I need to know EXACTLY how lighting affects combat, and if it does at all. It's listed in the DMG as just an explanation of an environmental thing, but how does it work specifically?

Does Dim Light or Darkness affect attack rolls and how? I've heard that Dim Light causes a -2 penalty, and Darkness inflicts a -5 penalty, on anyone with normal sight. WOTC refute this as incorrect.

How does Dim light or Darkness affect concealment? Do they add to the roll? Do they allow concealment to occur? Do they automatically grant concealment?

Two fighters and standing side by side taking swings at each other. One is standing in Bright Light, the other in Dim Light, or Bright Light/Darkness, or Dim Light/Darkness. Does one have an advantage over the other?

I need to know what exact mechanics occur in these circumstances, if any.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to rpg.se! Please take a look at the tour and the help; they're a useful introduction to the site. Could you let us know what game you're playing, please? It sounds like D&D, but what edition? And once you have 20+ rep, feel free to join the chat! \$\endgroup\$
    – BESW
    Oct 2, 2013 at 13:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ This might not tell you exactly how lighting affects combat, but it should still be useful. \$\endgroup\$
    – user9281
    Oct 3, 2013 at 4:08

1 Answer 1


There are three default lighting conditions in 4e. here's how they work

  • Bright light. Normal mechanics reign. lighting conditions do not factor in normal play.

  • Dim light. squares with dim light are considered "lightly obscured" and as such provide partial concealment, meaning a -2 penalty to melee and ranged attacks against them. This does not provide the opportunity to roll stealth to hide. Darkvision, tremorsense and low light vision can all negate the obscurity.

  • Darkness. These squares are considered "totally obscured" and provide total concealment against characters that cannot see you. Total obscurity provides a -5 penalty to ranged and melee attacks. This grants the opportunity to roll stealth to hide. characters with Darkvision or tremorsense can negate this penalty and can see characters trying to hide.

That's basically it. You can choose to have Dim light build on itself depending on the light sources, but that's environment dependent, and it seems by default most areas are supposed to have consistent lighting throughout.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks! That confirms pretty much what I thought, but what about light boundaries in combat? What happens when you're attacking from one light zone to the next? Say an attacker is standing in bright light and the defender is standaing in dim light or darkness, or vice versa? When does the penalty apply? \$\endgroup\$
    – NexoWadeth
    Oct 4, 2013 at 0:10
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The penalties would apply to anyone attacking INTO the darkness, regardless of where they stand (barring an attacker's special senses negating the penalty). \$\endgroup\$
    – Corion
    Oct 4, 2013 at 5:05

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