A group of friends and I started playing a campaign that's entirely spent in the Underdark. My character is a level 3 variant human Battle Master fighter, and is the only one who doesn't have darkvision. He relies mostly on Dex but also has good Str. His current gear is pretty much some leather armour and 2 scimitars. I have 6 torches left for a long journey through the Underdark. The drow captured me and stole all my initial gear.

What can I do to overcome this handicap and play alongside a party of characters with darkvision? I don't want to spend the entire campaign always rolling at disadvantage. Torches are a temporary solution, but they don't last forever and I will eventually run out of them. There's no wood, so no way to make more fire.

The campaign is Out of the Abyss.


7 Answers 7


Learn the Light cantrip (or hang around with someone who has). It lasts an hour and takes 1 action to cast, the only small drawback is in needs a material component. It is available to Bards, Clerics, Sorcerers and Wizards right out of the blocks, Fighter (Eldritch Knight) and Rogue (Arcane Trickster) can get it at 3rd level. A variant human can take the Magic Initiate feat to get it. It can be dispelled but can just be recast but it doesn't work in an antimagic area.

Alternatively (and better), a 2nd level Warlock can take the Devil's Sight invocation which has twice the range as Darkvision and doesn't give disadvantage on perception checks like Darkvision. Can't be dropped, lost or otherwise rendered unavailable.

Light sources from the adventuring gear are OK but they occupy one of your hands and are subject to being extinguished, dropped etc.

Continual Flame is a 2nd level Cleric and Wizard spell that, for 50gp, creates a near permanent light source - can still be dispelled and is subject to anti-magic.

Similarly, Darkvision is a 2nd level spell for Rangers, Druids, Sorcerers and Wizards, it lasts 8 hours.

  • 7
    \$\begingroup\$ All of these involve carrying a big glowing light around the underdark though, it seems likely that would attract a lot of trouble. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tim B
    Commented Jul 5, 2017 at 13:22
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ I would note that while carrying a big glowing light around in the Underdark is dangerous, it is a calculated risk. With Darkvision, you have Disadvantage on Perception Checks in complete darkness, and your line of sight is limited to 60'. With a light, you risk attracting monsters, but there are light sources that illuminate a larger area than 60' and you roll Perception normally. Which do you prefer? Would you rather risk attracting more monsters, or be more likely to see those monsters coming? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 5, 2017 at 17:10
  • 7
    \$\begingroup\$ Personally, I would suggest picking up a Hooded Lantern at the earliest opportunity. It lets you switch between "Just enough light to see the ground under my feet" and "I can see just as far as my Darkvision-possessing buddies." See here for details on why this is useful: rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/93857/… \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 5, 2017 at 17:15

We are facing this situation at the moment in an Out of the Abyss game.

It is a big issue, because there are many creatures in the Underdark that are attracted by light. Using torches or lanterns or cantrips is hazardous. The choice between darkvision (disadvantage on all Perception rolls) and light (attract monsters) is a serious one.

One solution to the problem is to play a Deep Stalker conclave Ranger (from UA). They get improved darkvision.

Another is to multiclass into Warlock for two levels to get the Devils Sight invocation.

You could also just accept the darkness. You can move at normal speed with a bit of help from the rest of the party (most passages are reasonably open). You won't be making any Perception rolls based on sight (other senses will be OK, h/t Dale M), but the rest of the party covers this. Once combat starts, break out the light spells.

However, you need to remember that for humans and dragonborn and other surface races, the Underdark is supposed to be a scary, dangerous, nasty, brutal place.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ You can still make perception rolls, just not ones that rely on sight. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dale M
    Commented Jul 5, 2017 at 2:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ Clarifying this a bit, when darkness impedes even PCs that have darkvision, then not having darkvision is less severe a handicap. Darkness impedes those with darkvision in that a light source allows perception checks to be made without disadvantage, and may extend past normal darkvision range. This depends on the DM paying attention to light and perception, and having monsters or other obstacles take advantage of that. The party I DM for has darkvision available to everyone, but they still cast Daylight twice every adventuring day when underground! \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 6, 2017 at 0:11

Get yourself some magical help.

I won't list every spell that can help you in your situation, but you should be looking at spells that can either produce light (Light, Daylight, Continual Flame, etc) , give you Darkvision, or light up an enemy (Faerie Fire). Depending on your party's setup, there is a very likely chance that you will have at least one of those, as they are available very early in the game.

Magical Items can help too

In addition to spells, there are a bunch of magical items listed in the DMG that could shed light on your situation (sorry...), ask your DM if you can maybe go on a side quest to find one of these. Some examples include: Goggles of Night, Driftglobe, Sunblade.

D&D's underdark flora can help as well

Out of the Abyss, an adventure module set almost entirely in the Underdark, offers some interesting fungi that naturally grow deep underneath the earth, away from the sun. The module is also set in the Forgotten Realms, so "underdark fungi" might not be a thing in your DM's setting, ask your GM if you can find some of the fungi below (you can find more details in page 23 of Out of the Abyss):


A one-to two-foot-tall mushroom with a combustible cap, a single torchstalk burns for 24 hours once lit.

To a lesser extent:


A nightlight is a tall and tube-shaped bioluminescent mushroom that grows to a height of 1d6+4 feet and emits bright light in a 15-foot radius and dim light for an additional 15 feet. A night light that is uprooted or destroted goes dark after 1 round.



A bioluminscent green moss that grows in warm and damp areas [...] It sheds dim light in a 5-foot radius, and can be harvested, dried, and made into a phosphorescent powder or pigment.


First of all, there are a lot of options for dealing with darkness. There are spells (particularly the Light cantrip) or potions. If you are a Warlock, you could take Devil's Sight for superior darkvision (longer range and penetrates magical darkness). What method will work best for you will depend on your class and levels.

Second of all, keep in mind that in occupied areas of the Underdark, there will still be some illumination. Darkvision won't allow people to notice distinction of color, only shapes in shades of grey. So if the culture is at all interested in fashion (Drow) or puts any importance on reading off of paper or parchment (Mind Flayers), they will require illumination.

Also, although there is no wood in the Underdark, keep in mind that the denizens must be using SOMETHING for illumination for the reasons mentioned above. You can use the same thing. Perhaps there is dry fungus which will burn, or even phosphorescent kind that will glow without fire. Maybe there are hideous white giant maggots whose fat will burn in oil lamps, or maybe these denizens of the deep simply cast spells like Plant Growth to create briefly living trees, which are promptly cut down to make kindling. The point is, someone down there is making light. And when in the Underdark, do as the denizens do.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ "must be using something for illumination" It's called Zurkwood. Giant tree-sized mushrooms that are basically equivalent to wood. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 5, 2017 at 17:04

Note: Darkvision isn't all that awesome. Even the Drow use Light and lanterns.

Darkvision only works in a 60' radius, which most ambushers can cover with a single Dash action. And it only turns darkness to dim - which is hardly adequate for spotting all the skulkers that haunt the Underdark. So unless stealth is a necessity, most folks in the Underdark, regardless of race, will make liberal use of Light spells, lanterns and other devices to more fully illuminate their environment.

Other answers here point out that some monsters are attracted to light. But there are also many ambush predators, who delight in surprise and who rarely strike unless they have the advantage. Which would you prefer to deal with - the well-illuminated monster that you see from a distance, or the hidden ambusher? It is, of course, up to your DM to decide which of these types of hazards are more common (but if he pays any attention to real-world ecosystems, he'll know that in most environments, ambush predators far outnumber roaming hunters.)

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Just a note, Drow and Svirfneblin in 5e have darkvision to 120 ft. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 5, 2017 at 18:28

You could take something basic like a small torch or lantern. Be sure to keep the illumination of your device to a minimum and infrequent as it will draw attention and may upset the other character strategies. You could do this in conjunction with the Alert feat:

Always on the lookout for danger, you gain the following benefits:

  • You gain a +5 bonus to initiative.
  • You can’t be surprised while you are conscious.
  • Other creatures don’t gain advantage on attack rolls against you as a result of being hidden from you.

This in theory would over rule most (but not all) obstacles presented by low illumination. Later you could take spells if you have the appropriate classes, like Druid or Sorcerer, that grant the ability to see in the Dark with a level 2 spell, i.e., 3rd level. After that, it wouldn't matter for the next 17 levels.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ It's worth noting that "Hidden" is not synonymous with "unseen". An invisible character isn't "hidden" in combat, (people usually know roughly where he or she is due to sounds, footprints, etc.), but they can't be seen. Likewise, if a character is "blinded", although all attacks have advantage against him or her, that doesn't mean that the attackers are "hidden". So I'm not sure that the Alert Feat would stop a character from being attacked with advantage if they were in full darkness (because they'd then be "Blinded"). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 5, 2017 at 0:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ Some sources people use make direct reference to this situation: "You can attempt to hide whenever the creature or creatures you are attempting to hide from can’t see you. You could be invisible. (Being hidden is different from the “Invisible” condition in that you can be invisible and still not be hidden if your opponent can tell where you are by hearing you or by some other means.) Or you could be on the opposite side of anything that provides total cover, or in a heavily obscured area (such as darkness if your foe doesn’t have darkvision)" - Alertness still kills chicken after egg hatches. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tristian
    Commented Jul 5, 2017 at 13:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Gandalfmeansme Still counts. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 26, 2018 at 12:44
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @AntiDrondert The Alert feat has also been changed by an errata. It now reads "“Other creatures don’t gain advantage on attack rolls against you as a result of being unseen by you.” \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 26, 2018 at 17:14

Goggles of Night

If you can afford it, I would suggest the Goggles of Night (DMG 172):

While wearing these dark lenses, you have darkvision out to a range of 60 feet. If you already have darkvision, wearing the goggles increases its range by 60 feet.

Sure you can cast spells or get all manner of holdable light sources like a torch or lantern, but all those do is paint you as a big target. If I were a Drow or other Underdark creature and I saw any light source, my immediate assumption would be that that creature can't see in the dark, and taking out the light is step 1 of an attack. What these let you do, though, is use any weapons you want, and you can see just as good as the base Darkvision the other races get.

Only problem would be the cost of this. The DMG suggests a cost of 100-500 gp since it is an uncommon magic item, but you may be able to talk the DM into maybe finding it on the corpse of an unfortunate adventurer somewhere. It would be a big investment at level 3, but if the whole campaign is in the Underdark, it would be worth it in the long run.


  • Free hands
  • Non-visible light
  • No Stealth disadvantage from having a visible light
  • Harder to drop since they are strapped to your head


  • Wouldn't put light out (both a pro and con, but con because you would lose advantage of things with light sensitivity)

Bonus: they look pretty sweet!


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .