If you are affected by glitter dust and then decide to become invisible, shouldn't the glitter dust become invisible and no longer outline the creature? The source of light still exists, and the light is visible, but you cant see the source of light anymore.


2 Answers 2


You're not the first to wonder about this

The designers have known for a while that there are questions surrounding the scenario in which a creature affected by the spell glitterdust casts the spell invisibility. Pathfinder lead designer Jason Bulmahn clarifies (to some extent) in this 2010 thread:

Glitterdust kills invisibility and all the rules that go with it.
Glitterdust has no effect on other forms of concealment.
Glitterdust also makes it very difficult to hide and might blind you.
That is all... (as it is currently worded).

If this is insufficient, you can read more in threads from 2011, 2012, 2013, 2013, and 2014. (There are even more, but these seem most relevant.)

To summarize the most common reading:

Invisibility makes light sources but not the light itself invisible...

In fact, the spell invisibility says pretty much exactly that:

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).

Thus an invisible creature's torch still sheds light.

...So invisibility makes glitterdust's dust invisible but not the sparkling

The spell glitterdust, a conjuration spell of the creation subschool, says that

A cloud of golden particles covers everyone and everything in the area, causing creatures to become blinded and visibly outlining invisible things for the duration of the spell. All within the area are covered by the dust, which cannot be removed and continues to sparkle until it fades.

So the spell negates invisibility because the sparkling itself doesn't also become invisible.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ There are some easy-to-poke holes in this (the idea of a torch being "invisible" but casting light is impossible unless you have intelligent photons, and glitterdust isn't clearly described as a light source — most of the description and common sense would imply that it's not) but I suppose at some point you just have to say "hey, magic". Invisibility is full of contradictions anyway. \$\endgroup\$
    – hobbs
    Nov 4, 2015 at 21:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/56363/… goes both ways on the matter, even WRT something that's obviously a light source :) \$\endgroup\$
    – hobbs
    Nov 4, 2015 at 21:12
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @hobbs Pathfinder is quite different from Dungeons and Dragons, 5th Edition. Further, while the glitterdust spell isn't a light source, as a conjuration (creation) school spell, the spell's effect creates the dust for the spell's duration, which is the source of the sparkle. (But I totally agree that classic magical invisibility is bad science. :-) The Wild Cards novel series did have a character who could turn invisible but couldn't see if she turned her eyes invisible; that's about as science-y as I've ever seen invisibility get.) \$\endgroup\$ Nov 5, 2015 at 19:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @hobbs Who says there are photons in Pathfinder? It's also possible if the correct physical description of the world is different, which it clearly is. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 27, 2015 at 7:02

The dust still glows, even when invisible; which makes it really very easy to see where the dust is. If it's all over an invisible creature, that creature is going to be outlined in light, giving away its exact position. That's half the point of glitterdust.

(One could also make the argument that glitterdust is a spell effect and not really an object that can be turned invisible anyway. I'm not sure it matters - it's dust, you can't really see the individual dust particles anyway, except for the fact they double as strobe lights.)

  • \$\begingroup\$ I always thought of it as glowing sticky flour. I agree the source of light is still there, but on a sunny day would you be able to notice that this area is producing light? In a dark cave you would easily know what square they are in. \$\endgroup\$
    – Fering
    Nov 4, 2015 at 17:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ I could see it being difficult in areas that were already bright light, that would be a very edge-case but fair houserule (since it would only apply if a new invisibility effect was applied to a glitterdusted target). I mostly just think that it works exactly like a paper-thin, yellow faerie fire - you're left with a "shell" of golden light that perfectly outlines the target to the point of being able to see details and movement, hence completely negating the benefits of invisibility and permitting precision damage. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 4, 2015 at 17:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Fering Note that glitterdust does not say that it requires darkness to work. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 4, 2015 at 19:30

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