Shadowdancer Hide in Plain Sight Versus Low-light Vision / Darkvision


Rules Questions

Grand Lodge

55 people marked this as FAQ candidate. Answered in the FAQ. 4 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber

If a shadowdancer is 20ft from a torch or similar light source, meaning they are 5ft from the beginning of dim light, does the fact that low light vision doubles the effective radius of light levels for the observer mean the shadowdancer can not use Hide in Plain Sight against that observer, as the effective dim light is now 25ft away? What if the observer has darkvision and sees through all dim light?


I think that is a very fairly worded question.

I would change it slightly:

If a shadowdancer is 20ft from a torch or similar light source, meaning they are 5ft from the beginning of dim light, does the fact that low light vision doubles the effective radius of dim light for the observer mean the shadowdancer can not use Hide in Plain Sight (against that single observer), as the effective dim light is now 25ft away? What if the observer has darkvision and sees through all dim light?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber

Edited. Thanks for the suggestion.


Very good question; fundamentally, I think it comes down to whether the light level is an objective prerequisite to using that ability or whether it's actually using that specific lighting level to escape observation. If it's the former then even darkvision might not hard counter it. It's a supernatural ability so it seems like it'd be a fair interpretation. If it's the latter the sensory abilities of the observers would definitely matter.


I'd claim it's got nothing to do with the observer and just has to do with the light. Otherwise it gets crazy complex.

Silver Crusade

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Hobit of Bree wrote:
I'd claim it's got nothing to do with the observer and just has to do with the light. Otherwise it gets crazy complex.

And makes HIPS worthless against 85% of the beastiary


I agree that Hide in Plain Sight isn't dependent on the observer.


This argument keeps coming up. Thanks TOZ for the clear FAQ question.


Hobit of Bree wrote:
I'd claim it's got nothing to do with the observer and just has to do with the light. Otherwise it gets crazy complex.

I think it is more crazy complex when a square 25' from a torch is Dim Light for an elf in regards to HiPS but not for Stealth, for that same elf.

You actually add complexity by ruling that way.

My way, that square 25' away form a torch is viewed by a human one way, while elves and dwarves view it another way. Any player only sees it one way at a time.

You way, that square 25' away from a torch is viewed by a human one way, while elves and dwarves view it as two different ways. Any player with Low Light or Darkvision would have to keep track of their base vision AND now, arbitrarily, a human's normal vision.

How is that less complicated? Especially for the player?

Shadow Lodge

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The argument thread is this way. Please FAQ the OP and move on.


The below is a point of reference/additional question for the FAQ people to consider when answering the above, not one I wish to debate here.

Assume regular, nonmagical darkness for all questions except for areas illuminated by the light listed in the question.

Abilities, skills, and spells that work in Dim Light determine that condition how? I see four possible ways.

1) Prevailing light as seen by the target or,
2) Prevailing light as seen by the bearer or,
3) Ambient, natural sources only, light levels or,
4) Prevailing light level of a human regardless of anyone's vision.

A shadowdancer with Shadow Master attacks an elf 25' from a torch. The shadowdancer scores a critical hit. The elf and the shadowdancer both see the square as normal light (Low Light Vision & Darkvision, respecfully). Is the elf blinded for 1d6 rounds?

A shadowdancer with Shadow Master attacks an elf 45' from a torch. The shadowdancer scores a critical hit. The elf sees the square as Dim Light. The shadowdancer sees the square as normal light (Darkvision). Is the elf blinded for 1d6 rounds?

A shadowdancer with Shadow Master attacks an elf on a moonlit night. The shadowdancer scores a critical hit. The elf sees all squares as Normal Light (Low Light Vision). The shadowdancer sees the square as normal light (Darkvision). Is the elf blinded for 1d6 rounds?

Can an elf use Shadow Walk 25' from a torch? Can an elf use Shadow Walk 45' from a torch?

Can an elf use Shadow Walk 25' from a light spell even though the magic of the light spell is still in affect in that area and it makes it Normal Light to the elf, but the base magical light level is Dim Light, and the ambient light level is Darkness?

Can an elf use Shadow Walk 45' from a light spell even though the magic of the light spell is not in affect in that area but the light is and it makes it Dim Light to the elf, but the base light level is darkness?


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Komoda wrote:

The below is a point of reference/additional question for the FAQ people to consider when answering the above, not one I wish to debate here.

Assume regular, nonmagical darkness for all questions except for areas illuminated by the light listed in the question.

Abilities, skills, and spells that work in Dim Light determine that condition how? I see four possible ways.

1) Prevailing light as seen by the target or,
2) Prevailing light as seen by the bearer or,
3) Ambient, natural sources only, light levels or,
4) Prevailing light level of a human regardless of anyone's vision.

A shadowdancer with Shadow Master attacks an elf 25' from a torch. The shadowdancer scores a critical hit. The elf and the shadowdancer both see the square as normal light (Low Light Vision & Darkvision, respecfully). Is the elf blinded for 1d6 rounds?

A shadowdancer with Shadow Master attacks an elf 45' from a torch. The shadowdancer scores a critical hit. The elf sees the square as Dim Light. The shadowdancer sees the square as normal light (Darkvision). Is the elf blinded for 1d6 rounds?

A shadowdancer with Shadow Master attacks an elf on a moonlit night. The shadowdancer scores a critical hit. The elf sees all squares as Normal Light (Low Light Vision). The shadowdancer sees the square as normal light (Darkvision). Is the elf blinded for 1d6 rounds?

Can an elf use Shadow Walk 25' from a torch? Can an elf use Shadow Walk 45' from a torch?

Can an elf use Shadow Walk 25' from a light spell even though the magic of the light spell is still in affect in that area and it makes it Normal Light to the elf, but the base magical light level is Dim Light, and the ambient light level is Darkness?

Can an elf use Shadow Walk 45' from a light spell even though the magic of the light spell is not in affect in that area but the light is and it makes it Dim Light to the elf, but the base light level is darkness?

All of these scenarios become trivially, and consistently, answered when you stop caring about the state of the observer. And none of the abilities reference the observer - nor do they tell you which observer is more important in determining if an ability works. So the answer is, it observers don't matter. Leaving out the observer you don't get units with darkvision that can't use the ability because they can't determine if they are in dim light or not, and you don't get targets of the same abilities able to ignore them without a exception being called out that they can.

The second problem you will have though is not all abilities are going to work the same. E.g, stealth (in dim light or darkness) is foiled by darkvision, because the stealth rules tell us that is the case. Other abilities may have like limitations WHEN they call them out.

I admit that stealth does not make a plain declaration as such, but the words "If people are observing you using any of their senses (but typically sight), you can't use Stealth." combined with darkvision (or LLV) show that their is no concealment available to prevent the stealther from being observed.

The generic rogue talent HiPS removes the observer portion explicitly. "Hide in Plain Sight (Ex): A rogue with this talent can select a single terrain from the ranger's favored terrain list. She is a master at hiding in that terrain, and while within that terrain, she can use the Stealth skill to hide, even while being observed."

The Shadow Dancer version does likewise "A shadowdancer can use the Stealth skill even while being observed."

As does the assassin version "At 8th level, an assassin can use the Stealth skill even while being observed."

And the ranger version, and the occult leader archetype version.

All of these tell us the observers ability to normally observe things has no bearing on the matter.

(Feel free to quote my post into the other thread if you want to discuss any of those points).


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TriOmegaZero wrote:
If a shadowdancer is 20ft from a torch or similar light source, meaning they are 5ft from the beginning of dim light, does the fact that low light vision doubles the effective radius of light levels for the observer mean the shadowdancer can not use Hide in Plain Sight against that observer, as the effective dim light is now 25ft away? What if the observer has darkvision and sees through all dim light?

There has been no "official" ruling. That said, this has been debated many times and there are a few things that might be helpful to bring to your GM.

1. PC centric logic. LLV/DV are naturally existing (Ex) abilities that can be had by any number of creatures from birth. HiPS is a (Su) ability that a character may spend half their career building up to. So then the GM needs to ask themselves, do I really think this mid-high level supernatural ability, that characters have to work pretty hard to get, was meant to be thwarted by every single random creature in the world that was born with LLV or DV? IMO, it would be pretty dumb game design if it was.

2. People focus in on the fact that the HiPS ability is tied to shadow. They get hung up on the fact that DV and LLV eliminate Concealment. But the HiPS ability never says it relies on Concealment to function. Quite the opposite, it states you can hide out in the open and only need to physically be within 10’ of some sort of shadow. The ability comes from a supernatural (magical) tie to the presence of shadow, not the use of shadow for visual Concealment. DV/LLV eliminates the visual hindrance of Concealment, it does NOT eliminate the presence of shadow nor interfere with any magical abilities granted by the presence of shadow.

3. People also get hung up on the description of DV and LLV in the Additional Rules Vision and Light section of the CRB. They fail to realize or take into account there are other relevant rules. The glossary in the CRB also has a detailed description of how DV functions. It has this to say:

CRB/Glossary wrote:
Darkvision is the extraordinary ability to see with no light source at all, out to a range specified for the creature. Darkvision is black-and-white only (colors cannot be discerned). It does not allow characters to see anything that they could not see otherwise—invisible objects are still invisible, and illusions are still visible as what they seem to be. Likewise, darkvision subjects a creature to gaze attacks normally. The presence of light does not spoil darkvision.

IMO, there isn’t going to be any official ruling on whether DV defeats HiPS because the DV description already, very plainly, states it doesn’t function against magical or illusory effects. It also doesn’t allow a creature to see anything it couldn’t otherwise see (can’t see anything it couldn’t also see in normal light).

4. Similarly, LLV only states that your eyes are so sensitive that you are able to see more acutely under the existing light conditions. That said, their vision in no way changes the existing light level. A creature’s LLV doesn’t push back or disperse shadow. The shadow is still present, which is all the person with HiPS needs. They don’t actually need concealment, they only need the presence of shadow.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber

Please see the argument thread linked above for all the pedantic ruleslawyering.


Oh, I see. Sorry. I only read your OP, posted in the Rules Questions section without any caveat about not wanting rules posted in your thread, and falsely assumed you wanted rules related debates.

Are you in fact looking for any debate or feedback, Or just FAQ pressing, which I already did?

Shadow Lodge

Reading the full thread helps avoid confusion.


Perhaps, but I have gotten out of the habit of doing that with Stealth threads. They tend to go off on tangents that don't relate to the OP. I was addressing your Original Post. Which appeared to be a question.


Stealth threads are always tough.

Paizo Employee Official Rules Response

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Answered in FAQ!

FAQ wrote:

Dim Light: When an ability requires a character to be near shadows or an area of dim light (like the shadowdancer’s shadow jump or hide in plain sight), how does that interact with low-light vision, darkvision, and the like?

While it’s true that most creatures in the game have low-light vision or darkvision, when the rules talk about being in or near an objective light level (for example “in an area of dim light”), they always refer to the state of light and darkness from the perspective of normal vision, like a human. The exceptions, effects that depend on an observing creature’s perspective, such as the heavens shaman’s enveloping darkness ability, call this out with text indicating that the ability alters or depends on that creature’s perspective, rather than the overall light level.

Dark Archive

Woohoo!

Shadow Lodge

Huzzah! My first FAQ! :D


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This one went like I thought it would. :)
Thanks for pushing this one TOZ.


Ok, the ruling has been made and it is clear on the Dev's position about HiPS.

But... Come on, you knew it was coming:

Now the FAQ, as written (probably not as intended), pretty much states that anyone can stealth (without HiPS) from an elf at 25' from a torch because there is nothing to "call this out with text indicating that the ability alters or depends on that creature’s perspective, rather than the overall light level". This is especially true since Stealth and HiPS both rely on the Stealth skill and the location of Dim Light. Without the "exception text" in either rules set, they would both follow the same set of rules, correct?

I can't find anything under LLV that would count as an exception.

Darkvision is covered by "In an area of dim light, a character can see somewhat. Creatures within this area have concealment (20% miss chance in combat) from those without darkvision..." (CRB p172).

Is there any other exception written into the game? I can't seem to find the example listed in the FAQ. Do they mean Enveloping Void? Or possibly Enveloping Darkness from the Sorcerer Bloodline?

Disclaimer: I am just trying to work out the bugs. I think this FAQ has some. I think the RAI is pretty clear that HiPS ignores LLV and Darkvision (I don't know why it doesn't just say that). I don't like it, but I give you that you were correct.


wraithstrike wrote:

This one went like I thought it would. :)

Thanks for pushing this one TOZ.

Echoing what he said, thanks TOZ! And thank you PFD Team!

Komoda, in regard to your post above.


Thank you for the FAQ development team.


Komoda wrote:

Ok, the ruling has been made and it is clear on the Dev's position about HiPS.

But... Come on, you knew it was coming:

Now the FAQ, as written (probably not as intended), pretty much states that anyone can stealth (without HiPS) from an elf at 25' from a torch because there is nothing to "call this out with text indicating that the ability alters or depends on that creature’s perspective, rather than the overall light level". This is especially true since Stealth and HiPS both rely on the Stealth skill and the location of Dim Light. Without the "exception text" in either rules set, they would both follow the same set of rules, correct?

Skills (stealth) are not abilities, the FAQ then does not change or interact with how normal stealth works.

HiPS is an ability, and while it is dependent on a successful stealth roll, the HiPS ability, per FAQ, doesn't care about the observers vision type. The stealth skill requires cover/concealment to work, which dim light/darkness provide against those unable to see through them. The HiPS (ability), remove that requirement for stealthing, and, per FAQ, are triggered from the nearby presence of dim light from the perspective of normal eyesight.

There is not a bug in the system here, in this regard, except by your own invention, insistence in creating one for... what purpose I don't know.

Silver Crusade

*curls up into ball*

*goes to sleep*

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