I'm not even going to go into the debate about whether darkvision can see through hunger of hadar, the thing that I think makes it overpowered is the this line.

creatures fully within the area are blinded.

That isn't 'they can't see.' Or, 'creatures without Darkvision can't see.' Or 'make a saving throw or be blinded for the duration.' It straight up says creatures fully within the area are blinded, no save, ever. There's no condition under which the blindness goes away, it doesn't say that when the creature leaves the area the condition ends, it doesn't say that when the spell ends the condition ends. The creature is blind.

I assume a lesser restoration could fix this since that ends the blindness condition, but what's the likelihood of a group of baddies having that available to fix all of them suddenly, from going totally and permanently blind? So one third level spell and an entire group of baddies regardless of level have been virtually neutralized. The only chance they have after that is if they have Tremorsense or Blindsight. How is a spell that does this third level?


7 Answers 7


As written, yes, hunger of Hadar is “seriously overpowered.”

What is written for hunger of Hadar is that “creatures fully within the area are blinded.” Even as an English phrase, “are blinded” is an event, something that has happened to a creature; absent any context, we generally assume that it’s permanent. Consider how common the phrase “temporarily blinded” is, just avoid that assumption.

Now, in context, we have the actual game rules about conditions. Those say

A condition lasts either until it is countered (the prone condition is countered by standing up, for example) or for a duration specified by the effect that imposed the condition.

Here we have “A condition lasts until,” that is, until one of the following events take place, the condition lasts, period. Then we have two events listed after “until,” either of which is sufficient to stop the condition from continuing to last:

  1. the condition is “countered,” or

  2. a “duration specified by the effect that imposed the condition” runs out.

But hunger of Hadar doesn’t build in any special circumstances that counter the blindness, so only generic effects that can remove blindness—e.g. lesser restoration—are going to apply. Even dispel magic and the like are somewhat dubious: those can remove hunger of Hadar’s shadows and stop it from blinding anyone else, but it’s not clear that the blindness condition itself is a spell effect that can be dispelled.

And hunger of Hadar also does not specify any duration for the blindness condition. It just says “creatures fully within the area are blinded,” nothing more. Nothing about that blindness ending at any point.

That leaves us with hunger of Hadar permanently blinding every creature that has ever been “fully within the area.” And yes, permanent blindness applied to every creature that ever found itself within hunger of Hadar is seriously overpowered, and that is what is written, technically, in the books.

But we can give more context here—our familiarity and expectations of the game. One of those is that things shouldn’t be “seriously overpowered,” as we just determined hunger of Hadar is, as written. It seems likely that the authors and editors of hunger of Hadar forgot that conditions basically default to permanent, or missed its implications, and considered their wording as “obviously” meaning the condition only applies as long as creatures are within the area. It seems they almost-certainly meant that the creatures are blinded for a duration equal to however long they stay fully within the area of hunger of Hadar, or that (partially) leaving the area of hunger of Hadar counters the blindness. That would make for a reasonable spell. That is how the majority of people, it seems, assume the spell works, because they assume the spell isn’t “seriously overpowered” and read it within that context without checking the actual technical definitions.

But the game’s authors, really, should have double-checked. They should have included that duration, or that countering event, in the rules text. It wouldn’t have taken much, just a clause like “until they leave the area” in the description. But they didn’t include that. They made a mistake, it seems.

Mistakes happen; there are a lot of interactions in a game system, and ultimately they’re all interpreted by a person who may inject their own sensibilities into things—making it very difficult to recognize that those sensibilities had to be injected in the first place. Ultimately, being careful with that is part of what we pay a game developer for; a large chunk of the value they purport to offer to customers is their expertise and care that allows them to provide more consistent and balanced material than you could do on your own. They didn’t here; that failure counts, even if it is easily corrected. It is fair, I think, to “hold it against them,” to some extent—and if this kind of thing happens a lot, for that to damage your perception of the quality of their product.

But in the end, there will always be mistakes. That’s unavoidable. If you find that 5e is just rife with issues like these, that’s a knock against it. If it happens only rarely, though, then it’s a sign that it’s well-made—don’t over-emphasize any single mistake either. I leave the adjudication on the relative frequency here to others. Hopefully, Wizards of the Coast will explicitly mention at some point that hunger of Hadar only blinds things for as long as they’re within. But in the meantime, their mistake is no reason for you to allow it to mess with your game. You easily can, and should, correct for it yourself.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Apr 28, 2018 at 0:23

The spell says (emphasis mine):

No light, magical or otherwise, can illuminate the area, and creatures fully within the area are blinded.

Once a creature is not fully inside the area this condition doesn't apply anymore and the creature stops being effectively blind. They just have to move.

If the condition was permanent it would say so and there is no time limit because there is a different condition - staying fully inside the area. (That's basically an implicit time limit depending on the spells duration.)

  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Apr 23, 2018 at 12:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ The spell does not mention that the blindness goes away after a creature moves out of the effected area. Do you have any source to support your statement? \$\endgroup\$
    – Vadruk
    Commented May 11, 2020 at 12:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Vadruk "A condition lasts either until it is countered (the prone condition is countered by standing up, for example) " "creatures fully within the area are blinded." to extrapolate, the [Blind] condition is countered by [not being fully within the area] \$\endgroup\$
    – IT Alex
    Commented Mar 29, 2023 at 14:23

The use of the term “blinded” is to invoke the blinded condition, so it is clear what the effects are. (Though in regular English “blinded” means “made blind”, and doesn’t usually imply permanence, as in “she was blinded by the sun” or “the light was blinding” etc.) As mentioned by Secespitus, the condition for being blinded is being completely in the area, so creatures are no longer blinded when they leave. Also, since the area ceases to exist at the end of the spell, the blinded condition will also end when the spell ends.


You would only be blind while inside the area Hunger of Hadar effects

The spell says:

"No light, magical or otherwise, can illuminate the area, and creatures fully within the area are blinded."

Compared to other effects like sight rot,

"the Victim is blinded until its sight is restored by magic such as lesser restoration or heal."

or gem of brightness

"The creature must succeed on a DC 15 Constitution saving throw or become blinded for 1 minute."

It seems like the blinded condition doesn't have a save or duration. However, the description of conditions says: "A condition lasts either until it is countered (the prone condition is countered by standing up, for example) or for a duration specified by the effect that imposed the condition."

Sight Rot has a counter condition, Lesser Restoration or Heal. Gem of Brightness has a duration. Hunger of Hadar has while Fully Within the Area. Phrasing it like the rules state would be the [Blinded] condition is countered by [not being fully within the area].

Why would it not confer permanent blindness like other answers have stated? Simple. A specific spell for applying the blinded condition is Blindness/Deafness its a 2nd level spell. It has a save, continuous saves, and a duration. Hunger of Hadar is a 3rd level spell that has that effect as an addon to damage with no save, no duration and damage. A powerspike of that magnitude if intended by the developers would be accompanied by a further increase in spell level and would have wording to support the interpretation that it is permanent.

If it feels like the interpretation of no save, permanent blind is too strong, that's because that was not the intent of the spell. A spell with permanent affects of the same level, Bestow Curse has, "If you use a 9th Level spell slot, the spell lasts until it is dispelled." That is the spell level that is needed for permanent debuffs. Banishment a spell for permanent removal of a target is conditional on them not being a planar native and has a save is a 4th level spell. It doesn't have additional effects like Hunger of Hadar. This supports my conclusion that Hunger of Hadar is not intended to permanently blind.


You're reading it wrong.

There's various arguments about the Blind condition, technical terms vs plain English, the exact meaning of that sentence construction etc, but in general, very few DMs will rule that a 3rd level high AoE spell that does other things also makes people permanently Blind. That is wildly outside the expected effect for spells of that level - and the alternate meaning, that they can't see while inside the darkness, is vastly more logical.

They may be technically doing a houserule or something by doing so. Not really something I consider relevant or interesting if they are or aren't. Effectively, i've read that spell previously and did not think it made people permanently blind. I would expect that most people would get that meaning - a quick google search confirms this, as you get very few results for combinations of this phrase/question (most are literally this same poster with this same question on other sites) - and would not question it or even think of the other one.

I also think that assuming every single use of a game condition in a sentence is always and only referring to that condition is going to lead to some Wacky Things Like This, but that's not really relevant. It won't fly. If it does fly, you have a DM who goes by specific wording over game balance or logic, so find whatever other wacky shit you can and exploit it to the hilt I guess. At that point though, you might as well just hand people custom artifacts that let them summon infinite dragons or w/e. It has a roughly similar effect on the game.


You enter a dark filled void. There is no light and no way to make light. Functional pitch black. You are blinded because you cannot see. You can mimic this in real life by going into a dark room with no lights. Once you leave the dark room, you aren't blind anymore. This is the intention of the spell, and honestly if you visualize what this spell is doing there is no other interpretation that makes sense - certainly not a debilitating indefinite blindness by merely entering the spells zone of effect. Once you leave the zone, as with leaving a dark room, your condition ends. To purport that the spell blinds you "indefinitely" is an asinine interpretation of how it is written.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center. \$\endgroup\$
    – Community Bot
    Commented Feb 9, 2022 at 17:57

Because the rules aren't meant to be used as written

5e's rules are not intended to be used as written. Many parts of the system, especially but not exclusively parts that are content within the framework rather than the framework itself, are just completely non-functional as written. Many of the parts that are at least technically functional nonetheless have major issues. So, since the designers weren't trying to make something that made sense or was balanced if you pay attention to their wording, it's not surprising they didn't end up with something that fits those requirements.

Instead, 5e expects to to make up your own rules that fit those requirements that are sort of kind of like the rules/content they provide, only instead it works, and also when new things come up and then it doesn't work any more you then change your rulings to something new. In this case, 5e expects that the blindness will end as soon as the creature leaves the area or the spell ends. It's true that's not at all what the spell says, nor how the rules for conditions work, and it breaks other stuff if you try to make that a general principle for ending conditions. Nonetheless, that's what is expected here, and that's why the spell is third level (because blindness no-save that you can end with movement is roughly a 3rd level effect when you add in the other benefits; Darkness is 2nd level and has no other benefits. It's a really good 3rd level spell, but it's not on the same level as e.g. Banishment or Greater Invisibility).

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    \$\begingroup\$ Do you have some reference or source for this? \$\endgroup\$
    – Clonkex
    Commented Apr 23, 2018 at 3:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ I fully believe you, but this doesn't answer the OP's question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Yakk
    Commented Apr 23, 2018 at 3:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Yakk OP's question is 'why is this third level', I thought. Do you think I should expound more on what the intended reading of the spell is balanced around? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 23, 2018 at 6:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ My downvote is specifically regarding the premise that 5e is not intended to be used as written. There are many rules, comments from the game designers, and errata when there are issues that aren't covered by the rules that suggest that 5e is intended to be used as written (accepting that you are encouraged to make it your own when applicable. ) \$\endgroup\$
    – Luke
    Commented Apr 23, 2018 at 6:49
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @thedarkwanderer I think it's not as obvious that the rules shouldn't be taken as law as you seem to be saying in your answer. I suspect that's the main reason you're being downvoted. I would suggest that if you genuinely believe the rules should not be implemented exactly as written, you need to find some source or reference from the authors of the rules stating as such. Most people seem to think (as I do) that the rules are intended to be used exactly as written, but that in the case the OP's question, it was mistakenly written in an unclear way. \$\endgroup\$
    – Clonkex
    Commented Apr 24, 2018 at 6:35

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