All versions of this spell produced up to four floating lights that could be made to appear as torches, lanterns, or as orbs vaguely resembling will-o'-wisps. They could also be combined into a roughly man-sized glowing humanoid shape reminiscent of a being from the Elemental Plane of Fire. The lights were fairly dim, casting as much light as a regular torch.
The oldest versions of this spell had a minimum range of 150 feet (46 meters) and a minimum duration of two minutes, both of which could be extended by casters of higher level. The separate lights could move independently and, once set in motion, did not require concentration by the caster. A newer version had a minimum range of 100 feet (30 meters) and a duration of one minute. The lights had to remain within a 10 feet (3 meters) radius sphere. After the Second Sundering, this spell had a fixed range of 120 feet (37 meters), one minute duration, required caster concentration, and each light had to remain within 20 feet (6.1 meters) of one of its siblings.
Drow elves could cast this spell once a day as a spell-like ability. Some drow also learned to combine this power with their other abilities of darkness and faerie fire to produce even stranger effects.
All versions of this spell required verbal and somatic components. One version did not require any material component, while all the others needed a pinch of phosphorus or wychwood, or a glowworm. Alternatively, some were known to use the luminous glands of giant fire beetles for the spell's material component.
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