I am in doubt about what happens when two area effects that influence a place's light interact with one another.

Celestial Brilliance (Book of Exalted Deeds, p. 94) is a 4th-level spell and reads, in part:

Celestial brilliance brought into an area of magical darkness (or vice versa) is temporarily negated, so that the otherwise prevailing light conditions exist in the overlapping areas of effect.

Celestial brilliance counters or dispels any darkness spell of equal or lower level, such as deeper darkness.

Does this mean that if I cast Deeper Darkness as a 3rd-level spell within Celestial Brilliance's area, then both neutralize?

What I do not understand is if it is a matter of spell level or timing (i.e. which spell is cast first).

Also, is there any difference - other than the damage - between the light produced by Celestial Brilliance and Daylight? The first one says "light brighter than bright sunlight"; the other one says "light as bright as full daylight". Does this difference in phrasing imply anything?

  • \$\begingroup\$ You may want to revise the question (ahem) in light of what counters or dispels means being covered by answers to this question. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Apr 25 '20 at 4:42

I think I understand your confusion, since that text is quite oddly phrased. However, the key text here is that

Celestial brilliance counters or dispels any darkness spell of equal or lower level, such as deeper darkness.

If Deeper Darkness is cast as a 4th level or lower spell it is countered by Celestial Brilliance, removing the darkness.

However, that top portion of the spell says that Celestial Brilliance is temporarily negated to reveal the otherwise prevailing light conditions. How I interpret this is that if the darkness spell encountering the Celestial Brilliance is unable to be countered, the aura of light from Celestial Brilliance disappears so the area looks like however it would normally look, absent Deeper Darkness or Celestial Brilliance. So if the area was in bright daylight it would be bright, and if it had been in darkness it would still be in darkness.

This means that Celestial Brilliance will always somewhat succeed in countering magical darkness, but in the case where the darkness spell is of a higher level than Celestial Brilliance (5th or higher in this example) the damaging effects of Celestial Brilliance are negated.

The alternative interpretation is that if Celestial Brilliance fails to dispel darkness, it itself is suppressed while within the darkness and ceases to function. The reason I believe that this interpretation is not particularly likely is that the word choice of the spell seems to omit the details necessary to properly explain such an effect. Were the spell to be suppressed fully by a more powerful magical darkness effect I would expect it to say

Celestial Brilliance brought into a magical darkness spell of higher level than Celestial Brilliance is temporarily suppressed, negating all spell effects within that area. Outside of the magical darkness the spell effects continue as before.

Since it doesn't I choose to believe that the two effects negate each other allowing whatever prior conditions existed to display themselves.

As to whether the description of "light brighter than bright sunlight" and "light as bright as full daylight" make a difference, I think in most cases they would not be meaningfully different. However, in any contest, Celestial Brilliance would be brighter than Daylight, due to it being phrased as "brighter than bright sunlight", as compared to "as bright as full daylight" since sunlight and daylight can be understood to be synonyms for the same phenomenon.

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    \$\begingroup\$ What about a 3rd-level Deeper Darkness against Celestial Brilliance? Would they interact in the same way as you have described? \$\endgroup\$ – Verdict00 Apr 25 '20 at 6:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, they should interact the same way, since a 3rd level spell is less than or equal to the 4th level Celestial Brilliance. Though now that I look at the full spell description in the book itself, I think I may have misinterpreted it. Let me edit my response. \$\endgroup\$ – Nash Equilibrium Apr 25 '20 at 6:28

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