[RPG] Does using a light in darkness make a sneaking Rogue obvious to monsters


Playing D&D 5E we ran into a problem concerning our Rogue. With normal vision he seemed useless in scouting caves ahead. Trying to fix this by using Lamps and candles strikes me as problematic as this must influence his stealth checks (in a negative) or the Monsters perception (in a positive way). How can we use his stealthy skills while mainting the amount of lighting?

Best Answer

Yes, using a light in darkness makes a sneaking rogue obvious to monsters

...provided that the monsters can see. The DMG is pretty emphatic about this on page 105 (the section on Darkness and Light in Dungeons):

The light of a torch or lantern helps a character see over a short distance, but other creatures can see that light source from far away. Bright light in an environment of total darkness can be visible for miles, though a clear line of sight over such a distance is rare underground. Even so, adventurers using light sources in a dungeon often attract monsters...

I am assuming that the rogue is holding the light source to use it to light his path, so the light is shining on him - illuminating him for all to see.

Note that the errata to the PHB corrects heavy obscurement so that vision works in it as you would expect:

A heavily obscured area doesn’t blind you, but you are effectively blinded when you try to see something obscured by it.

This means that a monster standing in darkness can see through the heavy obscurement from the darkness to the brightly lit rogue. Unless the monster is distracted or looking the wrong way, it will see the rogue. Of course in combat it will see the rogue automatically as all combatants are deemed to be aware of all other combatants.