Darkness is an interesting spell that has a purpose in and out of combat. Clever players can use it as a distraction, protection, or a means of clever escape. Enemies can use it to cripple the party just as easily.
The rules for Darkness can be found in the Players Handbook on page 230.
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 60 Feet
Components: V, M (bat fur and a drop of pitch or charcoal)
Duration: 10 Minutes Concentration
Magical darkness spreads from a point you choose within range to fill a 15-foot-radius sphere for the duration.
The Darkness spreads around corners. A creature with dark vision can’t see through this darkness, and nonmagical light can’t illuminate it.
If the point you choose is on an object you are holding or one that isn’t being worn or carried, the darkness emanates from the object and moves with it.
Completely covering the source of the Darkness with an opaque object, such as a bowl or a helm, blocks the Darkness.
If any of this spell’s area overlaps with an area of light created by a spell of 2nd level or lower, the spell that created the light is dispelled.
The rules for Darkness indicate the ability to severely limit the vision of everyone present. Creating a magical area of impenetrable darkness can obscure an entire 30-foot area of the battlefield.
They also show the effect can be placed on a creature or object, allowing the effect to be mobile. Additionally, the rules outline the possible ways to end the effect.
Can You See Through Darkness?
The Darkness spell creates a 15-foot radius area of magical Darkness that completely obscures all areas within it and beyond it.
This area is impossible to see into or through without some sort of magical means. The Warlock Invocation Devil’s Sight does allow a character to see through magical Darkness normally to a distance of 120 feet.
How Do You Use the Darkness Spell?
There are a few ways to use the Darkness spell to your advantage. The spell can be cast on an area, creature, or object. It can also dispel magical light of level 2 or lower.
Casting Darkness on an area allows the caster to obscure a 30-foot diameter area that travels around corners. This application of the spell can be used to block the line of sight to or from enemies.
This is a great way to protect or inhibit large groups. It can also be used as a respite from enemy casters, as many spells rely on being able to see.
Casting Darkness on an object a creature carries allows the spell to be mobile. It also creates a scenario for unseen attackers and targets. This would provide a disadvantage to hitting any creature within the Darkness by any other creature within or outside of the area.
A technique for avoiding a barrage of enemy archers could be to cast the spell on an ally and move at half speed.
Darkness can also be cast on a lone object. The object can then be covered completely to block the effects of the spell. This is a great way to set a trap in limited light areas.
Since the magical Darkness doesn’t block sound, the group could set in, waiting until they hear the target get close. Then cover the object, block the effect, and leap into action.
How Do You Deal With Darkness?
A clever enemy casting Darkness can be dangerous for any adventuring group. It can render the magic users almost useless. Fortunately, there are a few ways to counter this spell. The downside is that the good ways require higher levels.
The easiest way to counter Darkness is to simply move. If the effect is cast on an area, the magical Darkness will stay put.
Simply moving out of its range can solve the problem it causes. This is especially true for melee-based enemies. Drawing them out of the dark allows your spellcaster to target them again.
Another simple option is to break the caster’s concentration on the spell. This could be difficult if they are in the area, but it is an option. Bombarding the Darkness with area of effect (AOE) spells is a solid option to achieve this result as well.
Daylight and Dispel Magic are other alternatives for dealing with magical Darkness. Both are level three and need to be cast at a higher level or pass the check to remove the effect.
Can the Caster See in Darkness?
The spell does not grant the caster any special privileges to see through the area of effect. Typically, the rules clarify points like this. There are ways, as mentioned previously, for this to be possible, but it is not inherently possible with the spell.
Darkness 5e FAQs
Can Characters Still Hear in Darkness in 5e?
The straightforward answer is yes, characters can still hear in Darkness. The spell doesn’t take away a character’s ability to see, hear, or walk, it merely obscures their vision.
In fact, characters can try to escape the seemingly never-ending darkness created by the spell, but in most cases, you wouldn’t know where to walk or what takes you straight to your foes or into the company of your party members.
What Is the Difference Between Darkvision and Darkness in 5e?
If you want to quickly describe the relationship between Darkvision and Darkness, you can say, “It’s the opposite of one another.” While this is sort of correct, it’s not the entire truth, as the descriptions for each spell give the exact correlation between the two.
Darkvision grants the affected creature the ability to see in the dark (having darkvision for 60 feet). In a sense, the affected creature will basically have night vision.
The whole problem lies when you want to use Darkvision while surrounded by Darkness, which, as described by Darkness’ description (“A creature with darkvision can’t see through this darkness, and nonmagical light can’t illuminate it.”) gives the extent of Darkvision.
Therefore, the difference between the two is that Darkvision grants the affected creature the ability to see through normal darkness, while Darkness covers an area with magical darkness, making Darkvision unable to see through it and nonmagical light unable to penetrate it.
Darkness is a spell that can be used by players in a variety of different ways. Many of these ways can give them a significant advantage and help them control the field of battle. It is also a valuable spell for the enemy as well.
The ability to remove magic users from combat can cripple a party, and a smart enemy will do that at every chance they get. Darkness is an all-around fun spell that gets overlooked in its usefulness way too frequently.