Darkvision enables you to see in darkness as if it were dim light (within the first 60/120/180 feet, of course, depending on the quality of your darkvision).

The Eagle totem for the 6th-level Totem Barbarian's Aspect of the Beast feature enables you to ignore your disadvantage from dim light on sight-based Perception checks.

Does that mean that a character with both darkvision and the eagle aspect can make Perception checks (within his darkvision range) without disadvantage, even when in complete darkness ?


It's a rather nested definition, but...

Out to the range of their Darkvision, yes.

Darkvision says (emphasis added):

...Within a specified range, a creature with darkvision can see in dim light as if it were bright light and in darkness as if it were dim light, so areas of darkness are only lightly obscured as far as that creature is concerned...

Dim light says (more emphasis added):

Dim light, also called shadows, creates a lightly obscured area. An area of dim light is usually a boundary between a source of bright light, such as a torch, and surrounding darkness. The soft light of twilight and dawn also counts as dim light. A particularly brilliant full moon might bathe the land in dim light.

Light obscurement is:

In a lightly obscured area, such as dim light, patchy fog, or moderate foliage, creatures have disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight

A character with Aspect of the Beast: Eagle or the Skulker feat doesn't take disadvantage for that dim light.


  • A character with Aspect of the Beast: Eagle can see a mile in dim light and does not suffer disadvantage to Perception due to that dim light.

  • A character with Aspect of the Beast: Eagle (or Skulker) and Darkvision can see the full range of their darkvision and does not suffer disadvantage to Perception due to that dim light. Beyond that range, they're Blinded like any other character.


There are other things that can cause obscurement - fog and foliage, for instance. Neither Aspect of the Beast: Eagle nor Skulker help with that, only with the obscurement caused by dim light.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The other answers appear to disagree. But this answer produces the most fun outcome, so +1. \$\endgroup\$ – aroth May 31 '18 at 9:45

You're missing a very vital piece here, these two pieces actually work quite differently...

Darkvision, out to its range, allows you to see in Dim Light as if it were Bright Light. It also allows you to see in Darkness as if it were Dim Light. If Darkvision actually made Darkness like Dim Light to you, then Darkvision's other feature would let you see in it as if it were bright light. Thus, the ability to see better in Dim Light doesn't help you if you are actually in Darkness...but can see anyway because you have Darkvision.

Darkvision works as follows:

You can see in dim light within 60 (or 120) feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.

The structure of this sentence is fairly important and has been clarified by Jeremy Crawford, the lead designer of 5E.

Q: Darkvision specifies that you see dim as bright in 60', then says you see dark as dim. Is that also 60', or unlimited?

A: All of darkvision's benefits are limited by its radius.


Thus, for further clarity, a creature with Darkvision can see in Dim Light as if it were Full Light within 60'. And can see in Darkness as if it were Dim Light within 60'.

The Eagle Totem feature says...

You gain the eyesight of an eagle. You can see up to 1 mile away with no difficulty, able to discern even fine details as though looking at something no more than 100 feet away from you. Additionally, dim light doesn’t impose disadvantage on your Wisdom (Perception) checks.

Again, looking at the structure of these sentences, this feature does two things.

  1. Can see fine details of objects up to 1 mile away as if they were only 100' away.
  2. Dim Light does not impose Disadvantage on Perception Checks.

Thus, someone with both of these features combined can do the following.

  1. See in Darkness out to 60', taking Disadvantage on Perception checks.
  2. See in Dim Light to an unlimited range without Disadvantage on Perception checks.

You do not have unlimited range vision in the Dark because Darkvision only works within 60'. You still take Disadvantage on Perception Checks in Darkness because it's Darkness. The fact that you treat it like Dim Light doesn't make it Dim Light. It's still darkness.

Darkvision does not actually turn Darkness into Dim Light. You are still in Darkness, and so the Eagle feature can't see in it.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I think you need to move your last paragraph to the front. It's an interesting argument, and stops me downvoting the answer - I don't agree with the answer, but I can see how it is not obviously wrong. \$\endgroup\$ – Martin Bonner May 31 '18 at 8:00

RAW, there doesn't appear to be an interaction

I'm using the specific wording on the Half-Orc's description of Darkvision for reference, so if other racial features/class features/spells behave differently (and some of them do!), they may require a different ruling.

Darkvision. ... You have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light.

Then, from the description for Aspect of the Beast, Eagle:

Eagle. ... Additionally, dim light doesn't impose disadvantage on your Wisdom (Perception) checks

From this, my interpretation, RAW, is that there is no interaction. Darkvision allows you to treat Darkness "As if it were" Dim Light, and Eagle Aspect allows you to negate the perception penalties in dim light. The thing is, "seeing as though it's dim light" is not the same thing as "seeing in dim light", and by the strict interpretation of the written rules, so long as that space is covered in darkness, you wouldn't gain the Eagle Aspect benefit. Eagle Aspect isn't qualified as saying "lightly obscured" or "light effectively equivalent to dim light", either of which would definitely allow this interaction RAW.

So RAW, an Eagle Aspect Barbarian with Darkvision would still have disadvantage on Perception checks in total Darkness.

As DM, I'd allow Eagle Sight to confer its benefits up to the Darkvision Range in Total Darkness

This slightly deviates from my RAW interpretation, but I feel like this is a reasonable interaction between these abilities, and I don't think this is overpowered for a character who otherwise has two features that boost perception/vision ability.

So in my games, an Aspect of the Eagle Barbarian, with a Half-Orc's Darkvision, would not suffer disadvantage on Perception checks within 60 feet in Darkness.

  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose I've elaborated on that section a bit. \$\endgroup\$ – Xirema May 30 '18 at 17:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ much better! :) \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose May 30 '18 at 17:50

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