting any more. While I'm not particularly nostalgic for 1e, I'm old school enough to enjoy having lighting be an issue sometimes. Yes, mucking around with "who carries the torch?" and "are we running out of lamp oil?" could get faintly tedious. But OTOH, some of my best gaming moments have come when a lantern broke, a wind blew out the torches, or otherwise *someone turned out the lights*. No lights! Something coming! Can you get a torch lit in time?

Between "darkvision for everybody!" and putting a bunch of light-generating spells on the infinitely spammable 0 level list, Paizo has pretty much eliminated this from the game, even in low level play. Oh, well.

Doug M.


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I cast light on rocks and throw them down holes, it's come in useful many times.

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Duration. If you're spamming dancing lights, you're either doing it VERY frequently (enough to slow your exploration/travel progress) or you risk it winking out a couple of rounds into an encounter and you have to spend a turn in combat restarting your light source. Light, on the other hand, lasts 10min/level, so even at level 1 you can cast it every 8 minutes and never have that risk. I always take light instead of dancing lights.


Jiggy wrote:
Duration. If you're spamming dancing lights, you're either doing it VERY frequently (enough to slow your exploration/travel progress) or you risk it winking out a couple of rounds into an encounter and you have to spend a turn in combat restarting your light source.

Dancing Lights lasts for ten rounds. WRT exploration, you're probably moving at half speed anyway, so it doesn't actually slow you down at all. Casting it every minute, well the player just has to *say* "I cast Dancing Lights every minute" and, boom, there it is.

The risk of having it blink out in combat is a thing, I suppose, but (1) the darkvision races (dwarf, 1/2 orc, tiefling, aasimar, dhampir, fetchling, goblin, changeling...) won't care, and (2) the mobility, power, range and flexibility of Dancing Lights seem to overwhelm that concern for most PCs. I mean, you can make the lights move any distance, at 100' speed, up to the range of the spell! You can send the lights down wells, deep into water, make them go ahead of you... all kinds of things.

Apparently there are people out there still using Light. Good on you. But I've gamed with half a dozen different groups in four different countries, and all of them were using Dancing Lights.

Doug M.


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Deadalready wrote:
I cast light on rocks and throw them down holes, it's come in useful many times.

Pretty much that.

Lightrock go down da hoooooole


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You can't hide your dancing lights temporarily, but you can cast light on a rock and hide that rock for a little bit - which means light is more practical for use to help you see while sneaking about in the night since you don't have to spend so many actions to cast it again just because you needed to put the light out while a guard passed on patrol.


BigNorseWolf wrote:
Deadalready wrote:
I cast light on rocks and throw them down holes, it's come in useful many times.

Pretty much that.

Lightrock go down da hoooooole

Or just send the dancing lights down the hole. No rock needed.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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You can cast light on a pebble, hand it to someone, then arrange to have them do such-and-such when they get "the signal", which is you casting light again (from anywhere in the world) and thereby causing the light on their pebble to go out.

The fact is that the two spells are different enough that choosing between them is a matter of selecting which things you want to prioritize. Or you could take both and be able to have two magical light sources active at once.


I'm sorry, but there are enough people not playing the Darkvision races, that lighting is still an issue. The first Arcane character I've seen in Pathfinder, almost got his party killed because he had Dancing Lights instead of Light.

The party was going up against a group of Derro (nasty little blighters). The party was doing fine... at first. Then the Dancing Lights winked out in the third round and the Derro jumped up and sneak attacked the Sorcerer to negative hit-points. The Cleric didn't have a light spell prepared, but the Rogue, a Half-Orc, fortunately had a Torch in his backpack that he whipped out and lit up, letting the Barbarian and Cleric crush the Derro while the Rogue dumped a potion down the Sorcerer's throat.

Ever since then, no one in my group ever takes Dancing Lights unless they also have some alternative light source (such as an Everburning Torch).

Dancing Lights is a lot of fun, with lots of flavor, but, frankly, it can get parties killed if they don't have a secondary light source (such as another character with Light prepared).

Shadow Lodge

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Dancing Lights and Light are both very useful. Light is more useful to have first because you have it for the entire combat and can cast it on anything. AND you can just cast it on a pebble and stick it in your pocket if you encounter things that are suspicious of magic. Then you go for dancing lights, which has a bunch of utility for illusions and can scout (sort of).

Shadow Lodge

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I am all for having both, two light sources I can spam all day? Yes please.

Light also has this extra line at the bottom that Dancing Lights does not

Quote:
Light can be used to counter or dispel any darkness spell of equal or lower spell level.

Couple that with Heighten Spell and you have an effective way of dealing with Darkness or Deeper Darkness.

Daylight is a better spell for that, but it is useful for Sorcerers that don't have that many 3rd level known spells


Once you get high enough, either cast, or pay for, a Continual Flame Heightened to 4th level. That will overwhelm any and all other Darkness spells, unless the GM specifically counters your Continual Flame, and, since Continual Flame is permanent, you only need it once.


Douglas Muir 406 wrote:

No, you've pretty much nailed it AFAICT. I've never seen a PC take Light -- they always take Dancing Lights instead.

Doug M.

Nobody in my games has taken dancing lights in years, and I can barely remember anybody using it.

Light, on the other hand, is part and parcel of every caster's toolkit. Everybody I play with takes it without question.

I have no doubt light is the more popular and most players take it because they are simply used to it, and/or new players know what it is without having to have it explained in any detail. Dancing lights is probably something people who devote more time to the game eventually take instead. In gaming circles with devoted players, you may see more people taking dancing lights, but the vast majority of players in the world are much more casual than anybody here, and believe me, they are taking light in ways that make you wish you got a nickel every time they did.

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Dancing lights also attract much more attention than a glowing pebble or a shining sword (ya know, things that are easy to conceal). Not ideal when trying to NOT alert every beastie lurking in the dungeon to your presence.


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We would chop the head of an enemy off, cast light on it and bowl it into the next room so whatever was in there knew we were coming.


Don't forget, dancing lights can be shaped in a humanoid manner that 'swings and misses' at dumb monsters, which can fool dumb monsters to 'swing and miss' at dancing lights.


as a magus its awsome you get all the cantrips :-)

i thought it was the same for wizards and clerics?


Each has its usefulness, IMO. My mages usually know/memorize both. Even when I play a race with darkvision, I at least have Dancing Lights prepped; darkvision is only 60ft, and sometimes it pays to see beyond that range.

For instance, if you ever find yourself underground and exploring a chamber that is higher than your darkvision, cast Dancing Lights and send them up to investigate. Having those babies moving beyond your vision helps spot would-be ambushes.


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Darkflame wrote:

as a magus its awsome you get all the cantrips :-)

i thought it was the same for wizards and clerics?

Yes, but all those classes has limited amount of 0th level slots and still have to decide which exactly spells prepare.


Cyrad wrote:
Dancing lights also attract much more attention than a glowing pebble or a shining sword (ya know, things that are easy to conceal). Not ideal when trying to NOT alert every beastie lurking in the dungeon to your presence.

Hiding a Dancing Lights Spell is as simple as consciously ending it, which isn't a huge loss, because I have unlimited charges. Maybe I'd provoke if combat started before I could recast, but how does that compare to being sniped by someone with Darkvision 120' from 120' away? Having a light-up rock wouldn't help me at all. "How many snipers are there? How far away are they? Should we run or attack?" Meanwhile, the sniper has total concealment/cover from you and you're all flat-footed against all his attacks. Does EVERYONE charge forward (you need to stay within 40' of the Light Spell), possibly getting ambushed half-way to the sniper, or does the tank take it and leave the group in darkness? You could proceed forward cautiously as a group in case of ambushes, allowing the sniper a half-dozen rounds of attack rolls. The fact is, outside that light radius, everything is unknown, and the only way to know is to move yourself, or throw the light rock (maybe 20'?), and then you either need to go get it, or recast Light anyway (the problem supposedly only connected to Dancing Lights).

Here's the same situation with Dancing Lights: Round 1 - Sniped. Round 2 - Oh, there he is, let's get him.


My Wizard has a crossbow, I cast light on a crossbow bolt and I have it knocked. If I need to see farther away, I shoot the crossbow bolt, and then see where my targets are.


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One thing I see players disregard a lot is that "light" is a touch range spell, you have to touch what your are lighting up.

This thread does a pretty good job of identifying why both are very good spells. For whatever reason my pure wizards tend to take "light" while my sorcerers, bards etc. tend to take "dancing lights" to begin with. It's more a flavor thing than a game mechanics thing.


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Sorcerers and Bards should take Dancing Lights as it's a more versatile spell. Since you can't easily change your spells, you have need to take spells that are useful across a broad spectrum of situations.

Light is really only useful for making light, while Dancing Lights has a variety of uses.

However! Any other caster should be packing the Light spell in addition to the Sorcerer/Bard bringing Dancing Lights. Use Dancing Lights to explore high ceilings/dark tunnels while the other caster uses Light to light up the immediate area.


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I like partnering my "dancing lights" with another caster's "ghost sounds" to create quite believable illusions of folks moving around in the dark...


Ok, I hope this question isn't too noob >_<, but when light says that the object sheds light like a torch, its just talking about area, right?

It's just for flavor, but my caster has a jewel he likes to cast light on, and I like to picture the light that shines from it as blue, like the color of the jewel. That's ok, right?

Likewise- can the orbs and lantern effects cast by dancing lights appear as a desired color?


TaurenHugger wrote:

Ok, I hope this question isn't too noob >_<, but when light says that the object sheds light like a torch, its just talking about area, right?

It's just for flavor, but my caster has a jewel he likes to cast light on, and I like to picture the light that shines from it as blue, like the color of the jewel. That's ok, right?

Likewise- can the orbs and lantern effects cast by dancing lights appear as a desired color?

The thing is, with spells, they are usually pretty specific on what you can do. Just because they don't say you can't do something, doesn't mean you can.

However, I don't really see any mechanical benefit for having multiple colored lights (except in very rare cases), so I'm sure you're fine. Just ask your GM if you can.


TaurentHugger, you can research unique spells. Researching a version of "light" that allowed you to set the light's color would seem a fairly simple variation.


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I think "my light spell is blue" is perfectly within the realm of simply describing the elements of the spell as they apply to your character since it has no mechanical benefit to it, and doesn't actually contradict what the spell does say.

I agree with Adamantine Dragon though - if you can pick what color the light is every time you cast it, it is enough of a variation to require special research/invention since you could then establish a number of different color-coded signals for your party.


I research a ton of my spells in home games. Most of them are just re-skins with no change to functionality, but I've been starting to think about playing Society games lately, and my friend told me that spell research is a big no-no there X_X.

I guess I'll run it by the GM to double check. thanks guys :)


Another thing to add that is that except from unconcealable, dancing lights requires the caster to 'cast' with a verbal component 'strong, firm voice' every 1min.

Nothing better in a deep underground dead-quiet dungeon... or whenever trying to be somewhat stealthy!

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