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There was a question similar to this question posted here. Where the jist of the question was asked what use does a Shadow Monk have for casting Darkness if they can't see through it.

My question is along the same route but slightly different. The spell darkness states that creatures with darkvision cannot see through it. Which negates elves and other creatures, including those helped by the spell darkvision.

The problem I have is that Shadow Step, an ability gained by a level 6 shadow monk, states that you can teleport up to 60 feet to an unoccupied space you can see covered in either dim light or darkness.

But if darkvision from creature abilities and the spell darkvision don't allow one to see through magical darkness. Then is it even possible for a Shadow Monk to use the darkness spell as an "exit" portal?

User RS Conley suggests in one of the answers that it is possible to do exactly this.

Another use of darkness for a shadow monk is as a destination point. If there a nearby location in shadows the monk can use the darkness to establish a point up to 75 feet away (60 feet plus the 15 foot radius) where he can teleport into with line of sight block. The following round drop concentration and proceed on with the rest of the plan.

My question is, if this is possible, how? I just had a discussion with my DM about this and he believes that the only way is if the rules were bent allowing only the spell darkvision to pierce magical darkness. Which while this does solve my problem, it creates more issues and I don't like it when my ideas only work with DM leniency.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Sorry, my intention wasn't to prove or disprove what RS Conley said, and I would have made a comment or sent him a private message if either option were available to me. I was using his answer more as support for a certain idea than anything else. \$\endgroup\$ – Samuel Aug 18 '15 at 2:05
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Yes, it is possible but...

The number of ways you can go about it is limited to somehow seeing through magical darkness like by getting Truesight.

Or by picking up 2 levels of Warlock for the Devil's Sight Eldritch Invocation, in order for you to see through magical darkness up to 120 feet.

Or by any means like the 6th-level Divination Spell True Seeing, or a Gem of Seeing (page 172 of the DMG) also does the trick, or you can homebrew a magic item that serves this purpose.

What is important is that you can see the area of magical darkness/dim light created, all others might still see it as magical darkness, that doesn't matter.

However, the bottom line is that both of these features were not meant to provide a mini-portal for the monk to Shadow Step through because Shadow Step, by its wording:

Shadow Step

At 6th level, you gain the ability to step from one shadow into another. When you are in an area of dim light or darkness, as a Bonus Action you can teleport up to 60 feet to an unoccupied space you can see that is also in dim light or darkness...

Emphasis on shadow here, we can see that the intent was for the Monk to step through shadows, not magical darkness. I know this sounds silly but if we look at the next emphasis, "you can see", it affirms this intent by limiting the area a Monk can step through to an area he can see. Hence, these two were not meant to be used in-tandem due to its incompatible properties. However, there are many uses for Darkness and Shadow Step alone in themselves. Darkness can be used to Blind enemies, causing them to have Disadvantage on Attack Rolls. One clever trick is also to use Darkness to cover a room's light source like a single torch, Darkness negates that source and engulfs the whole room in natural darkness, giving any creature with Darkvision advantage. Shadow Step can enable the Monk to avoid stepping into a brightly-lit portion of a room (and thereby avoid being seen) by teleporting to a dimly-lit portion.

Don't misunderstand me, stepping through magical darkness can be done but you'll have to work for it

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd suggest adding that you can always use the darkness spell to block the light source itself so an area becomes covered in shadows or darkness. So basically if you're in a room and there are torches on the wall, you could cover a couple of the torches on the right side with your darkness globe to create dim light and shadowed areas that will allow you to shadow step. \$\endgroup\$ – Lino Frank Ciaralli Aug 18 '15 at 16:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @LinoFrankCiaralli Related: rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/55748/… \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Aug 19 '15 at 0:11
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Things in D&D 5e do exactly what they say; no more no less:

Shadow Step

When you are in dim light or darkness, as a bonus action you can teleport up to 60 feet to an unoccupied space you can see that is also in dim light or darkness.

This does not grant you any ability to see into darkness, therefore, if you can't see into darkness you can't Shadow Step there. Darkvision will let you see into normal darkness but not magical darkness, so to combine this with your Shadow Arts darkness you would need something else.

The Warlock Evocation Devil's Sight would work as would using the dim part of a Continual Flame cast at 3rd level or above that overlapped the darkness, a creature with Truesight would also be able to benefit although no PC race has this as yet - there may be others.

TL;DR

Shadow Arts and Shadow Step are different abilities - if you can find a way to use them together then good for you; if you can't you're stuck with using them separately.

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The ability requires you to see an unoccupied space, but not through that space. You can teleport to any unoccupied space on the edge of the darkness spell effect because you can see the space of darkness (just not the through/past it).

For comparison, you don't have to see the entirety of a creature to target it with a spell that requires sight, just a single face of it, or even a single square inch of its surface. Why would targeting a space be different?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think this is an interesting answer. I'm curious if you could support it a bit more with rules or ruling citations. \$\endgroup\$ – Bloodcinder Feb 21 '17 at 23:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is clearly the correct interpretation. A heavily obscured area "blocks vision entirely", but is not itself invisible, so so long as there is nothing else blocking line of sight to the edge of the square, it is a valid target for Shadow Step. @DerekStucki, try to quote the definitions of "darkness" and "heavily obscured area" from page 183 of the PHB... \$\endgroup\$ – Wtrmute Feb 21 '17 at 23:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ Very interesting. So by your interpretation, the darkness spell can then be used to create a spot where the monk could teleport to. Which is what my original intention of this question was. \$\endgroup\$ – Samuel Mar 31 '17 at 19:52
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Create a globe of darkness, then shadow step above it (if it is dim), then slow fall down into it for cover. Or, target the edge of it and shadow step directly into its outer edge - but no further. Done. Similar if grappled in broad light: cast darkness around you, with you being on the outer edge of it. Stick your face out, and shadow step to another dark place.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ You may want to format this into a bullets to improve readability. \$\endgroup\$ – Pyrotechnical Nov 13 '17 at 19:36
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Check your reading of the darkness spell. It only states that it creates an area of darkness, not that it completely blocks vision.* You can still target a fireball into it, or shoot arrows (with disadvantage, because they are considered invisible) at a target within the darkness. So you should still be able to pick a spot to shadow step to.

  • The mention of dark vision is poorly worded. It means dark vision does not make targets inside the darkness visible, as it normally would with normal darkness.
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  • \$\begingroup\$ The spell creates magical darkness, and according to the SRD, "A heavily obscured area—such as darkness, opaque fog, or dense foliage—blocks vision entirely." By definition, the darkness created by this spell completely blocks vision. \$\endgroup\$ – Bloodcinder Feb 21 '17 at 23:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ Shadow Step specifically states you must be able to see the target location. In contrast, you don't need to see the target of a fireball. \$\endgroup\$ – Paul Hutton Feb 22 '17 at 0:47
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"Space you can see" is about establishing lines of sight. For example, you cannot teleport to the darkness around a corner.

It can be assumed that the Way of Shadow monk was not meant to be used exclusively with characters with darkvision. That means it is not an expectation that the character be able to see into any darkness. It simply means you may teleport into the darkness you can see without seeing what is inside it... Ergo, teleporting into the spell darkness is no different.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Aug 5 at 3:59
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As Bloodcinder stated in a comment:

The spell creates magical darkness, and according to the SRD, "A heavily obscured area—such as darkness, opaque fog, or dense foliage—blocks vision entirely." By definition, the darkness created by this spell completely blocks vision.

Block vision = can't see into or passed it but you can still see the darkness.

You would need Devil Sight or better still be a Drow.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Why would being a Drow help to see in magical darkness? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jan 17 at 20:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already. As NautArch points out, drow can't see through magical darkness in 5e. They simply have a longer range for their darkvision (120 feet, instead of 60 feet). \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jan 17 at 22:55

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