(I found a similar question about seeing with magical light while invisible, but I have a question about mundane light, based on a scenario that came up in today's session.)

I'm a human (and so I don't have darkvision), in a deep dungeon (and so there's no light around), carrying a lantern. (I'm assuming the answer doesn't particularly change depending on the type of nonmagical light source, but if it matters let's call it a bullseye lantern.) I drink a potion of invisibility.

Since I'm carrying the lantern, it becomes invisible too. Can others still see the light emitted from it, though? More importantly, can I still see my surroundings based on this light, or do I become effectively blinded?


4 Answers 4


An invisible creature's light source still emits light

Most arguments against the light source still emitting light seem to argue based on the real world's understanding of electromagnetism.

D&D is neither the real world, nor a physics simulator. The rules only do what they say they do.

For all we know, the worlds of D&D follow the emission theory of vision:

[Empedocles] believed that Aphrodite made the human eye out of the four elements and that she lit the fire in the eye which shone out from the eye, making sight possible. If this were true, then one could see during the night just as well as during the day, so Empedocles postulated an interaction between rays from the eyes and rays from a source such as the sun.

Using this theory, it could be argued that it is perfectly reasonable for the creature (and light source) to be unseeable.

Example argument: The invisibility effect prevents "eye" rays from hitting the invisible target (and instead passes through them), but the "source" rays from the light source would not be affected, and so would still shine normally on the surroundings.

However, D&D is not a physics engine for discarded theories either.

As such, we only have the "rules only do what they say they do" to determine what happens.

What the rules say

A bullseye lantern description states:

A bullseye lantern casts bright light in a 60-foot cone and dim light for an additional 60 feet. Once lit, it burns for 6 hours on a flask (1 pint) of oil.

If a creature is invisible, there is a description in the conditions for what that means.

However, we are looking at an object being carried being invisible (as the rules for a creature were unenlightening -- no pun intended). I couldn't find any specific rules on what an object being invisible meant so we'll fallback to the English definition of invisible:

incapable by nature of being seen : not perceptible by vision

The lantern is incapable of being seen. Baring any other rules that I've overlooked being relevant, that's all being invisible does for an object. It does NOT prevent light being cast around the object.

Jeremy Crawford's tweet

From this, we reach the same conclusion that Jeremy Crawford provided.

The invisibility spell doesn't prevent you or your gear from emitting light, yet that light makes you no less invisible. The light appears to be coming from the air. Spooky! #DnD

The invisible creature can see with its own light source

You also asked:

More importantly, can I still see my surroundings based on this light, or do I become effectively blinded?

So, we know that light is cast, can you as an invisible creature see it?

According to the rules for Vision and Light:

The presence or absence of light in an environment creates three categories of illumination: bright light, dim light, and darkness.

Bright light lets most creatures see normally.

Again, given a lack of any other rules to contradict this, yes, the invisible creature can see the light cast by a light source they are carrying. (Similar rules for the dim light cast, but this is far enough down the rabbit hole of rules.)

Additional effects are defined by the DM

Rules only do what they say they do, but the DM is free to add any additional effects they desire.

Personally, I find the description that Jeremy Crawford used to be quite amusing, and believe my players would as well my players did as well.

(A year an a half after writing this answer, this actually came up in one of my games, and my players used minor illusion to make "ghost sounds" and enhance the "spooky" nature of the light being held by an invisible character.)

However, each DM can rule as they see fit, but they should be consistent from one instance to the next, so the players can plan and play their characters in a consistent world.

  • \$\begingroup\$ You get into a lot of trouble insisting real physics apply to invisibility, like if all light photons pass through the invisible person then how could that invisible person see anything as no photons hit their retina? So they'd be either blind or the invisibility would have to only affect certain wavelengths (visible light) and you could see in infra red and be seen in the infra red spectrum. \$\endgroup\$
    – TREB
    Commented Mar 29, 2021 at 7:25

As per Joshjurg's answer to your question, there is an 'unofficial statement' tweeted by Jeremy Crawford that the light remains visible even if the source is invisible, which still leaves the subject open to interpretation.

If you need to go deeper into the subject when players argue about the logic of it

The RAW state that every object on your person turn invisible along with you when you turn invisible, at least for the invisibility spell and magical effects that emulate it.

Some would argue this nullifies the light that it emits just as a blanket would, without the downsides of putting a blanket over a torch (aka fire).

But since this is a magical realm, it could also be argued that a source of light is an object whereas the light it emits is not an object (this is a matter better tackled by Physicists, TBH.). This seems to be the ruling Jeremy Crawford is going with, personally.

I'll end my answer by saying there's no "better ruling". No matter what a group choses to do, the most important thing is to play it the same way every time and actually remember the ruling.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I also rule that you can only make the source of light invisible... the actual light is not... however that means that you can't stealth if you are invisible and carrying an unhooded/unshuttered lightsource in my games. \$\endgroup\$
    – Slagmoth
    Commented Jul 29, 2019 at 2:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ There are items and ways to deal with that in game. Namely, hooded lanterns, cloaks to obfuscate a magical light source, etc. \$\endgroup\$
    – Catar4
    Commented Jul 29, 2019 at 2:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ Physics isn’t going to help you. Anything that emits or reflects EM radiation (including light) is visible to EM detection. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dale M
    Commented Jul 29, 2019 at 3:06
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ But yes, thats when we realize that electro-magnetic radiation never has been and never will be mentionned in D&D rules. At least not for another 500 years, jokingly ;) I mentionned physics more as a joke, since the goal of D&D never has been to be scientifically accurate. \$\endgroup\$
    – Catar4
    Commented Jul 29, 2019 at 4:33
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Catar4 But then the thing obfuscating the light is also invisible... meaning it doesn't block/reflect light... apparently my comment was not what I intended. \$\endgroup\$
    – Slagmoth
    Commented Jul 29, 2019 at 12:15

Light would continue to shine from the bullseye lantern like normal. The lantern would be rendered invisible as with anything else your carrying.

Being invisible doesn't make your gear transparent nor does it stop you from casting shadows.

Here's where its important to understand the spell description for invisibility:

A creature you touch becomes invisible until the spell ends. Anything the target is wearing or carrying is invisible as long as it is on the target’s person. The spell ends for a target that attacks or casts a spell.

Invisible just means that you are unable to be seen visually. "Unable to be seen" or imperceptible visually is not the same thing as transparent. This means that while looking at you I can't see you or the lantern. I see effectively a spooky candle flame hovering and perhaps some small bit of smoke. (You may not even see the flame if you DM considers that an object part of the lantern, but the point is the light will still be emitted). Because you and your gear are not transparent you could still close the lantern to turn it off.


I don't think the source of the light matters.

It seems like Jeremy Crawford's answer on Twitter encompasses all sources of light:

The invisibility spell doesn't prevent you or your gear from emitting light, yet that light makes you no less invisible. The light appears to be coming from the air. Spooky!

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Note that JC's tweets are no longer official rulings. They can still be used to support an answer, but should accompany citations of the rules. (which may include stating that the rules don't say something happens so it doesn't.) Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center or ask us here in the comments (use @ to ping someone) if you need more guidance. Good Luck and Happy Gaming! \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Commented Jul 28, 2019 at 23:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ Jeremy Crawford's answer about that is in line with the "Rulings vs Rules" intention with which the rules are written. AKA, it is for the GM to determine if a light source coming from no clear source is interpreted by those who witness it. I suggest you add that to your answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Catar4
    Commented Jul 28, 2019 at 23:31
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Crawford doesn't explain his reasoning at all, so why should we believe his answer is useful? \$\endgroup\$
    – Mark Wells
    Commented Jul 29, 2019 at 2:35

You must log in to answer this question.