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Fantastic Light Source

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But mysterious caves and tunnels always have luminous fungi, strangely bright crystals or at a pinch merely an eldritch glow in the air, just in case a human hero comes in and needs to see in the dark. Strange but true.

In speculative fiction, especially low-tech and high-magic fantasy settings, you can't expect to see much use of regular flashlights to use in dark areas, so there are either Hollywood Torches or the Fantastic Light Source to use. Common variants include glowing gems, lighting bugs and luminescent flora and fungus, while Mundane Utility may be derived from the fact that Power Glows or from fire, electricity, or light-based Elemental Powers. Either way, it's almost always guaranteed to last indefinitely.

See Hollywood Darkness, for when no explanation is given for all the light and visibility on the scene. Not to be confused with Supernatural Light, which signifies spirits or ghosts.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Attack on Titan: Glowing Ore harvested from the Reiss family's underground cavern. Thought to be produced by some sort of Titan power. It emits more light than a torch, and with appropriate manufacturing, can greatly extend nighttime operations.
  • Crimson Spell: Early in, Halvir gives Prince Vald a fairy in a jar to use as a light source, instructing him to smack it and make the fairy angry to make it glow. Vald, who is a nicer person than Havi is, sets the fairy loose as soon as Havi has left.
  • Doraemon: Nobita and the Knights on Dinosaurs takes place mostly in the underground world of Enriru (Populated by raptor-men, descended from velociraptors) where despite being subterranean, is constantly illuminated - thanks to the glowing fungus on the cavern roofs.
  • In Kamichama Karin, Karin once uses her glowy magic ring as a flashlight.
  • Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force: Chapter 8 shows that mages in the setting have a spell that creates floating orbs of light that serves as this when they need to work at night in places away from civilization, such as when paramedics were carting away Signum after her battle against Cypha left her in critical condition.
  • Naruto: Naruto's Super Mode, which calls on the uncorrupted Ninetails chakra, is used as a flashlight, which is then properly lampshaded.
  • In Slayers, the Light spell is so simple even someone with zero magic potential can learn it. This is used to show how little people outside of the Barrier know about magic, as their version of a wizard can do the light spell, and nothing else.

    Comic Books 
  • Wonder Woman:
    • On numerous occasions, the titular hero has used the glow of her Lasso of Truth for a bit of light in pitch dark settings.
    • Wonder Woman (Rebirth): Deimos and Phobos use the soul stone for errie lighting in the dark. Made especially creepy as the twin fear gods have trapped human souls inside, the bodies to which they belong being "alive" but empty and faceless somewhere on earth.

    Fan Works 
  • Destiny Intertwined: The dragons use clusters of large glowing crystals as light sources in their buildings.
  • FFS, I Believe in You: In the sequel, as Zola Province is located very deep beneath the sea, and is consequently very dark and unsuitable for most forms of lighting, the zoras living there make use of captured bari — bioluminescent jellyfish-like creatures — for illumination.
  • Vow of Nudity: Haara can summon a flame in her hand as a light source, and Spectra can cast the light spell on anything portable within reach (usually a pebble or her necklace gemstone).
  • With Strings Attached: After Paul becomes able to cast the light spell he learned, he serves as the walking, talking Fantastic Light Source for the four.

    Films — Animation 
  • Atlantis: The Lost Empire
    • The Atlanteans wear small glowing crystals as necklaces that can provide some light if there isn't anything else available. When Milo and Kida go exploring some underwater murals, they use Kida's crystal as a reading light.
    • The Heart of Atlantis is a power source, referred to as a "crystal", that generates a lot of light, illuminating the underground chamber where its hidden and negating the need for flashlights.
  • A Bug's Life: The ant colony uses luminescent mushrooms as lighting.
  • Despicable Me: One of the Minions is used as a glow stick.
  • Tangled: Rapunzel uses her magic hair to find the way out of a flooded cave.
  • Toy Story 3: Due to the fact he glows in the dark, Buzz is used as a source of light for the other toys in one scene.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Avatar: The nights on Pandora are lit by the moon's biolumiscent flora.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
  • Pitch Black: Occurs at the climax with the glowing worms found in a cave. These help keep the light-sensitive monsters at bay long enough to allow the survivors to make it to the shuttle at the end.
  • The Rise of Skywalker: Rey uses her lightsaber as an illumination source in an underground area. It's notably more effective than the dinky little flashlight Poe pulls out.

  • The Sorcery! series have the SUN spell available for players assuming the role of wizards. With a yellow Sun Jewel, they can create an artificial light powerful enough to illuminate a dark room.
  • Legend of Zagor has the Light Spell, which can be used when the player enters dungeons or dimly-lit areas. It's especially useful in the kitchen - by using this spell the player will find out the larder to be filled with a Swarm of Rats, which they are then told to avoid (or risk catching the Bubonic plague in the dark larder).

  • Below has several magic sources of light. There's the daybreak spell, which creates a full artificial day. But spell lamps are this world's equivalent to the light bulb, made of enchanted scrap glass and fueled by liquid magic esen drawn through wire wicks, which cast white light like the sun. The party carries a few of these. The ruins contain a few self-replenishing lamps that have remained active for many centuries.
  • Books of the Raksura: Raksura Mentors and other magical people can enchant common substances, usually wood or stone, to give off a reasonably long-lasting light. Within the setting, it's seen as a common Mundane Fantastic element.
  • The Buried Moon: The Moon herself has magical blonde hair that brightens the night.
  • The Brightest Shadow: Sein spheres provide consistent light in tunnels and other areas that couldn't logically be lit constantly by torches.
  • Coldfire Trilogy: The Fire briefly wielded by Damian in the first book and the coldfire wielded by the Hunter. The Fire is the last remaining sample of tamed solar fae bound to water with the prayers of thousands. Solar fae, unlike others, can only be tamed through massive collective effort and belief, and faith in the present is no longer strong enough to do so. It's a handy light source that is also anathema to any creature of the darkness. Coldfire is a "flame" that is as cold as true fire is hot (and just as dangerous) that gives off an eerie blue light. The Hunter wields a sword imbued with tamed fae that radiates coldfire as his weapon of choice.
  • Discworld:
    • Men at Arms lampshades this, when two characters that can see in the dark fall in a tunnel, but the narration points out, that for the benefit of viewers and to fit conventions there are fluorescent fungi on the walls giving it a slight blue tint.
    • The Last Continent also lampshades this in a similar situation, with the lighting being provided by glowing rocks.
    • In Thud!, the dwarf mine is lit by vurms, bioluminescent carrion-eating creepy-crawlies.
    • The Nac Mac Feegle have swords that glow blue in the presence of lawyers.
  • Dragon Bones has glowing rocks, which are implied to have been made by dwarves.
  • In The Dresden Files, Harry often uses magic to light up his pentacle amulet. Though it's a modern setting, Harry's amulet is more reliable because technological lighting often fails when magic's afoot. He also occasionally uses faith magic to light up his pentacle which has the secondary ability to repel those weak to faith.
  • Dune has glowglobes, free-floating lamps equipped with antigravity generators. Like many other aspects of the Duniverse, they have also been borrowed by Warhammer 40,000.
  • Goblins in the Castle: After William meets Granny Pinchbottom and tells her how he freed the goblins, she gives him an amulet containing a "knot of light" as thanks for freeing them. It only works in total darkness though.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Wands can generate light with the Lumos spell.
    • The Deluminator (or Put-Outer) device, one of Dumbledore's inventions, has the opposite effect: when activated, it steals the light away from nearby sourcesnote . The trapped light can be carried around and released as suspended balls of light.
  • Johannes Cabal and the Fear Institute: Played for black comedy when Johannes shoves the necromantically reanimated skull of Ercusides onto the end of a stick as an improvised torch — the Cold Flames of his trapped soul make a handy light source, Ercusides' griping aside.
  • The Kingkiller Chronicle: "Sympathy lamps" convert ambient heat into bright, steady light and can last almost forever. Their expense makes them uncommon outside the University, but they're a Mundane Fantastic appliance to people who can afford them, and Kvothe makes easy money on the side by manufacturing them.
  • Labyrinths of Echo has fungi in fishbowls that emit pleasant orange light when irritated (the switch is connected to little brushes). And magical luminescent lamps for blue light.
  • The Last Dragonlord has dragonfire, orbs of harmless and seemingly cold fire that give off light.
  • Malediction Trilogy: Trolls do not use any external light sources in their city (which is very convenient, since it is buried under the mountain, so fuel is scarce and smoke would be a problem). Each pure-blooded or mixed-blood troll is capable of creating a small light that follows them at all times. They can also infuse glass objects with their light and even provide them with a switch-on/switch-off capability.
  • Nettle And Bone: The dust-wife keeps a jar of moonlight that she caught, and decants some into a vial for a clean light source.
  • Rivers of London: The first spell Peter learns is a "werelight". Since he lives in 21st century London with streetlights, torches and and so on, it's mostly significant as a building block for more complex spells like fireballs, although Peter does sometimes find himself in the dark without a technological light source. As the easiest spell to maintain, but one that's literally radiant, it's also handy as bait for Magic Eaters.
  • Shadow of the Conqueror: Sunstones, which replace electric lightning as per Tellos's extensive use of Magitek, while also serving as amplifiers to two of the setting's types of Functional Magic and a Kryptonite Factor to the third.
  • Shadows of Self has a bioluminescent fungus that grew in the cave system Harmony created from various places underground, personally cultivated so that no one who lived there would ever have to live in darkness again.
  • Star Wars Legends: In Splinter of the Mind's Eye, when Luke and Leia enter a series of caves, they discover it isn't totally dark due to a light-emitting fungus growing on the walls.
  • The Stormlight Archive has glass spheres with gemstones in the center infused with the titular Stormlight used as lamps, they provide a steadier light than oil lamps or candles, and can be easily recharged by leaving the spheres out in a highstorm. They are also used as money, and so using them as light sources is seen as a sign of wealth. In Arcanum Unbounded, a scholar theorizes that this is at least partly due to the fact that the planet has a higher oxygen concentration than most worlds. While in modern times the people understand fire enough for it to be safe, in pre-history it was likely too dangerous to be used as a casual light source, leading to the ubiquity of the safer gemstones.
  • Tales of the Magic Land: The underground dwellers light their habitats with hundreds of glowing marbles made out of wood and luminescent paint, which they create by soaking Sixpaws' glowing fur in water and turning the residue into a paste.
  • Tolkien's Legendarium:
  • The Tough Guide to Fantasyland: This is discussed, alongside other fantasy staples, and named "Magelight" or "Magefire". It's an extremely common skill among wizards that allows one to create a small ball of blue or white light hovering above their hand, in the air or at the end of their staff. It serves two purposes: lighting dark places and showing that a character can, indeed, do magic.
  • The Wheel of Time: Channelers can conjure lights over their hands. Thanks to the Mars and Venus Gender Contrast hard-coded into the Functional Magic system, women tend to produce spheres of light, while men tend towards handfuls of Cold Flame.
  • Young Wizards: Caves where wizards are likely to have adventures tend to be lit with "fire fungus". The arbitrariness is lessened a bit by implying that the glowing fungus is part of a whole ecology of magical underground life; for one thing, it's what the little creatures that skitter through the shadows and watch with glowing eyes live on.

    Live-Action TV 

  • Lindsey Stirling's "Song of the Caged Bird" video includes this. After unpacking many lightbulbs and candles, all dark, she finds a violin in a crate and begins to play. The candles light up slowly until the room is very bright, though they are dependent on her continuing to make music. At the end, her violin starts to glow too.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Fraggle Rock: The reason the caverns are so brightly lit is the Ditzies, creatures that feed off music and turn it into visible light.

  • The Book of Mormon: The Brother of Jared successfully asks the Lord to make a set of stones glow, so that they'll have a safe and continuous light source while crossing the ocean. Since the crossing takes nearly a year, plus whatever prep time remained after making the stones, this may double as an Infinite Flashlight.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Anima: Beyond Fantasy has the "Lampyridae"note  stones. Once submerged in water, they shine so much that usually are used as street lights.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Older editions had objects with Continual Light cast on them. Some were shaped in useful ways, such as balls (could be rolled into the darkness) or "frisbees" (could be thrown). Someone even came up with a Continual Light flashlight/lantern (could be opened to let the light out).
    • 3rd Edition added Sunrods as a standard item.
    • 3rd Edition lets Alchemists distill sunlight into a liquid that glows indefinitely — and sets undead on fire.
    • Forgotten Realms: Dwarves use jars with glowing borer-worms, glowmoss and phosphorescent powders. Glowmoss is also a stock light source in Spelljammer (fire is out of question in the Flow).
    • Giant Fire Beetles are noted as having bioluminescent organs that can be harvested and used as light sources for several days before they stop glowing.
    • Psionic characters in 3rd edition could learn My Light, which caused the caster's eyes to give off a cone of illumination like a bullseye lantern for the duration of the power.
  • Earthdawn had magical "light crystals".
  • Exalted:
    • One of the most common elements retained from the former Ages is the use of Essence-based lighting.
    • Many types of Exalted also have the ability to light up their Battle Aura to illuminate their surroundings. Some, like Solars and Lunars, have it easier than the others.
    • There's a five-dot hearthstone that illuminates quite a large area with natural sunlight, even if it's pitch dark. This is of course really, really bad for any hungry ghosts in the area.
    • Glowstones are shining rocks that emit light with brightness varying from a torch's to an overcast day's. They emit no heat and shine for years without fuel, and are prized as light sources in areas already subject to intense heat or where fire would be dangerous (such as ships, libraries, or mines where explosive gases may be present). Most glow red or orange; yellow or white ones are uncommon and ones of other colors extremely rare. This, combined with the fact that they can only be mined in very remote areas of the South, leads wealthy people throughout creation to light their homes with colorful glowstones as a display of their wealth.
    • Gethamane's tunnels are kept lit by glowing crystals set into its walls, which glow brightly during the day and dim when night falls on the outside world.
  • Pathfinder:
    • Ioun torches are small crystals that float around their owners' head with while meeting a Continual Light spell, granting safe, perpetual, hands-free illumination.
    • Luminous oozes are a type of small Blob Monsters that emit a soft, steady light with which to attract prey in their cavern habitat. They're sometimes captured and kept in glass containers as exotic, if somewhat dangerous, lighting devices.
  • Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay has two Petty Magic spells for this purpose: "Light" causes an object to glow like a torch while the wizard is holding it, while "Marsh Lights" creates floating lights that can move independently.

    • Lightstones are used by inhabitants of the Matoran Universe as a light source. Additionally, beings and other things relating to the Light element suffice, such as the Kanohi Avhokii, the Mask of Light.
    • The Great Ruru (mask of night vision) was demonstrated to be this in Legends of Metru Nui.
    • Additionally, there are Lightvines that grow in various locations.

    Video Games 
  • Angband: Besides torches and lanterns, the game has the Phial of Galadriel, the Star of Elendil, and the Arkenstone of Thráin. These unique artifacts are all permanent light sources.
  • Avernum: The caverns are lit by luminescent mold on the ceiling. Depending on who you believe, either Erika made it and propagated it, or the Vahnatai did. Either way, it's a good thing it's down there—it's also what turns the caves' carbon dioxide into breathable air.
  • Betrayal at Krondor: There are spells and magic artifacts to generate light at nighttime or in dungeons. This is very useful in the Naptha Mines in chapter 4, where lighting a torch will cause the whole place to explode.
  • Dark Souls: The Sunlight Maggot can be worn as a headpiece, in which case it'll provide a lantern-like lighting effect.
  • Demon's Souls: The player always has a magical gem called the "Augite of souls" which glows in the presence of souls.
  • Devil May Cry: Luminite is an Underworld mineral that undergoes changes in the human world and starts emitting white light indefinitely. Dante collects a chunk and uses it as a source of light in the dark areas of Mallet Island.
  • Distorted Travesty: The third game has a fairy as the cursor, among other things it acts as a nifty light source.
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition: In the Trespasser DLC, the Inquisitor gains the ability to use their Anchor as a light source (in addition to using it to smite enemies, make the party invincible, and fixing holes in reality).
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • The series has several spells which generate temporary sources of light, typically classed in the Illusion school of magic. Depending on the specific spell and the specific game you are playing, these balls of light may stick to you, float around and follow you, or stick to a surface that you cast them at. The drawback of these spells is that using them will make it easier for enemies to detect you. Related are the Night Eye spells, which provide temporary Innate Night Vision and do not have this drawback.
    • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion: The Ayleid Precursors had the lost art of storing Star Power in Welkynd and Varla Stones. By the time of the game, these are irreplaceable Emergency Energy Tanks for Mana. The Ayleid used them as lamps.
  • EverQuest: Will'o'wisps drop light stones and greater light stones, which help adventurers see in the dark.
  • God of War III: Kratos rips off Helios' head to use it as a lantern. It can also reveal hidden chests.
  • Grim Fandango: You meet a character who's fashioned a lantern out of luminescent coral and attached it to his scuba-suit. You use him to traverse the dark ocean floor by getting Glottis to pick him up and carry him with you.
  • Half-Life:
    • Half-Life: In the Xen segments, there are bio-luminescent stalks which retract and turn off when approached.
    • Xenium crystals are also luminescent, as seen in Blue Shift.
    • Half-Life 2 has Antlion larvae, glowing blue (very young) or yellow (older). Antlion Guardians also glow greenish, though this is intended as a warning to their potential prey that the car-sized Lightning Bruiser about to send you flying with a headbutt has neurotoxins in its arsenal.
  • inFamous: Cole gets around the sewers by generating small amounts of electricity on his arms.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild:
    • In the Korok Forest, there are giant, glowing pea pods that act as streetlights.
    • Luminous stone is a type of rock that glows blue-green at night, and which the Zoras make extensive use of in their architecture as built-in illumination.
  • Lost Pig: All the underground locations, except for the pitch-black room with the strange noise, are conveniently lit by (as the gnome will explain) "mossfuressence", the alchemical distillation of those mysterious glowing fungi and shaggy mosses that always seem to be growing wherever there's a hero lost underground with no torch.
  • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater: Snake can eat luminescent mushrooms to power his Night-Vision Goggles and other battery powered items. How this works is unknown.
  • Minecraft features a variety of unconventional light sources.
    • Glowstone is a rock-like substance that grows in clusters from the ceiling of the Nether — Hell, essentially — and glows brighter than a torch does. If harvested, glowstone blocks can be used as a light source that can be placed directly into walls or floors.
    • Soul soil, also found in the nether, produces blue flames when set on fire and can be used to craft soul torches and soul lanterns, which unlike the regular variants burn blue and don't melt snow and ice.
  • In Moss, there's an unusual one that represents the player's cursor. It does in fact count as an in-game object, as it illuminates anything close to it.
  • Myst has fire marbles, glowing rocks that come in different colors. They usually release their energy gradually but can be forced to do it explosively for more potent but unstable results, as Gehn demonstrated in Riven.
  • New Super Mario Bros. Wii: World 8-4 is a dark underwater level lit intermittently by Jellybeams, bioluminescent jellyfish that produce lamp-like cones of light from their undersides.
  • Plants vs. Zombies: The Plantern is a nocturnal plant which glows and dispel the bank of fog around it.
  • Pokémon: the move Flash is used outside of battle to light up dark areas.
  • Early in Shade: Wrath of Angels, you receive a Holy Sword from the Angel of Faith, one whom glows with powerful blue Holy energy when drawn. The blade's glow comes in handy in several areas where you're cornered by zombies and skeletons, owing to the game's Always Night setting.
  • Sword of Vermilion has the Luminos spell, which lasts until you leave the dungeon you cast it in.
  • Touhou Project: Wriggle Nightbug's butt emits light. She is a firefly, after all.
  • Unreal has Tarydium crystals, that glow a soft, watery blue that varies from very clear cyan to duke blue. The former occur naturally in the crystals, making caves and mine shafts some of the game's most well-lit areas, while the Nali like using the latter as wall lamps in the sleeping and bathing chambers of their more elaborate buildings, such as the Sunspire.
  • In the Utawarerumono series it is shown that characters use a kind of cubical stone kept in small bowls as a source of light. How it exactly works isn't clear, but from what can be gleaned it appears that a liquid of some kind is poured into the bowl and the stone then starts glowing as it reacts with it, creating light.
  • In Xenoblade Chronicles 1, the Nopon use the pollen orbs they manufacture in their village as both light sources and food (and in the case of red ones, a group sells them as a highly addictive drug).

  • Ears for Elves: When Tanna enters the temple, it's dark once she reaches the main room. However, she touches an orb over a glowing basin, and it and similar orbs light up the whole chamber with mystical effects.
  • Girl Genius: Played with. A character asks why the Deepdown doesn't have phosphorescent crystals or fungi, and is told they were all sold. Later phosphorescent fungi are seen in the caverns beneath Castle Heterodyne and Paris.
  • Keychain of Creation: Played for Laughs and Mundane Utility — Marena turns on her Battle Aura rather than bother with a torch while Dungeon Crawling.
    Secret: Dammit, what's the point of going ahead if you don't follow my advice!? How are we going to see all these traps and hungry ghosts, then!? [*ping*] Oh. Right.
  • The Mansion of E: Denizens of the Basement breed and use Glowing Balls of Light, bulb-light structures which hang from the ceilings.
  • In Room Land, an MS Paint Adventures Forum Adventure, the cave Mary-Beth lives in is lit up by some kind of glowing plant.
  • In Three Panel Soul, a man wins Lucifer's soul in a game. He mainly uses it as a lantern.
  • TwoKinds: Eric has a spell that converts Mana into light.
  • Unsounded gives these a Mundane Solution. Since the Functional Magic system of Pymary can only manipulate existing Aspects of reality, luminous starflies are juiced and sold to spellcasters so they have a handy source of Light Aspect to draw on.

    Western Animation 
  • Mixels: The Electroids, being electric-based in their abilities, are able to use the purplish-blue electricity-holding parts of their bodies as flashlights.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic:
    • The ability to make their horn tips glow is a basic spell that almost all unicorns seem capable of, alongside telekinesis. It's easy enough that even a somewhat dim-witted foal like Snails can cast it (although it takes him some effort). Besides using this as a built-in flashlight of sorts, the light can be directed into a narrow beam that may or not project an image, as shown by Rarity, Twilight and a number of unicorn Royal Guards on various occasions. Regular flashlights also exist, but it's not said whether they're magic-based or electric.
    • Glowing gems and lamps filled with fireflies are sometimes used in lieu of electrical lamps.
    • In "To Where and Back Again", the inside of the changelings' hive is lit by seemingly organic, bio-luminescent green pods hanging like fruit from vine-like structures growing on its ceilings. Of course, some of those pods are actually cocoons that Chrysalis' prisoners are contained in.
  • The very first spell that Luz learns to perform in The Owl House creates floating orbs of light, which is rather appropriate given that her name literally means "light".
  • Steven Universe: Gems are sapient gemstones that construct their humanoid bodies out of Hard Light. Due to that, they can use their gemstones as flashlights.
  • In more than one Teen Titans episode, Starfire would use her Starbolts as an impromptu torchlight when navigating through dark environments.