Pathfinder’s rules for magical light and darkness are a bit of a tangled mess. I realised this the other day (in session #69 of my Shattered Star campaign) when a hydradaemon cast deeper darkness and the party’s cleric cast daylight in response.
The game screeched to a halt as we tried to work out how to handle this (and what happened to all the other magical and mundane light sources in the area). Later that night one of the group went online and found this “clarification” from Paizo about magical light and darkness. While—eventually—the clarification made sense to me, I can’t help thinking there must be a more elegant, simple solution to the situation. (Ideally one that doesn’t require a stimulating rules discussion and a tremendous amount of reading). After all, the plays the thing and anything that slows it down must be crushed.
Creighton’s Light and Darkness House Rules
So—without further ado—here are my quick and simple house rules for the interaction of magical light and darkness. I’ve boiled them down into the handful of bullet points below:
- Magical Light vs. Mundane Darkness: Magical light suppresses mundane darkness.
- Magical Darkness vs. Mundane Light: Magical darkness suppresses mundane light sources (such as a torch, lantern and so on).
- Magical Light vs. Magical Darkness: A spell with the light or darkness descriptor surpresses all lower-levels spells in its area of affect. Thus, when an object affected by a spell with the light descriptor enters the area of affect of a spell with the darkness descriptor (or vice versa) the spell with the highest spell level suppresses the other. Suppressed spells function as normal when removed from the more powerful area of affect. However, the time spent suppressed counts against the spell’s duration.
- Competing Area of Affects: The emanations of a lower level spell with the light descriptor cannot penetrate the area of affect of a higher level spell with the darkness descriptor. And vice versa.
- Counterspell: Spells with the light descriptor can be used to counter or dispel any spell with the darkness descriptor of equal or lower spell level. And vice versa.
What Do You Think?
I think the rules above are relatively simple and straightforward. They might not be the most realistic rules in the world, but they ensure play continues quickly and without interruption. What do you think? Let me know, in the comments below.