Does the feat Deepsight limit the creature's darkvision range to 120 ft. even if the creature has one or more ways to increase its darkvision beyond this range?


Your senses are especially keen in the utter darkness.
Prerequisites: Darkvision 60 feet.
Benefit: Your darkvision has a range of 120 feet.
Normal: Darkvision normally extends 60 or 90 feet.

There's no mention of the feat in the FAQ.

Things to consider

A fetchling nightblade's level 3 class feature nighteye grants him a +30 ft. increase to his darkvision range. Further, the character could wear gloom sight goggles, which increase his natural darkvision from 60 ft. to 90 ft. at the price of light sensitivity. This would be darkvision 120 ft. without the feat Deepsight, but would it be darkvision 180 ft. with the feat Deepsight?

Also, although I don't expect the character to meet the prerequisites of the feat Aspect of the Beast (night senses), he could eventually wear a cat's eye crown (18,000 gp; 1 lb.) for maybe another +60 ft. to the range of his darkvision.


tl;dr -- You always use the highest absolute value for an ability or skill, then modify by relative values.

There are two types of modifiers: relative and absolute. Absolute modifiers do not stack, while relative modifiers may stack, depending on the particular RAW for a specific modifier.

Let's take a look at the absolute modifiers in play:

Gloom Sight (or goggles): This feat and item each grant your character exactly 90' of darksight. No more, no less. This is an absolute limit. The goggles even state that they have no effect on Gloom Sight.

Deepsight: This feat grants your character exactly 120' of darksight. No more, no less. This is an absolute limit.

Now, let's look at the relative modifiers:

Nightblade 3rd level: The RAW says you gain darkvision 30', or if you already have it, an increase of 30'. This is a relative modifier. It modifies whatever your absolute value is.

So, you can only use one of Gloom Sight, Gloom Sight Goggles, or Deepsight. There's no benefit to using two or more of them together, because the RAW specifically states that they set an absolute value. If you later gain a more powerful version of darksight (Nightblade's 14th level, for example), then Deepsight no longer grants a benefit either. The most powerful absolute value is the only value that matters. All lesser values are dispensed with.

However, you can still benefit from the relative modifiers. This means that at 3rd level Nightblade, you'll have 150' of darkvision with Deepsight, and at 9th level, you'll have 180' of darkvision. At 14th level, this all becomes pointless, because you're no longer limited by darkness at all. You can see things from miles away if the atmosphere allows it; darkness no longer has an effect on you, so it may as well be bright as day all the time from your perspective.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd like this to be correct, but can you link to rules text describing the absolute value/relative value distinction, or, if you're extrapolating from an existing effect, to an example of the distinction's use with a published effect? \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Apr 20 '15 at 8:56

It probably doesn't stack by RAW, but there's no real problem if you let them stack anyway.

By RAW, a lot of the stuff that you've mentioned doesn't work. The stacking rules don't really work super well on things that aren't typed bonuses, but even so, a strictly legalistic GM could probably argue that the various +30 bonuses to darkvision don't stack with eachother, and that Deepsight sets your darkvision to 120 and doesn't allow it to be further altered. If you were really concerned about the RAW, I would say that you would end up with a darkvision of 120 feet: you start with some amount, take Deepsight, and your darkvision is permanently set to 120 feet. Deepsight doesn't say "increased to" or any other phrasing that would suggest that it's strictly a bonus, it says that your darkvision "has a range of 120 feet", which sounds a lot more like a set statement than an add statement.

That said, I don't think that the RAW is super important in cases like this. My instincts tell me that Deepsight was written pretty poorly, since it doesn't make any mention of what to do if you have bonuses to your darkvision. The implicit assumption in that feat seems to be that you have your natural darkvision, the feat, and nothing else modifying the sense. A better version of the feat would be to assume that instead of saying "Your darkvision has a range of 120 feet", it said "Your darkvision extends an extra 60 feet". This lets it work with other bonuses to darkvision, as well as letting it work with races that have a natural darkvision of 90 feet or more. In this case, your character would have darkvision 180: 60 base, 60 from Deepsight, 30 from the goggles, and 30 from the class.

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