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So I'm a bit of a jerk when playing 5e. Last game, I was the warlock who cast darkness on the battlefield. I can see in the dark obviously, but no one else could. It did help us survive, but it dragged on the fight for a long, long time. In another game where I am GM, I know one of my players could pull off the same trick, and I hate when combat drags on.

So I'm looking for a way, as a GM, to speed up such a combat without nerfing or banning the darkness warlock trick. I want an answer about resolving the combat faster when the reason it is slow is the system itself (that no one can hit anything). I know how I could turn the situation into a parley or giving players an escape route—I'm not interested in that. I know I could change the battlefield by making stuff up to force the PCs out of their darkness, but I'm afraid this is going to strain their suspension of disbelief and I'd like to reward the players for using what can be a strong control spell.

For the sake of this question, answers can assume a few things:

  • The players are backed into a corner and blocked the entrance of whatever hole they are in with a darkness spell.

  • The end of the hole itself is not in the darkness.

  • The enemy is not interested in rushing in the darkness and surrounding the sphere of darkness so that the players can't run away.

  • I'm willing to bend the rules a lot, but assume that the game is played close to RAW in general, such that answers should not break much from the spirit of the rules.

  • The effect of blinded is run mostly as RAW. So for all players except the warlock:

    • All attacks in and out are done at disadvantage
    • Vision is blocked such that spells usually must be aimed at random unless something highlights an enemy.
    • Everyone is afraid to move out of the darkness

I think any experience for speeding up combat in different scenario could be acceptable as long as the bottleneck is something that is baked into the system. My problem is different from "My players are too slow" and closer to "My players can't hit anything because of the system and it makes the games boring for everyone".

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure where to put this in the question itself, but in order to address any "the warlock is harming his team, it's a player problem" answer. I'd say this : I think the darkness spell in some situation can be a good strategy. The ennemies in our cases were defined as being all bows and axes (orcs) and the disadvantage helped us more then it hurt them and probably saved our life... But it was boring at the table. \$\endgroup\$
    – 3C273
    Jun 28 '21 at 0:56
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RAW, Darkness should make the combat quicker

I think the problem is that you misunderstand how Unseen Attackers and Targets and Hide work.

Unseen Attackers and Targets

If you are unseen when you attack, you get advantage. If you can't see your target, you get disadvantage. These cancel out. So, for everyone but the warlock and anyone else who can see in darkness, the darkness makes no difference to attacks. For those that can see, it makes them more effective so the combat should be shorter.

As for spells, any spells that require seeing the target can't be used, but that is not most spells. Spellcasters can simply avoid those spells. Spells that use attack rolls will be at both advantage and disadvantage so their chance to hit is unchanged. Being unable to see does not affect saving throws.

You know where everybody is even if you can't see them

Unless they have taken the Hide action and have rolled a Dexterity (Stealth) check better than your passive Wisdom (Perception) check which is at -5 because you have disadvantage to ability checks that require sight. And they haven't "come out of hiding" - by attacking, for example.

See What advantages does hiding have?

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    \$\begingroup\$ In addition, those who can't see cannot make attacks of opportunity, further speeding the game up. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 28 '21 at 1:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60 Additionally, since Advantage and Disadvantage don't stack - and everyone (apart from the warlock) has both - they become irrelevant. The DM doesn't need to keep track of whether someone ought to have (dis)advantage or not, and the players have no reason to try and seek advantage or avoid disadvantage, both of which should speed up resolution too. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 28 '21 at 10:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ Interesting, I was sure I saw another another question thst concluded that fights in the dark were essentially just perma-disadvantage. I guess I!ll try to find it again. But this answer would answer it. \$\endgroup\$
    – 3C273
    Jun 28 '21 at 11:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ They shoiuld be perma-disadvantage, but that's not how the RAW is written. It's been called the fog cloud paradox -- a long-range bow shot is at disadvantage, but somehow becomes easier if you throw up a fog cloud so nobody can see anybody. The suggested fix is that you only get advantage on attacks against a target that can't see if you if you can see them, but that's back into perma-disadvantage. It's reasonable that a fight in the dark involves a lot of missing, so I get the issue here, but like... you kinda know what it's gonna do... \$\endgroup\$ Jun 28 '21 at 15:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ @3C273 I would think you're talking about rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/160600/… ? \$\endgroup\$ Jun 28 '21 at 17:57

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