Monday, March 15, 2010

Infravision Questions

I've been working on an adventure and a big part of it is zombies and skeletons in a mine. Now the question I pose is would infravision 'see' these undead?

I'm leaning towards no because I think they would take on the temperature around them, thus making them nearly invisible to infravision. I'm curious to what others think.

And I guess while I am on the topic do you think infravision would assist in finding secret doors and/or concealed doors. In this case I am thinking it would. If there is a difference in temperature then the outline of the door would be seen. Unless you have some master craftsman hide the cracks.

Just thought I would put those questions out there. It's Monday again. Monday after daylight savings always sucks. But I will try and stay positive. It is gaming night and I am now 3rd level.


  1. I would lean towards no as well; there was an episode of Torchwood where one of the characters was essentially dead yet still mobile and sentient (very complex in-series reasons why) and he was able to move past IR detectors without setting them off.

    As for doors, both secret and concealed, remember that behind them is an area of empty space and that space will by implication be a different temperature from the surrounding rock/stone/solid material. So on that basis, unless the designer of the dungeon had specifically used insulated material for the doors, then the answer would be yes.

  2. I'm an easy, simple kinda guy. People with infravision can see undead, elves can sense things about secret doors/passages, but don't see them with infravision. I always see infravision as "dark vision" as if they can see better in the dark, but it's not heat related.

    This is frickin' magic in my world! ;) We leave science to those evil spawn that plot nasty things with huge red buttons...

  3. I'm with Chgowiz. On the other hand, if I was playing a science fantasy game, and a player had infrared goggles, they wouldn't see undead, and probably would see secret doors - if they were high enough quality.

  4. Tim, if there is a sort of Dark Vision that is better than Infravision in your setting, then I would agree with you and DG that the answer to A). is 'No'. Whether B). is 'yes' depends on what the stone is, but am inclined to 'yes'.

    If, however, Infravision is the best sort of sight, then A). Yes, B). Yes.

    Infravision as used by the 3rd Reich's Vampyr active IR-scope mated with their sniper rifle would flare up in the presence of heat sources and become useless (often temporarily blinding the operator in that eye). Modern (and futuristic) Light Intensification vision systems literally amplify any existing light or light-attenuated energy, which would prove useless in your mine situation, as there wouldn't be a speck of light.

    Thermal vision or Ultravision (AD&D Dwarves) would be a better situation. The former would differentiate between the stone and the air temp. The latter would show impacts of subatomic particles upon objects in the darkness (their size and speed great enough to pass completely through the earth, unhindered by the stone).

    So, um. Yeah, your call. :)

    I hope those Undead give 'em a really hard time! :D

  5. Thanks for the input everyone. I do need to think of the variables in the different visions. If there is dark vision, infravision and/or ultra vision and what the results would be. Hmmm, okay back to the drawing board.

  6. If the character's infravision is like heat-vision goggles, then someone with boots on would leave glowing footprints that remain for some time, giving free tracking within a few minutes.

    It would show people walking about in the night several hundred feet away, not just 60'.

    Something like a red dragon would be visible from a mile away, like commercial planes are.

    And you would be able to see details like the veins under the skin of a person's face, and would certainly be able to identify people as well as you would during the daylight.

    A rotting zombie would give off some extra heat and would be visible. But a preserved zombie or a skeleton probably shouldn't.

    If the space behind a secret door is a higher or lower temperature, it should be immediately obvious. But if it's the same temperature, you wouldn't notice anything.


    But if you mean Infravision to be a short-range visual aid like the sensory organs of a Pit Viper, then it would just help identify warm things in the dark within 60' (or whatever). And I think this is what was intended, though I haven't read anything on the original intent or source material for infravision.

  7. I would also say it sort of depends on how magic animates undead. If zombie's still move the say way we do (through the action of muscles) then I would assume they would be somewhat warmer than cold surroundings at least due to the heat generated in that activity.

    If their like marrionettes moved by some unseen magical hand, then maybe not.

  8. Now the question I pose is would infravision 'see' these undead?



    Because I said so.

  9. I would say no. I always took infravision to mean the ability to see heat, as police helicopters and automatic door sensors do. Actually that would screw up a zombie shopping mall situation quite badly, for the zombies anyway.

  10. I thought old school was about the magical feeling and making the rules simple and clear? This is one of the cases where 3e/4e feels more magical than old school. In newer editions they have low-light vision for elves and darkvision for dwarves. Lowlight vision lets you see in dim light - moonlight, starlight, farther away from a torch. Darkvision has a range limit and you see in black and white but you don't see color. The explanation for what you see is easy. If you'd see it if you had light, then you'll see it in dim light with low-light and in complete darkness with darkvision. Case closed. No trying to figure out how much heat a zombie generates, or when to rule if the space beyond has a thermal gradient.