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If a spell like darkness or fog cloud covers two melee combatants, effectively not much happens. They both suffer the blinded condition, but as that gives them both advantage and disadvantage on hitting the other guy, both roll normally.

But what happens if one of the combatants is in the zone of darkness, at the edge, and the other combatant is just outside the zone. The guy inside is still blinded and has disadvantage on hitting the guy on the outside. As his target doesn't suffer from the blinded condition, he doesn't get advantage to counter that, and has to make his roll with disadvantage. But what about the guy standing on the outside? I can see how he might get advantage because his target is blinded. But does he also get disadvantage for striking into the darkness / fog, where he can't effectively see his target?

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It is not the Blinded condition that gives advantage/disadvantage

The advantage/disadvantage comes from Unseen Attackers and Targets (PHB p.194):

When you attack a target that you can’t see, you have disadvantage on the attack roll.

When a creature can’t see you, you have advantage on attack rolls against it.

What matters is who can see whom.

If the darkness is normal darkness (i.e. an absence of light), the creature in the darkness can see the creature in the light. The creature outside the darkness would need some special ability (like darkvision) to see the creature in the darkness.

If the darkness is magical (e.g. the Darkness spell) you cannot see through it as well as not being able to see into it, barring a special ability (like Warlock's Devil's Sight), neither can see the other.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ consider re reading the blinded condition. specifically "attack rolls against the creature have advantage and the creature's attack rolls have disadvantage." (PHB Appendix A: Conditions pg 290) \$\endgroup\$ – Daniel May 16 '17 at 7:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ and yes my answer neglected the unseen attacker portion and I have removed my answer as a result, but being in a heavily obscured location does cause a creature to "effectively suffer from the blinded condition" and so will still apply advantage and disadvantage as normal. \$\endgroup\$ – Daniel May 16 '17 at 7:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Daniel that section has been errataed - it doesn't say that anymore \$\endgroup\$ – Dale M May 16 '17 at 11:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah, so that means that unless you have other abilities like Devil's Sight, there is no way to cast a darkness or fog cloud spell in a tactical manner so as to give your team the upper hand. In, out, or at the edge, you always end up with one advantage and one disadvantage cancelling each other out. Well, I guess one can still use those spells to counter enemy ranged attacks. \$\endgroup\$ – Tobold May 16 '17 at 16:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Tobold I wouldn't go so far as to say they can't be used in a tactical manner. \$\endgroup\$ – Doval May 16 '17 at 18:09

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