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The 5E DMG mentions only that the plane has a hatred of light and lacks color, mentions the Domains of Dread, and then gives an optional rule for despair. Does the Plane of Shadow cause radiant damage or light spells to be less potent? Could it?

I know I certainly can run it that way, I just wanted to see if there was anything official that I may have missed in previous editions or other sources.

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2 Answers 2

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There are limited 5e rules for the Shadowfell.

The DMG only includes the optional "Shadowfell Despair" rule where, typically up to once per day, characters may need to make a wisdom saving throw to avoid suffering apathy, dread, or madness. The DMG includes some additional flavor for the Shadowfell but I'm not aware of any further 5e-specific rules.

In previous editions it impeded magic.

Impact on magic

Shadowfell specifically originated in 4e and wasn't strictly 1:1 with the 3.5e Plane of Shadow. It's kind of a combination of the Plane of Shadow and the Negative Energy Plane, but I believe it's mostly referenced in 4e material. In 3.5e, the Plane of Shadow had explicit rules that can be found here that, among other things, impeded fire- or light-based magic:

Impeded magic. Spells that use or generate light or fire may fizzle when cast on the Plane of Shadow. A spellcaster attempting a spell with the light or fire descriptor must succeed on a Spellcraft check (DC 20 + the level of the spell). Spells that produce light are less effective in general, because all light sources have their ranges halved on the Plane of Shadow.

The Negative Energy Plane also impedes magic, but for positive energy and cure spells rather than light and fire spells.

Damage/energy types

Note that 3.5e doesn't have radiant (or necrotic) damage and 5e doesn't have positive (or negative or divine) damage/energy. Spells that deal radiant damage in 5e typically dealt divine damage, like Flame Strike, or dealt untyped damage, like Sunbeam. Spells that used positive energy in 3.5e, such as Cure Light Wounds, don't mention an energy type in their 5e counterparts.

5e also lacks "descriptors," which were like tags on spells. Daylight, for instance, is "Evocation [Light]," so it would be impacted due to having the light descriptor. Fireball naturally has the fire descriptor, and so on. Although there might be some exceptions, it's generally fairly clear if a spell counts as fire or light in 5e.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The first line of the DMG entry pertaining to the Shadowfell specifically says, "The Shadowfell, also called the Plane of Shadow..." and there is no other entry for a separate Plane of Shadow in 5E. Considering that fact, I may adapt the 3.5 edition impeded magic rules that you've shared to 5E to make Shadowfell even more gloomy and dangerous. \$\endgroup\$
    – Wolfpack75
    Oct 10, 2023 at 0:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, the Shadowfell largely replaced the Plane of Shadow — there were quite a few changes to the cosmology between 3.5e/4e/5e. It definitely has more in common with the Plane of Shadow than the Negative Energy Plane, but it's not an exact 1:1 with how the plane was in earlier editions. \$\endgroup\$
    – Shivers
    Oct 10, 2023 at 0:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ The negative energy plane in 5e is decided deadly, so much better pulling plane of shadow rules and leaning in that direction. \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Oct 10, 2023 at 6:06
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The DMG does not present any particular rules for casting spells in the Shadowfell.

The description of the Shadowfell in the DMG does not present any modification for casting spells in this plane, nor the optional rules provide some possible options that the DM may adopt.

If casting spells or a particular type of spells behaves differently from the Material Plane casting, the (optional) rules explicitly state it.

Other planes have indeed some optional rules that modify the effects of spell cast there. A couple of examples are lsisted below.

  • Carceri:

Magical efforts to leave thee plane by any spell other than a wish simply fail.Portals and gates that open onto the plane become one-way only.

  • Gehenna

Whenever a visitor casts a spell with a beneficial effect, including a spell that restores hit points or removes a condition, the caster must first make a DC 10 Charisma saving throw. On a failed save, the spell fails , the spell slot is expended, and the action is wasted.


As noted in this answer, previous editions included particular rules for spell casting in planes different from the Prime Material.

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