Things in the Dark: Light Sources (March 2017 RPG Blog Carnival)

It’s impossible to consider the darkness unless you have a source of light. As a species, we’re simply not equipped to see the types of energy wavelengths that other creatures can. It puts most humanoids at a disadvantage when exploring the dark places. So for this month’s blog carnival (exploring Things in the Dark), I thought it would make sense to explore some of the kinds of light that a humanoid character might employ.

First, let’s talk about those races who don’t have to use much light to get around. Dwarves and elves have infravision and can see up to 60′ in the dark. Other creatures have this ability as well, whether by adapting to life in the dark or simply lucky in the genetic lottery. But what is infravision?

Infravision is, put simply, a type of sight that some creatures had to be able to see in the dark. But it implied (through the “infra”) that these creatures were actually seeing infrared wavelengths — especially differences between items radiating heat different than room-temperature. (Sean K. Reynolds wrote a rather interesting rant about Infravision quite a while ago if you want a different opinion on the matter.)

So our dwarves and elves in Mazes & Perils can see differences of heat up to 60 feet away. A goblin standing down a dark corridor might glow something like the dog above, giving away its position even in a lack of regular visible light. That’s useful.

Darkvision is a completely different matter, and thankfully not one that appears in M&P. 🙂

Second, let’s talk about the rest of us. Humans. Halflings. Normal folk. We don’t see so well in the dark, so we usually have to use fire (or a suitable equivalent) to light our way.

Everybody can purchase a tool to help in those dark places. In Mazes & Perils, we discuss three main light sources:

  • A torch burns for about 60 minutes and casts 30′ of light in all directions around the wielder. (1 gold for 5 torches)
  • An oil-burning lantern can last about 4 hours on a flask of oil, casting 30′ of light in all directions. (10 gold for 1 lantern, plus 2 gold per flask of oil)
  • And a bulls-eye lantern manages to focus that lantern light into a 10′ wide/120′ long beam like a spotlight (and still lasts about 4 hours on a flask of oil). (custom cost, plus 2 gold per flask of oil)

The good thing is that you can see. The bad thing is that other things can see you.

Lastly, let’s talk about magical light. Sometimes you have a wizard in the party. And other times you may have a magic item that glows as part of its list of abilities.

Here are a couple of spells that you may have in your arsenal as a Magic-User:

  • Light (Magic-User, level 1) – Lights a 20′ radius circle and can be moved up to 120′ from the caster in any direction. It lasts a number of turns (10-minutes each) equal to the caster’s level +1.
  • Continual Light (Magic-User, level 2) – Lights a 20′ diameter circle within 120′ of the caster, lasts forever (or until dispelled), and can be cast on items and carried around.

Either of these could come in handy. A wizard could make a good living making items glow forever using Continual Light and selling them to heroes.

Same good and bad rationale exists for magical light as for non-magical. If you can see with light, they can probably see you too.

So there are a few ideas on lighting that darkness that your heroes are exploring. Maybe in the next post I’ll talk about things that could be used to snuff them out.

Your turn…

What do YOU have lurking in the dark? Let’s shed a little light this month, shall we? Please leave a link, and perhaps a brief introduction, for your submission for the March Carnival in the comments below. Looking forward to seeing what folks can come up with! (The kickoff post was here.)

A big thanks goes out to Johnn Four of Roleplaying Tips for hosting the RPG Blog Carnival Archive and keeping us all on track every month!

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