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I vaguely know that the backstory of the Drow from earlier editions involves their Sunlight Sensitivity coming in part from the curse that banished them, and not purely from their long existence underground (though if I'm incorrect on that, let me know- I seem to recall WOTC staff mentioning things along that line recently, but I believe 5e sources haven't gone into that specifically).

Is there similarly a lore-given reason for the duergar's sunlight sensitivity, or is it simply attributed to their history of dwelling deep underground? Them having Sunlight Sensitivity but the svirfneblin not having it made me curious.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Note: I wouldn't be surprised if additional relevant information is available as of the Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes book's eventual release, as duergar are covered in that book according to what's been teased so far. \$\endgroup\$ – CTWind Feb 9 '18 at 6:14
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Their eyes are attuned to darkness.

The Duergar's MM (pg. 122) entry describes this succinctly:

Eons spent in the Underdark also sharpened their darkvision, allowing them to see twice as far as other dwarves. This keen eyesight comes at a cost, however, as a duergar's vision is compromised by sunlight.

It's interesting that while the Duergar's darkvision, at 120ft, has twice as much range as ordinary dwarves', the svirfneblin also have 120ft darkvision without any penalties. I have no idea why that might be.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Maybe their lineage has to do with sunlight sensitivity? Gnomes are used to bright daylight but not at all to darkness, so the Svirfneblin's eyes adapted to the dark while keeping the ability to see in daylight conditions (mostly) intact. Dwarves on the other hand lived below ground even before becoming Duergar, so Dwarves may find daylight not very easy to see in, but still bearable. The Duergar's adaptation could have led from eyes which were "okay for sunlight and good for darkness" to "bad for sunlight and great for darkness". I got nothing to confirm this though. \$\endgroup\$ – Maz Feb 8 '18 at 8:14

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