The cleric in my party makes frequent use of the spell Celestial Brilliance (from Book of Exalted Deeds) and I've been doing some research on the web. Most people I've seen in other forums tend to think it's overpowered/broken. I tend to agree, but there have been various solutions suggested. Some suggested making the duration rounds/level or minutes/level instead of days/level as it is now and halving the range (60' bright light and damage to evil/120' dim light changes to 30/60). Others have suggested making it a fixed point in space (i.e. can't take it with you) and halving the range.

Short of a targeted dispel, I'm having a hard time as a DM figuring out effective and/or creative counters to it. I don't think it would be nearly as much trouble as it is except that the adventure is heavy on evil outsiders (who take double damage from it).

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    \$\begingroup\$ What specific problems are you having with this spell? You listed a bunch of possible solutions, but I'd rather know the problems you find with it. \$\endgroup\$ – Pat Ludwig Oct 7 '10 at 18:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's been a very long time since I've read the BoED, but doesn't all material from that book impose ridiculous roleplaying restrictions on the character? Perhaps you should just enforce the required behavior and not allow the cleric any morale gray areas. I know that roleplaying requirements are never a good way to mechanically balance anything, but it's at least a starting point to make sure the spell/feat/item/whatever isn't used arbitrarily. \$\endgroup\$ – user660 Oct 7 '10 at 19:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Pat Ludwig: My biggest problem with the spell in general is that any planned combat involving evil outsiders requires that I bump up their power. When the bad guy is taking 2d6 damage per round for just being with 60' for a spell cast three days ago, that seems a bit off balance to me. \$\endgroup\$ – BBlake Oct 9 '10 at 17:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Baelnorn: I haven't studied the whole book myself, just the spell. Maybe I'll need to go take a closer look just to see if there's some hook there I can throw at him. \$\endgroup\$ – BBlake Oct 9 '10 at 18:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for all the ideas. I've gotten some really creative means of countering it. I just didn't want something so standard and boring as making a dispel check. Check SevenSidedDie's answer, both for the rockin out idea + the other comments. I won't say what solution I've come up with on the off chance the player reads this site. :) \$\endgroup\$ – BBlake Oct 9 '10 at 18:11

I'm sure there will be good answers for how to houserule this spell and bring it under control, so I'm going to go on an extreme tangent and suggest something else entirely:

The cleric clearly wants to be a rockin', evil-burninating machine. Awesome! Roll with that. Bring out more, nastier evil outsiders and help make that cleric player feel awesome. As the DM, sometimes countering the spell's effectiveness is going to be what delivers the most fun. Sometimes throwing hapless demons at that Celestial Brilliance just to watch them burn like moths in a candle is going to be most fun.

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    \$\begingroup\$ While "let your players be awesome" is useful advice that's often forgotten by DMs, it isn't necessarily useful in this instance. If one player in a party is dramatically more powerful than the rest, or ALL major encounters are trivialized, that's still something that needs addressing... Particularly given D&D3.5 as a system. \$\endgroup\$ – AceCalhoon Oct 7 '10 at 19:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AceCalhoon: And if it gets voted down, that's fine! I wanted to give an out-of-box answer that still addresses the situation in the question, knowing that others would bring up better counters than I could. As for power, if the DM is ramping up the power of enemies to deal with one PC, then those enemies should be gunning for that PC disproportionately too. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 7 '10 at 20:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's kinda how I've been rolling with it so far. I'm doing things like adding and extra foe in the combat, or bumping up the outsider's CR by adding some extra levels of this or that or abilities. \$\endgroup\$ – BBlake Oct 9 '10 at 18:08

The spell as written is temporarily negated by magical darkness where the areas of effect overlap. Just have some creatures with darkness spells.

According to the Book of Exalted Deeds:

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.

I interpret that as saying

  1. Magical darkness of any level temporarily negates celestial brilliance where the areas overlap.

  2. Celestial brilliance can counter or dispel any darkness spell of equal or lower level, but this is not an automatic effect where the areas overlap. You have to use it as as counterspell or dispel effect, when the darkness is cast.

So my interpretation should hold true: just use magical darkness and the celestial brilliance is temporarily negated.

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    \$\begingroup\$ An evil outsider that carries an aura of shadows around with it where-ever it goes would be nicely ominous, and wouldn't have to be too powerful otherwise to put the fear into a light-wielding party. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 7 '10 at 18:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie: That's an idea I hadn't thought of. I'll have to look at that. \$\endgroup\$ – BBlake Oct 9 '10 at 18:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think, if I understand the spell correctly, a normal darkness spell would not offset it. It has to be a darkness effect of equal or higher level (might just be of higher level, I don't have the book handy at the moment). \$\endgroup\$ – BBlake Oct 9 '10 at 18:04

Environment effects. These are more prominent in D&D4, but they should work fine in 3.5

For example, your undead just happen to be in an ancient evil tomb. (Sounds reasonable). But as a consequence the whole tomb: (pick one, unless you want to be extra mean)

  • halves all light sources (and their effects)
  • heals all undead (or regens them)
  • any undead that is killed rises next turn (very evil)
  • any undead that is killed rises next turn as a lesser undead)
  • any non-evil creature must make a check of some sort periodically or lose any persistent magical effect

If the whole tomb sounds too overwhelming to use a particular effect, just restrict it to certain areas.

Now you can't do this for every encounter/dungeon, but use it often enough that the character won't be able to rely upon it. As @SevenDidedDie notes, you need to let the character feel awesome from time to time!

  • \$\begingroup\$ Sounds like something that was Unhallowed. Perfectly reasonable. \$\endgroup\$ – C. Ross Oct 7 '10 at 18:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Speak not the foul, accursed name of D&D4!! jk :) Heh, maybe I'll crack those open. I bought the 4e starter set, opened it once, and that's it. Our group is going the Pathfinder route instead. But I suppose the books might have an idea or two.... :) \$\endgroup\$ – BBlake Oct 9 '10 at 18:08

Talk about making your party a target. Thats a bright spell. Setup some situations where darkness/stealth is required once and a while. Also if there are stealthy characters in that area of effect they are lit up and should have negatives put in place. And you can always make a monster version of this spell if there isnt in the BoVD already.


I'm not aware of the munchkin level of your players but in my party a (free) 2d6 damage per round won't be decisive in any battle. It usually ends in one round with some factotum dealing insane amounts of damage by charging in cave troll form thrice a round.

The easy way to offset this is to choose monsters with a resistance to magic or regeneration, if they also happen to be evil outsiders.

In all other occurrences, let your player choices shine! You're not there to make them lose. I know monsters will look stupid at one point or another but get away with it, it's D&D.


Considering the target of the spell has to be an object... Obscuring Mist? Solid Fog? I would argue, since you can't see through such fog, it prevents light from passing through it as well. Just a thought.


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