I'm about to run Out Of The Abyss for my players, which features drow as occasional opponents. All drow get to cast Faerie Fire and Darkness once per day. Faerie Fire is straightforward and easy to understand how I'll use: targets are lit up, can't possibly hide, and everyone gets advantage when attacking them. Great for sticking on the party thief, anyone with heavy armor, or anyone else.

But how am I supposed to use Darkness? It feels a bit like Fog Cloud (stick it on ranged opponents to make them waste time moving), but it has a smaller radius and that rather situational dispel-low-level-light-spells trick. The caster can't see through Darkness, but I can't see how it's anything other than an expensive Fog Cloud. Is there something I'm missing, or some better ways to use it?

The party consists of: Monk (Open Hand), Rogue (Assassin), Cleric, Warlock/Sorcerer, and Fighter. They're all 6th level.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is basically an idea-generation question: "What are good ways to use this spell?" \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Feb 9 '17 at 8:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think there needs to be a specific goal in mind, with defined criterion for answers to use. \$\endgroup\$ – Javelin Feb 9 '17 at 10:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ How big is the party, and what is its makeup? \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Feb 9 '17 at 13:43

Using Darkness: Mechanics

  1. Darkness can be attached to an object and the sphere then moves centered on that object, it can be temporarily blocked be covering that object with another (opaque) object.

    If the point you choose is an object that you are holding, or one that isn't being worn or carried, the darkness emanates from the object and moves with it. (PHB. p. 230)

  2. The darkness area can dispels magical light created by sources of 2nd level or lower.

  3. Darkness has less duration / range then fog cloud, and is dispelled by strong magical light effects (ex. Daylight, the "inverse" darkness).
  4. Fog cloud can be dispersed by moderate or greater wind.
  5. Darkness defeats darkvision.

Both are situational spells, but cover slightly different situations. Fog Cloud just doesn't perform well in windy conditions. Darkness with its smaller area of effect might be easier to escape from.

Using Darkness: Lore

Lore-wise the drow warriors are so accustomed to fight in low to no light conditions, that they are not especially hindered by it, which doesn't translate well balance-wise into the game. The spell is widely used by the drow in the Forgotten Realms novels. Uses included:

  1. Covering the maneuvers of someone,
  2. Disorienting the enemy (melee and ranged),

  3. Protecting light-sensitive material from light,

  4. Setting a false trail by misdirection (setting up darkness while out of sight, then going another direction).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ thank you for adding the quote and your format is indeed more helpfull \$\endgroup\$ – fjarps Feb 9 '17 at 21:09

Darkness can be used to hide traps, to setup an ambush or to get away from the fight to spring another ambush later.

You can cast Darkness on some small object and when you held that in your fist or some bag the darkness will not radiate out. By that a Drow can "turn it on and off" as needed.

If the point you choose is an object that you are holding, or one that isn't being worn or carried, the darkness emanates from the object and moves with it. (PHB. p. 230)

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    \$\begingroup\$ If the subjects of Faerie Fire are in the area of effect of Darkness, Faerie Fire will be dispelled. If they aren't, then anyone in the area of Darkness can't see them, and doesn't gain advantage. So what you describe in your first paragraph can't work. \$\endgroup\$ – Marq Feb 9 '17 at 9:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast Thanks for editing it in. Sadly during the day I only have access to a computer that doesn't allow gaming sites to be accessed. Until recently the archieves of nethys still worked but now they get blocked, too. \$\endgroup\$ – Umbranus Feb 9 '17 at 14:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Umbranus Ah, glad to be of assistance then. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Feb 9 '17 at 14:04

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