Shadow of Moil is a 4th-level necromancy spell with the following description (XGtE, p. 164):

Flame-like shadows wreathe your body until the spell ends, causing you to become heavily obscured to others. The shadows turn dim light within 10 feet of you into darkness, and bright light in the same area to dim light.

Until the spell ends, you have resistance to radiant damage. In addition, whenever a creature within 10 feet of you hits you with an attack, the shadows lash out at that creature, dealing it 2d8 necrotic damage.

The core rules state about Truesight (PHB p. 185):

A creature with truesight can, out to a specific range, see in normal and magical darkness, see invisible creatures and objects, automatically detect visual illusions and succeed on saving throws against them, and perceive the original form of a shapechanger or a creature that is transformed by magic. Furthermore, the monster can see into the Ethereal Plane.

Would a character under the effect of Shadow of Moil still have advantage against a creature with Truesight? Essentially, are "flame-like shadows" darkness, if spells do exactly what they say they do?

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    – V2Blast
    Apr 10, 2020 at 5:31

2 Answers 2


Yes, Shadow of Moil heavily obscures against Truesight

Truesight can see through darkness and illusions, but in cannot see through magically conjured physical objects. A spell such as Fog Cloud, for instance, would be effective against a creature with Truesight, because the fog is conjured into physical existence rather than just cast as an illusion.

The question then is whether the "flame like shadows" are physical objects capable of obstructing line of sight, or whether they are an illusion or magical darkness.

I would argue that the "flame like shadows" are unlikely to be illusions because the spell does not specify them to be illusory. In addition, they are dissimilar from the effects illusion spells in that they are capable of dealing necrotic damage and most damage dealing illusions, with the exception of Illusory Dragon, deal psychic damage. The flame like shadows are not a form of darkness because they heavily obscure even against darkvision unlike the surrounding area of darkness that they create. This interpretation is supported by the fact that the "Flame-like shadows" are first described as heavily obscuring the user and then are described as decreasing the light levels around you. Whereas the spell Darkness specifies that darkvision does not help Shadow of Moil does not implying that darkvision helps against its darkness but not against the heavily obscured condition.

Since the shadows are neither illusion nor darkness, they are effective against Truesight.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to SE! Please keep in mind that quotes from Jeremy Crawford are no longer considered official rulings per twitter.com/jeremyecrawford/status/1105277917582389248?lang=en . \$\endgroup\$
    – aaron9eee
    Apr 10, 2020 at 9:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ Uuhhhh, what does whether or not it's an illusion matter? The Darkness spell is evocation. The spell specifies flame-like shadows, as in, the spell creates shadows, but the dance and waver in a manner similar to dancing flames. Last I checked, shadows were still areas of darkness. Furthermore, True Sight is NOT Darkvision, and saying that if it works against one it works against the other is fallacious. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 10, 2020 at 20:24

True Sight can see through the area of darkness normally.

True Sight states:

see in normal and magical darkness

And the spell Shadow of Moil states:

Flame-like shadows wreathe your body until the spell ends, causing you to become heavily obscured to others. The shadows turn dim light within 10 feet of you into darkness, and bright light in the same area to dim light.

Lets break it down to known facts:

  • True Sight allows you to see in darkness, whether mundane or magical, without penalty.
  • The spell is magical, and creates an area of darkness

Therefore, if you have True Sight, you can see a creature under the effects of Shadow of Moil with no penalty. The fact that the spell says "flame-like shadows" doesn't actually matter, since shadows are just specific type of darkness. The only thing that True Sight cares about is that the area is darkness, and that that area was created either naturally or magically.

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    \$\begingroup\$ About the last sentence: Truesight doesn't really even care if the area of darkness was created naturally or magically; it sees through darkness of any kind. This doesn't affect your conclusion, though. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mark Wells
    Apr 10, 2020 at 20:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MarkWells Oh, when I said "if that area was created naturally or magically" I meant as opposed to some (theoretical) other source that would be considered neither natural nor magical. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 10, 2020 at 20:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ Why are "shadows just a specific type of darkness"? This kind of D&D shadows have no counterpart in reality, so I don't think it is a given. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 11, 2020 at 16:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ Let us continue this discussion in chat. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 16, 2020 at 20:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ I read the 2nd sentence as a thematically-related, but distinct 2nd effect. The 1st effect is that you are heavily obscured, period. Per Sage Advice, this spell's magical darkness does not negate darkvision, so if effect 1 is not separate from effect 2, then you have a 4th-level spell that only hides you from creatures without darkvision! rpg.stackexchange.com/a/177751/52108 \$\endgroup\$ Feb 28, 2022 at 6:19

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