My friends and I are trying to come up with ways to get around the drow's sunlight limitations. We thought of using spells, but Darkness makes it impossible to see, which would defeat the purpose.

The best I've been able to come up with is lashing a large patio umbrella to a mule and making it follow the drow everywhere. Would this work, at least for a low level melee character?

What other options does our drow have?

This question is about what I can do as a player to take advantage of RAW; the players in my group don't mind being munchkin-y. Telling the GM to make the campaign take place at night isn't an option.


12 Answers 12


There is no disadvantage on spells that require saves, only on attack rolls.

Since drow racial abilities synergize well with being a Charisma-based caster, Sunlight Sensitivity is not such a harsh penalty as it might seem initially.

You can get around the penalty by playing a caster with cantrips and spells that do not require an attack roll, but use a saving throw instead, and use those when under the penalty of sunlight.

As an example, a bard could use Vicious Mockery, a sorcerer Acid Splash or Poison Spray and a cleric Sacred Flame. Here is a list of spells with saving throws.

The Darkness spell (and 5th-level drow ability) mentioned in other answers might help too; but, is generally too harmful to your own party to be of frequent use, even as a warlock with Devil's Sight.

Anything that grants advantage negates the disadvantage of Sunlight Sensitivity. "In such a situation, you have neither advantage nor disadvantage." (PHB, p. 173)

For example, as mentioned in a comment by @sadaqah, drow get Faerie Fire as a racial spell once per day at 3rd level and can use it to (potentially) negate the sunlight disadvantage.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The question mentioned a low lvl melee character and they usually lack charisma attacks \$\endgroup\$
    – Tijnkwan
    Commented Jan 17, 2015 at 14:39
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Not necessarily. Blade pact warlocks can be great melee attackers from L1... \$\endgroup\$
    – Mala
    Commented Jan 17, 2015 at 18:40
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @Mala Until they choose a pact at level 3, they are just warlocks :) \$\endgroup\$
    – sadaqah
    Commented Jan 18, 2015 at 16:54

Build a Drow Shadow Monk/Warlock who literally carries around a cloud of darkness with him.

This excellent answer to my own question Is there any way to see through Darkness without removing it? was about letting me create a Batman style character 5e that let me utilize the Shadow monk's many darkness related abilities at will by dipping into Warlock so he could always see through the dark but also create a source of darkness that racial vision features could not pierce. A Drow player could very easily make use of this build and their racial stats and other features would synergize well with it.


I think the correct answer is that you do NOT 'get around' the drow's light sensitivity per se. If you find some way to negate the downsides of playing a drow, you lose a lot of the flavor of the character's race. keep in mind that there are racial advantages as well, which may offset the penalties if the story frequently takes the party into caves or other sunlight-less scenarios. If your story is going to take place mainly outdoors in the sunshine, your drow character will need to adapt his combat approach to compensate for the penalties.

That said, if you really want to allow drows in your group to get along without having to deal with this at all, you could engineer the campaign around some regional or world event: "A mysterious dark pall covers the land, blocking direct sunlight. The gray, shadowy days give way to nights of inpenetrable blackness, rendering the land easily inhabitable by all creatures of the darkness, including drow. A party of adventurers seeks to investigate the source of this land-killing curse..."

I'm not sure it is truly possible/advisable for a drow character to be able to get along without limitations in a 'normal world' though.

ETA: I see that I misunderstood the drift of the question. Luckily, others provided some ways to cope with the penalties as a player.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ I think by "get around" he was asking for "methods of dealing with the penalty." I don't think he was looking to completely powergame and negate it per se, rather ways of sustaining the penalty and still being effective in combat during the daytime. Also, on a completely unrelated note, your dark pall sounds an awful lot like Ravenloft, heh. Edit: Nevermind, scratch the first part... just read OP's edit. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 16, 2015 at 21:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ravenloft comes out in March, seems a perfect fit for this problem. Drow versus vampire ... is that the new pirate versus ninja archetype? This answer upvoted due to its anti munchkin take in paragraph 1. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 26, 2016 at 13:54

There is a solution far simpler than those suggested thus far. It is: Don't fight in sunlight.

In the two published adventures I own, LMoP and PotA, roughly 90% of all combat encounters happen indoors or underground. A majority of the outdoor encounters either happen at night or happen at the time of the party's choosing. This means that this racial handicap affects 1-4% of combat encounters. Through social interaction, sneaking, and retreating to shady areas, this could be reduced to 0.

Now, this is obviously campaign specific. Ask your DM if the campaign is going to involve large amounts of travel through deserts or seas. Just about any other terrain type should give you enough shade to work with if you're careful. Remember that even on a bright, sunny day, if you and your target are both in the shade of a large tree, your handicap goes away.

Control when and where you fight, like a drow would.


Wear a knave's eye patch.

There is a rare magic item in Waterdeep: Dragon Heist that mitigates light sensitivity called the knave's eye patch. Its second benefit states:

  • If you have the Sunlight Sensitivity trait, you are unaffected by the trait.

I am often a fan of a gritty campaign that offers deep personal challenges to the players. For example, my Druids really struggled with the unliving gray stone of our urban campaign. We made the most of the role play and enjoyed our weaknesses as much as our strengths.

In such a campaign, character weaknesses and flaws are to be embraced rather than avoided. They add depth. Struggling against the societal injustices that are inevitable when trying to live as a hated Drow in a city of sun dwellers can be intense and thrilling.

But what of lighter-hearted campaigns? What if you just want to be dark-skinned? Or what if you just want the abilities of a Drow without the societal baggage?

There's a few things you could consider.

You could choose the stats of another eleven race and just be black-skinned, in the same way that humans can be black-skinned.

You can craft a new racial subtype. The DMG gives guidelines for this. If your DM is comfortable with crafting a custom Drow, say, one that grew up on the surface, he may let you trade some benefits, such as dark vision, for eliminating the drawback of light sensitivity.

You can also discuss with your DM the idea of relaxing the rules modestly. "Direct sunlight," for example, might be house-ruled to exclude early morning and late evening sunlight, when the light is arguably less direct. He might also allow the partial shade afforded by trees and large buildings to shelter you. Only consider this option if your campaign is generally lighthearted and your DM is generous and open to customization.

I find the idea of a donkey with a parasol amusing. If your campaign is very comedic, stick with that, as it was your idea to begin with, and has endless potential for amusement. My mind is now drifting off to all the donkey jokes in Shrek.



Greyhawk had a human mage, (called Mage of the Valley or "The Black One") who had a female drow lieutenant and lover whom he gave a pair of glasssteal sunglasses which countered the drow disadvantages in sunlight.

This is way back in AD&D, but it does show a precedent for the effect you are looking for.


Drow Need Eye Protection

You need to protect your eyes, of course, to negate that sunlight sensitivity. Your DM will need to choose what to do, but there are plenty of things that most DMs will allow:

  • Wrap thin cloth around your character's head, reducing the incoming light.
  • Find the equivalent of sunglasses, or wear armor with a visor. They essentially function like these sunglasses, which you don't actually need magic to use or to make. While the rules don't explicitly say if a set of armor has a visor or not, but it's common in actual pieces of armor, and it shouldn't be much of a stretch to allow this.
  • Wear a mask which have the properties mentioned in the last bullet point
  • Devise a dust-bomb, which helps to block the light.
  • Stick to shadows. Then you're not actually in the bright light, but this smacks of rules-lawyering, which some people dislike.
  • Do something to give you advantage, which negates this particular source of disadvantage

DnD 5e allows for things like this, so take advantage of them.

Also, there are options for the magic drow, but that has already been outlined. Some of which are:

  • Gain Devil's Sight and use darkness spells.
  • Gain True Strike, and use that advantage to negate your disadvantage
  • Don't use spells or weapons which rely on attack rolls. You mentioned you're a melee character, though, so this may not be much of an option.
  • \$\begingroup\$ Just wondering aloud, would sunglasses with actual lenses work according to RAW since "the target of your attack, or whatever you are trying to perceive is in direct sunlight"? It seems like anything with holes, including a visor, still leaves the target in direct sunlight and therefore disadvantage remains. \$\endgroup\$
    – sadaqah
    Commented Jan 16, 2015 at 22:02
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @sadaqah The sunglasses is more of a sensical thing applied to D&D, which depends on DM approval, which is stated in the answer itself. You can argue that this doesn't work, per a strict interpretation of the rules, but this isn't much of a stretch and makes Drow playable. \$\endgroup\$
    – PipperChip
    Commented Jan 16, 2015 at 23:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would say sunlight sensitivity is based on the line of sight, so if the sunglasses are in between what you are looking at and your eyes it should work. It technically doesn't matter if the drow is in sunlight, only if the sunlight can get into his eyes. \$\endgroup\$
    – JediD
    Commented Jun 16, 2021 at 11:52

With most players and GM's that play 5th edition have all ready play other editions and don't mind converting some things as "home brews" from the previous editions.

Back in the day when I was playing pathfinder and 3.5, I had a "Elf" character (Half elf, who's mother was a High Elf and farther was a Drow [half elf with Drow blood])

The way my character got round the sun light sensitivity was wearing Smoke-Glass Googles built into a mask.

Normally they give you a negative to sight, skills, spells, etc. but negate the effects of blinding attacks.

My GM allowed this, stating that creatures with dark vision would not get any of the effects of the googles, but gave them "normal" vision, needless to say you had to take them off in dark places to see.

All tho this got round the problem with sunlight sensitivity in a lot of encounters, I had negatives to diplomatic rolls since my character was all ways wearing a mask to hide her face so she did not looked very trust worthy.


You mentioned building a Drow Monk.

How about an Astral Self Drow Monk. You could use the level 6 Astral Sight ability in combination with the Darkness spell. I was considering doing that myself using the Shadow Touched Feat. Then you can still multiclass if you want.


I think the most reasonable, and logical way around Dark Elf (Drow) Sunlight Sensitivity would be through the use of a FEAT. FEAT's are very powerful in 5e, and to have to use one just to be able to do what everybody else can already do is already a big disadvantage not to mention a possible loss to an ability score gain. Here's how I believe it could work:

Surface Dweller Prerequisite: Dark Elf (Drow) Unlike most of your kind you have lived above ground for the majority of your life. Your time exposed to the Sun has allowed you to adapt to surface life, and are no longer affected adversely on a shiny day. While exposed to sunlight you do not suffer from disadvantage on attack rolls, and on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight when you, the target of your attack, or whatever you are trying to perceive is in direct sunlight.

Drizzt eventually got use to the sunlight. Maybe not perfectly, but enough to where it didn't bother him anymore; so I believe a Feat like this should exist for other Drow who wish to emulate him.

  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the site! Please take the tour when you get a chance, as it's a useful introduction. Have you had personal experience with this method, I.E used it yourself or seen someone use it? Can you add some details regarding what worked well, what didn't, why someone should use this approach over something else? Homebrew answers should be backed up by experience. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 2:02

Editting Again to hopefully make my answer more clear.

You know how you can cast a light spell inside a scroll tube to make a flashlight? Could you use the same mechanic to cast a darkness spell into a scroll tube to shine the darkness upward to create the shade your character so dearly needs?

My reasoning for this is that no light can penetrate the darkness of a darkness spell, therefore the darkness shone above would cast a shadow like an umbrella.

I am honestly trying to present an in-game mechanic that could work.

EDIT: I read up some more about Drow as a PC. The light sensativity mechanic applies disadvantage to checks that involve sight, including attack.

You have disadvantage on attack rolls and on Widsom(Perception) check that rely on sight when you, the target of your attach or whatever you are trying to perceive is in direct sunlight.

I think that mean there really is no effective way to counter this, because although you could somewhat reliably shade yourself in one of many ways, your target is not likely to be similarly shaded and therefore you would remain subject to disadvantage.

It doesn't mean you can't play a drow on the surface, just means you will be at a near constant disadvantage in combat and perception checks.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ He did not live there because of the light. When he came to the surface, he lived for a few years in between Sundabar and another city and then in Montolio's grove. He settled in Icewind because a bounty hunter chased him there and it was a place where a drow could be tentatively accepted. And you have obviously also never been snowblind. \$\endgroup\$
    – JohnP
    Commented Jan 16, 2015 at 18:33
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ @Escoce I DV'd because you werent really answering his question in any way, he's asking for mechanical options within the rules. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 16, 2015 at 19:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't understand this answer. How you can shine an absence of light (darkness) onto something? At least your original answer made sense, even if it didn't answer the question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ellesedil
    Commented Jan 21, 2015 at 21:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ Light cannot penetrate darkness from the darkness spell, it would therefore cast a shadow. \$\endgroup\$
    – Escoce
    Commented Jan 22, 2015 at 16:44
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Note that the spell doesn't say that light cannot penetrate it, just that light cannot illuminate the area of effect. On a literal reading, that means it does not change the lighting of areas outside the spell's effect area, regardless of direction of the light source (i.e., a darkness spell doesn't cast a shadow). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 22, 2015 at 19:14

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .