I'm trying to create a blueprint-esque design by using a white stroke on a dark background. I have a complex design that has many overlapping layers that look fine with a solid fill, but when switching to transparent fill, all the strokes that were covered are now visible. Is there any way to use a transparent fill but hide any strokes that wouldn't be visible with a solid fill?
As I (mis)understand it, instead of simply changing the Fills to None, you need to work with paths where the fill (not the stroke) is made transparent (Opacity = 0 in the Transparency panel.
You can do that to one of your black stroke/white fill paths by selecting (only) the Fill in the Appearance panel and setting its Opacity to 0 in the Transparency panel, then make it a Graphic Style, then select all the others and apply that Graphic Style to them.
Then you can Group everything and click Knockout Group in the Transparency panel.
Illy (job description Adobe Illustrator) is always eager to help, but it is impossible to fool her: she knows that when you set the Fill to None there is nothing within the Stroke to hide anything behind it; if you change the Opacity to 0 it also looks like nothing but there is still a Fill albeit invisible, and then you can use it to hide things.