Darkvision: Let's talk about it


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion

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Hey everyone,

There was some discussion about Darkvision in the APG thread that got a lot of response and I didn't want to clutter the other thread so I agreed to make one here for those of us that were intrigued by the discussion.

Now to me personally, I hate Darkvision. It creates horrible problems for me as a GM in terms of mismatched agency.

I want to preface this by saying that I think Pathfinder 2E has done a lot to fix this where other editions haven't, so credit where it is due, but nonetheless here are my personal grievances:

1. Removes Player Agency - I love that Paizo made Perception an everyone skill. It was the best Skill in PF1 by a mile. It directly translates to agency. You can't act against what you can't see. What I hate about Darkvision, is that it takes this very AWESOME change and sort of invalidates it. By extension, this removes player agency for those that can't see in the dark but in a way that doesn't apply to everyone.

2. Darkvision is too good, but doesn't feel good - Those that have Darkvision should always want to be in the dark, because it's an inherent advantage over anything that cannot see in the dark. However, the number of times I have seen a party where everyone actually has Darkvision I can count on one hand.

3. Everything has it - I hate that everything has Darkvision. Why does a Gnoll have it but a Hyena doesn't? Dwarves "see in the dark" based on Lore, but how well? Why do creatures that live above the earth so often see in the dark so well? The number of creatures on our planet that can see perfectly in the dark with their actual eyes is extremely low (most of them have other forms of perception).

4. Light should be a common ally of the player - I said this in the other thread and it seemed to strike a chord: "The Light should be an ally of the player and the Dark should be an ally of the GM". I really believe that statement, metaphorically and intrinsically to TTRPG games. Dark is associated with secrets and the unknown, and the GM controls that. Light is associated with knowledge and revealing the truth, and the PCs do that.

5. Darkvision is a club - It's inherently a divisive mechanic because it is a binary one. You either see, or you don't see. That means even those with Low Light vision need light and those like humans definitely need it. It feels like a club within parties that ultimately results in "punish the human with blindness" or "the dwarf doesn't get to use his ability".

6. Vision Spells Deserve to be HUGE buffs - Darkvision and potions from your friendly Alchemist should be huge deals but instead they're more like band-aids for certain party members. That makes the player feel like a burden, since it's more of "patching a hole" than "this makes everyone better".

7. Vision isn't fun - Kinda wishful, but I wish vision was fun. There are games that do this really well, and I wish TTRPGs (who intrinsically deal with similar themes) had a "fun" mechanic to Light. Instead it always just feels like something I forget to keep track of or is bookkeeping work.

Sidebar:
My proposed personal house-rule (tentatively considering) is to say Darkvision treats everything in total dark as Concealed instead of Hidden. This does a few things:

1. It makes Light matter even for Darkvision people, so they do want to actually have a torch out, but they can still perceive others (albeit not perfectly) in the Dark. This is rewarding to the player with Darkvision, but overall allows for more party cohesion.

2. In this scenario, I would allow spells like Darkvision to ignore the concealment as well, thus granting even a bonus to those with Darkvision that use it.

3. It's a net buff to the players simply because of how many freaking monsters have Darkvision. This also allows you to attempt Stealth checks against creatures with Darkvision which to me makes a lot of sense (as a colorblind person, black and white sounds SUPER tough to see everything perfectly). I would also downgrade Greater Darkvision to removing concealment, but not able to see in Magical Darkness (but higher level spells of Darkvision still can).

4. It unifies the players with light as an Ally and dark as my ally. They know the dark is risky and the light is safe, which has a "good" feeling to me.

5. It doesn't break lore rules. Dwarves can still operate mines in the dark, Drow are still fine underground, they just need less light than others. It all still "works" for me narratively.

So that's my piece.

How do you all feel? Do you like it? Do you hate it? Do you like parts?

What would you change? What have you changed? What has your group done because of Darkvision?


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I have never actually seriously considered this before now.
Your idea is interesting, by now I have nothing to add but I'm very interested in the possible discussion.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

There are two circumstances I find it annoying. One is when there is a token human on a team so you're doing all the work for light and darkness for one character.

The other is when the party optimizes around getting darkvision. It makes so many descriptions in APs pointless and a lot of conversations go
'So, this dark room--'

'We have darkvision.'

'So, this room--'

I like that Darkvision doesn't have a range anymore.

If I was to change anything, I'd probably limit the number of characters who have darkvision at character creation, which I'm not yet interested in doing.


Vision really isn't fun. I've almost always tried to get my characters low-light vision or darkvision, but no one at my tables enjoys the mechanics of it. In the end, the GM's mostly just ask if there is a light source in the party, and then treat dark areas as fully lit.


The change to Low Light I really liked, and I also like that they removed the range on Darkvision.

It feels like the devs maybe also felt this "feeling" in some ways, but they just ultimately decided not to go further than they did. That might be for reasons I don't fully understand, but the most obvious to me was that it might affect Lore.

I do wish light was "fun" or at least, it was more engaging as a mechanic. As it stands now, it's a nuisance IME.


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That conversation did convince me to remove darkvision from players and most monsters for my next campaign. It's going to be a survival horror campaign, and I want the darkness to be scary. That's a bit harder to do when half the party can just see through it.


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I totally agree with you OP. I wish Darkvision was a fairly rare monster ability, rather than something that half the players have, and the other half feel like they should have because of it. This is pretty much the exact same problem 5e has, except there Darkvision is even *more* prevalent, which is both good and bad, because it means that there's more pressure to have darkvision (bad), but also easier to get it on the party member that doesn't have it via a spell (good), so everyone is at the same level at that point.

I also don't love that the best perception-granting item in PF2e also grants darkvision... For those who already have it, that feels like a waste, for those who don't, it feels like a required item even if you don't value perception (stealth for initiative for example).


I feel the same OP.

I also don't really like cantrip stuff like light and similar.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

I disagree that darkvision is a problem in general, but I definitely agree with #7. It is an absolute pain to adjudicate vision at a table in anything other than a VTT with dynamic lighting. This is less true in 2E now that darkvision no longer has a range and low-light is doing more useful things, but its still annoying to handle.

Shoutout though to VTTs with dynamic lighting. Really makes vision fun by automating the whole thing and giving each player a different view based on their capabilities.


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Note spells like darkness are pratcilly useless due to vast majority of monsters having darkvision makes using vision obscuring spells or ability wasted.


Reziburno25 wrote:
Note spells like darkness are pratcilly useless due to vast majority of monsters having darkvision makes using vision obscuring spells or ability wasted.

I actually really like Darkness, but yes it does suffer from this.

Imagine how much value Darkness gains when even against those with Darkvision you can still attempt Stealth Checks inside the orb or that investing in the dastardly combo of Darkvision + Darkness is meaningful even against a Gnoll.

That sounds more "fun" to me.


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How does this sound?

Levels of Light:

darkness / dim light / normal light (torch, bonfire) / bright light (bright daylight or light spell)

Levels of visibility:

Darkvision: Normal / Normal / Concealment / Hidden
Low light vision: Concealment / Normal / Normal / Concealment
Normal vision: Hidden / Concealment / Normal / Normal

This way darkvision, low light vision and normal vision would be balanced around the brightness. Darkvision is superb in the dark, but actually gets worse the brighter it gets (which by the way is normal for creatures used to living in total darkness). Low light vision is neither especially bad in darkness nor in bright conditions. Normal vision is superior in bright conditions.

There it is. Darkness is for GM and Monsters, Light is for Players.*

* Adjustment to player races may be needed, e.g. change dwarves to low-light vision.


Ubertron_X wrote:

How does this sound?

Levels of Light:

darkness / dim light / normal light (torch, bonfire) / bright light (bright daylight or light spell)

Levels of visibility:

Darkvision: Normal / Normal / Concealment / Hidden
Low light vision: Concealment / Normal / Normal / Concealment
Normal vision: Hidden / Concealment / Normal / Normal

This way darkvision, low light vision and normal vision would be balanced around the brightness. Darkvision is superb in the dark, but actually gets worse the brighter it gets (which by the way is normal for creatures used to living in total darkness). Low light vision is neither especially bad in darkness nor in bright conditions. Normal vision is superior in bright conditions.

There it is. Darkness is for GM and Monsters, Light is for Players.*

* Adjustment to player races may be needed, e.g. change dwarves to low-light vision.

I like the idea, but this way low light vision seems too good.

It gives the possibility to deal with darkness ( 20% failure ) while maintaining the possibility to see in presence of low and moderate light. It could become the new darkvision.


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HumbleGamer wrote:

I like the idea, but this way low light vision seems too good.

It gives the possibility to deal with darkness ( 20% failure ) while maintaining the possibility to see in presence of low and moderate light. It could become the new darkvision.

Then do:

DV: normal/normal/concealment/concealment
LLV: concealment/normal/normal/concealment
NV: concealment/concealment/normal/normal


HumbleGamer wrote:
Ubertron_X wrote:

How does this sound?

Levels of Light:

darkness / dim light / normal light (torch, bonfire) / bright light (bright daylight or light spell)

Levels of visibility:

Darkvision: Normal / Normal / Concealment / Hidden
Low light vision: Concealment / Normal / Normal / Concealment
Normal vision: Hidden / Concealment / Normal / Normal

This way darkvision, low light vision and normal vision would be balanced around the brightness. Darkvision is superb in the dark, but actually gets worse the brighter it gets (which by the way is normal for creatures used to living in total darkness). Low light vision is neither especially bad in darkness nor in bright conditions. Normal vision is superior in bright conditions.

There it is. Darkness is for GM and Monsters, Light is for Players.*

* Adjustment to player races may be needed, e.g. change dwarves to low-light vision.

I like the idea, but this way low light vision seems too good.

It gives the possibility to deal with darkness ( 20% failure ) while maintaining the possibility to see in presence of low and moderate light. It could become the new darkvision.

I kinda hate it honestly because it doesn't really solve any problems.

It does make it more thematic, absolutely, but it doesn't stop the "club" situation it just adds more layers of complexity and kinda punishes Darkvision.

Darkvision should feel rewarding to have I think, its just way to prevalent and integrated as a binary for agency IMO.

This solution straight up makes Low Light busted good.

I do like the idea of characters thematically being able to "wield darkness" as an ally. Dhampir, Dwarves, Drow all deserve to have some level of "value" in the dark, I just think the level of value is too drastic.

I also don't love the idea of punishing people for having Darkvision (the spell or otherwise).

Darkvision IMO needs a nerf, but idk that I'd change any of the other types of vision (and I think this nerfs it in a way that doesn't feel "fair", a huge detriment in the light but a huge benefit in the dark is just too extreme a jump for my tastes).

I think the idea has good thought behind it, just not my personal taste.

EDIT: To the changes, not crazy about the idea of humans getting vision in Dark, seems kinda meh. This just means Dark and Light are just sorta "there". It solves managing it for sure, and it is more inclusive, just loses a lot of realism for me.

EDIT 2: This doesn't solve the cohesion problem between parties either, unless DV is removed. Humans and Dwarves would have to fight over the light level with those changes.

Sovereign Court

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I do see some promise in:

- Making it so that by default, creatures with Darkvision suffer concealment problems in bright light.
- Moving a lot of creatures from Darkvision to Low-Light (and perhaps some from Low-Light to Regular). Maybe some surface dwarf heritages have low-light instead of darkvision.
- Adding a "bright light" spell with area, range and duration that can go up through Heightening. It shouldn't be a cantrip though. The cantrip is just to let you see, the spell that actually needs to be expended is to let them see less.
- Likewise, add some alchemical flares that create bright light, and higher level versions are harder to extinguish and can be thrown quite far.

This does in fact let the characters wield bright light as a weapon, or choose not to because some of their own members also have darkvision.


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Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Here's how it plays out at my table:

No one has darkvision: the party carries a light, sneaking in the dark is difficult as a group and individually, and they're more likely to get jumped.

Some people have darkvision: the party carries a light, the darkvision character sometimes peeks around corners or goes off on their own a bit, the party is less likely to get jumped.

Everyone has darkvision: the party never carries a light unless absolutely necessary, the whole party can sneak around at night, they're less likely to get jumped.

I'm not 100% sure things need to change for my group, since there's enough of a difference between each case that it's always nice to have darkvision, and it's never completely wasted, and not having it doesn't really cause horrendous difficulty.

I will say that I can definitely see where you're coming from, and I could see your proposed changes being a net positive.


I just don't find "some party members can see, some can't" to be very interesting to explore as the GM. If I want to obscure something from the players, because darkvision is so common, I just hide it somehow other than "it is obscured by darkness."


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Cellion wrote:

I disagree that darkvision is a problem in general, but I definitely agree with #7. It is an absolute pain to adjudicate vision at a table in anything other than a VTT with dynamic lighting. This is less true in 2E now that darkvision no longer has a range and low-light is doing more useful things, but its still annoying to handle.

Shoutout though to VTTs with dynamic lighting. Really makes vision fun by automating the whole thing and giving each player a different view based on their capabilities.

So true. Dynamic lighting makes vision stuff a blast to use. My group has always been in person but when Covid hit we moved to roll20 and as the GM the dynamic lighting options we so fun to employ


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tivadar27 wrote:

I totally agree with you OP. I wish Darkvision was a fairly rare monster ability, rather than something that half the players have, and the other half feel like they should have because of it. This is pretty much the exact same problem 5e has, except there Darkvision is even *more* prevalent, which is both good and bad, because it means that there's more pressure to have darkvision (bad), but also easier to get it on the party member that doesn't have it via a spell (good), so everyone is at the same level at that point.

I also don't love that the best perception-granting item in PF2e also grants darkvision... For those who already have it, that feels like a waste, for those who don't, it feels like a required item even if you don't value perception (stealth for initiative for example).

I listed the creatures in PF2 Bestiary 1 with darkvision at Why Do Unicorns Need Darkvision comment #13 and over half the creatures have darkvision. The good news is that most of them are 8th level or above, so at least darkvision is less common at low levels. I think the theme among the high-level creatures is that they are so magical that of course they can see in the dark.

Nevertheless, enough low-level creatures have darkvision that the party will have combat in the dark or where they bring the light. Carrying a torch or casting a light spell will be routinely necessary when entering the caves of goblins, gremlins, kobolds, or xulgaths. Yet why do boggards, gnolls, harpies, orgres, and yetis have darkvision?

My party at 3rd level raided the caves of some xulgath cultists. Two of the five party members had native darkvision: an umbral gnome and a tailed goblin. The druid cast a darkvision spell on herself. The other two and their animals had to rely on light, but not much light since the elf, halfling, dog, and velociraptor had low-light vision. Since the xulgath cultists used crystals in their worship ceremonies, I could justify a few light sources to make the crystals sparkle, and the kitchen had a cooking fire, but the other rooms were dark. That prevented the sneaky elf ranger and halfling rogue from peeking around corners to scout those rooms.

Part of the problem of common darkvision is that low-light vision feels like a non-ability in comparison.

I had considers a -2 circumstance penalty to Perception checks when relying on darkvision alone as an excuse why the monsters would put up a few light sources. Concealment is more extreme.


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Mathmuse wrote:

Part of the problem of common darkvision is that low-light vision feels like a non-ability in comparison.

I had considers a -2 circumstance penalty to Perception checks when relying on darkvision alone as an excuse why the monsters would put up a few light sources. Concealment is more extreme.

While I do agree Concealed can be worse than a -2 to Perception, I would say not exactly though.

Technically, a person that is concealed is just as easy to see as a person not concealed if they aren't using Stealth. The difference is that a person can't Stealth in the Dark against a Darkvision creature as it stands now.

So instead of a -2, all it does is increase the agency of the player (and anyone going Stealth against Darkvision) by giving them the ability to be Stealthy.

For those that deserve to fight in the dark as easily as they would in the light, I will happily extend Greater Darkvision to them (which with my "fix" avoids the concealment).


If you wanna nerf Darkvision, we can always look at the old-timey INFRAVISION, which actually had several drawbacks and limitations.
It didn't properly aid in dungeon exploration, but it did allow you to fight in darkness. I recall it was completely blinded by bright light, but you could turn it off and on.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Hey, this is one of my pet peeve issues too (as the unicorn complaining about getting darkvision in the thread Mathmuse mentioned above).

Unfortunately, it was the needing to keep uphold the general world of PF1, built upon 3rd edition, built upon D&D lore that kind of set 2nd editions place in all of this. Otherwise even the underground creatures that regularly use fire don't really need more than low-light vision, and it would have been way cooler for other senses to play a bigger part in how creatures perceive the world around them.

It is super unfortunate because having nearly, but inconsistently, ubiquitous access to darkvision is what makes things like "greater darkvision" necessary, but needlessly complicated, meanwhile most of the rest of the senses get under represented and often underutilized in play.

If I ever do get around to making up my own system for it, I probably wouldn't have darkvision at all, instead having some characters have heat sense/vision, while keeping low light vision as is.

Pathfinder Goblins in particular would be much cooler if they didn't have darkvision, and for their pathological love of fire to have forced their eye evolution away from darkness.

As far as making it more fun in the ruleset as developed, I hope to see far less intelligent monsters with it in future bestiaries and for more adventure writers to make better use of the limitations of darkvision in their writing, such as having traps that require color vision to be able to spot and disarm.

Afterall, surely the fact that so many species do have darkvision would mean that the people in world would plot around that.

I also wish that the VTTs would consider make a Pathfinder setting so that characters with darkvision could only see the map in black and white.


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This is one of my issues as well. I am often the token human in a party, and the party especially gets cross with me in situations where we need to sulk in the dark.

At low levels there isn't much I can do about it, and i'm more upset there is a nag for me to obtain potions of dark vision just to be on the same level as the rest of my party. I am definitely in favor of those who have strong dark vision suffering in the bright light though, as that would at least balance it out for me having a situation where i'm not just "PC with a handicap." in terms of my physical attributes.

Dark vision also kind of makes a lot of spells that involve with illumination pointless, but worse, the amount of lightning that is hands free and requires no effort is a problem in my opinion even if we did fix dark vision.

The Light Cantrip or Dancing Lights outright removes the need to worry about light getting snuffed out and being ambushed in the dark, for example. Though these come with the penalty that the party is easier to find, it still makes Torches a very niche item, and lanterns more.


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ChibiNyan wrote:

If you wanna nerf Darkvision, we can always look at the old-timey INFRAVISION, which actually had several drawbacks and limitations.

It didn't properly aid in dungeon exploration, but it did allow you to fight in darkness. I recall it was completely blinded by bright light, but you could turn it off and on.

The goal isn't simply to nerf Darkvision, it's to allow Darkvision to help the game tell more interesting stories.

To me, Darkvision inhibits storytelling, because it inherently creates division within the party. It's also a narrative that exists purely as a legacy for Lore features (because all previous editions have Darkvision as it currently exists for Dwarves and the like). Moments that involve Darkvision lead to meta-knowledge of other players, accidental knowledge slips by GMs because players actually couldn't see, and various other issues with just dealing with light in general.

It would be nice if there was consistency in one of the "goals" the PCs always try to have is a means to see the enemy that didn't require a bunch of conflict internally.

The ability to see is the ability to act, and allowing PCs to act, to me, is pivotal in good storytelling.

At my tables I have yet, in the two decades I've been playing, had a moment with Darkvision that I felt was a "fun" moment, or that offered great avenues of storytelling for the game.

Light also sucks to manage, and a level 1 group of adventurer's having people that "see perfectly in the dark" in the same group as "I can't see in the dark and I see poorly in dim light" is just a WEIRD dichotomy.

It's not like a dichotomy where person A is good at swinging a sword and person B is good at spells, because this dichotomy inherently controls player agency, whether or not the player can perform any actions.

And along with that dichotomy is a scenario where two people on the opposite ends of sight within the same party, one of them must make a sacrifice to accommodate the other. I understand that's a form of "teamwork" too, but it doesn't amount to a "feel good" one to me, because one person is putting themselves at a disadvantage purely for the sake of others.

And rarely IME, does anyone choose their Ancestry strictly based on their vision capabilities. It's always a side product of another character choice (usually).

That means that these scenarios are not only happening, but likely happening often (within both my current gaming groups there are individuals with Darkvision and those without).

If everyone benefited from being in Normal light, even Darkvision people, that would emphasize the value of being on the same page while also providing benefit to Darkvision users when the chips are down.

That to me is "feel good".

Another example of this is someone that's got immunity to Fear, another person that has resistance to Fear, and someone with just the standard Will Save.

All of them get a save in regards to will saves. One of them gets immunity to a special kind of will save, one gets resistance, and one gets to at least roll.

But the important thing is they all don't want to fail the save and all of them have the opportunity to succeed against the save (albeit at different intervals).

I wish Darkvision (and light in general) made it possible to operate in the Dark, per it's name, but wasn't 100% effective as being in normal light. This brings a sort of "even" role of all three forms of vision (LL, Normal, and DV) in that all 3 of them would prefer to be in Normal Light, but DV/LLV have circumstances where they aren't as worse off as others.

I believe the Concealed house-rule allows for that, but maybe I'm just falling in love with my own idea due to bias.


Trouble is, darkness isn't a one-size fits all issue, both in terms of sub-genre (where you'll have to tune the rules) and mechanics (as both sides attempt to exploit the strength of blinding one's enemies).

I know of a few parties in PF1 created to exploit darkness and many PFS1 scenarios where the enemies do the same. It broke the game, and in the latter case angered many players. Daylight Oil and Heightened Continual Flames became mandatory. It was essentially an illumination arms race in a game not balanced around that. Kinda hard to build published adventures around threats where the situation could vary so much.

PF2 rules have effectively called a truce, with it being easy to bypass regular darkness and quite difficult to impose game-changing darkness upon others. I accept the decision, even if it's hard to accept that the Light Cantrip w/ its auto-scaling nullifies so, so much.
A GM has to work to make it an issue now (though it's possible).

That said, I wish, as I mentioned in the playtest, there had been something akin to Darkness 1, Darkness 2, etc. as penalty conditions (w/ similar Brightness 1, etc. which may blind some dark-themed creatures faster than those with normal vision).
The low-light could decrease it by one and normal darkvision might reduce it by two or three. Light spells & darkness spells would push and pull along this metric, making it hard to establish "blinding light" or "total deeper darkness".
Then you don't get the all-or-nothing dominance of totally blinding one's enemies or the party.

I guess the best Paizo can do at this point is address darkness as a tool in games, and how to adjust the knob to suit one's intentions.

Like above, I also dislike that Darkvision is tied to the best perception item.
And also with the black & white facet meant something in play.
Used to one couldn't read with Darkvision. Not true anymore?

As for Infravision from D&D games, most of the PC races had it (one bonus over the superior human), though it was disrupted by having light nearby. Heat would ruin it too. I'm not sure that was a better solution, since it led to much discussion about mechanics (like can't I track a fire elemental's footprints?). It may seem darkness was more a factor then, but I don't think it was so maybe it's just because humans were the norm.


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I've always interpreted the whole black and white thing to mean "completely lacking in color and shading" sort of like a computer model that has no textures or lighting, you can judge the general shape and form in broad strokes but identifying details is difficult and might require you to take a moment to examine it. A man frozen in time looks identical to a statue despite being all fleshy, barred doors made of glass are the same as those made of adimantine and any given sheet or scroll will look blank regardless of what may or may not be written on it.


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Kekkres wrote:
I've always interpreted the whole black and white thing to mean "completely lacking in color and shading" sort of like a computer model that has no textures or lighting, you can judge the general shape and form in broad strokes but identifying details is difficult and might require you to take a moment to examine it. A man frozen in time looks identical to a statue despite being all fleshy, barred doors made of glass are the same as those made of adimantine and any given sheet or scroll will look blank regardless of what may or may not be written on it.

I would say that might be the intended outcome, but there's certainly nothing to indicate there's anything that inhibits vision at all in DV in terms of inspection outside of color.

And as someone that's colorblind, I miss seeing things all the time because of it. Not seeing in colors is a huge deal sometimes, but there's no mechanical weight to it outside of the GM telling you the door is "dark gray" instead of "blood red".

It's almost like Darkvision is flirting with having vision flaws in terms of how it works, but never actually has any in practice.


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I'm on the same page. I think your suggestion for Darkvision being "super low-light vision" makes sense and works thematically. Dwarves still want light for comfort, but they can work with things right in front of them even without any light. On the other hand, things that should be extremely comfortable in the dark can work with their scents a bit more. I think of Deep Rock Galactic, actually; you can make out what's around you, sort of, but you still want to throw those flares to feel like you have control over your situation.

Really, I want to be able to tee up "Suddenly, your lights go out and you hear shuffles in the darkness" and not have players say "Yeah but half of us can see in the dark so..." I've been using Roll20, so the VTT handling sight has been awesome, and I'm lucky that my current group doesn't have any Darkvision.

I also think it limits a lot of themes, as people have noted; horror adventures, feeling like you're at a disadvantage because you don't have supernatural senses, and feeling accomplished when you find a way to get ahold of supernatural senses. Plus the point about light being the party's ally, and also not having an almost binary distinction between those with and without Darkvision within the same party, are both good ones.


Good discussion. Also something that I was looking for new workings of in PF2 but alas, some holier bovines did make it through in some form.

My take from this and old times on what DV was supposed to be:
- Darkvision was intrinsic to old tales (folk&myths, tolkien's, etc)
- DV gave enemies (the GM) another tool to amp the tension.
- Some races got DV to make that one player shine. (Just like when Legolas ignored snow depth. And when Legolas...ok Legolas is just OP.)
- Storytelling. Mood. Environment.

I dont think this has translated at all well in modern dnd/pf1 games.

I'd like to see DV/lighting work as a mirror mechanic. If you dont have DV you cannot see in Darkness and take some penalties. If you have DV you cannot see in Light and take some penalties.
I would solidify this by giving players that get DV the option to switch it to Low Light Vision.
The idea is that whatever has Darkvision is out only when it is dark. It is its advantage, like a Drow's or a nocturnal predator. In the light, other things have better vision and strong light is a deterrent. So most things living above ground that arent nocturnal would drop to Low Light vision whilst underground/nocturnal ones keep Darkvision.


dot


rainzax wrote:
dot

Dash?


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Midnightoker wrote:
rainzax wrote:
dot
Dash?

doing observation (of) thread...


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rainzax wrote:
Midnightoker wrote:
rainzax wrote:
dot
Dash?
doing observation (of) thread...

And it literally puts a dot on the thread.


Some of you have said you like the fact darkvision no longer has a range; I would be interested to hear your reasoning. Myself, I find putting a range on it to be an effective way to deal with many of the problems. I'm already tracking how far people can see by the radius of their torch/light spell, and it brings back the mystery of what's lurking out there in the dark.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

You know, I hadn't really thought about this, but I got to say these are some compelling arguments. Not sure how I would try and "solve" this though.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Castilliano wrote:

That said, I wish, as I mentioned in the playtest, there had been something akin to Darkness 1, Darkness 2, etc. as penalty conditions (w/ similar Brightness 1, etc. which may blind some dark-themed creatures faster than those with normal vision).

The low-light could decrease it by one and normal darkvision might reduce it by two or three. Light spells & darkness spells would push and pull along this metric, making it hard to establish "blinding light" or "total deeper darkness".

Something I mentioned in the other thread was that the low-light to darkvision and normal to lowlight vision Upgrade heritages weren’t codified into a single “vision upgrade” definition. Your suggestion here makes me think that “Low Light vision” and “Darkvision” and possibly even “Keen Eyes” could all combined into a single vision statistic that could be upgraded and downgraded as needed. You’re proposal would work well in that kind of system.

It can see it sounding like a video game at a certain point (I have vision 5, so I see through the drows darkness 4, but I’m vulnerable to my lantern archons brightness 3), but it might be okay. Perhaps we’ll get it as an alternate rule at some point.


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AnimatedPaper wrote:
Castilliano wrote:

That said, I wish, as I mentioned in the playtest, there had been something akin to Darkness 1, Darkness 2, etc. as penalty conditions (w/ similar Brightness 1, etc. which may blind some dark-themed creatures faster than those with normal vision).

The low-light could decrease it by one and normal darkvision might reduce it by two or three. Light spells & darkness spells would push and pull along this metric, making it hard to establish "blinding light" or "total deeper darkness".

Something I mentioned in the other thread was that the low-light to darkvision and normal to lowlight vision Upgrade heritages weren’t codified into a single “vision upgrade” definition. Your suggestion here makes me think that “Low Light vision” and “Darkvision” and possibly even “Keen Eyes” could all combined into a single vision statistic that could be upgraded and downgraded as needed. You’re proposal would work well in that kind of system.

It can see it sounding like a video game at a certain point (I have vision 5, so I see through the drows darkness 4, but I’m vulnerable to my lantern archons brightness 3), but it might be okay. Perhaps we’ll get it as an alternate rule at some point.

The way you phrased it there caused me to think that maybe it should be broken up into two statistics: one for darkness and one for blinding light. I'd cap both at 4 for simplicity.

So at level 4 (either way) for those totally attuned to darkness/light.
3 for Darkvision (and whatever the light-tolerant opposite would be).
2 for low-light vision (vs. darkness)
1 for keen vision (vs. both?)

So dwarfs might have Dark 3, Light 0; while humans might have Dark 0, Light 1. Elves might handle brightness better as well.
Then the penalties could be tied to the difference.
1=hindered
2=concealed enemies
3=blinded
So a level 4 glare would blind a human, while it only takes a 3 to blind a dwarf. Perhaps a 2 to blind a Drow (et al).
If the effects seem too strong, maybe one round later their eyes can adjust one level (so utter darkness 4 still keeps humans blind).
It wouldn't necessarily be as dramatic as it initially seems since darkness/light spells could help diminish the alternate's effects.
Still has some holes, perhaps the biggest being that blinding darkness occurs naturally sans light. Hmm...


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An alternate set of light system could definitely be cool if it’s codified like the conditions.

I wonder if that idea was ever considered, in terms of the current vision rules they’re almost like slightly watered down versions of that. My guess would be that it sounded too Gamey but exploration mode and a hard light system could form a cohesive unit. Exploration mode could use more of an engaging mechanic anyways, since I almost always am not using it in favor of just letting PCs tell me what they’re doing. If it was tied to light condition in some way, it might lend itself to bettering both.

That’s definitely more involved than I’d go personally, but when it comes to house rules I’m a bit of a minimalist unless my groups have asked for it.


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I tend to aim for dark vision so I don't have to deal with annoying light mechanics, I have had enough gms use light traps to know as a player I don't want to be crawling around in the darkness jumping at shadows. But each to their own.


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Midnightoker wrote:

The change to Low Light I really liked, and I also like that they removed the range on Darkvision.

It feels like the devs maybe also felt this "feeling" in some ways, but they just ultimately decided not to go further than they did. That might be for reasons I don't fully understand, but the most obvious to me was that it might affect Lore.

I do wish light was "fun" or at least, it was more engaging as a mechanic. As it stands now, it's a nuisance IME.

I think they more codified low light vision. It always granted sight in weird, poetically termed situations like "strong starlight". Just defining that as "dim light" and making that constant clarifies it in a way that also removed the weird math you had to do with torches.

Personally, if you are going to change things, then you should around play with what is already there. Darkvision doesn't do colors, which means that you could have a giant bright yellow bee monster that blends in perfectly with its surroundings. And I don't think this would be unfair- if I was an assassin living in a world where common tough guy races (dwarves, a good deal of half orcs), then I would look into developing a few tricks exploiting these flaws.

Making darkvision specific camouflage would provide a risk with dark centered tactics, and force players to make decisions between safety and stealth based gambles.


Midnightoker wrote:

The change to Low Light I really liked, and I also like that they removed the range on Darkvision.

It feels like the devs maybe also felt this "feeling" in some ways, but they just ultimately decided not to go further than they did. That might be for reasons I don't fully understand, but the most obvious to me was that it might affect Lore.

I do wish light was "fun" or at least, it was more engaging as a mechanic. As it stands now, it's a nuisance IME.

That doesn't seem to stop them at all, after all Alahazra is being replaced for another Iconic and probably because her concept doesn't work with the new Oracle they're bringing. Changing how darkvision works a little bit seems to be a much less noticeable impact, since monsters with darkvision will still be superior while fighting in the dark.


Needless to say, I'm in agreement considering my comments in the APG thread. I hate how darkvision is basically "punish the Human" because every other PC ancestry has better eyes (many for seemingly no reason other than legacy). I'm also concerned about thematics for all the low-light vision ancestries that use a heritage to get darkvision, because in my own games I'm starting to think that Elves primarily live in caves since that's the only heritage I see in play.

HumbleGamer wrote:
I also don't really like cantrip stuff like light and similar.

I'd agree with this. I have NEVER seen a party use a torch (or lantern) because not only does most of the group have darkvision as virtue of not being human, but the one human just needs a caster to use a cantrip for light. Personally, I'm considering either limiting cantrips to producing dim light or just make them higher level spells.

---
Personally, I've already planned to completely redo ancestries for my own home setting after the APG (removing a few, adding custom ancestries & setting related options, etc) so I'm likely going to just remove darkvision from most ancestries and make low-light a bit more selective for others so that more ancestries are in the same vision situation as humans.

---
Overall, I see this as part of a (likely legacy) issue with various environmental rules in that they commonly seem too easy to bypass. Which is frustrating as a worldbuilder, since looking at history there are many interesting issues and situations that can't be represented in the system. While PF2 has gotten better for many of them (making Create Water 1st level instead of cantrip for example), it still is annoying that low-level spells / abilities completely invalidate many non-combat situations. For example, by level 3 a caster can potentially ignore darkness & create light (Darkvision 2 / Light Cantrip), create food and water (Create Water 1, Create Food 2), and ignore all but the most extreme temperatures (Endure Elements 2, which can protect against heat in the Sahara Desert for all but the very hottest months).


Charon Onozuka wrote:


HumbleGamer wrote:
I also don't really like cantrip stuff like light and similar.

I'd agree with this. I have NEVER seen a party use a torch (or lantern) because not only does most of the group have darkvision as virtue of not being human, but the one human just needs a caster to use a cantrip for light. Personally, I'm considering either limiting cantrips to producing dim light or just make them higher level spells.

Exactly.

Even if I have to admit that, given a specific environement and its possibilities, it would be reasonable to think that a character ( or a party ) would go for the most strong, or simply efficient, choice.

Quote:
"why shouldn't I/we do this?"

I think it's what they would ask themselves.

Charon Onozuka wrote:


Personally, I'm considering either limiting cantrips to producing dim light or just make them higher level spells.

I had a similar thought but nothing more.

However, I think it would be nice to discuss it ( in another topic maybe ).

Sovereign Court

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With the Covid crisis pushing me to play online, I've discovered the joys of dynamic lighting. The difference in ease of use between tabletop light, and VTT light, it's night and day. I find myself evaluating scenarios thinking "what kind of lighting would give the right dramatic effect to this map?" That's something I've never really been able to do on a physical tabletop.

The lesson for me is, any rule for light and dark has to be based on what's actually practical in the medium I'm playing in, not what it looks like in theory for someone alone with a piece of graph paper. So for tabletop, I would actually use different light rules than online.

---

As a side note on torches: the problem with torches is that free hands are just too precious for that.


Charon Onozuka wrote:
HumbleGamer wrote:
I also don't really like cantrip stuff like light and similar.
I'd agree with this. I have NEVER seen a party use a torch (or lantern) because not only does most of the group have darkvision as virtue of not being human, but the one human just needs a caster to use a cantrip for light. Personally, I'm considering either limiting cantrips to producing dim light or just make them higher level spells.

Doesn't the light cantrip make darkness even harder to use in the current edition? Since cantrips auto heighten, and light/dark rules rely on spell level.

In comparison, one of my favorite magic items from pf1e actually became more nuanced with the heightened rules. Ioun torches are failed products that are sold at material cost. They are a broken ioun stone made into something useful since they can be a no-hands item to cast continual flame on. Because their jerry rigged nature, you could even technically "upgrade" them in pf1e, since clerics get continual flame at a later level, which makes it a more powerful spell for light/dark rules (shooting right past the level of the basic darkness spell).

In pf2e, continual flame is a spell that has clearly defined heightened rules up until 10th level. Mostly, it just lists a higher component cost, since the higher spell level is its own reward.

Due to this, you could potentially play with light dark rules, since you just need to throw a monster with a higher level darkness than the party has on their ioun torch. That doesn't even take into account the fact that the stones could be attacked or stolen too. So the players have useful, generally convenient tools, and the GM can still have his boss fight gimmick.

And honestly? Ioun torches are just a cool image. They are some of the cheapest magical items, and can be readily afforded just a couple levels in. They are the basic, beginner level of using magical tools.


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The situation I hate is:

Human Rogue: "This is a job for a stealth expert. I'll go and scout ahead."

Dwarf Cleric: "Hang on. We're in a cave system which is completely dark (apart from our light cantrips) because all the monsters have darkvision. If you scout ahead without a light you'll be blind. If you scout ahead with a light, all the monsters will know there's an intruder as soon as they notice the mysterious glow coming round the corner. They'll spot you long before you see any of them."

Human Rogue: "Fine. I guess you can scout ahead in your noisy armor while I continue not to use my skills."


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Ascalaphus wrote:
As a side note on torches: the problem with torches is that free hands are just too precious for that.

Which is part of why I want to see them in play. Not only is it a classic fantasy image to explore a dark location by torchlight - but I hate the assumption that every enemy and encounter is meant to conveniently play out in a way that always lets characters perform at their very best on the player's terms. It gets repetitive and boring.

Occasionally, you don't have the world act the way you'd want, and the tactical choices you make in such situations are the most interesting to me. For something like a torch, do you give up a hand to hold one for light? Or do you restrict your vision based on the party member who is holding it, forcing yourself to rely on their positioning? Can you drop a torch to the ground and fight around the flame? Or does the ground prevent such an option from being practical? How the characters respond to this makes the situation interesting rather than darkvision/light cantrip turning it into just another normal fight. (Just recently, I actually had to remind a PC they could punch people during a barfight. It took some convincing to get the player to acknowledge that just because their crossbow was their optimal weapon option didn't mean it was their best option in every situation.)

---
Bringing this back to a discussion on darkvision. My most interesting experience in PF1 with darkvision was actually when I (accidently) realized that an enemy had darkvision 120ftft compared to only 60ft of darkvision from the players. Said enemy was getting wrecked in close combat and retreated around the PCs to fight at 120ft range down a long hallway. The PCs suddenly couldn't see their enemy and had no other option but to use that hallway to leave, exposing themselves to attacks without being able to fire back. This made darkness actually seem frightening for once. The group ended up taking some time to plan and used smokesticks to give themselves cover up to the exit hallway connection and tossed out some light cantrip pebbles to force the enemy to back up or lose their advantage. The fight actually ended up tense and interesting rather than yet another standard encounter.

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lemeres wrote:
Doesn't the light cantrip make darkness even harder to use in the current edition? Since cantrips auto heighten, and light/dark rules rely on spell level.

Yup, a single cantrip makes both mundane and magical darkness essentially meaningless - even before accounting for almost every PC ancestry being able to ignore it because they have darkvision. If a boss wanted to cast the Darkness spell, they have to use up a high level spell slot & casting actions only to get countered by an unlimited use cantrip from one of the PCs, probably before they even get a chance to do anything in the darkness that was created.


Matthew Downie wrote:

The situation I hate is:

Human Rogue: "This is a job for a stealth expert. I'll go and scout ahead."

Dwarf Cleric: "Hang on. We're in a cave system which is completely dark (apart from our light cantrips) because all the monsters have darkvision. If you scout ahead without a light you'll be blind. If you scout ahead with a light, all the monsters will know there's an intruder as soon as they notice the mysterious glow coming round the corner. They'll spot you long before you see any of them."

Human Rogue: "Fine. I guess you can scout ahead in your noisy armor while I continue not to use my skills."

To be fair the only problem I have with this scenario is even if the human has darkvision they still can’t really sneak up on monsters without gratuitous cover


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Matthew Downie wrote:

The situation I hate is:

Human Rogue: "This is a job for a stealth expert. I'll go and scout ahead."

Dwarf Cleric: "Hang on. We're in a cave system which is completely dark (apart from our light cantrips) because all the monsters have darkvision. If you scout ahead without a light you'll be blind. If you scout ahead with a light, all the monsters will know there's an intruder as soon as they notice the mysterious glow coming round the corner. They'll spot you long before you see any of them."

Human Rogue: "Fine. I guess you can scout ahead in your noisy armor while I continue not to use my skills."

This thread has talked about giving a disadvantage to darkvision to balance its strength. How about this disadvantage: a creature with darkvision cannot notice an approaching light source. It would be like noticing an illuminated flashlight during bright daylight.

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