Last Updated on November 18, 2022
Eldritch Invocations add depth, versatility, and forbidden power to the warlock class.
Starting at 2nd level, warlocks start to accumulate invocations that add damage to their eldritch blasts, allow them to cast spells at-will, and even read all writing in any language.
They’re a treasure trove of interesting and largely unique abilities that really make the warlock feel like more than just a wizard who’s short on spell slots (or possibly an edgy cleric).
Today, we’re talking about Devil’s Sight, one of the most commonly chosen eldritch invocations for a very good reason.
Not only is this invocation a way to dramatically increase the ability for your warlock to explore, fight, and generally get around in the dark, but when paired with the Darkness spell, it can be truly devastating.
Keep reading for a breakdown of Devil’s Sight, how it works, and how to combine it with the Darkness spell for maximum carnage.
What Is Devil’s Sight?
Devil’s Sight is an Eldritch Invocation that allows a warlock to see normally in magical and nonmagical darkness for up to 120 feet.
Darkness appears to be bright light to the warlock. With the ability’s 120-foot range, the warlock’s vision functions normally.
Is Devil’s Sight Darkvision?
It’s pretty easy to think of Devil’s Sight as 120-foot range darkvision (the kind that several underground character races like the Duergar have naturally), but if that were the case, then this invocation wouldn’t be nearly as good.
Darkvision allows a creature to treat dim light within range (usually 60 feet) as if it were bright light and in darkness as if it were dim light. Creatures with darkvision discern colors in that darkness only as shades of gray.
Although I think it’s one of the most commonly misinterpreted and misunderstood rules in D&D 5e, if you’re running darkvision as the designers intended, areas of actual darkness still pose a significant threat to an adventuring party since all attacks made in an area of dim light are made as though the target is lightly obscured, and perception checks are made with disadvantage.
Devil’s Sight, on the other hand, allows a warlock to ignore the effects of total darkness.
According to Jeremy Crawford, if your character has Devil’s Sight, “darkness within 120 feet of you effectively isn’t there. For purposes of sight, you can treat that area as if it’s brightly lit.”
This means a creature with darkvision is going to be significantly less useful than a warlock with devil’s sight if exploring in the dark.
However, dim light is another matter. Though a character with darkvision perceives dim light as bright light, a character with Devil’s Sight only treats darkness as bright light.
Another clarification from Crawford notes that “Devil’s Sight has no interaction with dim light. It alters only how you experience darkness.”
It’s almost as though you need darkness to see by. Therefore, a character with Devil’s Sight and no darkvision still treats dim light as lightly obscured, even though their vision clears beyond it.
This creates a weird band effect where that character holding a torch in a large, dark room can see in bright light for a 20-foot radius, then experiences a 20-foot band of dim light where they have disadvantage on perception checks, then they see using Devil’s Sight, which allows them a further 80 feet of bright-light vision before their vision becomes completely obscured by the darkness.
It’s weird, to say the least, and I would wholeheartedly advise for a house ruling that Devil’s Sight also works in dim light — for the sake of your sanity.
Is Devil’s Sight Good?
Even when you hold it up against all the other Eldritch Invocations available to warlocks, Devil’s Sight is an amazing choice.
Now, while darkvision and darkness aren’t as important in modern, more combat-oriented editions of D&D as they were in earlier versions of the game that were more about exploration, being able to treat a pitch-black cavern or a dungeon corridor as being brightly lit is undeniably useful.
You can more reliably get an idea of the layout of large underground spaces, spot secret tunnels and doors, pick up vital information that relies on color, and — perhaps most importantly — see the enemy coming before they see you.
Underground — especially in places like the underdark — virtually every nasty, creepy monster and carnivorous nightmare like to take advantage of the darkness to ambush prey.
From ropers and hook horrors to gelatinous cubes, not having to rely on faulty perception checks (or broadcasting your location with a torch) is incredibly useful.
However, it’s in combat where Devil’s Sight is at its most powerful.
If you’re going up against human enemies (or other species without darkvision), then being able to attack from the darkness is going to virtually guarantee your victory.
An enemy in total darkness without darkvision suffers from the blinded condition, meaning attack rolls against them have advantage, and their attacks are at disadvantage.
Of course, if they have darkvision, you’re going to have to do something else to press your advantage.
Devil’s Sight and Darkness
One of the best spells to combine with Devil’s Sight is Darkness. This can be such an effective pairing that many people consider it to be an essential pickup for Hexblade Warlocks, although any subclass can make use of it.
Warlocks get access to the Darkness spell at 3rd level and can cast it twice per short rest (assuming they don’t use other spell slots).
- Level: 2nd
- Casting Time: 1 Action
- Range/Area: 60 feet (15 feet)
- Components: V, M (bat fur and a drop of pitch or piece of coal
- Duration: 10 Minutes (Concentration)
- School: Evocation
- Attack/Save: None
- Damage Effect: Control
You create a 15-foot-radius sphere of magical darkness centered on a point you choose within 60 feet. The darkness can spread around corners, and a creature with darkvision can’t see through it.
Nonmagical light can’t illuminate the darkness, and if the spell overlaps with magical light created by a spell of 2nd level or lower, the spell that created the light is dispelled.
You can choose an object you are holding or that is within range (and not being held or worn) as the point of origin for the spell, which means that the darkness emanates from the item and follows it.
Completely covering the object blocks the darkness as though it were a light source.
Without the benefit of Devil’s Sight, Darkness is a great way to create confusion, to create a magical barrier to give you and your allies cover, or to convince gullible prison guards that they’ve gone blind and that the only way to get their sight back is to let you and your friends go (hey, when it works, it really works).
It’s useful, but it’s not going to fundamentally change the way you fight or give your DM the cold sweats.
However, combine Devil’s Sight and Darkness, and you have to turn your warlock into some serious nightmare fuel.
Cast darkness on your weapon or shield and throw yourself into the middle of the enemy.
They can’t see you, meaning all their attacks (even if they have darkvision) are going to be made at disadvantage as they’re swallowed by a cloud of inky blackness.
Meanwhile, all your attacks are going to have advantage, which greatly increases your chance to hit as well as land criticals.
If you’re willing to put in some time (and have a DM who’s willing to play ball) you can have your own special necklace with an aperture that opens and closes with a gem or stone inside.
When you cast Darkness, cast it on the stone, meaning you can quickly “deactivate” it by flipping the switch.
You could build this into a breastplate or a helmet and leave the spell “up and running” for the full 10-minute duration, so long as you don’t have to concentrate on something else.
Alternatively, if you can’t find a way to manufacture this rather specific gear, a bullseye lantern with the addition of some paint or just a rock and a drawstring purse are solid options for darkness you can switch “on and off.”
Obviously, the most straightforward version of this combo is to cast darkness, put it on a weapon or item that you’re carrying, and run toward an enemy like an avatar of gothic terror.
It’s effective, but it’s still risky, even if enemy attacks against you are made with disadvantage.
All you need is to take damage once and fail a concentration save to end up stranded in the middle of a bunch of angry orcs who can all see you now.
If you like this method, I would recommend picking up Eldritch Mind as your second invocation at 2nd level.
You have advantage on Constitution saving throws that you make to maintain your concentration on a spell.
Another, slightly more complicated, slightly safer way to pull off this move is to cast Darkness on a stone and get that stone near your enemies, blocking their line of sight while you pelt them with Eldritch Blasts from afar.
You can use this as a way to flush enemies out of cover or force them to retreat from a defensive position.
If you want to maximize the damage, cast it on a pebble that you then fire off with the Magic Stone cantrip for some extra damage.
If you have an Arcane Trickster, a Gith, or someone with the Telekinetic feat in the party (or the Unseen Servant spell), you can also make the darkness stone float around after the enemy as well, ensuring that they stay shrouded in night while you pelt them with one Eldritch Blast after another.
The Problem With Devil’s Sight/Darkness
Of course, the issue with your enemies being unable to see through magical darkness while you merrily turn them into so much gas station sashimi is that your allies also can’t see through that magical darkness.
As a result, the old Darkness/Devil’s Sight combo has a bit of a reputation for not playing well with the rest of the party, and it’s definitely possible to piss off your fellow adventurers if they have to spend another fight on the sidelines watching the occasional severed limb fall out of an inky black cloud.
Still, with some smart positioning and good communication, there’s no reason that using magical darkness/Devil’s Sight and being a team player have to be mutually exclusive.
You can pick out a specific target (like the boss, for example) and focus on them while your allies deal with everything else.
You can control a certain area of the map (maybe the control panel, doorway, or magic circle) where something important is happening, leaving your allies free to roam elsewhere doing whatever it is they do best.
You can do the reverse, leaving your allies to protect a defensive position while you flank your enemies.
Final Thoughts: Should I Pick Up Devil’s Sight?
Whether you want to focus on stealth and exploration or pick up the Darkness spell and take the fight to your enemies, Devil’s Sight is unquestionably one of the strongest Eldritch Invocations available — especially to a 2nd-level Warlock.
However, if it’s damage you’re after, then Agonizing Blast may be a stronger option.
If your campaign doesn’t involve much time adventuring underground or at night, then something like Eldritch Sight (which lets you cast detect magic at will) or Eldritch Spear (the range on your Eldritch Blast is now 300 feet) might be better for exploration and combat respectively.
Still, if you want to feel like a real avatar of night, like the darkness is your domain, then there really is no better choice for a warlock.
Just don’t get mad when your party insists that you be the one to go down the creepy stairs first or keep watch all night in spider-infested caverns.
Until next time, happy adventuring.
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I played my first tabletop RPG (Pathfinder 1e, specifically) in college. I rocked up late to the first session with an unread rulebook and a human bard called Nick Jugger. It was a rocky start but I had a blast and now, the better part of a decade later, I play, write, and write about tabletop RPGs (mostly 5e, but also PBtA, Forged in the Dark and OSR) games for a living, which is wild.