[RPG] Does Darkness dispel Dancing Lights


Drow vs. Elves in a dungeon with no natural light. Torch light for elven party. If a drow drops a darkness spell on an object in the middle of the party are they effectively blind? If they had a dancing lights spell in the party does the darkness dispel the dancing lights, or just nullify it until you move it out of the darkness?

Best Answer


Normal lights (torches, candles, lanterns, and so forth) are incapable of brightening the area, as are light spells of lower level. Higher level light spells are not affected by darkness.

Dancing lights

Evocation [Light]

Since dancing lights is a light spell of a lower level than darkness, it does not light any area within the darkness. Higher-level light spells, like daylight, would overcome darkness and light the area in spite of darkness.

It is unclear whether or not the dancing lights are, themselves, visible as points of light. Darkness prevents them from lighting any area, but they could be visible themselves without illuminating any surrounding area. Up to you, as DM, to decide that. If the lights themselves are visible, they could be used for signaling and silent communication within the darkness.

Carrying, Movement, and Exploration > Vision and Light

In areas of darkness, creatures without darkvision are effectively blinded. In addition to the obvious effects, a blinded creature has a 50% miss chance in combat (all opponents have total concealment), loses any Dexterity bonus to AC, takes a -2 penalty to AC, moves at half speed, and takes a -4 penalty on Search checks and most Strength and Dexterity-based skill checks.

So yes, the party is blind. Note that this includes those who do have darkvision, despite the bolded statement above, because darkness includes the following special case:

Even creatures that can normally see in such conditions (such as with darkvision or low-light vision) have the miss chance in an area shrouded in magical darkness.

So not only are the humans, elves, gnomes, and so on blind, but so are the dwarf and half-orc. But perhaps most importantly, so are the drow. Thus, for the drow, darkness is much more effective for misdirection, retreat, or divide and conquer strategies.

The ability to see in magical darkness is generally reserved for devils; even magic that grants this ability is often named after devils, such as the devil’s sight invocation in Complete Arcane.