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Sunlight at dawn, in TDS

Moonlight streaming through windows, in TDS

Light, and especially Shadow are two of the most important gameplay elements in the Thief series, like sound effects, an integral part of gameplay. The main tactic within the Thief games is to avoid fights and instead sneak around the enemies, undetected and invisible. A gauge at the bottom of the screen, called the Light Gem indicates how visible Garrett is.

Sunlight is rare in any Thief game, only appearing in a few missions. Moonlight is most common since Garrett usually attempts robberies at night.

Thief: Deadly Shadows introduced "dynamic light sources", such as people carrying torches or candles. The player has to be more careful since a dark spot may not be safe forever. Also new to TDS are the shadows cast by light. The player's shadow is visible by enemies, even if the player isn't.


Main Article: Undetected Approach

In order to remain undetected, the player has to constantly keep an eye on areas of light or shadow in case a hiding place is needed in a hurry, guard patrol routes, and the type of terrain Garrett's walking on. Entering deeper shadows or ducking makes him less likely to be noticed. Walking about increases the risk of being spotted, and having a weapon drawn makes him very conspicuous.

Light Sources

Various sources of light exist, each casting a different colored light, but behaving in the same way. The duller the light or its color, the less likely is it for Garrett to be spotted when illuminated. A guard or any civilian may notice if a light source has been put out, alerting them to possibly come looking for intruders.

The Invisibility Potion, once drunk, makes Garrett entirely invisible even in fully illuminated areas, allowing Garrett to pass very tightly guarded spots without detection. It wears out in 10 seconds, restoring his visibility.


Torches, gas lamps, candles or candle-chandeliers, can be doused with a single Water Arrow, creating an area of darkness in which Garrett may hide. Gas lamps can be lit by pressing the use button on it.

In Thief: Deadly Shadows, the player can "pinch out" a lit candle by pressing the use button on it. A blackout can be forced within an electrically lit building, by using the main power switch, typically well-guarded.

A common candlestick

A wall-mounted torch

A street lamp-pole

A torch-pole, St. Edgar's

A primitive torch-pole, Pagans

A fireplace

A gas lamp


Electrically powered lights in Thief II: The Metal Age and Thief: Deadly Shadows, may be shut off by using a nearby switch or button, but Water Arrows have no effect.

An electric lantern, city wall-mounted

A metal-protected electric light, city sewers

An electric lamp-post

A hanging electric lamp

A hanging electric lamp, city sewers


Magical lights typically found in Pagan or Kurshok areas, cannot be turned off in any way due to their alternative energy sources.

A light crystal, attached to underground walls

Will-o-the-Wisp, a floating glow

See Also

Games T1 Icon.png Thief: The Dark Project · TG Icon.pngThief Gold · T2 Icon.png Thief II: The Metal Age · TDS Icon.png Thief: Deadly Shadows · T4 icon.gif Thief (reboot)
Game Design Storyline · Lighting · Sound · Weapons · Abilities · Light Gem · Compass · Loot · Approach · Architecture · Cut scenes