There’s something I don’t like about 4e’s sunrods. They’re very practical, and my group uses them all the time:DM: Who has low-light vision?
PC: I’m the only human, so I guess I don’t. I pop a sunrod and tie it to my hat.
DM: Problem solved forever!
Somehow, though, my memories of old school dungeoneering are lit by torchlight. The inconvenient micromanagement of who had the torch, and in what hand, brought the torch to players’ minds, and made me picture dungeon explorations in a flickering circle of light. Or is that just the flickering light of nostalgia? I can’t tell: I may have a tendency to mistake unnecessary busywork, like illumination and encumbrance calculation, for fun-enhancing realism.
Torches were also fun because in a pinch you could use one as a weapon. In some edition – first? – they did 1d6 damage, the same as a shortsword.
Price point aside, lanterns have some advantages over torches. D&D lanterns can be covered, so you can stay stealthy without totally extinguishing your light source. Also, you can presumably put down a lantern while you’re fighting, while I’m not sure that a dropped torch will stay burning. (I’m not sure if that’s covered in the rules either way.)
A tinderbox is an odd little item – it doesn’t really do anything, but it’s necessary to make your torches and lanterns work. Surprisingly, tinderboxes – or flint and steel – have survived, even in 4e. You’d think they would have been abstracted into the purchase of torches and lanterns at some point, since players so rarely think about them once they’re done their initial shopping trip.