Darkness 5E — DnD spell explained 2024

Plunge surroundings into supernatural darkness with our guide to the Darkness 5E spell in DnD. Obscure vision and sow chaos.

Darkness 5E: DnD wizard surrounded with the black clouds
© Dice Cove

What is Darkness 5E?

Darkness 5E is a 2nd level evocation spell only natively available to Sorcerers, Warlocks, and Wizards. It requires vocal and material components, with the latter being a piece of coal or a drop of pitch and some bat fur. It takes an action to cast, creating a 15 ft. radius sphere of magical darkness within 60 ft. This darkness spreads around corners, and can’t be illuminated by mundane light sources or seen through with darkvision. If the darkness overlaps light created by a spell of 2nd level or lower, that spell is dispelled.

You can target an object that you’re holding or one that isn’t being worn or carried, instead of a point within range. If you do so, then the area of darkness moves with the object and can be completely blocked by covering the object with something opaque, for example, putting a bowl over a coin emanating darkness.

Is Darkness 5E a good spell?

Darkness has the potential to be a very good spell, able to act as a source of advantage for party members making attack rolls and disadvantage for monsters attempting to attack the party. This is most effective when the party has multiple members able to see through the spell but can be done without this with careful positioning and teamwork. However, it should be noted that certain types of monsters can render this spell entirely useless such as fiends with the Devil’s Sight trait or monsters with blindsight.

The main way to improve this spell is to gain the ability to see through it, to increase the party’s ability to function with the spell in effect, and fully leverage its potential. Ways you can achieve this include the Devil’s Sight invocation, the Blind Fighting fighting style, and the Shadow Sorcerer’s ability to see through their own Darkness when it is cast with sorcery points. The Alert feat can also improve a character’s ability to function with Darkness, removing the advantage granted by being attacked by an unseen creature and leaving the monster at just disadvantage from attacking a creature they can’t see.

How can you get Darkness 5E spell?

If you’re interested in becoming a child of darkness, fear not! Here is a list of how you can grab this obscuring spell:

  • Sorcerer, Warlock, and Wizard – All of these classes get access to Darkness on their spell lists.
  • Arcane Trickster (Rogue Subclass) – This Rogue can choose spells from the Wizard spell list, and can choose Darkness as one of their unrestricted spells from 14th level.
  • Eldritch Knight (Fighter Subclass) – Similar to above, this Fighter subclass can choose spells from the Wizard list and can choose Darkness as one of their spells as it matches their evocation restriction.
  • Shadow Magic (Sorcerer Subclass) – At 3rd level the Eyes of the Dark feature gives these Sorcerers the Darkness spell, as well as the ability to cast it for two sorcery points instead of a spell slot. They can even see through Darkness they create with sorcery points.
  • Circle of the Land (Druid Subclass) – By choosing swamp as your land option, these Druids gain Darkness as an always-prepared spell from 3rd level.
  • Oathbreaker (Paladin Subclass) – These wayward Paladins gain Darkness as an always-prepared spell from 5th level thanks to their Oath Spells feature.
  • Way of Shadow (Monk Subclass) – The Shadow Arts feature allows these Monks to cast Darkness with their ki points, as well as Silence and Pass without Trace.
  • Drow (Subrace) – Dark elves can cast this spell once per long rest thanks to their Drow Magic feature, which also allows them to cast Faerie Fire and Dancing Lights.
  • Drow Descent (Race Variant) – This half-elf variant found in the SCAG allows them to swap their Skill Versatility feature for the Drow Magic feature above.
  • Tiefling (Race) – Both the PHB (Asmodeus) tiefling and other variants gain the ability to cast Darkness once per long rest from 3rd level from their Infernal Legacy feature, as well as Hellish Rebuke as a 2nd level spell and Thaumaturgy.

How to roleplay Darkness 5E spell

Need some help roleplaying the Darkness 5E spell? Here are some examples to help you out:

  • As the party stumbles into an ambush set by a band of orcs, the Warlock whispers an incantation. A sphere of impenetrable darkness envelops the group, obscuring their forms. The orcs, unable to see their targets, growl in frustration as the party quietly reposition.
  • In a duel against a formidable Paladin, the Sorcerer smirks and snaps his fingers. Darkness engulfs the Paladin, who struggles to adapt to the sudden loss of sight. Taking advantage of his opponent’s confusion, Faelar casts other spells into the darkness, effectively neutralizing the threat.
  • Cornered by a pair of trolls in a forest clearing, the Warlock casts Darkness on a stone and tosses it between her party and the trolls. The magical darkness shields them from view, giving her and her allies precious time to either prepare for battle or make a hasty retreat.

We hope you’ve found this article informative and has given you all you need to pull the shadows over a monster’s eyes. If you found this guide planning your next Shadow Monk, check out our Monk 5E guide, or if you just like learning about 5E spells, check out our DnD 5E spells section. Good luck out there adventurers, and until next time, remember to let your party members know ahead of time before you plunge them into the darkness!

Expert Editor-in-Chief