There are a ton of conditions that can occur in any given Dungeons & Dragons 5E campaign. You can run into natural environments, spells, powerful weapons, and more that might ruin your character’s chance to hit… or worse. 5E is somewhat strange, however, in that a lot of their status effects do similar things to one another. Heavily Obscured is similar to Blind, but the conditions that Heavily Obscured occurs in are different than a standard Blind spell. Our Heavily Obscured 5E guide will talk about what it means, and how you can best use it.
Heavily Obscured 5E Guide
The Heavily Obscured condition occurs when an environmental effect, like deep fog or magical darkness, makes it difficult for characters to see. These characters are considered blind while inside of the fog, and that outside will have difficulty seeing in the fog as well; those characters are considered blind when attacking any character in the fog as well.
Some effects that can cause this effect include the Fog Cloud spell, and the Darkness spell. These allow you to target a ground effect to obscure vision.
Visibility in Dungeons & Dragons 5E
What does it mean if you have trouble seeing a target? Shockingly little, actually. You can still make attacks against a target that you can’t technically see, as long as they don’t have full cover. You just have disadvantage against the target.
Most spells in D&D 5E require line-of-sight to the target. If the spell is on this list, then it’s not an option to cast while you can’t see anything. So, in this case, you’re nullifying a lot of powerful spells, and forcing enemies to use magic that can just be flung out willy-nilly.
Opportunity attacks also require visibility, meaning that any condition that gives Heavily Obscured will also be good for slipping out of a bad spot.
The Double-Blind Paradox
Here’s a weird thing about Heavily Obscured; if you don’t have a way past it, it’s going to be as effective against you as your target. If you put a Fog Cloud on a Dire Rat, and you’re outside of the Fog Cloud flinging Firebolts, then you’re rolling “normally”; the advantage you’d get for the Dire Rat not being able to see is nullified by your disadvantage because you can’t see the Rat.
This means that, as a combat tool, Heavily Obscuring Effects aren’t that useful. As long as the target and you both have a means of rolling attack rolls against one another, you just roll normally. Heck, because Disadvantage doesn’t stack with itself, you can use Fog Cloud as a sort of shield to make enemies less accurate during difficult situations.
That being said, the Visibility point is very important. Heavily Obscured is actually fantastic because you can cut off Visibility. This is great anti-caster tech, and can be okay if you need to get someone out of a difficult situation.
Fog Cloud, Darkness, and other Heavily Obscuring spells also allows you to take the Hide action, since your enemies cannot see you. This means you can use it to sneak past a few enemies, encasing them in fog. That won’t mean they will stay still, but you don’t need to worry about finding a specific piece of cover to start Hiding behind, and can get started on your stealth mission quickly.
In addition, if you can also find ways to ignore the Heavily Obscured condition. For instance, the Warlock invocation Devil’s Sight allows you to use Darkness extremely effectively. Drop it on casters to restrict their options, and then you can roll Advantage against them with Eldritch Blast or any other method that you’d like. The spell True Seeing grants you Truesight, which can also see through magical darkness.
If you can get alternative ways to see, such as Blindsight or Tremorsense, these also allow you to ignore Heavily Obscured. These are somewhat rare to get, so don’t break your back looking for them. However, if you get magical items or special spells, you might be able to break through Fog Clouds and Darkness alike.
Heavily Obscured is not the strongest status condition in the world. However, the ability to control the visibility of your enemies should not be underestimated. This can be as effective as Silence is for shutting down enemy casters, and can save any Rogue or squishy caster from a sticky melee opponent. This is a great way to disrupt a fight, especially if you have any way around it! Give it a try with your next Warlock.