D&D Ideas — Blind

RPG Guide to Practical Character Optimization — Part 2
RPG Guide to Practical Character Optimization — Part 3

Welcome once again to the weekly newsletter. This week’s topic is blind, which we discussed in our live chat. We hangout every Monday evening at 8 p.m. EST and talk about D&D, RPGs, gaming, life and whatever nerdy stuff comes up. Speaking of blind, in Fountain of Fortunes adventurers discover a blindfolded statue forcing characters to consider what they value or deem sacred? This and 54 other dynamic encounters ready to drop right into your game come straight Out of the Box here. You can get the Nerdarchy Newsletter delivered to your inbox each week, along with updates and info on how to game with Nerdarchy, by signing up here. Our new channel Nerdarchy Live surges forward! Nerdarchy the YouTube channel remains our flagship source for videos but our long form content like Live Chat Revivified and game plays finds a home over at Nerdarchy Live. Be sure to subscribe and hit the notification bell so you can join us and new guests weekdays at noon plus several RPG live plays. Learn more about Nerdarchy Live and how to make sure you don’t miss a thing right here. With the COVID-19 pandemic situation we want to assure everyone we’re following all the guidelines and regulations, and practicing safety and preventative measures like social distancing, and we strongly urge everyone to do the same. Our partners and employees health is our No. 1 priority. Visit Coronavirus.gov for the latest news, updates and developments.

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Delving Dave’s Dungeon

This week’s topic is blind or blindness. Everyone always asks how to play a blind character in Dungeons & Dragons. The only thing I can think of without giving them special abilities is a familiar. A wizard can do this at 1st level as can someone with the Ritual Caster or Magic Initiate feat.

The other way would be magic items.

Bandages of Seeing

Wondrous item, rare (requires attunement)

While you wear these bandages wrapped around your head and eyes you are blinded, and you gain blindsight to a distance of 30 feet. If you are able to hear, you are also aware of the location of any hidden or invisible creature within 10 feet of you. If you possess the Blindsense feature your range is increased by 10 feet.

Eyes of the Blind

Wondrous item, uncommon (requires attunement)

These crystal lenses fit over the eyes and grant you sight if you are blind. You also have darkvision out to 60 feet. If you possess darkvision, your range is increased by 60 feet.

While wearing the lenses you can use an action to cast the see invisibility spell. Once you use this feature, you cannot use it again until the following dawn.

Stone Helm of Grounding

Wondrous item, very rare (requires attunement)

The visor of this helm carved from red clay is incredibly light despite its earthen appearance, and far sturdier than it looks. The visor of the helm covers your eyes and while wearing it you are blinded. You have resistance to lightning damage, and gain tremorsense out to 60 feet.

The helm has 3 charges. You can expend one charge to use one of the following abilities:

  • Earth Glide. As an action you activate the helm and can a burrow speed equal to your walking speed for 10 minutes. You can burrow through nonmagical, unworked earth and stone. While doing so, you don’t disturb the material it moves through.
  • Grounded. Whenever an effect would force you to move unwillingly you can use your reaction to resist being moved. You must be in contact with the ground to use this ability. This effect lasts for 1 minute.

The helm regains all expending charges each day at dawn.

From Ted’s Head

Being blind in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons is super bad. As a condition you automatically fail any check that requires sight. Attack rolls against you have advantage while your attack rolls have disadvantage. As a player there is not much that can be done when this happens to a characters short of curing whatever caused the blindness, usually not a quick fix.

Dungeon Masters can use this tool to our advantage easily. Most races have darkvision but if you present the scene you want to start with the right circumstances.

  • Oh no! The torch will not light because everything got all wet!
  • “What do you mean my spell is not working?”

Whatever you have to do, properly set the scene and now you have something a lot more dangerous than it was a moment before.

Have you ever been in total utter darkness? It can be very unnerving when you have no clue what is around you. I ran a session where the entire dungeon was cloaked in magical darkness and there was no one in the party with Devil’s Sight. I used much weaker monsters native to the dungeon and used other senses to know where its prey was. Do this too much and your players will hate it but we had a wizard who loves magic missile in a room with monsters they can’t see and this was a lot of fun (and a big surprise to me!).

I always feel it is important to mix themes and styles of your dungeons because the players at your table get a good understanding of the possibilities in case they ever decide to take up the mantle of GM.

What else can you do with blind? If you have a player who is willing to trade bad now for good later, you could have their character blinded permanently and then either provide them a cure or get them a magic item that does more than just provide sight. What if they got the eye from a lesser beholder such as a spectator? Maybe it provides better vision and grants eye ray attacks. The possibilities are practically endless if you are willing to give it some thought.


From the Nerditor’s desk

In the live chat Nerdarchist Ted and I covered one aspect of blindness in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons and right before we went live I experienced an epiphany.

Prior to this moment my canned response whenever “how can I play a blind character in D&D?” came up was simple. Your character can’t see and automatically fails any ability check that requires sight, and attack rolls against you have advantage, and your attack rolls have disadvantage. Easy peasy.

But a thought came to mind as an alternative to what I always felt was the easiest way to achieve the goal. I mean, it’s laid out plainly in Appendix A of the 5E D&D Player’s Handbook, right?

There’s a much easier way to play a blind character in D&D though. It fulfills desires to imagine your character as Marvel Comics’ Daredevil or the iconic blind swordsman Zatoichi or any other character concept you come up with.

Just say they’re blind and move on.

No mechanical considerations, no special rulings for the blinded condition or effects causing it, it’s just a character detail. A player seeking to include this as part of their character can roleplay being blind if they choose, or like Daredevil they’re free to imagine all their senses are so acute they can basically see anyway.

Take note of the blinded condition description above and consider it closely. Does a blind character avoid all the condition effects? No. Casting blindness on a blind character would still grant advantage to attack rolls against them and cause their attack rolls to have disadvantage — there’s no qualifier of possessing sight for the condition to have an effect.

This approach might be different in your groups and games depending on rulings of the Dungeon Master, accepted group rules interpretations and the like but in the overwhelming number of games I play such a character trait would not be an issue. The same goes for any other differently abled character trait. If the player isn’t seeking any mechanical differences, exploring their imagination won’t affect the game one bit.

A character missing a limb, or without the use of part of their body or senses can be a wonderful character quality to explore in your games, perhaps giving players new perspectives and certainly contributing to memorable experiences in new ways.

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