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Fenix English Edition 1, 2018
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Fenix English Edition 1, 2018

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The Darkness Issue

Darkness in Dungeons & Gameplay
You open the door. Beyond it, there is only impenetrable darkness. Your torches and lanterns have no effect. Those characters with dark vision can see nothing. What will you do?

Dungeons and other underground spaces are naturally dark, but most adventurers scarcely notice. With torches, lanterns, dark vision, infravision, light spells, and more, the mundane and total darkness of deep underground is so easily defeated that most players – and worse, most GMs – hardly give it a thought. Those who do are often accused of being rules lawyers and spoilsports. Magical darkness hardly fares any better, with light spells easily accessible to low-level spellcasters.

This is a pity, because darkness can be a powerful tactical element in an encounter, and an intriguing puzzle for players to solve. It is all in how the GM handles it.

Text: Graeme Davis, Art: Anders Larsson

Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

The theme of this issue is darkness, a rather broad and nebulous term yet one with an infinite potential. For most of our recorded history darkness has been the bane of human kind, as we lacked the ability to illuminate the night, save for tiny spots of light from candles or simple oil lamps. These merely served to emphasise the tenebrous gloom and murk, yet allowed us to remain productively awake after the sun set instead of spending it asleep in the natural diurnal cycles of the animal kingdom.
Millennia of huddling around such meagre light sources led to innumerable tales, given life and belief by the dancing shadows. The darkness also hid secrets, especially in the pitch black depths of the earth – making them places of great danger for those without illumination. Only the foolish or those driven to madness by curiosity would venture out into a predator filled night, or dare the darkness of subterranean caverns.

Therefore for almost the entirety of our species’ sapience, darkness has been a place where peril lurks and our imagination runs rampant. These twin aspects make it the perfect environment for heroic characters to face their greatest challenges and fears. What follows is a guide for Game Masters of how to use darkness in their campaigns and a rather nasty creature to set upon their players.

Text: Pete Nash, Art: Gustav Rangmar

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File Last Updated:
January 18, 2019
This title was added to our catalog on January 18, 2019.