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The bard in my group cast the light spell on an amulet he was wearing. Then after triggering a trap, he cast invisibility on himself.

What happens in this situation? The amulet is now invisible but does it stop emitting light because of this? Or is the amulet invisible but the light it emits still visible?

Has anyone got a decent ruling on what should happen in this situation?

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The light spell says:

Completely covering the object with something opaque blocks the light.

The amulet may not be visible, but it is not covered. Therefore, the light will still emit in a 20'radius around the amulet/bard.

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    \$\begingroup\$ People asking these questions are usually well aware they can make their own ruling, but want our help and guidance in case our expertise can shed light on what kind of ruling should be made. I've moved your "just rule it" response to the end as a footnote, to put the actual guidance they're probably seeking first as it's more important. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Feb 6 '15 at 3:22
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The Light Remains Visible

This has been answered by Jeremy Crawford, Lead rules designer of Dungeons & Dragons 5e in an unofficial ruling:

Hans Engavil: If someone has light cast on a portion of their clothing, and then they go invisible, would the light still be visible, potentially negating the disadvantage on attack rolls?

Jeremy Crawford: The invisibility spell doesn't prevent you or your gear from emitting light, yet that light makes you no less invisible. The light appears to be coming from the air. Spooky!

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    \$\begingroup\$ Note that Crawford's tweets are no longer official rulings; you may want to update your answer accordingly to address how/whether the tweet is supported by the rules. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Nov 29 '19 at 7:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ This makes perfect sense. Nothing in the invisibilty spell specifically prevents you from transmitting light nor does it prevent you from casting shadows. The only thing it really does is make you transparent. There is no specific rule override as such light does its thing. \$\endgroup\$ – Spoo Oct 26 '20 at 21:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ I am not sure I'd extend the logic (or quote) to imply that you do not cast a shadow. That would be an excellent and interesting second question. \$\endgroup\$ – Gandalfmeansme Oct 27 '20 at 3:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Spoo If "this makes perfect sense", what does the GM say to the player who says they attack where the air is giving off light, and who expects that to be more effective than attacking an invisible figure who is not emitting light? \$\endgroup\$ – Dronz Jun 4 at 15:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Dronz I’d probably point out that judging the exact center of a forty foot circle by eye is not as easy as it sounds. Or that characters typically know where an invisible creature is in combat unless it takes the Hide action, so knowing it’s approximate location from the light doesn’t change the mechanics of attacking it (it gives you information you already had). But as comments are not for extended discussion, it might be a good idea to ask that as a new question. \$\endgroup\$ – Gandalfmeansme Jun 4 at 23:30
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The light vanishes under invisibility.

Invisibility makes everything the subject is holding invisible. Invisible means you can't see it and can't tell it's there visually. Invisible things don't cause any visible effect - they don't block, reflect, or emit any light: you can see through them, they don't cast shadows, and don't shine light.

Someone commented asking for evidence. Invisibility spell description says, "Anything the target is wearing or carrying is invisible as long as it is on the target's person." Light spell description says the item "sheds bright light". The rest follows from definitions of the words invisible, what light is and how vision works. You'd hardly be invisible if we could see your shadow or light coming from you, whether it's reflected light or from some other source.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Arguments based on a real-world understanding of human vision don't really work well in the presence of magical invisibility spells, unless you are also going to rule that invisible characters are blind because their invisible eyeballs can't focus or intercept any light. \$\endgroup\$ – user21221 Feb 6 '15 at 12:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ If Light said "Magically causes an area around the target to be illuminated" it would be different. Or if the game described its own relevantly-different light physics system. \$\endgroup\$ – Dronz Feb 6 '15 at 21:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Sep 22 '20 at 5:17
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Light, however, never becomes invisible, although a source of light can become so (thus, the effect is that of a light with no visible source)

This is in the online description for 3.5e version of the spell. And I think this makes sense.

I thought it was worded along this description in the 5e PHB, but light is not mentioned there.

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Invisibility is in the eyes of the beholder (pun not intended).

If you look closely, the spell clearly says "Illusion". That means anything in regard to the person becoming invisible is affected by the spell and thus rendered invisible. That is, people looking may or may not believe the illusion, but anything carried by the person is affected by the spell and thus the light is also invisible.

So... the invisible person, what the person carries, and whatever it emits are all there, only people looking at it do not see it unless they can Detect Magic, have True Sight, or are immune to illusions (quite a few monsters are.)

To my point of view, this ruling makes it easier to deal with such a problem and that's how I've played for years without asking myself the question. However, what would be most unfortunate is if the bard was carrying the only light and now his friends are in the dark...

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    \$\begingroup\$ But they're not really in the dark, they just think they are? I can see issues with that. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Feb 6 '15 at 16:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie, I would say, it is a problem similar to whether a darkness ball casts a shadow or not. Yet, in this case the illusion affects the brain of the people looking, so the illusion can be perfect. \$\endgroup\$ – Alexis Wilke Feb 6 '15 at 20:53
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The spells for Invisibility and Light are right next to each in the PHB (254, 255) and they have nothing to say about each other :)

The only really useful line here comes from the Light spell:

Completely covering the object with something opaque blocks the light.

It's also useful to know that the Light spell does not appear to be much more powerful than a simple torch. It has the same range and any casting of Darkness (2nd level) will simply wipe it out.

What happens when I'm invisible and something I'm wearing has Light cast on it?

I don't think the answer is really specific to the Light spell. I mean, what if you have a glowing magic weapon or a you're holding a torch? These all seem like the same question.

As to what ultimately happens? That will likely be the DM's call.

If I were the DM, I would let the target of Invisibility pick one or the other at the time of casting assuming that they also "owned" the light source. Otherwise you have this weird hole where a PC can't become invisible because they are wearing armor that casts its own light.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah it was kind of important to the bards survival at the time so I ended up calling that if the source of light was not visible, neither was the light emitted. However when these things come up I like to do some research into if there is an actual rule, in case I've missed something. The answers here are ambiguous enough to satisfy me so thanks to all. \$\endgroup\$ – user21214 Feb 6 '15 at 7:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's part of perfect balance. If they aren't visible because of invisbility it essentially negates a key usefulness of casting light offensively against another target as sort of a touch version of faerie fire. While faerie fire specifically prevents hiding, and grants advantage. Light cast offensively at least lets you know where the target is should they go invisibile. Thus you can still move and cast to counteract them even if you can't specifically target them. \$\endgroup\$ – Spoo Oct 26 '20 at 21:51
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This really is (or can be) a case where it is up to the GM to make a ruling, and then live with the consequences. Several different effects can be achieved by assuming different features of the invisibility effect.

For demonstration consider particular case: the bard carrying the light emitting item gets turned invisible; the "victim" is in the same room with them. There are no other sources of light in that room, so the room would be dark but for the invisible light source.

Light Remains Visible

I can see cases where it would be cool/sensible to say: the light remains visible, and thus there would be disembodied lights running around (I'm thinking of a setting where there are fairies or other fanciful magic). I also agree with Rouby that referring to earlier versions of the rules is a reasonable basis for making this call in 5e. In the test case, the victim would be able to easily locate the bard, even if he/she couldn't make out his body. The analogy I have in mind is being in a dark room with someone holding a flashlight -- you can see the light, even if you can't see that person's body.

Maybe there are light sources that would only provide a more general sense of where the bard is, but I can't think of anything that wouldn't allow the victim to precisely locate the bard. Combat bonuses would apply if an engagement occurred, but the bard wouldn't be able to just hide, unless he/she extinguished the light source.

Light Goes Away

If you interpret the invisiblity effect as one of transmutation or as a physical illusion — i.e. you've changed the characteristics of the stuff or manipulated light itself, then I'd agree with Dronz's answer: the light goes away. In the test case, both the invisible person and the victim would be thrown into complete darkness, and (obviously) not be able to locate each other at all via sight.

Mixed Bag

If you interpret the invisibility as a mind-control illusion, i.e phantasm, then I think that you could have the situation where: the light does not go away, so the victim (and the bard) could still see around the room, but have no idea where the light is coming from, and not be able to locate the invisible bard at all by sight. This would provide the victim with the means to know that something is afoot, but the mind control would prevent him/her from having any way of visually locating the source of the light. This interpretation could also apply if you though the underlying effect was an enchantment of the victim.

Summary

So, there are ways to rationalize several different effects depending on how magic is assumed to work in the setting. Picking one, and then sticking to it, seems useful in terms of game play, but in a setting where you wanted to emphasize that different schools (or flavors) of magic are really different, you could have different casters have different effects in these regards.

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There are a number of ways to go about answering this sort of question, below are detailed the methods I usually use:

Specific Over General:

The two passages in question are (a):

"Anything the target is wearing or carrying is invisible as long as it is on the target’s person."

-- Invisibility Spell Description

and (b):

"Until the spell ends, the object sheds bright light in a 20-foot radius and dim light for an additional 20 feet. The light can be colored as you like. Completely covering the object with something opaque blocks the light."

-- Light Spell Description

There are multiple ways of dealing with this, but the most basic would include:

The most recent effect takes effect. In this interpretation, the more specific one is the one that took effect last, so in your example, the light would vanish. This ruling maintains that the light an object creates is an aspect of the visual properties of an object, and thus invisibility should make them imperceivable.

Spells only do what they literally say. This ruling would say that the invisibility spell only makes objects and creatures invisible: nothing more, nothing less. By this interpretation, it is reasonable to argue that the light would linger even if its source was invisible. The light spell says nothing about you needing to see the object for its light to be visible, and this interpretation accounts for the fact that even if the object itself were around a corner or otherwise obscured you should still be able to see the light that it emits.

Only the creature holding the amulet can see the light. This perspective would be based on how magic might work in your world, where the invisible creature is shunted into some border ethereal realm. There is essentially no RAW or RAI support for this approach but it is a possible ruling I thought worth mentioning and could be used in certain campaigns where spell effects are a little less tied down by what the rules say is possible.

Balance:

Think about it from the other side. What if your opponent is invisible, should your wizard be able to use a cantrip to completely negate that element of an encounter? Even with a saving throw that is still pretty powerful for a cantrip with no concentration requirement (compare to spells like faerie fire and see invisibility). Personally, if I cast greater invisibility, I don't want it to be negated by a cantrip.

Another possible situation that would derive from the same logic is what if you cast minor illusion over a light source? would the light remain visible even if its source is obscured?

What if the light is created by a magic item such as a Sunblade? Would invisibility negate the sunlight effect so useful against vampires (what if Strahd used greater invisibility as an offensive weapon on the creature wielding the Sunblade) or would the sunlight effects remain but the light no longer be shed?

Decision

Overall, you will need to make the choice for your own table. Personally, I would rule that the light would remain but the source would be invisible. This would allow the creature to maintain its invisibility but would allow an intelligent foe to know the creature's general location at any given time.


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I'm going to combine Gandalfmeansme's and YogoZuno's answers, and improve upon them a bit further to include what happens if you conceal the amulet in, say, your shirt pocket.

Without invisibility, you are an opaque creature in that you are not transparent as with I'm assuming all your gear. As such, you can conceal the locket in your pocket and hide the light.

Here's where its important to understand the spell description for invisibility:

A creature you touch becomes invisible until the spell ends. Anything the target is wearing or carrying is invisible as long as it is on the target’s person. The spell ends for a target that attacks or casts a spell.

Invisible just means that you are unable to be seen visually. "Unable to be seen" or imperceptible visually is not the same thing as transparent. You are fooling the senses of the victim into not being able to perceive you (i.e. the definition of an illusion spell), you are not physically changing to become imperceptible (which would make the spell fall under transmutation).

If you were transparent, then hiding an amulet in your pocket would do no good under invisibility, since the light spell dictates that only opaque objects can block the light.

"Unable to be seen" however still implies that all normal aspects of opaqueness that were originally part of your gear still apply to the gear your wearing. Thus, following the rules of the light spell you can still conceal the object to shut down the source of the light. However, if you don't, you will (as Jeremy Crawford stated) appear to emit light like a spirit.

It's also important to note that, while invisible, you still cast shadows.

You can't be perceived directly "visually" because of invisibility, but nothing stops you from being perceived indirectly.

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If the invisible character was scattering pebbles around her/him, the pebbles would become visible as soon as they left the character's hand, other creatures would see the pebbles bouncing off walls, &c. However, they wouldn't be able to see the source of the pebbles. So to with the light that is being "scattered" out of an invisible object.

The actual source of the light, the amulet, would be invisible but the amulet would still light up the room. It's just that creatures wouldn't be able to detect the source of the light.


Here's a way to look at it. The invisibility spell doesn't actually make it so light passes through your body. If it did, you wouldn't be able to see. Rather the spell creates a mental block in the minds of other creatures such that they can't see that you are there, nor can they see anything that would make it obvious that you were there (like your clothes or floating bags &c.)

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