I'm making a vampire character in a D&D 3.5/pathfinder game and want an official ruling on when the sunlight takes effect.

Can I walk outside with a robe covering me and not take the penalty? The description says "direct sunlight" so is that ANY amount of sunlight? My DM was arguing that even if I was wearing full plate and some sunlight got threw the face slit it counted.

By common sense I figured a vampire wouldn't die instantly when a ray of sun hit his fingertip, but it doesn't explicitly state one way or another. I need a ruling on what the direct sunlight implies. The majority of my body perhaps, or if partially exposed what happens then? Is there any text or books that can give me specifics?

Edit: my DM did not know the penalties to sunlight, he thought is would just burn the exposed skin for damage, he was unaware that it was lethal

  • 8
    \$\begingroup\$ Wait, you mean you don't sparkle? \$\endgroup\$
    – ShadowKras
    Sep 15, 2017 at 3:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you get a magic item that maintains a Darkness spell effect in a small radius around you? \$\endgroup\$
    – Samthere
    Sep 15, 2017 at 9:45
  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ @Samthere You mean a sombrero? \$\endgroup\$
    – aloisdg
    Sep 15, 2017 at 9:52
  • 10
    \$\begingroup\$ @aloisdg No, a Hello Kitty umbrella \$\endgroup\$ Sep 15, 2017 at 9:56
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ "My DM was arguing..." - there's your ruling! Maybe your DM needs to be a bit more assertive and say it rather than argue it! ;) \$\endgroup\$
    – komodosp
    Sep 15, 2017 at 13:50

3 Answers 3


There are no official references on the specifics for Pathfinder on how this sunlight has to touch the vampire. No description if they can hide if they wear heavy clothes, if touching the sunlight with their hands has the same effect as touching all their body, or if an umbrella could protect them.

We know that some, really strong, vampires can overcome that vulnerability. Some will resist for longer, while others can completely ignore it. And that there are spells to protect you from sunlight. There are ways to even blot out the sun so a vampire can walk during the day (why not?). But it's also unclear if darkness or deep darkness can completely protect you from the sun.

For the record, I searched on 5 campaign setting books, classic horrors, undead unleashed, undead revisited, inner sea gods and horror adventures. And also on the blood of night and undead slayer's handbook.

And also did a lengthy search on paizo messageboards, the community's view is certainly mixed on the subject. Some people believe that if there is a line directly between the vampire and the sun and nothing to conceal the vampire from it, he is in direct sunlight. While others believe that direct sunlight is talking about the Light Condition (sunlight, bright, dim, etc), so even if you are inside a carriage with the windows open, you are in direct sunlight as well.

There is only one reference of indirect sunlight in the rules, on Vision and Light:

Normal Light

Normal light functions just like bright light, but characters with light sensitivity and light blindness do not take penalties. Areas of normal light include underneath a forest canopy during the day, within 20 feet of a torch, and inside the area of a light spell.

Areas of normal light might include a glade under a forest canopy during midday, the interior of a room illuminated by indirect sunlight, and the space within 20 feet of a torch or an object affected by the light spell. While colors and fine details may not be as vivid in normal light, characters can still see easily without special forms of vision.

Normal light does not impact characters with light blindness or light sensitivity.

This means that vampires are partially safe inside rooms illuminated by sunlight that comes through windows. Probably.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Direct sunlight is discussed in the 'bright' light entry. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 15, 2017 at 17:52
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ It simply says that direct sunlight creates bright light. A wizard can create bright light and he isn't a star. \$\endgroup\$
    – ShadowKras
    Sep 15, 2017 at 18:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ The point is that if it's not bright light, it's not direct sunlight in Pathfinder (as opposed to 3.5 where 'normal' wasn't a light category). \$\endgroup\$ Sep 15, 2017 at 20:05

You want an official ruling? You have one - your DM has made it.

For what its worth I agree with your DM (not that he needs me or anyone else to): if any part of you is struck by direct sunlight then you suffer the adverse effects and, yes, this includes your eyeballs or fingernails.

"Direct sunlight" means sunlight that travels directly from the sun to you. Indirect sunlight is light that is either diffused (e.g. by clouds) or reflected (e.g. when you are inside away from the window).

There is a reason vampires are creatures of the night.

  • \$\begingroup\$ i strongly disagree that any pixel of light touching any miniscule bit of my body should kill, but regardless is there any know item in game that could just cover my entire body just to not have it be "direct sunlight"?would a coat of oil or any sort of liquid satisfy the loophole? then its not direct and it has to go through what evers on me. is there any sort of ring or enchantment that could just serve the purpose of having shadows, a force field or some other way of just making it so its not directly hitting me? \$\endgroup\$ Sep 15, 2017 at 6:28
  • 7
    \$\begingroup\$ @theAlphaMatt That's a good question. Why don't you ask it? \$\endgroup\$
    – Dale M
    Sep 15, 2017 at 6:34
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for "You want an official ruling? You have one - your DM has made it." @op Have you asked the DM for guidance with regards to travelling around in daylight? could you run from cover to cover and just smoulder or burst into flames ala Spike in Buffy? If windowed rooms are OK, could you pay an armourer to amend a helmet for you with some smoked glass? \$\endgroup\$
    – Miller86
    Sep 15, 2017 at 11:42
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @theAlphaMatt - to be fair I agree with this post. You're trying to find loopholes and technicalities with your robes and covers, etc. to get around a known handicap of vampires (using the letter of the law to defeat the spirit of the law, as they say). The point is, vampires are not supposed to go out during the day. e.g. You don't know how does the sun kill? You're assuming the killing factor is like UV rays or something, so just a little should be harmless. But it could be some kind of magic or divine power of the sun that does the killing. The ruling is up to your DM. \$\endgroup\$
    – komodosp
    Sep 15, 2017 at 14:00
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Referring a poster back to a ruling that their DM made when asking for clarity on rules is pretty weak. That answer could literally be used on every rules-based question, which helps no one to understand what the rules actually have to say on the subject. Having said that, if the rules are still unclear (as it appears to be the case here), then it could be the only recourse. But that shouldn't be the first recourse in response to a rules question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ellesedil
    Sep 15, 2017 at 17:06

I would argue that the sunlight damage assumes a standard clothing outfit and direct sunlight. If the character is naked, they should take more damage (maybe 1.5x or 2x). If they are covered more, they should take proportionally less damage. For something like a ray of sun coming through a helmet visor, maybe something like 1d6 damage per round, Fort save DC 20 for half.


You must log in to answer this question.

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