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The hunger of Hadar spell (PHB, p. 251) creates a black void of darkness, which cannot be penetrated by light. This means that no one can see in, and those inside cannot see at all, which is a handy way to damage and control enemies since they don't know which way is out.

This also means that characters cannot easily attack those inside.

The Devil's Sight eldritch invocation, however, enables a warlock to see normally in magical and non-magical darkness.

Does this enable the warlock to see into the area of blackness created by hunger of Hadar and attack creatures inside? Are there any other sight mechanics that allow someone to see in or out of the spell?

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If the Warlock is inside, NO. If they are outside, Maybe.

The real key here is the wording on Hunger of Hadar. The spell breaks itself down into being inside the sphere, and being on the outside looking in. We'll use that same breakdown as well.

(emphasis mine)

A 20-foot-radius sphere of blackness and bitter cold appears, centered on a point with range and lasting for the duration. ... No light, magical or otherwise, can illuminate the area, and creatures fully within the area are blinded. - *Hunger of Hadar, Player's Handbook

Inside

If you are fully inside of the sphere you have the blinded condition. Devil's Sight does nothing to counteract that condition.

“A blinded creature can’t see and automatically fails any ability check that requires sight

Outside

This is where the RAW gets fuzzy. As Justin T mentioned,it would be a DM discretion issue on "blackness" being the same as "darkness". Within the text of Hunger of Hadar it mentions opening "a gateway to the dark between the stars". This uses the word dark, so I would probably rule that you can see into it. At the end of the day though, it would be up to your DM.

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Jeremy Crawford has ruled No:

Devil's Sight is meant to pierce the dark created by a spell like darkness, not the void of hunger of Hadar.

Reference: Twitter

As Crawford's tweets are no longer considered official rulings, and this question/answer does not appear in the Sage Advice compendium, I don't believe there is currently an official ruling on this question.

The "blackness" does not say that it is magical (or natural) darkness, so it may be darkness or something else, but this is not made clear by the spell or any future rulings. So if your group does not consider Crawford's rulings as canon, DM discretion would apply.

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A character with devil's sight or even just darkvision, that is not blinded, can see into the area of the Hunger of Hadar.

According to the Sage Advice Compendium:

Magical darkness blocks darkvision only if the rules text for a particular instance of darkness says it does. For example, the darkness spell specifies that it produces a magical darkness that obstructs darkvision. That obstruction is a feature of the spell, not of magical darkness in general.

The Hunger of Hadar spell does not say that it blocks darkvision (PHB 251):

You open a gateway to the dark between the stars, a region infested with unknown horrors. A 20-foot-radius sphere of blackness and bitter cold appears, centered on a point within range and lasting for the duration. This void is filled with a cacophony of soft whispers and slurping noises that can be heard up to 30 feet away. No light, magical or otherwise, can illuminate the area, and creatures fully within the area are blinded.

Compared to the Darkness spell, that does state so (PHB 230):

A creature with darkvision can't see through this darkness, and nonmagical light can't illuminate it.

The spell states that it creates blackness for which I cannot find any effects defined in game terms. There is no indication that it creates darkness or any other kind of obscured area.

However the spell states that "No light, magical or otherwise, can illuminate the area" and an area where light is absent is darkness. This is also backed up by the rules in the sense that there are 3 stages of illumination, and only darkness fits when there is no light, according to (PHB 183):

The presence or absence of light in an environment creates three categories of illumination: bright light, dim light, and darkness. Bright light lets most creatures see normally. Even gloomy days provide bright light, as do torches, lanterns, fires, and other sources of illumination within a specific radius. Dim light, also called shadows, creates a lightly obscured area. An area of dim light is usually a boundary between a source of bright light, such as a torch, and surrounding darkness. The soft light of twilight and dawn also counts as dim light. A particularly brilliant full moon might bathe the land in dim light. Darkness creates a heavily obscured area. Characters face darkness outdoors at night (even most moonlit nights), within the confines of an unlit dungeon or a subterranean vault, or in an area of magical darkness.

Therefore a character without darkvision or similar traits cannot see into the area, anyone with darkvision can only see there as if it was dim light.

Dim light in darkvison (PHB 183):

Within a specified range, a creature with darkvision can see in dim light as if it were bright light and in darkness as if it were dim light, so areas of darkness are only lightly obscured as far as that creature is concerned.

Devil's sight does not have such a limitation, anyone with this trait can see normally into the Hunger of Hadar (PHB 110):

You can see normally in darkness, both magical and nonmagical, to a distance of 120 feet.


It was not really part of the question, but as others mentioned, characters inside the Hunger of Hadar are blinded and therefore cannot see anything, even if they have darkvision or devil's sight. They would need something like blindsight in order to see.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I like your answer but it doesn't seem to address the possible interpretation that the "blackness" is a conjured substance, like fog cloud, that heavily obscures the are independent from light levels. \$\endgroup\$ – Odo Nov 24 at 16:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch I believe their argument is that blackness is later defined by the spell using game terms: "No light, magical or otherwise, can illuminate the area, and creatures fully within the area are blinded." \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Nov 25 at 1:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Odo I have not seen this reasoning before. is there any RAW base for it? I couldn't find anything in the rules that defines blackness as such nor would I in real-life define blackness as such. \$\endgroup\$ – findusl Nov 25 at 10:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ Let us continue this discussion in chat. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Nov 25 at 16:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Odo Crawford was asked if a person can see out or in or through the spell and I think he meant a creature inside the Hunger of Hadar cannot see out even with Devil's sight, because when I think about a spell my first thought goes to the creatures in the spells area of effect. I don't mention this in my answer because it doesn't add anything to the argument itself and its just a personal interpretation \$\endgroup\$ – findusl Nov 26 at 9:35
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You can see normally in darkness, both magical and nonmagical, to a distance of 120 feet. - Devil's Sight, Player's Handbook

A 20-foot-radius sphere of blackness and bitter cold appears, centered on a point with range and lasting for the duration. ... No light, magical or otherwise, can illuminate the area, and creatures fully within the area are blinded. - *Hunger of Hadar, Player's Handbook

The answer to this question hinges upon whether darkness and blackness are equivalent for the purposes of Devil's Sight. I would rule that they are, but your DM may feel differently.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, I can see blackness being more of a "fog" thing than an absence of light. \$\endgroup\$ – Premier Bromanov Apr 22 '15 at 20:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ "fog"? Like Ether? Note that the blackness of space is due to nothingness, light moves "straight" instead of bouncing on matter and reflecting that information back to us (or coming directly to our eyes like the Sun does). \$\endgroup\$ – Alexis Wilke Mar 5 '16 at 22:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ What exactly is your answer to the question at hand? Could you please mention that explicitly. You mostly quoted rules but several people here have the same rules available and get different conclusions, so I'm not sure what your answer to the question actually is. \$\endgroup\$ – findusl Nov 21 at 16:33
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Hunger of Hadar says:

A 20-foot-radius void appears on a point you choose. Its filled with whispers and slurping that can be heard up to 30 feet away. No light can illuminate the area, and creatures fully in it are blinded. The void's area is difficult terrain. Any creature that starts its turn in the area takes 2d6 cold damage. Any creature that ends its turn there must succeed on a Dexterity save or take 2d6 acid damage.

Almost anyone can see in

Hunger of Hadar doesn't prevent people with darkvision from seeing into it. The only thing that stops people outside from seeing in is that the area is unlit. Devil's Sight thusly confers no advantage in this situation, beyond the additional range with the darkvision as compared to most races. The only people who can't see in, then, are those who few weirdos who lack darkvision (i.e. halflings, humans, and dragonborn without class features to the contrary).

It's important to remember that spells only do what they say they do; while Darkness creates magical darkvision-stopping darkness, it does so because it says it does. Other magically created darkness is just dark.

Almost no one can see out

Hunger of Hadar doesn't stop you from seeing out cause it's dark. Hunger of Hadar stops you from seeing out because it inflicts the 'blinded' condition. That's a much stronger condition that just 'I can't see'; even with blindsight you are still subject to "Attack rolls against the creature have advantage, and the creature’s Attack rolls have disadvantage."

Indeed, rather than mere blindsight or tremorsense, a more powerful ability like immunity to the blinded condition would be needed to render Hunger of Hadar ineffective against a target.

So, Devil's Sight doesn't really matter

Like was said on twitter:

Devil's Sight is meant to pierce the dark created by a spell like darkness, not the void of hunger of Hadar.

That's not because you can't see in with it; that's because you'd be able to see into it anyways. The cool thing Devil's sight lets you do is see through magic darkness you otherwise wouldn't have been able to. The rest of the time it's just fancy darkvision.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "That's not because you can't see in with it; that's because you'd be able to see into it anyways" I feel like this isn't what Crawford meant with his Tweet at all. If you could see into it regardless, he would say something pertaining to that. Instead he mentions how Devil Sight doesn't pierce it, which would implicate you can't see into it regardless...not that you can see into it all the time. Otherwise you would need no reason to use devil sight. Thinking this applies to only the inside devalues the answer and the question asked to him via tweet. \$\endgroup\$ – Jihelu Jul 2 '18 at 6:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Jihelu he doesn't say it doesn't pierce it. He says the intent of the ability is to interact with darkness from spells like darkness, not stuff like Hunger of Hadar. I don't know why you would think that that means it's cause the darkness is even-more-special darkness you can't see through, which nothing says, rather than the spell just not having much to do with darkness, which the spell says and the tweet supports. \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Jul 2 '18 at 20:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PremierBromanov sure! I put the spell text at the top now. The part where the inside is dark is the part where "no light can illuminate the area" (technically it might not be dark, but that's outside the scope of this question; usually most areas not illuminated by light are dark. Obviously if it's not dark, everyone who isn't blind can see in without issue and people inside still can't see unless they're immune to blindness) \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Jul 2 '18 at 20:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PremierBromanov The void it creates is an area of 'Blackness' As the spell describes. Wanderer seems to be ignoring that text. The part that clarifies it is 'special darkness' is that the question asked to Jeremy Crawford was "Can you see into or out of the void using Devil Sight" to which the answer was "No, it doesn't pierce it". There would be no reason to say "it doesn't pierce it" if there was no need to pierce it to begin with. You are ignoring the big ole "Into" part of the question posed and the "Blackness" described with the spell. If there was no reason the answer would say. \$\endgroup\$ – Jihelu Jul 2 '18 at 21:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Jihelu The spell does create an area of blackness, which it explains as no light being able to illuminate the area. 'blackness' doesn't block sight or LOE or anything like that, cause nothing says it does, and that's not a natural reading of the phrase. The answer doesn't say no; the word 'no' is nowhere in the answer. And, yes, JC did ignore the specifics of the question in answering it. If you look at his tweets, he does that regularly. \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Jul 2 '18 at 22:05
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You can not stare into the void

The problem is that hunger of Hadar uses a game term that isn't defined. When that happens, we generally go with the colloquial definition, but that doesn't really help us because we have to a mechanical game term answer in order to determine how that term would be used in-game with other mechanics.

What is blackness?

Hunger of Hadar says:

A 20-foot-radius sphere of blackness and bitter cold appears... No light, magical or otherwise, can illuminate the area, and creatures fully within the area are blinded.

What we have is a sphere of blackness. But what is that? It's given some further definition later where it says that nothing at all can illuminate the area. That suggests that this isn't like regular darkness because that can be illuminated. It's also not like magical darkness, because that can also be illuminated with a spell of the right level.

One could interpret it not working against darkvision, but that's just a potential interpretation. You could also lean into the lack of any illumination possible, which suggests there is nothing to be seen inside regardless of any ability (except maybe blindsight?)

With the lack of clarity, a ruling is required and a discussion should be had at the table as to what works for everyone. But the description of a void that allows no light, either magical or mundane, to illuminate it evokes an area that is simply not visible.

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