The last sentence of the Darkness spell has the following text:

If any of this spell’s area overlaps with an area of light created by a spell of 2nd level or lower, the spell that created the light is dispelled.

The Color Spray spell creates "flashing, colored light", and Flaming Sphere sheds bright and dim light.

Are both of these spells dispelled if they overlap with the Darkness spell?


3 Answers 3


Only spells that produce an "area of light" are dispelled by Darkness: Flaming Sphere is dispelled but not Color Spray

Jeremy Crawford says " I would allow the darkness spell to dispel any spell of 2nd level or lower that explicitly produces light."

This is DM guidance, not RAW, but let's break down the implication of this. There are four categories of 2nd level and under spell effects that mention light:

Spells that Describe an Area of Light

All of these spells mention an ongoing area of light produced by their effect. I believe there is a strong case to be made for darkness dispelling these spells. The text of the spell reads "If any of this spell's area overlaps with an area of light created by a spell of 2nd level or lower, the spell that created the light is dispelled". All of the above spells create "area of light". If we are to give any effect to this text, it must apply to these spells.

Spells with instantaneous effects that explicitly mention "light", but not an area of light

PHB page 203 states that instantaneous spells cannot be dispelled.

Spells with that explicitly mention "light" that vanishes quickly and is not in an area

The text of these spells include the word "light", but perhaps more for flavor than as an enforceable description of an effect. After all, we might expect all spells (or at least the ones that involve fire) to produce light - the mention of light here could be incidental. For example, Guiding Bolt reads "A flash of light streaks toward a creature of your choice within range."

We can't automatically exclude these spells as with Ray of Frost, because although the light effect reads as if it's instantaneous, the spell's duration is 1 round. But this duration is surely describing the lingering effect of the spells, not the light produced when the spell was first cast. I would rule that the duration of the light in Color Spray and Guiding Bolt is the same as in Ray of Frost, and therefor not subject to dispel.

Further, the darkness spell does not mention being able to dispel any spell that "creates light" - it specifically mentions spells that create an "area of light". These spells do not create an area of light.

Spells with lingering effects that explicitly mention "light", but not an area of light

In addition to the light produced in casting, guiding bolt leaves a dim light on a target for 1 round. Unlike Faerie Fire, this light has no area of effect. This is an edge case.

In favor of darkness dispelling: dispels this because (a) it's an ongoing light effect and (b) the light is mechanically pertinent to the spell's effect on the target, in that it provides advantage on the next attack "thanks to the mystical dim light glittering on the target until then."

Against darkness dispelling: although the light is a persistent effect, this spell does not create an "area of light" as described in the darkness spell.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Very nicely reasoned! \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 17:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is there a case to be made that spells whose primary effect is to produce fiery object (e.g. Flaming Sphere, Produce Flame) aren't directly producing light, and are therefore no more dispellable by Darkness than a mundane flame that produces light? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 17:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ @RyanThompson But those spells do directly produce light, no? It may not be primary, but what does primacy have to do with it? It's in the spell description that they produce an area of light. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 17:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PinkSweetener Ok, then you should at least clarify that only the ongoing effect is dispelled. The initial damage is not prevented. As for acid arrow, to me "shimmer" indicates how the arrow appears when lit by an outside light source, it doesn't imply the arrow itself produces light, whereas the description of Branding Smite pretty clearly says the initial hit does produce light. It's not about whether the description uses specific words, but rather what the description says. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 18:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ Another minor note: the fact that Color Spray involves light is not purely flavor; it has a mechanical implication: creatures that can't see (e.g. those inside the area of a Darkness spell) are unaffected by the spell. I do agree that the light effect is instantaneous rather than ongoing, though. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 21:17

The wording on Darkness reads:

If any of this spell's area overlaps with an area of light created by a spell of 2nd level or lower, the spell that created the light is dispelled

Therefore, if darkness overlaps with the light created by either of these spells, then it will dispel that spell. Do keep note of the wording of Darkness though, as it dispels any spell creating light in the area of darkness, this means that if a flaming sphere is 15 ft. away from the edge of the darkness spell, then it will be dispelled, as the light it creates is in a 20 ft. radius away from it.

This seems to be similar for Color Spray. As you mentioned, Color Spray creates

A dazzling array of flashing, colored light

This seems to imply that as long as darkness overlaps the 15 ft. cone that Color Spray creates, it should dispel Color Spray, and therefore end the blinded condition early if Darkness is cast after Color Spray, or prevent it from occurring if darkness is cast before Color Spray, however this is up to the DM's discretion, as it is not really clear what RAW rules here.

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    \$\begingroup\$ To fully answer the question, you should include color spray as well. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Apr 29, 2019 at 20:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ Jeremy Crawford seems to agree: sageadvice.eu/2014/11/04/no-light-in-the-darkness and twitter.com/jeremyecrawford/status/949114071571341314. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nick Brown
    Commented Apr 29, 2019 at 20:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ I agree with NautArch. This is a good answer so far, but Color Spray is a harder example to answer than Flaming Sphere, since Color Spray is described as creating light, but it's debatable whether what it creates is "an area of light". \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 29, 2019 at 20:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NickBrown good clarification that Darkness dispels spells that "explicitly" create light. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 29, 2019 at 23:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Smart_TJ Darkness dispels spells with an "area of light". Flaming Sphere creates an area of light. Color Spray does not. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 21:54

Yes; all of the following can be dispelled by the Darkness spell

To add on to Smart_TJ's answer, here is a list of every 2nd-level or lower spell that explicitly mentions creating light (per Jeremy Crawford's tweet, provided by Nick Brown in a comment) in the PHB:

It would seem all of these spells can be dispelled if cast in the vicinity of a Darkness spell.

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    \$\begingroup\$ What does it mean for e.g. Ray of Frost to be dispelled, given that the duration is instantaneous? What about Guiding Bolt, which has a duration of 1 round but deals its damage on the initial hit? Is the initial damage prevented, or only the lingering glow? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 1:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's worth noting that Jeremy Crawford's tweet you referenced states "I would allow the darkness spell to dispel any spell of 2nd level or lower that explicitly produces light." This indicates what he would do as a DM, not necessarily how the rule is intended to be interpreted by everyone. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 1:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Gandalfmeansme, hopefully no one interprets it like this, dispelling a Flaming Sphere 15 feet away is the stupidest thing I heard in 5e. \$\endgroup\$
    – András
    Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 9:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ Ray of Frost can't be dispelled, it is instantaneous. Though if you are including Ray of Frost you'd also have to include Fireball likely which specifies that it is a bright streak. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 14:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ How are you equating an area of light, as in "as in sheds light in a X' radius", with something that doesn't actually create an area of light? \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 16:23

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