Clever way to fill dungeons with light without a lantern?

Prescott

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Going through Skyrim's dungeons, it looks like people were in there recently since all the torches are lit and you can easily see everywhere when that most likely isn't the case. I'm not too sure a normal person was able to shout his way to the end of the dungeon to light up the torches that are down there, for instance.

I'm looking for clever ways to make sure the player can see in the dungeon. My game has baked in light and I haven't been able to figure out how to make that coincide with a lantern or something similar. Using a spell could be helpful for lighting up caves potentially, but if you don't have a spellcaster on your team (the game is anything but linear) you will not be able to complete certain dungeons.

One thing I have used so far is lava, but that only really works in the volcano dungeon.

I'm trying to find ways of pre-baking the light in somehow, but I can't think of any way a normal human (and not a level 5794312549 adventurer like yourself) could even get to some places to light the torches in the first place.

So what are some ideas you all have for lighting up dungeons naturally while making sure it makes sense?
 

Pine Towers

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  1. Torches (unlit, on the walls) can be used by the party, activating them and lighting up the area. This works if the dungeon was used before by humans (understand humans as any creature that can't see in the dark).
  2. Torches (item) that works on a timer and grants light in a radius. Maybe after X time passed, the radius is smaller and light is weaker. It is the alternative when dungeons are made for creatures that can see in the dark (else, see 1).
  3. Magic (skill), that works much like torches (item), but spends MP instead of an item (that costs gold).
  4. Bioluminescent fungi can grow on natural caverns or humid dungeons, granting light in some spots, even non-yellow light (have a red one over a trap or a blue one circling a hidden passage!).
  5. Caverns may have opening to the sky, letting sun light in.
  6. Lava, as you already said.
 

RionFish

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I have a few ideas on top of what has already been said.

For man-made or explored dungeons:
-Orbs set into the floors or walls that give off light
-Boxes or chests near the beginning that contain either torches or a magic item that gives off light (like a ring or other accessory)
-If any form of advanced technology exists, generators with lights attached spread throughout the area

For natural, unexplored dungeons:
-Fireflies, perhaps gathered near the ceiling (as remarked upon by a party character, with the occasional firefly near the ground to 'show' the concept in action)
-Glowing crystals (of course we're not talking realism here)
-Pools of water or some other liquid that give off light
-Maybe the rock of a dungeon has some special property that causes natural electricity to spark between it when chunks are close enough, which could add strategy to finding your way through it

Okay, those were the only ideas I could come up with. Hopefully that's helpful!
 

Engr. Adiktuzmiko

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Going through Skyrim's dungeons, it looks like people were in there recently since all the torches are lit and you can easily see everywhere when that most likely isn't the case.
It's because they're not meant to be realistic, it's their own world, their own set of natural laws. Those torches don't even run out of fire so they're probably magical torches that have been lit ever since time immemorial. In a world full of dragons, daedra, magic etc, it wouldn't surprise me if they have everlasting torches.

If you're trying to be as realistic as possible..

The holes in the ceiling or the bioluminiscent fungi or firefiles suggestions would work best.

If you can spare some non-realistic approach but nothing too magical like the everlasting torches of skyrim (and a lot of games)

Glowing rocks/crystals does sound to be a thing (I'm not actually sure if this is non-realistic)

or maybe

Some kind of "energy vein" that courses thru the walls of the cave giving off light
 

Demiurge

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I'd like to add that you could also take into account the denizens of said dungeon.
If bandits or goblins lived there maybe they'd light camp fires to see or animals may have evolved to glow in the dark (if you have them walking around the map and not just appear during random encounters).
Another option is to have the player buy/find a torch that would light up the area around him whilst exploring. Maybe make it go out after a set period of time or after they exit the dungeon.

Apart from that the ideas mentioned above are all excellent.
 

Alexander Amnell

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If you aren't going for realism then just make the caves...not dark. The same way almost every game I've played that has a day/night cycle makes all the nights as bright as a cloudless full moon, no one thinks stumbling around in darkness is fun.

If realism is important for caves though, well there are a lot of good ideas here and personally I'd go with having torches you can buy as well as a more reliable spell to cast so that since your game isn't linear you can always buy a few torches before going spelunking until you find that spellcaster who can give off light with a thought. Perhaps have the mage character lose an mp every ten seconds or so even, so that torches maintain a further use for times where your spellcaster needs to save his mana for other spells.

As for how to reach obscure corners to light pre-placed torches...can your spellcasters throw fireballs? Be a nice field application to let him hurl fire at flammable objects for illumination as well as other reasons.
 
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Prescott

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Thanks for all of your suggestions everybody! I'll make sure to take that all into account :) you've all been huge helps!
 

M.I.A.

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...For natural, unexplored dungeons:
-Fireflies, perhaps gathered near the ceiling (as remarked upon by a party character, with the occasional firefly...
All the other suggestions are great as well.. but the one I quoted, I would also add:
In my current project, in a deep cave, some of the monsters are bio-luminescent , so they put off their own glow.
Most encounters are on map encounters, so you could end up fighting the monster that glows.
When you win the battle the monster, and the glowing light it provided, are gone.

It adds a little atmosphere to the map, while also encourages the player not to engage in those battles so they may better see.
Whats more valuable in that moment? Visibility, or loot? ;)

Hope you find this helpful!
-MIA
 

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