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One of my players wants to build a totally blind character, and so far as I can tell the system has no rules for it, despite coming close. Blinded is a condition that more accurately reflects having dirt thrown in your eyes, and seems to explicitly not apply in this case:

Blinded

  • The creature can’t see, which means its targets have total concealment against it.
  • The creature takes a -10 penalty to Perception checks.
  • The creature grants combat advantage.
  • The creature can’t flank.

A blinded creature cannot have combat advantage against anyone.

This condition applies to creatures that have been temporarily blinded, such as by exposure to brilliant light or a magical darkness clouding their eyes. It doesn’t apply to creatures that are naturally blind (such as oozes).

Blind is both a keyword and a sense set aside for monsters, but they always have an alternate sense:

blind

A blind creature relies on special senses, such as blindsight or tremorsense, to see within a specified range, beyond which the creature can’t see. The creature is immune to gaze attacks and cannot be blinded.

So, how might I mechanically represent a truly, naturally blind PC that also does not have any alternate senses? To clarify: My player is asking me for mechanics, in order to take on the challenge of overcoming them. We've run RP-only disadvantages in the past, but in this case I am specifically asked for rules to back it up.

Inflicting the blinded condition permanently looks simplest, but it doesn't feel right and I'd like to explore other options. I know the player has done a lot of research and plans to augment the PC with feats/features/items to help compensate whatever penalties this will give him, so don't worry about 'playable' blindness; he feels he can make that happen regardless.

I realize this question is asking for rampant speculation, but please cite (preferably 4e) mechanical inspiration whenever possible. [consideration of potential ramifications in play is also welcome]

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Having the Blinded status permanently would also be inaccurate, because it describes a situation where a creature hugely dependant on sight (like you and I) is temporarily completely deprived of what is probably their primary sense; they probably find it hampering and disorienting. A truly blind person would have had years (or their entire life) to adjust and learn to do things without sight, and don't suffer the way a sighted person would in a few seconds of blindness –  doppelgreener Nov 30 '12 at 3:39
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@JonathanHobbs Yes, exactly! Though I suppose one could justify the feats the player intends to take as representing that experience... –  BESW Nov 30 '12 at 3:45

3 Answers 3

up vote 18 down vote accepted
+100

Give him the Blind keyword and Tremorsense 0

The Blind keyword states that the creature uses special senses to 'see' within a specified range. The quotes are intentional because see is used as a game term here.

The Blinded condition and the many vision-obscuring powers define not seeing something as it having total concealment against you.

You can give him the special sense of Tremorsense (to represent his sense of touch) with a range of 0. This follows the rules of Blind by giving him a special sense but it still keeps the feeling that he can't interact easily with creatures outside of his own square.

The mechanical results of this are:

  • All of the characters targets outside of the characters square have total concealment against the character.
  • The character is immune to gaze attacks.
  • The character cannot be blinded.
  • The character always has line of sight to his own square.
  • The character is always aware of creatures in his own square.

He does not suffer the following consequences from the Blinded condition:

  • Take a -10 to perception checks
  • Cannot grant Combat Advantage
  • Cannot flank

Note that anybody that has total concealment against him will get Combat Advantage on their attacks. The important point here is that if he can remove the opponents concealment through an ability, then that opponent doesn't get Combat Advantage just because the character is blind.

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Just Roleplay It

I've had the same situation come up in my game, a player wanted to play a blind warrior inspired by an anime where blindness is "cool" rather than "crippling."

The problem in, in D&D 4th edition, blindness is CRIPPLING. As you see yourself from the blind condition, it heavily penalizes a player, and afflicting someone with that all the time will probably make things miserable for everyone else in the party, which is why you are rightly seeking an alternative.

Mechanistically, there really isn't any. We explored a lot of options, and nothing really worked. You can start giving blindness and blindsight or tremorsense or other countermeasures, but then the character suddenly becomes immune to penalizing effects from monsters that ought to penalize them. You either suffer too much or become overpowered. There's unfortunately no middle ground that we could find.


On the other hand... you can just role-play it. The character can be mechanistically normal, but the player role-plays being blind. The player rolls a perception check as normal and you describe the character as hearing or smelling or feeling something rather than seeing it. When affected by the blinded condition, the character role-plays being dizzy or having their special senses disrupted.

Also consider the ramifications of playing someone blind in a world of Divine Gods and powerful Arcane Magic. Why are they blind? This is a world where you can take someone's finger and regrow their body and bring them back from the dead. This is a world where people can ascend to immortality or become undead (and continue to see with empty eye sockets), transform into fantastic shapes (eg: turning into a six-eyed dragon, yay extra eyes!), and transcend the barriers of space and time. Curing blindness is pretty trivial. It's quite plausible that anyone born blind or who becomes blinded could be healed of that blindness, especially if they have the wherewithal to become a great adventurer. A blind character may simply not make any sense in your setting.


If you're really set on afflicting someone with the blinded condition in order for them to play blind, there is a feat called Blindfighting Sentinel they could take:

Benefit: You do not grant combat advantage to enemies invisible to you. While you are blinded, you do not take the normal -10 penalty to Perception checks.
Also, you gain a +2 feat bonus to Perception checks.

This eliminates two of the five penalties for being blinded, though they still take a -5 penalty to attacks, they still can't flank with allies, and they still cannot gain combat advantage.

Another option is Passage of Mael Arn'dreygh

Benefit: When you are blinded or in darkness, creatures within 2 squares of you have concealment rather than total concealment, provided you have line of effect to the creature’s space and it is not invisible for a reason other than darkness or blindness.

Now it's just concealed (-2 to hit instead of -5) but this doesn't affect the perception, flank, or CA penalties.


EDIT: found a few more feats.

If the player plays the Thri-Kreen race, they can feat for Blindsight 1 with Thri-Kreen Antennae.

The Deep Delver theme grants Blindsight 2 at level 10.

The Impure Scion paragon path (requires the Foulborn Heritage feat) grants Blindsight 5 as a level 11 feature.

The Darkstrider paragon path for rangers gives Blindsight 2+wis mod at level 16.

There are a handful (19) of other powers that grant one or more turns of Blindsight...

There are four familiars with blindsight and the paragon feat Sight of the Familiar allows you to see through your familiar's special senses while it is in passive mode.

And you could inflict yourself with the Faceless Hate disease, which grants Blindsight 5 while bloodied!

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Say 'Tada! You're blind!' during character creation, remind the player that he should probably fail any absolutely sight dependent tasks when they come up and play the game as normal. If Steve wants to play his Fighter as Zatoichi then go with it. The game supports people that turn into bears, swarms of bees, and trees, shoot lightning or get so angry they erupt into flame, it can handle a guy who is the action-movie-protagonist version of blind with no trouble whatsoever. Seriously, like don't even worry about mechanical changes to anything.

If you're feel that it would ruin plausibility too much, insist he take a race/class/feat/item that would grant him the mechanical effect of darkvision so he has a specific reason that he can hang around in the dark all the time without a torch, but unless he's building a forward operating scout, he'll probably be standing around a bunch of other people who have light sources so it shouldn't really matter enough to worry about.

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Thanks, but I'm asking for mechanical suggestions. 4e has rules for turning into a bear and erupting in flame (and even rules about trying both at once). My player wants to start with rules for 'ordinary blind guy,' and then use features to overcome it. [I'm not sure what darkvision has to do with anything, as it simply lets you ignore darkness; if he's blind, he's blind in every spectrum.] –  BESW Nov 30 '12 at 6:13
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4E has rules for what mechanical effects happen when power A,B or C is activated. Careful examination will reveal that there are no rules for 'turning into a bear' but there are rules for what you can and cannot do mechanically while a druid is using his wild shape ability. It's an important but often overlooked distinction. I suspect you may have a case of the doesn't-get-its, but hey dude it's your question and maybe someone else will have a better answer for you. –  Joe Bedurndurn Nov 30 '12 at 6:33
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Downvoted because it doesn't feel like you have thought through the ramifications of granting Darkvision to explain why someone doesn't need a torch to ignore darkness penalties. That raises more questions than it answers. –  Simon Gill Jan 9 '13 at 16:37

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