Infravision

It was about 1985 or so when I abandoned the official explanation of infravision–seeing varying degrees of heat–and described it as “being able to see in the dark.” Though there is some coolness to the thermal vision concept, it’s just too wonky for me. I do stick with the “infravision” term because it’s in the rules and what players are familiar with, but it’s just plain old 60′ dim vision even in total darkness. (I think this is similar to later editions’ Darkvision, but I’m not really sure.)

As I’m gearing up for my first game in Roll20 and working with the dynamic lighting to get it working and working the way I want, I am pleased to see that I can basically set up my infravision by making a character “emit light” that is not visible to others. Below is a shot of a fighter and a cat warrior in the dungeon, with the fighter holding a torch, from the fighter’s POV (left) and the cat’s POV (right):

Both the fighter and the cat warrior see the torch light, but the cat can see farther due to its 60′ infravision. I choose to disregard the “infravision is spoiled by other light sources” out of simplicity. Note that in the upper left is another light source in the next room that probably should be investigated (or avoided).

If the fighter’s torch goes out, however, things change dramatically. Again, compare the fighter’s POV (left) and the cat warrior’s POV (right):

Now, of course, the fighter can not see anything except for the other light source in the next room. The cat, however, still has its 60′ infravision. It can see, though at reduced capability. Hopefully, it can guide the fighter until he can get another light source going.

For torches and lanterns with 30′ light radius, I’m using Emits Light = 30′ with Start of Dim = 15′. For the infravision, I’m using Emits Light = 60′ with Start of Dim = -5′. This removes all brightness and makes the entire 60′ dim. Of course, the infravision “light” does NOT have the All Players See Light box checked. Only the cat warrior can benefit from it.

In the B/X rules, halflings do not have infravision. I am not convinced on this but I will stick with BTB on that. I’m glad that Roll20 makes implementing my take on infravision so simple.

Obviously, playing this way makes light and infravision far more important that has often been the case. Although I’ve always enforced “you’ve got to have a light source,” tracked torch durations, and only described what’s visible within light range, the Roll20 dynamic lighting adds a whole new dimension to it that has usually been mostly handwaved for ease of play. I’m looking forward to trying it out and to figuring out new ways to make it work.

If you’ve got experience with this and have some tips for me, be sure to chime in. This is all very new to me and I’m learning as I go.

UPDATE: You may have noticed that this is the same map section as I posted yesterday but that the lighting and LOS barrier of the large statue has been removed. I have decided that–at least for now–I’m going to use a “less is more” approach to that sort of thing. It jumbles up the look of things and seems unnecessarily complex for my game. So simpler is better. But I’m undecided on whether or not to keep blocking the edges of the doorways or not. I like the effect but it’s a lot more work for a small return. We’ll see.

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