If you want to avoid having to choose between being able to see your enemy and having a shield at the ready to block their next attack or being plunged into total darkness the second you take any damage, try getting your hands on a Driftglobe — a surprisingly useful, everyday, wondrous item that is guaranteed to make your characters’ jobs easier and their lives feel a little bit more magical.
What Is a Driftglobe in DnD 5e?
A Driftglobe is an uncommon wondrous item. This small glass sphere lets you cast the light spell at will and the daylight spell once per day. It also has the ability to hover in mid air and follow you if you get too far away.
Wondrous Item, uncommon
Once used, the daylight effect can’t be used again until the next dawn.
You can speak another command word as an action to make the illuminated globe rise into the air and float no more than 5 feet off the ground. The globe hovers in this way until you or another creature grasps it.
If you move more than 60 feet from the hovering globe, it follows you until it is within 60 feet of you. It takes the shortest route to do so.
If prevented from moving, the globe sinks gently to the ground and becomes inactive, and its light winks out.
Is the Driftglobe Good?
More often than not, when you step into the dungeon, you step into near-total darkness, and, while player characters with darkvision may still be able to perceive shades of gray, trying to spot a grell ambush or a vital clue in dim light is still going to be tricky.
There are plenty of different ways to shine a light on your immediate surroundings in Dungeons & Dragons 5e, from spells like Dancing Lights to the good old-fashioned flaming torch.
However, spells that provide illumination usually require the caster to concentrate while they’re active, and (unless you hire a local youth to carry them for you) torches require the use of a free hand.
This is where the Driftglobe’s main function comes into play.
Being able to set the device to hover next to you while you fight in a dark environment can be a huge advantage if the alternative is to either put away your shield or secondary weapon (forget using something two-handed or most ranged weapons as well) or dropping your torch on the ground by your feet — where it could get stamped out and won’t provide much light for you anyway.
Basically, a Driftglobe takes a lot of the hassle out of adventuring in the dark.
Spellcasters don’t have to worry about maintaining concentration as the party’s only source of light (there’s nothing I love more as a dungeon master than having a lone goblin arrow arc out of the darkness, hit the party’s AC 11 wizard, and plunge everyone into pitch blackness as war drums start to sound in the distance — loads of fun), fighters get an extra hand to use their weapons, and you’ll never have to worry about stocking up on torches ever again — much less running out mid-dungeon delve.
That’s not all the Driftglobe can do. Let’s talk about its ability to cast the spell Daylight once per day.
Daylight is a 3rd-level evocation spell that summons a 60-foot-radius sphere of light that spreads out from a point the caster chooses within 60ft.
Everything inside the sphere is lit by bright light, and it sheds dim light for a further 30 feet.
If the caster chooses a point on an object they are holding or one that isn’t being worn or carried, the light shines from the object and moves with it.
Completely covering the affected object with something opaque, such as a bowl or a helmet, blocks the light.
If any of this spell’s area overlaps with an area of darkness created by a spell of 3rd level or lower, the spell that created the darkness is dispelled.
In terms of exploration, Daylight (which incidentally doesn’t actually count as sunlight for dealing damage to vampires and other monsters with hypersensitivity) effectively triples the area of effect compared to the Light cantrip.
While this could be helpful for getting a sense of the dimensions in a larger space, the main use for Daylight versus Light is that the larger range makes it a great effect to use once combat breaks out, so you can feel free to move around.
The globe’s 60-foot tether is actually kind of useless when casting Light (which has a 20-foot radius of bright light) unless you stand still or take the time to bring it with you.
When Daylight is active, however, you can easily move around in bright light as much as you like.
Just be careful you aren’t affectively creating a great big, inviting shooting gallery for your enemies by casting a giant spotlight on yourself and your allies.
This isn’t the kind of highly impactful, iconic magic item that will define how a player thinks about their character.
The fact that it doesn’t require attunement probably even means it won’t end up belonging to a single character — instead being the party’s communal light source to be passed back and forth as needed or simply set to float along in the middle of the party.
Where Can I Get a Driftglobe?
As an uncommon wondrous item, Driftglobes are probably quite easily found in reputable magic item shops, large markets, and wizard towers.
Depending on how magical your setting is, they may be even more common — perhaps given to members of the city watch on patrol or strung from the ceilings of every corridor of the royal palace.
As mentioned in our full guide to magic item pricing, a Driftglobe should set you back around 800 gold pieces. If you look at the item as a way to replace your torches, it’s probably not worth the investment.
However, if you see it as a way to get a whole extra cantrip and a 3rd-level spell, it’s well worth the investment — especially if you spend a lot of your time rummaging around in the dark looking for treasure.
Why I Like the Driftglobe: DM Advice
Alongside encumbrance, keeping track of bright vs. dim light is the first casualty of war in my 5e games.
I recognize this and usually handwave the darkness away with torches burning in suitably atmospheric sconces, or glowing purple spores if we’re in the underdark, or daylight refracted through a series of mirrors from outside, and so on.
“It’s magic” I shrug, if I’m having an off day. “Now, shut up and fight these orcs.”
In a high-fantasy setting, especially — which is the type of game that I’d argue 5e is made to support — I think we as DMs would do well to think a little more about how magic is a larger part of everyday life.
Arguably the best Harry Potter movie is The Prisoner of Azkaban directed by Mexican Alfonso Cuarón (who also directed Roma, Gravity, and Children of Men).
For years I knew this instinctually but couldn’t quite put a finger on why — it definitely wasn’t because of the goofy werewolf.
It was years later when a friend of mine finally explained why that film feels so much richer and more enchanting than the others.
In just about every single shot in Hogwarts or the Weasley household, there’s something magical happening in the background.
Pots and pans jump around on the stove, paintings move and talk, ghosts drift here and there; the whole film is really saturated with magic.
My friend explained that this was a conscious choice by Cuarón, who worked hard to put as much arcanistry as he could into every single frame.
This is the sort of thing I think we should be angling for in our high-fantasy tone games.
Staircases that move, portraits with living subjects, teleportation circles, potions for sale in every corner drugstore, flying carpets! Need I go on?
Driftglobes are exactly the sort of magic item that makes a world — not just the characters — feel magical.
Sure, there are much more powerful and, arguably, more useful items out there.
But a Drifglobe feels like a slice of everyday magic — a normal, almost mundane enchantment — and therefore makes a world in which such an ordinary thing as a classic fantasy torch has been replaced by an enchantment feel all the more wondrous and special.