What is the process for targeting someone in Magical Darkness with melee and ranged attacks?

For example, if a Warlock casts Magical Darkness and remains inside it, what rolls need to be made by someone trying to target them?


1 Answer 1


Targeting works as normal, except with disadvantage

Trying to attack a target does not require sight of the target. However, not being able to see the target means one's attack rolls are at a disadvantage, because the area is considered to be heavily obscured and thus the attacker is effectively blinded when attacking their target. However, if the target also can't see the attacker (both are effectively blinded to each other), the attacker would receive advantage and the attack is rolled with neither because they cancel out.

...or it might be an automatic miss

If the attacker has no information on the target's location - for example, sound of their footsteps, they might have to guess the target's location instead when making their attack (PHB 194-195). If they guess wrong, the attack can miss regardless of what the player rolls. What counts as the correct location is up to the GM unless playing on a grid. The GM is also not forced to reveal whether an attack at a guessed location misses because of a bad roll or a bad guess.

In situations where detecting the target's location might be challenging but possible, it is reasonable to allow a player to roll a Perception check to identify their position.

Some spells require sight

Many spells explicitly state the requirement to see the target. Simply knowing the target's location isn't enough, and no rolls can help one there unless they can somehow make the warlock visible in the darkness.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I feel like this is missing one bit: PHB p.194-5 seems to spell out two ways this might play out. (1) you can't see the target but some other sense/information tells you where they are, so you attack as usual with disadvantage. (2) you can't see the target and have no clue where they are, so you target a location and make a disadvantaged attack roll; the GM then tells you hit-or-miss, but not whether that was even the right location. I feel like you're describing (1) but leaving out (2). \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 11:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60 Thanks for the feedback, I'll look into it soonish. \$\endgroup\$
    – kviiri
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 12:05

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