Does all spells that create "magical darkness" create shadowy illumination as described in the spell Darkness.

For example Black Sand (Sandstorm, pg. 112)

This spell creates an area of black sand (see page 20), infused with shadowstuff and negative energy. A region of black sand literally swallows light, emitting magical darkness rising to a height of 20 feet over the surface


1 Answer 1


There is no a definite answer.

On one hand, there are spells that specifically says they create magical darkness in its effect, or at least make any mention of it, but contain no reference to the Darkness spell or to shadowy illumination.

Black Sand (sandstorm splat book, page 112):

This spell creates an area of black sand [...] A region of black sand literally swallows light, emitting magical darkness rising to a height of 20 feet over the surface.

Assassin's Darkness (Complete Scoundrel, page 95):

You call a globe of absolute darkness into being, which only you can see through [...] Even creatures that have darkvision cannot see through this magical obscurement, although creatures capable of seeing in magical darkness (such as devils) are not affected by it.

Scattergloom (Dragons of Faerûn, page 118)

You create four cylinders of magical darkness within the area, which randomly and rapidly move around at ground level, giving concealment to nearby creatures.

Control Darkness and Shadow(Champions of Ruin, page 29)

Normal shadows now grant a +4 bonus on Hide checks and provide concealment to creatures within them. Magical darkness now confers total concealment to anyone within its area.

On the other hand, there is a bunch of spells that say nothing about shadowy illumination, but that reference the Darkness spell, like Deeper Darkness or Ravenous Darkness (Complete Champion, page 126), so we can assume that those do provide shadowy illumination.

I have searched a concrete definition of Magical darkness , but I am unable to find one. I am also unable to find a common trend to all spells that mention the term, and that imply that the effect of the spells that create magical darkness always include shadowy illumination. Some spells create shadowy illumination (darkness spell and equivalents) which is a mundane light condition described here , which gives concealment, with some magical side effects that vary with the spell. Other spell create conditions more akin to darkness (those inside are blinded and/or receive full concealment) but they do not establish a clear equivalence between magical darkness and mundane darkness.

That said, my books are not exactly the latest editions and I may have missed any errata, dragon magazine article or something that could clarify this a little more. Also, nomenclature in 3.5 material can be a bit inconsistent and confusing sometimes. In conclusion, there is no absolute proof in favour or against the premise in the OP question.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure this clarifies things. I couldn't find anything in the description of black sand (as spell or hazard) that indicates precisely how magically dark the area becomes. Can you explain how you get from the shadowy illumination of darkness to the impenetrable blackness of black sand? (And while darkness et al. creates shadowy illumination, the spell says low-light vision's no help in seeing through the magical darkness.) \$\endgroup\$ Mar 27, 2016 at 9:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan - Well lit, shadowy illumination, and darkness are the three light conditions. When referring to darkness without specifying the spell of that name, assuming that it does not mean the illumination condition is specious at best. \$\endgroup\$
    – user2754
    Mar 27, 2016 at 12:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MACN The spell black sand creates "magical darkness" . Now what is that? In the spell darkness it describes how "Even creatures that can normally see in such conditions (such as with darkvision or low-light vision) have the miss chance in an area shrouded in magical darkness." This appears to be the official explanation of the tem "Magical darkness" . This is what I have understood it as, but I am uncertain, therefore this question is created. \$\endgroup\$
    – Simon
    Mar 27, 2016 at 17:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan maybe this is a question better suited as: Does all magical darkness = shadowy illumination? MACN \$\endgroup\$
    – Simon
    Mar 27, 2016 at 17:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JackLesnie And black sand says it creates magical darkness, which isn't a light condition. I mean, I agree with the answer (especially now post-edit), but I really wanted an even stronger connection between actual, for-reals darkness darkness and the magical darkness black sand generates. Were the connection that obvious and that strong, Simon wouldn't've asked the question. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 27, 2016 at 17:49

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