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Basic Information

The flashlight is a modern, portable lighting device, also known as a torch in the UK (although here that name is given to the more primitive device), electrically powered and providing directional light.

Descending from the early electric lantern these devices became more and more common throughout the twentieth century until they were more or less ubiquitous and replaced most other sources of portable illumination (except in the modern era when lights built into portable telephones have begun to compete) for anyone who doesn't need all round lighting.

The most common modern design is more or less cylindrical with an axial lense at one end and power cells stored in the shaft (which also serves as the handle) - some militaries also use "right angle" types where the lense is at 90' to the axis of the cylinder.

As with lanterns, coloured filters can be added for signalling or (in the case of a red filter) to protect night vision. Flashlights can also be built to illuminate in infra-red or ultra-violet only although this is still pretty rare.

Some modern models are designed with a high strength casing that allows them to be used as an improvised club or baton. Technically you can use any flashlight like this but these types are designed to survive it - even to the extent of having a side handle fitted to some types.

Flashlights can also be designed for mounting on firearms - again, anyone can tape one to the forestock of their weapon, but the purpose built ones may be slaved to the trigger, or at least activated by a reasonably accessible button.


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • Flashlights only illuminate whatever is inside their beam and ruin your night-vision for anything outside the beam. This is important to remember in horror scenarios.
  • Once your night vision is ruined, it's gone for quite a while - shining a torch in someone's face can be both painful and annoying and equally, when someone who has been relying on a torch suddenly loses it, they might as well be blind for at least five or ten minutes.
  • How often do your PCs check their batteries? … these things have a tendency to fail without much warning.
  • On a dark night the beam of a flashlight is visible (literally) for miles … it's also fairly obvious where the person holding it is.
    • Beam eliminators can help - they are a semi-opaque filter that cuts out most of the beam, reducing it to a glow only visible from within a few degrees of its arc. These are particularly common in military use as line and lane markers.
  • The flashlight-baton arrangement is a fairly common "armament" for a lot of security guards and similar people.
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