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Since Devil's Sight allows one to see through magical and nonmagical darkness, and Silent Image can create any visual phenomenon, can I create darkness as a visual phenomenon which Devil's Sight can then see through?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Just as a note, those related are not dupes. Identical answers do not mean identical questions. But having said that, is there something in those questions that doesn't answer yours? \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    May 28, 2019 at 17:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ The trivial answer to the question is "yes, because you know it's an illusion and you don't even need the invocation". But I believe you're asking whether someone other than the caster can see through this given Devil's Sight - is that correct? \$\endgroup\$
    – Vigil
    May 28, 2019 at 20:05

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Silent Image probably does not create the same effect as Darkness

Silent Image, a 1st-level spell says:

You create the image of an object, a creature, or some other visible phenomenon [...] The image appears at a spot within range and lasts for the duration. The image is purely visual; it isn't accompanied by sound, smell, or other sensory effects.

[...]

Physical interaction with the image reveals it to be an illusion, because things can pass through it. A creature that uses its action to examine the image can determine that it is an illusion with a successful Intelligence (Investigation) check against your spell save DC. If a creature discerns the illusion for what it is, the creature can see through the image.

The wording of Silent Image is a little vague because it allows the caster a lot of room for creative use but it is probably unbalancing to allow it to duplicate the effect of the higher level Darkness spell. The fact that a creature can investigate it to nullify the effect means that it is not as strong as the true Darkness spell and so there is room to argue both ways.

I think it's also worth pointing out that the Silent Image spell does not convey any sort of effect or benefit to the generated image ("It is purely visual"). If you create the image of lava, it does not deal fire damage to any creature that stands in it. (That would be what Phantasmal Force, another higher level spell, does.) So it shouldn't convey the benefits of Darkness spell by the same token.

Even if you did rule that Silent Image replicated Darkness, in actual use, it might not function as well. The rule for Silent Image contains the sentence "Physical interaction with the image reveals it to be an illusion, because things can pass through it."

This creates a conflict: A creature or object can move through both a true Darkness and an illusory version just as easily. But the fact that the Silent Image version specifically states that "physical interaction reveals it to be an illusion" means that there must be some difference between the two (whatever that is) which causes it to not function as a true Darkness.

In the cleanest presentation, a creature might be outside of the effect and look through it at another creature that is also outside the effect. But as soon as, say, a projectile traveled through it, that would arguably be physical interaction with the illusory darkness and therefore reveal it to be normal darkness.

In short, it's messier to give Silent Image the ability to replicate all aspects of the Darkness spell than it is to say that it can create an area of darkness that lacks the full benefit of Darkness and therefore it's probably a better to interpret the rules so that it does not.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ this is reasonable, but both Silent Image and Major Image mention being able to both create a visual phenomenon, and the spell descriptions both mention that they are images, it doesn't actually mention anything along the lines of "visual image" in the description for the Silent Image spell. \$\endgroup\$
    – guess
    May 28, 2019 at 18:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @guess I went ahead and removed that paragraph. I must have skimmed the first line of the spell too quickly. Thanks for pointing that out! \$\endgroup\$
    – Rykara
    May 28, 2019 at 18:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @guess A visible phenomenon, not visual. Darkness is not visible; it's the opposite of visible. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mark Wells
    May 29, 2019 at 0:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure illusory darkness could be physically interacted with. As a DM, I don't think I'd give the 'instant reveal of illusion' just for touching it, because they wouldn't be touching darkness anyway. \$\endgroup\$
    – Elliot
    May 29, 2019 at 7:32
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By the rules, we know that you can create an illusion of darkness, and I suppose even magical darkness. The rules are not entirely clear, but by logic there are only two possible ways a DM could rule on this:

Interpretation #1: Yes.

Since you copy magical darkness so perfectly, the Warlock's Devil's Sight would work, and they see through it. Even if they don't do a great job, it would still be darkness, and the Devil's Sight should work on it. It seems reasonable that any darkness effect would be covered by the term:

You can see normally in darkness, both magical and nonmagical, to a distance of 120 ft

Interpretation #2: No.

A weaker argument could be made that because the illusionist doesn't know about/can't copy the magical nature correctly just create "blackness" that isn't really magical darkness. Since it doesn't work like magical darkness, the Warlock not being able to see through it would have reason to believe something odd is going on and would have a reason to investigate to learn if it is an illusion.

Odd Edge Case

Note: there is (at least) one form of darkness that Crawford tweeted Devil's Sight is known not to work on, and that is the void created by hunger of Hadar. One small issue to that is that I don't think it made it into Sage Advice, and so despite being official ruling when it was made, it wouldn't be under the new Sage Advice header. Take all of that for what you will, but an illusion of the void, would be harder to rule.

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Here's my 2 cents:

"The image is purely visual; it isn't accompanied by sound, smell, or other sensory effects. - As a DM I'd consider "Blindess" a sensory effect.

It also says Physical interaction with the image reveals it to be an illusion, and that a creature that discerns the illusion for what is is is able to see through the image.

You could, with silent image, create a 15 foot cube of black colour, but anyone standing inside it is physically interacting with it, and would there for be able to see through it. Anyone attacking you inside it we can assume is also physically interacting with it, and can again see through it.

So using Silent Image to create darkness would be about as effective as using a flashlight with a coloured gel as a lightsaber.

Lastly, Devils sight - which says you can see normally in darkness, both magical and non magical - since you're not creating darkness, but rather an illusion of darkness, this isn't applicable either.

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In my opinion, the darkness is a visual phenomena, and thus could be used to replicate the effects of darkness, and devil sight could not see through it, because it is still not actual darkness, you are imprinting the image of darkness regardless of other magical effects. The thing that dispels illusions is disbelief in the illusion, physical interaction applies this because when you move through mist or solid objects, they do not react as they should. As such, I imagine in the case of darkness, the indicator would be how the light reacts to it. The darkness doesn't actually block light, so if you imagine a dome of darkness, a darkness spell would cast a shadow where it blocks surrounding light, while an illusion spell does not. The spell is meant to be open ended for creativity, the DM just needs to be creative in details that differentiate the illusion from the real thing.

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