LET THERE BE LIGHT: Making Light More On/Off


The Problem: Generally drawing a dungeon map as you go only to the extent of the light source radius is a pain. And other players tracking who has the torch is "meh" as well. Most players don't like to track torches or give up a weapon or shield. The actual benefits of using a torch or lantern are pretty vague in BX as are the detriments of darkness (the below taken from Old School Essentials). 

  • Darkness: Characters will usually want to bring a source of light with them on underground expeditions. Typical light sources enable normal vision within a 30’ radius.
  • Torch: A torch burns for 1 hour (6 turns), clearly illuminating a 30’ radius. Torches may also be used in combat (melee, 1d4 dmg).
  • Light and Surprise: Characters or monsters that carry a light in a dark environment are usually unable to surprise opponents because the light gives their presence away.
  • Suprise in BX D&D: 

    • Each side that is not already aware of the other’s presence rolls 1d6.
    • Monsters: The referee rolls for monsters. PCs: One player rolls for the adventuring party as a whole.
    • Results: A result of 1 or 2 means the side is surprised.
    • Effects of Surprise: Both sides surprised: There is simply a momentary confusion—neither side has any advantage. One side surprised: The side that is not surprised gains a one round advantage. The surprised side cannot act that round.
I think we can also infer a few other things about sight, light, and darkness from spells and monsters:
  • The Light spell: "Blinding a creature: By casting the spell upon its eyes. If the target fails a saving throw versus spells, it is blinded for the duration. A blind creature cannot attack."
  • Invisible Stalker: "Surprise: On a 1–5, unless target can detect invisibility."
  • Pixie: Invisible: Naturally invisible, but may choose to reveal themselves. May remain invisible when attacking: cannot be attacked in the first round; in subsequent rounds, maybe attacked at –2 to hit.
But anyone whose ever been in a cave, unlit alley, or dark basement knows that the need and desire for light is strong. So I would like to compress the above rules into a sort of toggle: With Light or No Light. This I think makes it easier to judge and incentivizes the PCs to use light sources:

WITH LIGHT
Vision: as normal up to radius
Search: +1
Suprise: on 2 in 6; can't surprise others
Encounter: begins at the radius
Combat: as normal up the radius


WITHOUT LIGHT
Vision: vauge impressions, large features
Search: impossible
Suprise: on 5 in 6; can surprise others
Encounter: begins at 1d6 (1-2 10', 3-4 20', 5-6 30')
Combat: cannot attack only grapple (or maybe -4 to-hit)






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